Cult Conundrum, part 2

Summary:
December 30, 2014: Two archers and a merc make their escape from a crazy lady and a cult, film at eleven! (Some language, abuse of driving privileges)

Upper East Side

On the road to Kate Bishop's place (which is really pretty nice.)


Characters

NPCs

  • None

Mood Music:
None


This is so awkward. Riding in the car. With a stolen painting in her lap. Twitching every now and then. Damn stun arrows hurt. Kate stares out the window as Domino drives, rubbing a hand at her brow.

"So, hi, nice to see you again," she finally says, glancing back toward the trunk. "Thanks for the save. I think it was a save, at least. Pretty sure."

*

"Yeah, hi! Haven't seen you since you punched me to the deck of a Quinn jet then I hijacked it and practiced my HALO jumps out of the cargo bay, how's it hanging?" Domino almost cheerily replies to Kate while zipping and sliding their car through blessedly empty New York streets. More or less. Empty for the city, anyway.%r%r

"Yeah, let's call that one a save. So..pardon my confusion and all, but aren't you and Barton supposed to be working -together?- Last I heard he didn't think of you as much of a target. Be honest, I figured you would have shot him first."

*

"I have no idea what just happened there," Kate admits, shaking her head and shifting to put the painting in the back seat. "Like. No idea. My only possible working theory is that he's the unfortunate victim of a gypsy curse where the minute he starts to date anyone, he'll lose his mind and get exponentially stupider. Only possible explanation."

She takes a deep breath, forcing it out slowly through her nose. "That, or mind control, I guess. But I'm leaning toward the gypsy curse."

*

Pause. "So..he's dating someone now?" Domino almost reluctantly asks before lightly rolling her head to one side in a pseudo-shrug. "Her funeral. Or his. Whichever. Hey, wait a minute. If it's a gypsy curse does that mean he dated a gypsy?"

Maybe she doesn't want to know.

"Leg doing okay?" she asks without looking at the wounded area in question. She's drivin,' heah! "On the bright side he didn't nail you with a broadhead, I don't know whose car this is but I think they'd be a little annoyed if they got it back with a red interior."

The events of the evening still haven't fully caught up to her. There's yet another pause before she suddenly blurts out "Colleagues and Mistresses!" while slapping an open palm on the wheel.

*

"If you were a gypsy, and you'd dated him, wouldn't you curse him when you were done?" Kate points out, arching a brow. "Also, it's adorable how you think there's a type of person he hasn't dated." She presses her thumb between her eyes, rubbing in a circle. "I really hope it's not mind control. That's just skeevy."

At Domino's question, she looks down, rubbing at her thigh. "I'm okay. Just a stun arrow. Kind of…twitchy, but I'm okay. You're going to have to read me in on colleagues and mistresses, though. No bells here."

*

"Sure, after I took his wallet," Domino admits with another slight shrug. Then she slooowly turns to glance at Kate, silent for a second before pointedly asking "Really? Great, the boy's desperate. -That- always ends well."

In the meantime she'll just sliiiide the car through another intersection. Hello, ice!

Back to the other matter at hand, her energy takes another upward spike. "The movie? About ten years back..strange flick but it did well at the office. The person that I saw in the basement," she thinks with a snap of her fingers. "-That- was the dominatrix. This conversation is really all over the place, isn't it. Right, you guys didn't see what was going on there, either."

(This should be interesting.)

"So I'm on the other side of the wall down there and I hear chanting. Honest to God -chanting.- Who does that anymore! Come through the wall and there's a bunch of cultists around an altar with someone getting torched with gasoline right in the middle of it all, and I -swear- to you the actress from that movie was standing there holding the can, not a care in the damn world."

*

*thump*

*thump*

Each bump in the road, each curve swings the unconcious Clint to vaguely unconscious. A turn causes an untethered jack to roll and smack him in the ankle, right on the bone, giving him yet a little more pain with which to rise to the surface.

*blink*

Dark.

*blink*

Still dark, but there's the sensation of motion. And muffled conversation.

