Sleep It Off


“Sleep it off.”


That was what Coulson always told him. Got knocked on the head by some thug wielding a 2x4? Sleep it off. Got injected with some hallucinogen? Sleep it off. Slip a disc? Break your collarbone? Your arm? Sleep it off. Sleep it all off. Barton was beginning to suspect the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent had missed a key day in combat first aid training. Sleep was good, sure, but it wasn’t a cure-all.


Except, there were times it seemed like the best option. “Did you hear me, Sir, or were you too busy holding your nose and trying not to sneeze?”


Silence meets this, and Clint starts to think he’s gone too far with the teasing. But then “Eeyistchh! H’chitshhh!


Clint takes a deep breath and states clearly, “We’re aborting this mission.”


“What? Sniff! No! Sniff, sniff!


“I’m making the call. Mission aborted. I’m returning to the van.”


“Agedt Bartod, I—“


“Too late. I already pulled out. I’m on my way back.” He was almost there, in fact, making great time on the rooftops instead of using the streets and alleyways.


hitshhhh! Hehhhschhhh! Eh-hehhhh… ehh…. Ehhhh-yehtchhhh!


Clint sighs, but he’s already climbing down a fire escape and approaching the van. He pulls open the sliding black side door and stares at the man with his nose deep in a hanky. “Bless you, Sir.”


“We cad call id adother hadler for you. We dod’t have to cobletely scrab—“


“I don’t want another handler for this mission. S.H.I.E.L.D. can just send another team if they want this so bad. And the drop-off isn’t until next week. There’s plenty of time for someone else to move in on this. I’m taking you to the nearest base.”


“It’s a three hour drive.”


“Sounds perfect. Get in the passenger seat.” Sunglasses in place, bow by his side, just in case, Clint hits the road toward Penultimate Base.


Coulson’s nose keeps him awake for a little while. But soon the motion of the van and the quiet, companionable, welcome silence in it makes him fall asleep. When he wakes, they are passing another sign Clint can’t read; good thing the GPS is in English.


Ihyshhhh! Hittshhhhh!” Coulson reaches for his handkerchief only to find a giant tissue box on his lap. Clint grins with considerable pride as he watches Coulson look around at the sea of pharmaceuticals and other items: hot packs, cold packs, cough drops, nasal sprays, saline rinses, eye drops, sleeping pills, Vaseline, and a lot more. “Clidt? How…” A box of decongestant slides off the seat onto the floor of the van, and Coulson coughs as he bends over to retrieve it.


“Stopped at a convenient store of sorts.”


Coulson’s eyes widen in alarm. “That was a stupid—“


“Don’t worry. We weren’t caught on camera.”


“How cad you be sure?”


Clint smilea, hand leaving the wheel to gesture toward his bow. “’Cause I took both of them out.” He gives a chuckle. “And you thought I’d never find a good use for those boomerang arrows.”


Coulson starts to laugh, but it makes him cough. And the coughing makes him need to blow his nose. He rests his head back against the seat. “How far out are we?”


Clint checks the GPS. “About forty-five minutes. Enough for you to get some more sleep. That’ll fix you right up, won’t it?”


With a sniff, Coulson shakes his head. “Okay… so baybe sleebig wod’t fix everythig. But I… eh-I-ehhh-h’yshhhhh! Htshhhhh!” He shudders and then blows his nose.


“Sit tight. When we get to the base you can sleep or not sleep. It’s your call. You’re the senior agent here.” Clint hopes he’ll choose sleep, though. It might not get rid of his cold but it can’t hurt to sleep through the worst part of it.