A/N: Thanks very much everyone for the reviews, alerts and faves! I am well aware that temporary blindness and amnesia don't quiiiiiiiiite work like this, but it's fiction, and no one likes reading anything that's too much of a downer.
Tony gave a shouted "Oh crap!" before firing his repulsor into the wall about twenty feet left of the drone.
"Idiot!" Clint shouted, grabbing Tony's wrist again then aiming at the drone. "Fire!"
Tony did, but the delayed reaction had allowed the drone ample time to dance away. Clint spun Tony and Steve tightened his grip on his shoulders. "Fire!"
The drone danced away again, but still wasn't firing at them.
"Why is it staying back there?" Steve questioned.
"It's programmed for ranged attacks but probably used all of its ammo on us earlier," said Tony sourly.
Steve felt something land on his head lightly, and looked up to see dust and pebbles falling from the ceiling. "Woah, woah, stop it! We're going to bring the whole place down!" Clint and Tony automatically looked up, and Tony hissed when dust got into his burns.
"Don't you have anything faster than this?" Clint bit out at Tony, shaking his wrist harshly.
"Yes, but I already used them all outside BACK WHEN YOU WERE A DECENT PERSON."
"Sorry if my head trauma didn't quite live up to your expectations," Clint sneered back. "But I find it hard to believe we got along in the first place considering how much I've grown to hate EVERY fiber of your fucking being in TWENTY MINUTES."
Steve inwardly winced at Clint's harsh words, but his eyes were focused on the drone which just seemed to have figured out its ranged attacks were ineffective.
"Well, there you have it, friendship doesn't stand the test of time. Good to know if your memory doesn't come back, I WON'T EVER HAVE TO SEE YOU AGAIN."
Tony whirled around, confused at Steve's shout, but heard the drone's metal footsteps clanging off the ground as it sped towards them. He dropped Steve who emitted a loud cry of pain and pushed Clint out of the way, hard. Tony raised his repulsors to fire a blast in front of him but before he could, he felt a force barrel into him, lifting him off his feet and bringing him to the ground. Not knowing where he was in space, he couldn't stop his head from smashing savagely on the floor and he groaned as he felt the drone lift it up and smash it against the floor again.
Something clicked in Clint then, as he felt Stark push him out of the way before witnessing him take a ruthless pummeling from a stupid-looking robot. He had to help this man.
Without thinking about it, Clint grabbed the biggest rock within reach that he could still lift, and got to his feet unsteadily. But the robot was about to bash Stark's skull in a third time, and Clint was moving, despite his injuries. He rushed the robot, tearing it off the other man before brutally beating its thin, robot head in with the rock. The drone twitched and tried to reach for him, but he furiously kicked its arms away as he continued drawing satisfaction from the crunching of metal and flying sparks it gave off. Finally, it stopped moving, and Clint sat on top of it, breathing heavily.
Steve watched the whole thing in shock, unable to do anything, but somewhat relieved at the speed with which Clint came to Tony's rescue. He was also stunned by the savagery with which Clint had disposed of the drone, but he supposed it showed promise as to Clint's memories and feelings for his teammates not being completely gone.
"Clint? Clint, are you okay?"
Clint leaned forward with his head in his hand. He had felt something, something familiar, but it was gone now, and he felt like he was grasping at smoke. "I can't…remember," he groaned, headache swelling to a crescendo now.
"Clint, is Tony okay?"
Oh god Tony…wait, Tony? Oh, Stark. He slid off the drone, moving over to where Stark was. He couldn't tell if he was conscious or not because he was still keeping his eyes closed. "Stark," he said quietly. He lightly tapped an unburned part of his face, and Tony groaned in response, but didn't say anything. Clint gently lifted his head up, noting the huge knot already forming, but luckily, no blood.
"He's concussed, I think, but conscious," Clint called back over to Steve.
"What?" Clint looked back down at Stark, who had spoken.
"Hey, you with us?"
"Uh…yeah. What? Yeah." Clint frowned. "Oh, right, I can't see," Stark mumbled. Clint helped him sit up and held onto him as he began listing sideways.
"Can you walk?" Clint asked him. Tony was surprised to hear his tone was actually concerned and not just hateful.
"Can you?" he asked in the same tone.
"Mostly," Clint admitted. He was still feeling a little sickish from his own head wound, and going ballistic on the drone hadn't helped much.
"Then I can too."
They helped each other stand, both looking to Steve like a house of cards about to topple over if you so much as breathed wrong.
"Clint, are you getting your memory back?" he asked as they came back over.
"Um…not really…but things…feel different," he said hesitantly. Steve nodded. More good signs. Things were finally looking up.
Things had been looking up…until Tony proved incapable of holding onto Steve when they tried to get him on his back again.
"Christ," he mumbled when Steve slipped down his back for the fourth time, stifling the grunt of pain the movement caused his leg. "Shit, Steve, sorry," he murmured, angry at himself as he tried to hide his shaking appendages. The suit did a decent job of holding him upright, but he was still unsteady, and he couldn't hold onto anything for the life of him.