It's the slide just as Clint shifts his position where there's a *whu?* followed by a *thunk*, which is closely followed by an *OW!*

*

"Yeah," Kate says slowly. "So, I was eleven ten years ago, and I wasn't watching movies with dominatrix…es. Ces. Whatever the plural is. But sure, that sounds like the sort of crazy that comes from film stars." She grimaces, imagining it. "And also other kinds of crazy people. Great. So we're going to have to go back there, with a team, and I'm going to have to explain how and why Clint shot me. Perfect."

The thumping in the back draws her attention, and she looks back with an arch of her brow. "Sounds like someone's alive back there."

*

"Dominatrixes..? Dominatrii?" Domino tests the proverbial waters before abandoning the fight. "Look, it wasn't THAT kind of movie, okay? They showed that flick in actual theaters. Remember that the creepy one is in the Brownstone we just left far, far behind. And in the trunk. But there's gotta be more going on here-"

'Ow?' "Hang on a second."

It's all the warning Kate's going to get before Dom brake-checks the car, the tires chirping out as a harmonious quartet as the front end lurches down toward the pavement.

(That oughta get his attention.)

"Hey dumbass, rise and shine!" Lowering her voice back to normal levels, she adds "Not for long at the rate he's going at."

*

When the car stabilizes just for a few moments, Clint's muddled head works out pretty much where he is, if not 'exactly' in terms of location. In… a car trunk.

Awww, no. Trunk.

There's very little room in which to work, and fully believing that he's picking up the rhythm of the road, Clint starts working on that seat that lies as a divider between his prison and the world outside. *thump*

The brake check, however, is something that he's really, really not expecting. While the two women have seatbelts, he would be called (lovingly or not) a projectile in this instance, and the basic unrestrained force of the check sends him thumping into the double back seat. He catches, just barely, '…rise.. shine!', which is promptly answered with, "Ow! Would you stop that!" Not a question, there.

As more sentience actually fills in the gaps, there is that brief moment of thankfulness. Not. Ziptied.

*

"I dunno," Kate says at Clint's request for a reprieve. "Are you done trying to shoot me yet? Because I've got a seatbelt, and she's got a seatbelt, and we might both enjoy watching you rattle around a little bit. For different reasons, I'm sure. Mine's because you shot me."

*

The request from the trunk is met with a "Maybe! Hey, Kate has something she wants to tell you!" Dom yells back before stomping on the brakes a second time. Glancing to the other woman, she offers "You're welcome. Hey, I'm having a lot of fun tonight. We should hang out more often."

Sharp turn!

"Though I -suppose- I can only hope to get away with kidnapping a SHIELD agent for so many miles… Is there anywhere you guys need to be? Because I'm giving it another thirteen miles before this all starts to get really awkward."

*

She. She? Muddled brain is trying to recognize voices, and there are only a couple of context clues. Who'd throw him in the trunk of a car? Well, obviously Kate, because that's a voice he knows, would know anywhere. Evelyn? No… she wouldn't…

Oh, crap.

"Wait… wait, shot-" The brake check sends Clint rolling into the back of the seat again, the thump not only heard but possibly felt in its vibrations. "OW! Stop that!" The acceleration sends him back in the direction of the back of the car with a *thump*, resting there only to have a sharp turn shift the few contents in the trunk that are with him. A kick is in response to that turn, as well as a grunt of pain as the jack smacks into the side of his head, and Clint's voice rises, "Goddammit.. ow!" Beat. "I couldn't have! You know that!"

Wait, wait… did he?

*

"Uh, I was there. I saw the arrow. Also, the first arrow you shot. Which missed." Kate pauses, tilting her head. "Which I guess is a point toward the mind control angle, since you're not really in the habit of missing. Aww, Clint, that's sweet. Even mind control couldn't get you to shoot me."

She turns toward Domino. "Maybe just one more, then we should pull off by my place. It's just, ah…three blocks west, two blocks north."

*

'Which missed.' "Oooooo…" Domino quietly voices as Kate starts tearing into the betrunked archer.

'Couldn't have,' huh? "I think that's really Barton back there," she then sides to Kate. "Definitely a gypsy curse. Wanna leave him in the spin cycle for a while longer?" she asks before smirking at the response given.

