We Came, We saw, We Had Shawarma
Disclaimer: The Avenger's are the property of Marvel Comics and the collective genius of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and company. I own not a frame or page of them but am just living in their universe for a while.
Clint's whole body ached as he lay groaning on the floor of some random office building. Silence had settled over Manhattan a few minutes ago, apart from the random car alarm and siren, which meant either they had somehow defied the odds and won or . . . well better not to think about it.
The earpiece in Barton's ear crackled and popped. '. . . Clint. . . ere yo . . . hear . . . Bar. . ?'
Clint rolled to one side and pulled out the small earpiece. He shook it several times then placed it back into his ear. 'Nat?' he said.
'Clint!' A relieved Natasha suddenly spoke clearly in his ear. 'Where are you?'
Barton grunted as he dragged himself to his feet. 'Still in the building where Stark left me.'
'Well get your feathered ass to my place.' Tony Stark's voice rang out.
'What the Stark Tower?' Clint walked over to the shattered window and looked out. Devastation and smoking buildings met his eyes. No aliens were flying; no aliens were in sight period. Wouldn't you know it, looks like they had won.
'No my pad in Malibu, of course the Tower. We're going to arrest Loki's ass.'
Clint's grin was feral. 'Count me in.'
It took almost ten minutes just to reach the ground floor and what greeted Clint as he walked outside was surreal. Overturned vehicles and large chunks of rubble were scattered about like Lego bricks. Stumbling bloody figures loomed out of the smoky haze, and then disappeared just as quickly, like ghosts. It was like every apocalypse and disaster movie Clint had ever seen rolled into one and brought to devastating life. Bodies were strewn about the rubble, luckily most of them seemed to be alien, but there had to have been a high death toll among the civilians.
'Jesus,' Clint muttered as he limped along what should have been a busy highway. His path took him past the bus where he and Natasha had rescued some people what felt like hours ago. There was no way of knowing if any of them had survived after everyone had run for cover. Clint spied some of his arrows decorating a few bodies; a couple of them were still in good enough shape that he could reuse the shafts. He felt naked with only his bow so he gladly pulled them out. You never know when a well placed arrow might be needed.
Finally he reached the Stark Tower and worked his way inside. Considering the place had been at the epicentre of the invasion it seemed in reasonably good condition. The lights were still working, which meant if he was really lucky . . . he pressed the elevator button and waited.
A quiet 'ding' sounded behind him and Clint sighed in relief, looks like he wouldn't have to climb anymore stairs today. Stepping inside he pressed the button for the top floor; nothing happened.
'Excuse me, sir, what do you think you are doing?' A male British voice spoke over the elevator's intercom.
'Uh, hello?' Clint leant against the nearest wall of the elevator, who the hell was this?
'You are not authorised to use this facility.'
'You got to be shitting me.' After all he'd been through today and some pompous ass was going to jerk him around?
Clint was just about ready to put an arrow through the intercom when Stark's voice spoke over it. 'Legolas, that you?'
'No, it's the fucking cleaning lady.' Clint growled.
'I ought to fire you, this place is a mess.' Stark said. 'Hang on, let me override the security, Jarvis is a bit touchy at the moment, can't imagine why.' A minute's silence then, 'There come on up. Penthouse floor; super heroes, demi-gods and women's lingerie.'
Natasha was waiting for him when the elevator arrived. She raised an eyebrow as she took in his appearance. Clint's bare arms were covered in cuts and bruises and the left side of his face was peppered with small nicks. He leant heavily against the elevator wall.
'What am I going to do with you?' she muttered in Russian.
Clint slowly pushed himself away from the wall and limped out of the elevator. 'Same thing you normally do, ignore it.' He replied back in the same language. He looked at the cut on her forehead and switched to English. 'Are you okay?'
Natasha nodded as Clint walked past her and into the room. He was favouring his left leg and his back was stiff with pain. But she knew he wouldn't appreciate her bringing this to the attention of the others.
She also chose to ignore Clint's reaction when he saw her holding Loki's staff. She couldn't blame him for giving her a wide berth as he walked past, not after all he had been through.
The rest of the Avengers were standing in a group near the middle of the room. Four heads turned in unison as the S.H.I.E.L.D agents walked in.
'You took your time.' Stark said.
'Well some of us can't fly.' Clint pointed out.