"Tony, it's okay," Steve said, guilt turning his insides. "I'll just…"
"You can hold onto me," Clint offered. "We'll be slower but…" Steve saw his hesitation as he looked back towards Tony. But the loathing that had been there since he woke up with memory loss was gone. "…maybe Stark can walk along behind us and hold onto my shoulder?" he suggested. Tony nodded, and Steve found himself unsettled by his lack of commentary, colorful or otherwise.
They set it up so that Clint was on the side of Steve's good leg, so the Captain could swing around his bad one to the side and then take one hop forward. It was painstakingly slow, as they were only able to move a few inches at a time. Each swing was like a lightning bolt up Steve's leg as well. Clint had done a decent job splinting it, but there was only so much one could do. He wished for some sort of pain killers, but since they were all used to having a full government support team, none of them carried medical supplies.
He distantly wondered if Clint wouldn't be averse to turning his quiver into a medkit.
"Where the fuck would I put that stuff?" Clint's voice came from next to him in sort of a teasing manner.
He didn't realize he had spoken out loud. Steve looked up to notice they were only just passing the mound of rubble the drone had been hiding behind. He groaned.
"Don't be so down on yourself. Look." Clint pointed, and Steve followed his gaze to where there seemed to be an access tunnel about a hundred yards further.
Steve could have sobbed with relief.
"Bet you a hundred bucks that's how the drone got in here," Clint continued, as they took another step forward.
"How far?" Tony mumbled from behind them.
"Eighty-seven meters," Clint said.
Steve wasn't surprised that Clint could measure distance with his eyes, but smiled as Tony mumbled "Wow, you even do metric. Classy."
"Technically, it is the global standard," Clint said jokingly. "And I can tell you're smart enough to make the conversions."
"You bet your ass I am," Tony mumbled. Steve smiled.
As it turned out, 87 meters seemed a lot shorter on paper then when you were inching along it. By the time they turned down the access tunnel and found the ladder leading upwards, Steve was about ready to pass out. As he studied the ladder, he knew there was no way he and Tony were getting up there.
"Clint," he breathed. "You're going to have to find help."
Clint looked back and forth between the pair, knowing he was right, but not liking it. Even though his brain told him he didn't know these people, he could feel in his gut that he did. He was really, really, trying to remember.
"I can't leave you guys here," he said, but knew it was the best course of action even as he said it.
Stark sank to the ground with a low moan. "Just…hurry, will ya?"
Clint nodded before beginning to climb the ladder at a steady pace, not wanting to invite the nausea back from his head injury. His brain still felt foggy, but at this point in time concern for the others pushed through. When he got to the top, the manhole cover was already pushed aside. He was disheartened to see that it opened into another subway tunnel. A working one, judging by the hum from the electric tracks near his head. Fucking fantastic.
He was trying to decide which way to go when he heard a voice echoing down to his left.
"Hey!" he shouted.
The voice stopped, but he heard footsteps echo off the wall, before someone he knew came into view.
"Agent Romanov!" he shouted again. As she got closer, she looked at him strangely. "Wow, am I glad to see you."
"You too," she said. "Looks like my hunch was right, and you three did discover the Moscow Metro-2."
"We're going to need some help here. Stark's blind, and Captain America has a broken leg."
She looked at him with confusion. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, yeah, it's just…a long story. Just go find some people with some harnesses and climbing equipment, okay? And maybe a crane for Iron Man, I don't know how you move him around."
She gave him a very concerned look before she turned away, calling for backup on her communicator.
The medics had further secured Steve's leg with an air cast before lifting him out. They wrapped Tony's head, and gave them both a morphine drip. While all this was happening and they were setting up the lifts, Natasha and a doctor had questioned Clint.
He had reluctantly admitted he couldn't remember anything that happened within the past year. Natasha looked somewhat sympathetic while the doctor said "It's possible your memory may not come back. But if you've been experiencing familiar feelings like you're describing, the situation's hopeful." Clint had nodded, looking at the men that were supposed to be his teammates being lifted out a hole, and a twinge of guilt flared up in his gut.
The helicarrier had been stationed over France, so they were brought their immediately to be medically treated on the journey home.
Clint had been twitchy, still uncomfortable with the whole situation and trying to reconcile the fact that this was his life that he didn't know. Tony had remained frighteningly silent, and Steve had been consumed with worry for them both.
The doctors said the bone would probably mend for Steve in a few days, but he'd be stiff for the next week or so.
They had told both Tony and Clint it was too early to tell anything.
Now that they were out of danger, both were consumed by fear for their futures, Tony especially.
Usually when Tony cut himself off from interaction, he had all manner of things to keep him occupied and distant. Now he had nothing. Steve had tried talking to him on and off during the flight, and while he occasionally gave one word answers, he had been stubbornly silent.
One of the nurses had suggested they listen to a stand-up album, but Tony had only laughed bitterly at Steve not getting any of the jokes.
When they got back to New York, all three were placed on temporary leave. Clint had seemed confused at first, but Coulson had explained to him they wanted to see if his memory came back. He had taken to wandering the mansion like a ghost.
