Sleep of the Just, or, Everybody Knows Coulson is Secretly A Ninja
Fandom: Avengers Movie-verse
Characters: Phil Coulson, Clint Barton, Darcy Lewis (Thor), Nick Fury, Natasha Romanoff, Steve Rogers, Thor, Pepper Potts
Summary: Ten hospital visitors. Is this fix-fic? I surely think so.
Warnings: Movie SPOILERS; very sketchy medical knowledge on the part of the author. More notes at the end.
Every organisation has its own way of going about things – a signature scent if you will. S.H.I.E.L.D's scent involves brutal efficiency, blueprints of grandeur, and a general attitude of budget? what budget? which leads to such things as the helicarrier itself, a laundry room which had brought strong men to their knees in awe, and a medical facility which, two minutes and eighteen seconds after Phil Coulson bleeds out on a metal floor, has him hooked to massive blood transfusions and his heart stuttering back to life.
It stops again five minutes later, when shifting stresses on the damaged carrier temporarily cut power to the medical section. S.H.I.E.L.D staff are also characterised by their terrifying determination (even the janitors – S.H.I.E.L.D headquarters are clean).
Three hours, seventeen procedures, and an exotic blue substance that the Head of Medical technically refers to as very hinky stuff later, the man is somewhat stable. Staff are drawn away to other urgent cases and when Phil Coulson wakes, he wakes alone.
It's dark, but he can hear the helicarrier screaming around him, and smell the astringence of a medical bay. His nose itches abominably. Coulson reaches up to wipe his face... and his arm doesn't move. He tries to open his eyes or shift his legs: nothing. Ah.
Coulson is a patient man, and possessed of the S.H.I.E.L.D ethos. Trapped in a waking coma, he settles in for the long haul.
1 Clint Barton
The thing about his best agents, his special boys and girls, is that even when they are off-duty, they can never be heard. Just, the silence of an empty room and suddenly they're there, smelling of leather and acrid sweat and getting blood on his best chair.
Here and now when the helicarrier is screaming silence is easy, but Coulson smells one now, on the far edge of his hospital room. I expect a clean shot, Agent Barton, he thinks silently. And don't, don't – he pauses, unsure of any useful benediction for his compromised agent – don't dream. But Coulson's best sniper only stands there for a breath and a breath, then ghosts to his side. Coulson feels the warmth of a hand almost touching his shoulder, and withdrawing, and his hawk is gone.
2 Darcy Lewis
"So all I'm saying," he hears, "is if a crew of jack-booted thugs kidnap a girl from defending her Master's thesis in the name of her own protection, then crashing on the way in and leaving her with a cracked arm in a freakin' war zone is not an encouraging sign of said thugs' competence. Okay? Sorry, I can see you're having a bad day, too. Ow, my arm hurts. Lollipop? I can waft the smell over – mmm, lemony."
It's Ms Lewis, the physicist's assistant from the incident in New Mexico, the one that tased a god. Coulson wonders how long she'll stay – protective custody has turned into recruitment before now, and he'd rather like to keep this one. He ignores any ifs in this plan.
"Welp, your flying thing is the sky is cool, anyway. But I want to make one thing clear, since we meet again so providentially." She leans over him and he smells sweat and pain, lemon and the wool of a jumper as she whispers in his ear, low and dark, "You have my iPod, and until it's back, this ain't over. I'll see you when you're up."
Ms Lewis, he acknowledges, as an infuriated medic hauls her away.
3 Nick Fury
"Permission still denied, soldier."
4 Captain America
It is much later, and Coulson thinks perhaps that he has been sleeping, for the sounds of the carrier are much calmer now, almost agreeable. He hears the clear stride of a very large man, the squeak of his shoes, and a rustle of something light placed on the table by his bed. Steve Rogers' light clear voice says, "I signed all of them. Once they were dry." A click of heels and the brisk rustle of cloth that is probably a salute.
As Rogers leaves, all Coulson can think is, I'll be – Captain America signed my cards!He almost manages a smile.
5 Natasha Romanoff
More silence, then leather-smell and perfume and the creak of a chair. He hears turning pages, and a dark coffee voice begins:
In a certain Tsardom, across three times nine kingdoms, beyond high mountain chains, there once lived a merchant...
Andsuddenly Phil is back in an icy safehouse in Minsk, reading aloud from a battered book, while Agent Barton paces back and forth on the wooden floor and Natasha lies on a table, wrapped in a red blanket, twitching and spasming as she sweats out chemical agent 221, her eyes dark and mad.
..in that time there had been born to him only one child, a daughter, who from her cradle was called Vasilissa the Beautiful...
"Son of Coul, my father, too, sleeps the Odinsleep," says Thor. "While he sleeps Thought and Memory fly across the worlds and gather him wisdom."
That's one way to look at it, Coulson thinks.