"SQUIRREL!"

*RRRK!*

"Can do," she continues both in driving and conversation as though not a thing in the world is amiss. "Though feel free to bitch at him the rest of the way, I'm rather enjoying myself over here."

*

"Missed?"

Clint thumps at the back seat, holding on to a bit of molded plastic in a wheel-well… probably that same well where the previous owner took the jack from and couldn't be bothered by putting it back in. "I don't mi- whaaa.."

*thump*

"Domino!" Now, he's worked it out. "Dammit.. c'mon, Katie." Appealing to the one who just might have that ounce of, if not guilt, a little pity? Clint will take pity.

That particular testing of the brakes manages to send the archer rolling and bashing into the back of the seats once again, breaking the little plastic catches that hold the back seats.

*crack*

Clint rolls halfway, and makes a grab for one of the side door handles, trying to keep himself from getting thrown. He looks a mess, to say the least. Rug burns, a couple bruises and a still deepening discolouration just under that new haircut, sitting atop a swelling where steel-toe met head.

And in greeting?

*groan*

*

"Hey, Clint." Kate sits in the front seat, arms crossed loosely over her chest, as if him rolling out of the trunk in a pile of scrapes and bruises is entirely normal.

To be fair, it is Clint.

"So, Domino and I were wondering if you'd ever dated a gypsy. Particularly one of the cursing sorts."

*

"Heeey, look who decided to drop in!" Domino happily exclaims as Clint spills out into the back seat. "Now that you're both here I wanted to tell you something."

Her right foot is already hovering over the brake pedal. This time she manages to resist temptation. Barely.

"Yeah, that and the gypsy dating thing, because seriously dude. -What the hell.-"

"Really though, there's a one in thirty-three thousand two hundred and fifty-six chance that I can absolve Barton of his past transaggressions. The dominatrix - the one from the movie, I can't remember her actual name, shut up - was acting really weird - more weird than someone that just torched some dude at an altar - she was telling me to wait, come back, -look at her.- She just about made eye contact with me, too. If there's any truth to this mind-controlling stare it apparently doesn't work through thermal vision, but she was trying to do -something- to me back there. The rest of the cult goons never said a word, they just blindly followed her command. Make of all of that as you will."

Then she jerks the wheel side to side once more.

"Something in the road, honest!"

*

*groan*

"What… wait, whut? Did I… whut?" Is this in any way sanctioned by the Geneva Convention, being grilled about past minor (and maybe not so minor) indiscretions by a current girlfriend when groggy and half-able to form a coherent thought, much less a response? "Yes… I don't know. No." There's a pause as Clint tries to actually find some semblance of stability in the back set, pulling himself to something a little more vertical and less horizontal. There's the commensurate grunting, *whoofing* of pain as hand touches head before he blinks, "Dominatrix?" Of -course- that's what he picks up on. "Miriam?"

Upon the uttering of the character's name from a movie seen many, many, many times on his VHS, Domino jerks the wheel. The blond projectile simply doesn't have the ability to have actually anchored himself, so forward he flies, his head hitting the headrest of the passenger seat in front of him, and down he goes, landing in the foot-well of the backseat. Cars like these? Not the roomiest in terms of legroom.

"Ow."

*

"Okay, so, mind control," Kate agrees with Domino. "I'm still not ruling out the gypsy curse possibility, though. It could totally be to blame for putting him in the path of the mind control." She pauses, glancing back at Clint with a faint grimace. "On the other hand, breasts and a little bit of distress are usually all it takes anyhow."

Sighing, she leans forward to point out a warehouse that's been converted to luxury lofts. "That's the place, if you want to come in and talk. He probably needs the ice packs."

*

"She shoots she scores," Domino mutters to herself as Clint goes down into the footwell. "You actually remember the name of her character? That movie's gotta be a decade old!" … "I think I just learned more about him than I really wanted to know," she mutters to herself.

A second later and she's -snorting- back a laugh as Kate talks about him some more. "The gypsy's a good call, I say we stick with that one for a while."