'Neither can the Captain,' Tony pointed towards the all American hero. 'Yet that didn't slow him down.'
'How bad is it down there?' Steve Rogers AKA Captain America asked.
Clint and Natasha walked over to where the others were standing. 'Bad.' When Clint saw what they were all looking at he began to smile. He knew he'd retrieved those arrows for a reason.
There was a man-sized dent in Stark's floor containing the unconscious body of Loki.
Tony turned to look up at the Hulk. 'Remind me never to let you redecorate again.'
The Hulk grunted as he paced the floor.
'Oh cleaning lady,' Tony turned to Clint. 'Would you care to take out the trash?'
'With pleasure.' While Clint's action, reaching over his left shoulder for an arrow, mightn't be as fluid as he would normally like he was still able to pull back the bow with only a dull ache of pain.
'Do not kill him.' Ordered Thor.
Clint gritted his teeth and glared sideways at Thor. 'Really, after all he's done?'
The Hulk roared his agreement at that statement.
Thor raised his hammer. 'He is not of your world; I will not allow you to harm an Asgardian.'
'Try and stop me.' Clint drew the bow back even tighter, all he had to do was let go.
'Barton,' Steve placed a hand on Clint's arm. 'He has to stand trial, there must be justice. We're not ruthless killers here.'
'Uh,' Tony raised a hand. 'You have read his file, right?'
Clint narrowed his eyes and stared at the so called god that had almost destroyed his sanity. 'You have no idea what it was like.' He whispered.
'Clint,' Natasha spoke to him softly. 'There is too much red in the ledger.'
With a groan of frustration Clint loosened his pull on the bow and slowly sank to his knees. Steve Rogers nodded his thanks at Natasha.
'Oh great,' Tony sounded bored by the whole thing. 'Now what?'
'Well,' Natasha replied. 'I've contacted Fury; he's sending a transport to take Loki into custody.'
'Acceptable?' Steve asked Thor.
'Let's wake him up.' Tony said suddenly.
'What?' Natasha shook her head at the idea.
'At least we could poke him a little.' Tony smiled when Barton grunted in agreement. 'Have you seen what he's done to the place? The contractors had only just left.'
'No poking,' Steve said. 'Let sleeping gods lie.'
'Spoilsport,' Tony turned away from Captain America and raised an eyebrow at the Hulk. The green giant grunted questioningly back at him. Stark jerked his head at Loki, mimed falling from a great height then smiled as he tapped his chest plate. There was more than one way to wake someone up.
The Hulk snorted and grinned back at Tony. Throwing his head back the Hulk roared and pounded on his chest. Loki's whole body seemed to jerk in reaction.
'Stark!' snapped Steve.
'Wasn't me.' Tony threw his hands out in an innocent gesture.
Clint fingers tightened on the bow's string as Loki's body twitched again. The Hulk grumbled and Loki gave a small startled cry as he woke up, the demi-god rolled away from the Avengers and began crawling towards the nearby steps. He paused on the second step as if suddenly aware he was being watched.
Rolling onto his back Loki looked to see the self proclaimed Avengers before him. The woman was holding his precious sceptre, his brother stood next to her all sanctimonious and proud. On his left was the arrogant protagonist Stark and the leader of these misfits, Captain America. Looming behind them was the green beast. And crouching in front of them all was the archer who he had once controlled.
Barton pulled the bow's string back towards him, the arrow steadily pointed towards Loki's right eye. Unseen by anyone else the Hulk grinned at the fallen god and raised a fist in a threatening gesture.
Loki tried to smile. 'If it's all the same to you I'll have that drink now.'
Natasha shook her head at the sheer nerve of Loki.
'Bar's closed,' Stark finally said. 'We're renovating.'
'Pity.' Loki nodded towards Barton. 'Care to call off your dog?'
Tony looked to Steve. 'No?' he asked the Captain, when Rogers shook his head Tony turned back to address Loki. 'No.'
Clint gave a humourless smile. 'Someone give me an excuse.'
'Ease up Barton,' Tony said. 'Nobody likes premature executions. At least wait until I've put a sheet down to catch the mess.'
Loki tried to appeal to Thor. 'Brother, I hope I didn't wound you too badly.'
Thor touched his side where Loki had stabbed him. 'It is but a small prick.'
Steve briefly glanced between Thor and Loki. 'Yes, he is,' he said.
