Chapter Four

Clint spat mud out of his mouth and pushed himself to his knees. He touched his sore forehead, and felt a bloody bump. Concussion, probably. It wasn't exactly his first time getting a knock to the head. He opened his mouth to call for Tasha, but suddenly remembered about the paintball game.

"Clint!" he heard Steve call in the distance. Clint wondered how long he'd been lying on the ground. He buried his face in his hands and sat back on his knees, wishing he wasn't quite such a mess.

"Barton?" He looked up, and saw Tasha crouching in front of him. She leant forward and pulled his hands away from his face. "Stupid man," she muttered.

"Sorry," he mumbled.

"Only you. I shot Coulson by the way. I figure since you passed out, we can just say I won, and that way, I don't have to shoot you." He couldn't help a small smile at that, and she grinned back, relieved.

"I think I have a concussion."

"Of course you do. Need a hand?" She pulled him to his feet, catching him as he nearly face planted.

"Why are you being nice to me now?" Clint asked.

"I wanted to win," she muttered. "I thought if I was nice to you, I might make the mistake of trusting you and then getting shot in the back." He whistled slightly.

"At least it wasn't something I did. I still think the whole kidnapping thing was a bit extreme."

"What can I say, I'm a sadist at heart." She began to walk Clint towards the hut. He kept his arm around her shoulders, although he didn't really need to.

Clint lay groggily in the SHIELD medical unit. They'd given him some painkiller or other - he did wonder whether it was more to keep him subdued to stop him walking out prematurely, than because of actual pain. It wouldn't be the first time he'd tried that.

"Agent Barton." He looked up to see Coulson. "How's the head?"

"Not too bad. How long do I have to stay here?"

"A few days, I think." Clint pushed himself on to his elbows, ready to start moaning, but Coulson shoved him down. "Barton, behave yourself." He stuck his tongue out at his handler, who glared at him. "I mean it."

"I don't need to be in here for that long." Just to annoy Coulson, he pouted.

"I was going to do something nice for you, but the way you're carrying on, I don't think I will." Coulson turned and walked out of the room before he could say anything. Clint frowned - usually Coulson could take much more teasing than that before he started to get truly shirty. He fell asleep again, unsure what else to do.

"He looks quite sweet when he's asleep." Someone sat on the edge of his bed and stroked his hair.

"Should we wake him up?"

"He'll probably wake up soon enough." Clint opened one eye.

"I look sweet when I'm asleep?" he grinned. "That's nice of you to say Tasha." She got up quickly and scowled.

"This never happened." She glared at Clint, who smiled back, committing the information to memory.

"What's going on?" All of the people who he'd been paintballing with, plus Dr. Banner were there.

"The original plan was to go out for a meal, but you passed out several times. We thought we'd skip the meal, but Tasha and Coulson figured you'd be up for birthday cake - courtesy of Stark's robots," Steve explained. Clint's face lit up, making everyone laugh. Thor pulled a large cake from a box he was carrying, and Tasha pulled out one of her ever present knives to cut it with.

"Make a wish," Stark said. Clint looked at the cake thoughtfully. He didn't really know what to wish for.

"Why?" Coulson asked innocently. "He isn't allowed to cut the cake anyway."


"Knowing you, Barton, you'd cut all your fingers off," Tasha interjected.

"Hey!" Tasha laughed at his indignation, and handed him the knife.

The cake tasted slightly odd, and Stark wondered if he needed to fine tune his robots more, but there was a high enough chocolate content to satisfy Clint.

"We should go paintballing again," he said happily.

"No," Tasha said immediately.

"Awww, Tasha," he whined.

"Maybe a water gun fight, on mattresses or something," Stark said. "Safer."

"Barton would still find a way to injure himself," Tasha reasoned. "Next year, maybe take him to the cinema."

"But I like water guns."

"We know. Remember when there was that week when all you did was sit in the vents and shoot people?" Coulson buried his face in his hands. "I don't think I've ever had so many complaints against you." Clint grinned. Tasha slapped him, hard.

"You shot me. Three times."

"I still don't know how you're still alive after that one," Stark said. Tasha turned her glare on him.

Clint resolved that as soon as he escaped the dreaded medical facility, he was finding his water gun again. This was going to be fun.

A/N: Thank you for your reviews and favourites! I hope you enjoyed this :)