"Yeah, you two aren't in any position to try and apprehend me tonight. I can tag along for a few." Because three's not a crowd, it's a small party! With the directions and offer given she finally pulls the car around, braking -just- hard enough to try and get Clint to flinch in the back. "Psych."

Oh. Right. She came in from the tunnels originally. Which means no coat. Which is okay, her armor's temperature regulated. There is the matter of all of the weapons blatantly on display, though. "If anyone asks, we're all with SHIELD," she thinks aloud while turning the engine off.

*

"Hey," comes as a muffled voice from a 'foot well', "little credit here, please? I wouldn't shoot you for someone else's boobs."

A grunt sounds, then another as he pulls himself up from his spot, and as he twists to try and get into some position, Clint hisses a breath in quickly. "Oh.. that's… Kate…" Who else could have tagged him -there-? Domino wouldn't have done it. Well, probably not. Katie would go for a kick to the head.

There's a momentary pause when his breath escapes him again, and finally, he's sitting ass down in the seat, head up, hand out in an attempt to keep balance.

The braking tease causes him to tense up, holding his breath, but the actual check doesn't come.

The moment the car is parked, Clint is so very, very willing to get out. If he can actually manage to extricate himself from the backseat. All 6'2" or so of him. And his bow. Arrows…

Pain. Dizzying pain.

Okay, Clint, you can do this. You've felt crappier and made it.

"Curse. I am going with curse."

*

"If anyone were in the habit of asking, I wouldn't have an al Ghul welcome mat on the balcony," Kate grumbles at Domino's objection. Young, rich people live here. The staff is paid well not to ask. She's out of the car far quicker than Clint is, sighing softly when he starts his stumbling way out. There's a moment where it might be in question…But then she's at the door, holding out a hand to help him.

Although, he'll probably notice that even that is a little bit tentative, cautious in case he should lash out again. "Come on, dummy," she murmurs. "Let's go get you fixed up."

*

"For the record you did try to kill her," Domino 'helpfully' tells Clint. "Got her on the floor with another round on the string. Lucky break that I was there at the right time." Not that she thinks Kate couldn't have fought back on her own but it was awfully convenient timing! Glancing back to Kate with a slight frown, she asks "An al what?"

Eh, it's probably not important.

What -is- important is the stolen painting, which she takes a chance to quickly check over after Barton got tossed around all over creation. Looks okay so far… Whew. With that crisis averted she'll even help the two get where they need to be. Clint's a big guy. Fortunately, he also has two arms.

"You might wanna check in with HQ about that whole human sacrifice thing going on, too." Just a thought.

*

"You don't have one," Clint grunts at Kate. "You better not, anyway." Here's hoping that chapter is done and over with!

Still, with Kate there to give him a hand, there's a measure of guilt that at least finds its way to his expression before accepting the help. Owowowowow… and even though Domino lends an 'oh so helpful hand', there's a look that's levelled. "I did not. I wouldn't." No. No, he wouldn't. If he did?

The painting in the back, Clint really didn't notice, and it's not really in the conscious portion of his brain. All he really wants is to go upstairs and sit on the couch. Maybe even sleep there. Just toss a blanket, and-

"Aw, dog. He's at my place…"

Wait… wait. Human sacrifice?

"Whut? There was what?"

*

"Clint." Kate waits until they're in the hallway to her apartment, then reaches into her own quiver, pulling out a clearly used stun arrow. One of the ones with his fletching, and her notches in the nock. Pausing in the shuffle, she turns, showing the holes in her uniform where the tines for the stun device bit through the leather. "You shot me. Whether or not you remember it, it happened."

She pulls out a pair of keys, opening the door and nodding the others into the space. It's one of those rustic/modern places, where stainless steel meets wrought iron, and granite meets raw stone. Spacious, clean, and well-kept. "And also apparently there was human sacrifice, yes," she agrees with Domino. "Which is sort of a problem, really."

*

"Look kiddo, I know you fancy your keen vision and all but the two ladies that are supporting your heavy ass right now say otherwise," Dom counters Clint's objection. "Blame it on mind control if you want, it's one of the better backed theories right now, but you're still guilty as shit."

Dog?