Tony snorted in surprise as the Hulk barked out a laugh. Did the two most straight laced members of the boy band just make a joke?
The sound of a heli-jet announced the arrival of Loki's transport.
'That's your ride.' Steve said.
'I don't suppose we could all pretend I wasn't here?' Loki asked.
'Hey, good idea.' Stark said. 'Quick Hulk smack yourself in the face to make it look real, while Barton takes the dummy-god into a back room and slits his throat.' Tony mimed talking to someone. '"Hey guys, sorry you just missed him", sounds like a plan to me.' Tony winked at Rogers and Thor to clue them in on his joke, then turned around just in time to see Clint with his knife already out. 'Whoa, hey!'
Three S.H.I.E.L.D agents walked into the room armed to the teeth and carrying restraining gear.
Natasha walked over to stand next to Clint and addressed the agents. 'Right on time, he's all yours.'
Sensing the tension in the room one of the agents looked from Natasha to Clint, memories of the archer's recent actions still fresh in the agent's minds. 'Who is, Agent Romanoff?'
Clint slammed his knife back in its sheath, glared at Natasha and walked away from everyone to stand near the broken windows.
Loki laughed quietly as Thor and Steve walked over to stand near him. 'Impeccable timing, gentlemen, I think you just saved my life.'
The Hulk growled at those words.
'Uh, Sir?' the lead agent looked from the large green giant to Romanoff to Rogers.
'Chain Loki up,' Steve told the agents. 'He's under arrest for crimes against humanity.'
'Not to mention bad taste in clothing,' Tony added. 'I mean really have you seen what he's wearing?'
As the agents began to wind long chains of steel around Loki, Thor added. 'You should gag him as well; my brother has a wily tongue.'
It only took a few minutes for Loki to be well and truly restrained. Two of the agents began to escort him to the heli-jet, with the third agent walking behind with his gun drawn.
Steve nodded to Natasha before the pair began to follow the agents. 'We should report back to Fury.'
'Well count us out,' Tony gestured towards the Hulk and himself. 'I don't do paperwork and the big guy . . .' Nobody wanted to be confined in a small space with the Hulk.
'I will return with you, too.' Thor twirled his hammer a couple of times. 'To make sure my brother behaves.'
'Clint?' Natasha turned to look at her partner, who hadn't moved from where he was standing near the window.
Barton chose to ignore her; instead he ran his fingers down the string of his bow as if looking for some hidden damage. The Hulk grunted at Tony and looked from the billionaire to the haunted archer.
It was not surprising that Barton didn't want to rush back to the helicarrier and Nick Fury, not after he had almost single-handedly taken the airship down.
'Hey, Feathers,' Tony said. 'You ever tried shawarma?'
Clint turned to look at Stark surprised at his words. 'Yeah, in Lebanon.'
'Really?' Now it was Tony's turn to be surprised. 'Well I saved the world and I want some. So how about it?'
'How about what?'
Stark turned to Natasha, who had waited behind when the others had left for the transport. 'Feathers is going to wait with me and the big guy. Tell the Cap we'll all meet up at the Shawarma joint.'
Natasha raised her eyebrows. 'What Shawarma joint?'
'You know it's a couple of blocks that way.' Tony waved vaguely off to his left. 'You can't miss it, just look for the Shawarma place with the big green Hulk parked out front.'
The Hulk growled at Stark's words.
'Hey,' Tony protested, 'don't blame me. You know the rules big guy, no shirt no service.'
The Hulk snorted in protest as Natasha looked enquiringly at Clint, who nodded back at her. Natasha inclined her head at their unspoken conversation and walked out of the room.
'Okay,' Tony said as the sounds of the departing heli-jet faded away. 'I'm going to slip into something a little less end of the world chic,' he tapped his fingers on his battered suit. 'Don't make yourself at home, we won't be here long. Oh, you can leave your,' he waved at Barton's bow and quiver, 'toys over there. You know, there's this thing called the Twenty-First Century you should try it sometime.'
'You didn't seem to be complaining when I was saving your ass.' Clint shot back as Tony left for the elevators.
Tony gave a dismissive wave as he continued walking away, then hesitated and turned back. 'Don't let the big guy near my bar.' He warned.
Clint turned to look at the Hulk as Tony disappeared into the elevator. The green giant just grinned at the agent and began to laugh.
