Hawkeye never really enjoyed flying through the air. The stunt always gave him a vulnerable and desperate feeling; it went without saying that neither was something he was comfortable with. Climbing and tumbling, you had some control. Swinging was all gravity and momentum, with a helping of dumb luck. Back when he'd been with the circus, the trapeze artists had tried to teach him some moves, but he didn't have a sure-handed catcher waiting for him now. When he committed to the leap and pushed off the balcony, he began to swing in a broad arc toward the back of the theater, moving both down and sideways relative to the point where his arrow was attached. The ceiling was four stories high, which made him the pendulum at the end of a long string; the floor sloped up from front to back, as most theaters did. There was only a narrow walkway between the seats and a small space at the back, which made it difficult to judge when he should cut himself loose, especially since both were full of people.

Oooh... he was going to puke. Whatever was going on in his ear was also giving him wicked vertigo, the lights and colors whirling around - or was that him doing all the crazy spinning? It felt like the world gave a lurch, and the decision about when to drop wasn't his to make. He hadn't been able to see the cracks in the large ceiling mural when he'd fired off his arrow, the structure having been compromised and shaken loose by the device concealed above. A large chunk had fallen out under his added weight, taking his arrow with it. He flailed for a moment in surprise when he felt the stomach-dropping sensation of free-fall, then tucked his head into his arms a fraction of a second before crashing down into a cluster of people. They yelped in pain and indignation as his mass hit them. He half-bounced and half-rolled off them, grazed the edge of one seat with his thigh and another with his head, and landed hard in the aisle. There he rolled into the legs of several more people. His line was trailing after him, flapping loose. A couple lengths of it wrapped around his body, awkwardly pinning his arms and bow to him. Either sweat or blood was dripping warmly down his face, stinging his eye. Damn.

A male foot in a patent-leather dress shoe stomped down hard near his face. He jerked away just in time to prevent the heel from taking off his nose, his quiver digging painfully into his back. His head was pointed toward the stage, making it lie lower than his feet on the tilted floor, another problem when it came to no-armed leverage. There was a knife tucked in his left boot that could easily slice through the line, but he had no way to reach it trussed up like he was. When a pair of hands reached out to grab at him, he wrenched himself onto his back and kicked out with one foot, propelling the man away to bowl over a pair of brawling women. One had just grabbed a handful of the other's elaborately curled hair; the second had hooked her fingers into the first's beaded necklace. When the man crashed into them, her fingers grasped and pulled reflexively, trying to break her fall. The necklace's cord broke and scattered beads everywhere. Hawkeye closed his eyes as they rained down around them to bounce against the seats and floor, then rolled and tripped yet more people. He pulled his knees up and tried to roll over, but his bow was slanted across his body. Opening his eyes and grunting with effort and frustration, he twisted the other way, using a leg to hook and sweep two others' feet out from beneath them, jerking to avoid the falling bodies.

Black Widow had seen Hawkeye fall - how could she not, really? She'd been headed to the rear of the theater, but now she had to reverse course and make her way back to her partner. When she turned, a man's arm caught her around the middle and a hand slapped solidly onto her bottom, hoisting her up and over his beefy shoulder in a sort of caveman-carry. At least, that's what he was trying to do. She went with the momentum rather than fighting it, and when her stomach landed on his shoulder she grabbed two fists full of his jacket. Using the grip for leverage, she curled her body and brought her knee up sharply into his nose, feeling it break under the assault. As he reflexively bent to put his hands to his face, she somersaulted over his broad back, pushing off and coming to a three-point landing on the floor, one hand raised for balance, her dress flared out around her.

"Hawkeye," she called, wanting to warn him that she was coming; maybe wanting to reassure him at the same time. She saw him move and knew he was at least conscious. More than that, he was fighting back. Despite the situation going utterly to hell around them, a smile crossed her lips. He was a hell of a partner - a hell of a man.

Unfortunately, Hawkeye could hear nothing but the ringing in his head. Everything else was a distant and distorted mess, like the trombone wah-wah of the adults in the old Charlie Brown cartoons. Bracing against the side of a chair, he shoved himself into a backward roll, bruising his shoulder some in the process but landing on his knees without breaking his neck. Another shift got one foot down, and then he was standing. For now he was going to call that progress.

There was another hand on him, but this time his defensive blow was blocked, and his gaze met a familiar pair of blue eyes. He didn't have to tell her where his knife was; Widow reached down and pulled it out, cutting him free from his drop-line, turning only once to brandish it at someone. The guy backed off immediately, faux courage sapped by the sight of the weapon.


From his vantage point at the back of the floor, shielded from the violence by a special effect of his device that rendered him effectively "invisible" (in a psychic sense) to those around him, Cross had also witnessed Hawkeye's Tarzan impression. Something was wrong. He could just feel it. Somehow, the archer and Black Widow were deaf to the song of his Siren. At the moment he didn't realize how literal that was, but he could see that their movements were too purposeful. It was time for him to go.

Reaching into a pocket, he pulled out a small remote device and thumbed in a code. There was an audible rumbling and rattling, the three-ton chandelier shaking and swaying violently, the mural around it visibly cracking now. Zeus' face fell away, then a cloud, white dust raining down on the audience like snow. Faces turned upward, uncomprehending. Cross smiled in his anticipation, putting the remote away. As he turned on his heel, there was a popping sound followed by a rending screech from above. The entire mural fell away, chunks breaking apart as they hit seats, chairs, and floor. Bare beams and rafters were exposed; then the giant, gilded bronze chandelier began to plunge toward the floor.