"Try to keep up," the albino sighs. "We've moved -past- Mistress Miriam some time ago, the subject matter -following- a -completely fictional character- is - nice place - human sacrifice, for six hundred. Your stiletto-flaunting fantasy was -burning people alive,- Barton. Do you get that yet? We're well past the fireplay, here. Starting to wish I did more than knock her senseless on my way out the door. Lost a perfectly good mag."

"Seriously, nice place."

*

It's slowish going for Clint, and when they've made her apartment, or at least right outside, he leans heavily on the wall for support. There, marked for Evidence is Exhibit A. His stunner arrow. The 'Don't taze me, bro!' arrow. The electrical current's been expended and it's no longer functional as a stun until rebuilt and recharged (and the shaft is tested to be sure there aren't any micro-cracks, etc.).

What can he say? There's that heavy feeling that comes over him and the moment the door is opened, he rolls around to step through, and shuffles towards one of the couches that he's rather fond of. Falling into it with a groan, Clint rolls his head back and closes his eyes.

Work. Concentrate on work. But you shot Kate. Work. 'Guilty as shit.'

A hand rises to dig at his eyes, wincing now at movements. The swelling from the bump, and the bruise is noticable, but he's not doing anything about it. Not right now.

"Just a little bit of a problem."

*

"Thanks," Kate says absently to Domino's compliment, heading for the fridge to pull out a pair of ice packs and toss them in the direction of Clint's lap. That, at least, has a practiced air to it. Like it's probably been done a thousand times before. "So. You went in," she explains to Clint. "I lost contact for a bit. We had a chat. You went quiet. And when I came to check things out, first you shot a net arrow my way, and then you shot me with the taser while I was zip lining my way into the window. Which I did, by the way, so point off the training sheet there. Without falling to my death when someone shot me. For the record."

*

"Look on the bright side, at least you didn't miss her twice," Domino tells Clint with a lopsided grin as she passes him by in search of a bathroom mirror. As long as she's here she may as well inspect the damage from that earlier headbutt. It's going to take a strong mix of booze and painkillers to get any real sleep tonight.

When Kate starts explaining the ziplining and taking arrows in her direction, Dom calls out "Woo, shots fired!" from the other room.

A little later, she says "So, not to tell you guys how to do your jobs or anything but I'd be curious to see if there's been a problem with people going missing in the area lately. I know a willing victim when I hear one, and -that- guy was not one of them. You also might wanna start wearing your shades at night more, Barton. Maybe they'll keep you from getting Hypnotoaded again. Who knows?"

*

All Clint wants to do is to take the hearing aids out and call it a night. Really. The arrival of the ice packs are a welcome one, and there's a moment of indecision before he shifts in his seat and settles one underneath. The other, he stares consideringly at it for a long moment before it, too, is put under him. Blue eyes close again, and he almost looks like he's ready to go to sleep. One foot is lifted slowly to rest on the coffee table, then, the other.

It's the debriefing, however, that causes an eye to open. "I got there, scouted the place. Found a way on on the second floor. Was there, and… she showed up." And he didn't get an arrow off, nor did he get a message out. "She made it sound like a good idea. How it needed to be done, and I swear to god, Kate…" If he really hurt her? He'd never let himself live it down.

There's a moment where his eyes flicker towards the bathroom where Dom is, and then back again. Hands lift, and he looks in concerned earnest as he signs, 'We okay?' He'd completely understand if they're not. Chalk it up to 'Bad Idea #1'.

Domino's comment from down the hall, well.. it's hard to ignore. It is. Instead, he calls out, "Okay. I'm getting the idea. Keep it up, and…" //I'm liable to lose my best friend. "… just… I get the idea."

Nodding slowly, Clint has to agree with Kate, "Okay, you passed ziplining."

Now, the missing persons? Clint shifts his position again and grabs a pillow to put under his arm. "We'll check the area's missing persons."

*

Kate rolls her eyes with a faint smirk at Domino's cheering, shaking her head. "Damn straight I passed zip lining," she agrees with a firm nod, coming over to the couch. There's a moment where she hesitates, looking at the bruised and battered Hawkeye Sr. This…is entirely normal, and yet new. If they're dating, there are things she's allowed to do now, right? Things she hasn't done before, because, well, it would've been weird.