Tony locked himself in his lab for most of the time. Steve made it a point to hobble down on crutches multiple times a day. At first, he figured he was doing some sort of auditory thing with Jarvis, but soon discovered he would just sit there, doing nothing.
Steve had tried to talk to him, but Tony only gave him the silent treatment until finally Tony snapped, chucking a screw driver he had been twirling in his fingers in Steve's general direction.
"Get out of here, Steve, I don't WANT to talk about!" Steve had flinched at the harshness of his words, before he left.
He went to find Clint.
"Maybe…maybe you could talk to him," Steve said hesitantly.
"I don't…why me?" Clint had asked with confusion. He didn't understand why Stark would want to talk to him, he barely knew the guy.
"Well…he and I never really got along that well, even at the best of times. You were…are," Steve corrected, "his best friend here. Even though it might not seem like it now." Steve inwardly winced at his words. This was uncomfortable to explain.
"No offense to your super plan or whatever, but I doubt the guy wants to see me," Clint huffed.
"Just…will you try? Please?"
Clint looked at his pleading expression before sighing. "Fine. But what do I say to him?"
Steve started slowly hobbling down the hallway. "Anything."
Clint knocked hesitantly on the door of the lab. Tony didn't move or say anything so he gingerly made his way in.
"Hey," he started hesitantly.
"Clint?" Tony asked surprised.
"You were expecting someone else?"
"Yeah, actually. Nick Fury to come down here and tell me to stop throwing things at his golden boy."
Clint snorted, pulling a chair up next to Tony's desk. They both sat there for a few minutes, not saying anything.
"How's the uh, the memory?" Tony finally asked, a bit hesitantly. Clint sensed he was afraid of the answer.
"The same," he mumbled. He saw the other man's shoulders sag in disappointment, so he kept talking. "But Thor and Banner have been pretty okay about it," he told him. "Thor brought me a keg of mead the other night. I don't know where he found mead, or what SHIELD employee let that guy out of their site long enough to get it."
Tony snorted. "Well, you can get anything in New York."
"Yeah," Clint agreed. "Thor's…Thor's kinda weird, isn't he?"
Tony snorted a laugh again. "Buddy, you don't know the half of it. The first night he was here, he smashed all the cups and got high on coffee at two AM."
Clint laughed. "Really?"
"Yeah. And then one time, he brought a live goat, an honest-to-god goat inside, because he said fresh cheese was far better, but he couldn't find anyone who'd milk it. And then of course it shit all over the floor."
Clint was holding his side in laughter. "And you made him clean it up," he snickered.
Tony laughed. "Yeah, I-wait, what did you just say?"
Clint looked at the other man who had frozen. "I…" he thought back. Thor…goat-shit…his head shot up and looked at Tony. "Holy goat shit, I remember!" He practically fell out of his chair as he pressed a hand to his head, bursting out laughing in a relieved, almost to the point of crying, way. He leaned forward again, touching Tony's forearm. "Tony, I remember! Just…fuck, I can't even…"
Tony gave the biggest grin he'd seen from him in days. "Goat shit, man, who knew?"
After that, Tony didn't sit around in the dark lab by himself anymore. He'd sit in the kitchen with Clint, making jokes at the other Avengers' expenses. No one got mad at them for it, they knew it was their way of coping. And everyone was happy to see Clint back to normal, and Tony not in a depression.
Finally the day came when a doctor came to take Tony's bandages off and examine his eyes. He let Clint (and begrudgingly, Steve) into the spare room the doctor had turned off all the lights in and closed the blinds.
"You know, I could always invent like…some echo-location-type thing…or douse myself in chemicals like that guy in the Bronx, what's his name? Blind Devil?" Tony began to rant.
"Daredevil," Steve corrected. "And better not call him Blind Devil in public. I think that's like, top secret information that SHIELD got by illegitimate means,"
"Nooooo," Tony feigned shock. "Fury? Spying on people? I won't believe it. I refuse." Steve shot a grin at Clint who smiled in return, dropping his amused gaze to the floor.
The doctor finished removing the bandages, and Tony blinked rapidly. Clint could still make out the shiny pink burns on his face, but they were healing. The doctor then picked up his pen light and shined it directly into one of Tony's eyes making him flinch.
"Good! That's good," he soothed. "Can you see anything?"
"Instead of a big dark blur, I see a big light blur," Tony tried.
"Really? That's what you're gonna go with?" Clint said sarcastically.
"Well…I do see…blurry things," Tony said as the doctor shined the light into his other eye.
"It will probably take a few days for your vision to re-focus," the doctor said smiling. "But after that, I'd say it looks like you might be golden."
Steve and Clint, both tense with anticipation, letting their bodies sag in relief as Tony hopped to the floor. "Good, so are we done here?"
"Yes, but stay out of direct sunlight while-"
Tony ignored him, turning to Clint. "Drinking?"
"Drinking," Clint agreed, and they hurried out of the room.
Steve slowly followed. "Thanks, doc. You've been a big help." As he walked out of the room, he allowed himself a huge smile.
His team was whole.