Tony looked up from where he had been doodling equations in the fine dust on the table. 'You say something?' he looked over to where Barton had been cleaning but the archer was nowhere to be seen. He then turned to the comatose figure of Bruce Banner, slumped over in a chair next to him. 'You say something?'
Clint limped in from back room. 'Did you say something?'
'Where is my food?' Tony demanded.
Bending down with a groan Clint picked up a chair and slumped into it. 'Things might go faster if you helped.'
'Help?' Tony held up his hands. 'Do you see these? These hands create, they inspire, they dream. They do not help!'
Tony pointed out towards the street. 'Did you hear that?'
Just then Thor appeared at the broken window of the Shawarma shop. 'I have found them,' he said to someone outside.
Brushing the last of the jagged broken glass clear with his hammer Thor stepped over the window sill and into the shop. Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanoff approached the doorway. Steve dragging the sagging door open with some effort, then insisting that Natasha enter first.
'And what time do you call this?' Tony asked, a little petulantly. 'Our booking was for six, we almost didn't get a table.'
Steve looked around the empty shop. 'Lucky we arrived when we did.'
'I had to order without you.' Tony waved to the back of the shop. 'You're welcome.'
'I ordered,' Clint corrected.
'So if you don't like it, blame him.' Tony said.
'I'm sure everything will be fine.' Steve dragged a chair over from an overturned table and after brushing off the dust offered it to Natasha.
Natasha ignored the gesture and walked over to another table to pick out her own chair to sit on, much to Clint's amusement.
Steve sat down with the others, while Thor wandered about looking at the merchandise. 'So what's wrong with Doctor Banner?' he asked, indicating the sleeping physicist.
Tony waved away Steve's worry. 'He's sleeping off a hulk-over, don't worry he'll be okay.'
'And you know this how?' Steve asked.
'Because he's already done this once today and he was fine.' Tony said in a tone of voice he only used for imbeciles, which was pretty much everyone.
'What is this?' Thor held up a t-shirt emblazoned with the shop's logo.
'Not your size.' Tony said.
'I see you found Bruce some clothes.' Natasha said, moving her chair next to Clint.
'Yes, about that,' Tony replied. 'If we're going to be doing this on a regular basis we need to pack Banner a bag. You have no idea the weird looks I got dragging a naked man through the streets, even after a day like today.'
'You dragged him?' Clint lifted his left leg up and used Natasha's chair to support it. The trip through the city had aggravated his injury.
Tony was dismissive of Clint's efforts. 'I was there.'
'Where did you get Doctor Banner's clothes?' asked Steve.
'Uh,' Tony began to look evasive. 'We acquired them.'
Steve shifted his weight and sat forward in his chair as Thor grew bored and sat down between him and Tony. 'Acquired?'
'It was a clothing store.'
Steve's eyes narrowed a little. 'And this store sold you the clothes?'
Tony turned to Clint. 'I don't like his tone, do you like his tone?'
'Was this store even open?' demanded Steve.
'It was missing the entire front section of the shop; I'd call that open, wouldn't you?' Tony replied, with a smile.
'You're going back there to pay for the clothes.' Steve said.
'Do I need to remind you that we saved the world today?' said Tony. 'They should be throwing us a parade and you're complaining over some clothes?'
Steve jabbed his finger down hard on the table to make his point. 'You will pay that business back.'
'Fine,' Tony snapped as Thor began to laugh at them. 'Maybe I should just buy the whole store and give the clothes away.'
'Boys.' Natasha growled at the pair of them as the shop owner walked out of the back room with a tray full of small baskets.
'Ah,' Thor exclaimed as a basket was placed in front of him. 'Many thanks, good woman.'
The shop owner proceeded to go anti-clockwise around the table delivering each person their meal. Steve smiled and thanked the woman, while Natasha murmured something in Turkish at her, the woman paused at Clint and touched him briefly on the cheek as she placed his food in front of him, then she continued around the table placing a basket in front of the sleeping Bruce and after a glare at Tony dropping his food on the table.
'What was that?' Tony asked as the woman disappeared into the back room. 'And what was with the . . .' he gestured towards Clint's cheek before glancing into the archer's basket. 'And why is your food better than mine?'
'Maybe because I helped clean.' Clint replied as the woman returned with three plates full of fries.