Finally, she reaches out to brush a hand over his hair, leaning in to press a kiss to the blossoming bruise at his temple before she tries to slip back to the kitchen. "What's the proper recovery for getting tased, anyhow?"

*

"We always miss the ones we love," Domino almost singsongs while turning off the bathroom light. It isn't until she steps back out into the living area, completely after the kiss comes to pass, that she sees the discomfort Clint is in, and more than just in a physical sense. Now, -only- now, there's the slightest ping of sympathy. ..Or guilt. It's definitely one of those annoying emotions she doesn't like to deal with.

"Hey, I'm sure you guys will figure this out. Tonight could have been a lot worse. We all got out of it alive," but not necessarily in one piece, "and now you've both got some very critical intel to work with."

Yeah. Those two. Not her. It's not her case! It's -not her problem.- She already got more than she bargained for with this gig, it's time to take her painting and cash the hell out.

"Considering you were back on your feet moments after, it shouldn't be long. That's the beauty of that less-than-lethal junk. Shrug it off fast then remind the other guy what it means to be in a damn fight."

With a quick glance to the underside of a wrist, she thinks "I should bug out. You guys know how to reach me..if you -really- want to." She's kind of suspecting that neither of them are going to want to unless they have to after tonight. Making friends all around, right here!

*

"Yeah, now base-jumping while someone is shooting at you is next on the list," Clint adds. "No rest for the weary." Like he's got something to say about that? All he wants to do right now is rest.

It's the light, familiar touch followed by the not-so-familiar gentle kiss pressed on his head that brings the relieved sigh from the archer. Reaching up so as not to jostle anything, he makes to take her hand briefly. So much he'd -like- to say, but either he can't, or he simply can't.

Domino's re-emergence doesn't have him dropping her hand, but it does have him agreeing with the merc. "Non-lethal means you have to find it in you to keep fighting and kick the other guy's ass." Not that he's a shining example of that at the moment, but didn't the albino complain that Clint wouldn't stay down? Stubborn…

"Yeah. And Domino? It still was a good idea to call you in. So, I'm not gonna tell you to wait by the phone, but you might get a call." That's as far as he'll get towards a 'thanks', because if she weren't there? "I know how. And… Kate, did you manage to get my phone?"

*

"Nope," Kate answers Clint, grimacing. "I've got your back up in the sidebar by the door, though." Of course she does. As Domino comes back out, she nods to the mercenary. At least she's not kicking her in the face this time. This is progress!

"Thanks," she says to the other woman. "Good luck, and all that. Maybe better luck than stumbling into burning people alive," she adds with a rueful smile.

*

"Yeah, I'd rather not base this relationship on facial injuries and immolation," Domino seconds with a grin as Barton reminds her..she actually did take his phone on the way out. She retrieves it from a combat pouch (such a silly name for a stitched pocket on a belt,) and sets it down on a nearby table before she makes her way to the door.

"Don't get all caught up in any crazy satanic cults now, kids."

*

"I think you should have her empty her pockets real quick before she leaves, Katie," Clint asides. "She was out of our sight for a few minutes there…" Payback, no matter how small, always feels good.

Clint does let go, though he shifts slightly as a hint to Kate that maybe he might like her to sit with him, kinda sorta. Okay. Yes. He would.

"Okay, I'll base jump, get shot at and shoot back. Then, you jump and I'll just shoot at you. How's that?" Okay, maybe too soon. Very.

Clint exhales in a sigh and waves towards the Merc. "Make sure you fence that painting in a different jurisdiction. I don't want to see anything coming over the wires from NYPD about a stolen painting, then come to find out that it is creating an international incident. Because, my luck, that'll happen."

Two words.

Gypsy. Curse.

*

"Oh, come on, like it wasn't stolen in the first place," Kate snorts at the talk of the painting. "It came from the house of a crazy lady who was burning people alive. Not like she's going to call the cops." At the look from Clint, she goes over to the couch, dropping down next to him. She's still got her arms crossed loosely over her chest, and she's not looking at him, but the odds of forgiveness seem…okay. So far.


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