"In the mean time," says the god, "I will chant to you some little of the saga I have composed in your honour."
Somewhere in all this, Coulson is transferred to a ground facility – a small hospital attached to a military base. He listens to the tramp of troops jogging through his window and enjoys the breeze.
Eh, this isn't the first time he's been stuck in a hospital long term. When Coulson was much younger, he came back from a tour of duty that... didn't go so well, with a traumatised spine and a lot of new scars. Three months of bed pans and wheelchairs, and he was as surprised as any when he felt a fly land on his foot. In a couple of hours he could use the bed rails to haul himself along, so he headed to the john to piss in dignity. When he got back to the ward it was to the screaming of a nurse and the start of the everybody knows Coulson is secretly a ninja legend. He got transferred to S.H.I.E.L.D the next day.
So he knows from patience. He maps out his hands and his arms and his legs, carefully visualising each tendon and nerve and thinks through the actions of making them move. When he gets bored with that, he calculates the placement of this base by prevailing weather and the geographical ranges of the songbirds he hears, with occasional shadowy visits from his matched pair of assassins.
8 Pepper Potts
He never expects Tony Stark and is not disappointed, but the man's assistant and better half (then call me Pepper, Phil) comes by every fortnight or so. He looks forward to her delightful fragrance and the click of her heels. She spends a relaxed half hour updating him on the events outside. The Avengers' Initiative is doing well, it seems. There was an attack of mole-people in Manhatten on Sunday, diplomacy and trade agreements won out, but now everyone is worried about the Coming of the Incendiary Bat. It seems par for the course.
9 Darcy Lewis (Again)
"Hey, so Russian Modesty Blaise said you were still on ice and I was on-base so yeah. Gotta say, small-arms training is fun. Pew pew pew!"
Mine! This one's mine! he thinks, and there is rather less unacknowledged if in this thought because he rather thinks he can feel his fingers twitch. But alas, his guest does not notice this because at that moment there comes the crumpled thump of mortars exploding outside.
"Aw, hell no!"
So there's an attack on the base and Coulson is at this point unable to determine if he's the target or an extra while they're here, but there is indeed a team coming through his window along with the gentle spring breeze. Ms Lewis acquits herself very creditably before succumbing to sleeping gas a half moment before Coulson does. He hopes it isn't the stuff he's allergic to.
It is, and Coulson comes awake vomiting, desperately turning his head to the side to clear his throat and mouth of the bile coming out of his otherwise empty stomach. When he's through the horror of dry-retching he blinks, because he can.
All the colours look wrong and movement is strictly shove arms and legs around wildly like a newborn baby but he can't really say he minds. Right now any movement at all is a very happy thing, so he looks around as much as he can.
Turns out he's half on-half off a stretcher in a S.H.I.E.L.D transport, and he is starting to appreciate Ms Lewis's view on rescues because half his movement difficulties are from the floor being seriously askew, the pilots up front are holding their heads and groaning, and there is sunlight coming through the wall where daylight should not be. A woman - Ms Lewis, he thinks - is lying on another stretcher, her dark hair spread around her, breathing deeply and evenly. She looks stable.
Phil Coulson heaves himself into an awkward belly-crawl and heads for the back of the transport. Secret ninjaor no, there's a john back there, and he wants to piss in dignity.
I expect a clean shot, Agent Barton – as far as timeline goes, this scene takes place between Hawkeye asking "How many agents?" and Hawkeye expressing his extreme pleasure in helping the others take down Loki. Coulson is a little out of the loop, here.
Darcy Lewis – the intern from the movie Thor. Far too awesome to leave out of Avengers canon.
Vasilissa the Beautiful – this quote comes from Russian Fairy Tales by, or possibly translated by, Post Wheeler. A little girl has to get a light from Baba Yaga, with the very real danger of being cooked up for soup, but her courage, courtesy, and a blessed token from a loved one see her through. Not a bad moral, really. Natasha would be reading this in Russian, but I cannot convey that accurately. (I figure Coulson, Hawkeye, and Black Widow have some epic history in the classified files.)
Eh, this isn't the first time he's been stuck in a hospital long term – I got the recovery-from-paraplegia story from an ex-soldier with a lot of bullet holes. (His dog had bullet-holes, too.) I lifted the conscious-during-a-coma shtick from Love In Shades of Grey, which really isn't a superhero book, but is still a good read.
Russian Modesty Blaise – Modesty Blaise comes from some newspaper serials and a series of books by Peter O'Donnell. I strongly recommend them, but avoid the movies. She makes bashing heads in look good, and has a long term partner who's very good with thrown weapons, hence Darcy's analogy. Go read the books.
I think this is the first fix-fic I've ever written. Go me! My fanfic-type bingo card grows ever spottier!
I'm really not sure if the ending works or not, so comments either way are welcome. Cheers.