She glared in Tony's direction again before moving away to begin mopping the floor.
Thor glanced down at his basket of food. 'This is shawarma?'
'Apparently.' Tony turned and not so gently elbowed Bruce.
'Wha?' Bruce sat bolt upright, blinking. He reached up to adjust his glasses only to realise they weren't there and self-consciously dropped his hands into his lap as he looked about the shop. 'What's going on?'
'Eat.' Tony pointed to Bruce's food.
'Welcome back, Doctor Banner.' Steve said, pulling a basket of fries towards him.
'Oh, thanks.' Bruce looked around the table. 'I take it we won?'
Thor watched how Natasha lifted the pita bread up to take a bite before following her actions. 'We were victorious.' He mumbled around a mouthful of food.
Clint dragged his basket onto his lap and began dismantling the bread to get at the meat. 'Yay, for us.' He said, without much enthusiasm.
Bruce looked towards Tony who was just staring at his meal. 'Tony?'
'Huh?' Tony looked over to Bruce. 'It's just, you know, finger food,' he wiggled his fingers then carefully picked out the tomato. Picking up the sandwich he turned it back and forth a few times before finally taking a bite. Chewing slowly he swallowed then put the sandwich back down. 'Remind me never to do this again.'
'It was your idea.' Steve said before yawning. He leant his right elbow on the table dropping his head onto his fist.
Bruce slid a basket of fries in Tony's general direction. 'Where'd I get the clothes?'
'We went shopping after you de-greened.' Tony told him.
Bruce looked down at what he was wearing. 'And this is what you thought I'd like?'
'Blame Feathers,' Tony retorted. 'I wanted to put you in board shorts and a Hawaiian shirt.'
Bruce reached over and slapped Clint on the shoulder. 'Thank you.'
Clint waved away the gratitude and the Avengers fell silent as everyone either dozed or continued eating.
'So,' Tony finally broke the silence. 'How was everyone's day?'
Five people turned and glared at Tony.
'What?' Tony looked from one person to another. 'Too soon?'
'Give it a rest, Stark.' Natasha said.
'Fine,' Tony stood up from the table. 'I'm going to use the little Iron Man's room.'
Tony left looking for the bathroom, leaving Steve trying to explain to Thor exactly what he had meant.
When Tony returned it was to see only Bruce and Thor sitting at the table. 'Uh, guys, where did everyone go?'
Both men pointed towards the street.
'They are coming back, right?'
Thor ignored the question as he pulled the remains of everyone's food towards him. Bruce shrugged as he snagged the basket of Tony's fries before it migrated to Thor's end of the table.
'Did they at least leave some money?' Tony asked as he sat down.
'Steve said you were taking care of it.' Bruce grabbed a handful of cold fries before shoving the basket towards Thor.
Ignoring the fries Thor finished off the last of everyone's shawarma and stood up. He wiped his hands clean on his red cloak and gave a brief nod towards the shop owner.
'Not you, too.' Tony said.
'I need to check on my brother.' Thor said as he slapped Tony hard on the back, almost knocking the man headfirst into the table. 'The feast was adequate. Next time we should have dancing girls.'
'Yeah, right.' Tony watched Thor walk away. 'Should we introduce him to a strip club?'
Bruce laughed at the image that comment produced. 'Who do you think he'd knock out first, you or the bouncer?'
Tony realised that the shop owner was starting to move towards them. 'Hey, Bruce, lend me some money will you?'
'Wake up butt naked, remember?' Bruce replied. 'Maybe next time you could steal me a wallet full of cash along with the clothes. Besides what's wrong with your money?'
'I don't have any.'
Bruce looked mystified at that comment. 'You're a billionaire, remember?'
'Who doesn't carry any cash.' Tony said. 'I have a Pepper for that.'
Both men looked around the shop.
'Who isn't here at the moment,' Tony added. 'That's beside the point.'
The shop owner stopped next to the table and made a "Harrumphing" noise.
'Sorry, buddy,' Bruce smiled as he pushed his chair back from the table. 'Maybe you can come up with another way to pay?'
'Traitor,' Tony called out as Bruce walked out of the store. 'After all I've done for you.' He turned back to the shop owner and tried on his most dazzling smile.
It didn't work as the shop owner scowled and thrust her mop towards Tony.
'Ah, I don't suppose you want to sell me your shop?'