CONCOURS: dernier jour pour participer!DERNIERE EXTENSION!(Postée au finish! Woohoo!)
Après avoir subi des tentatives de corruption par gaufres parfum fleur d'oranger, été menacée par des yeux de pitou énamourés et avoir subi un chantage au suicide par pendaison avec spaghetto trop cuit, j'ai décidé de rajouter encore une semaine au concours (le poll ne m'a pas vraiment aidée 18 voix contre, 19 pour ).
Le concours se finit donc
18 MAI 2014 (à 23:59 heure française)
Mais alors là je préviens inutile de me demander un rab de temps sinon vous pourriez pour la première fois voir une Odessa, très mais alors, très en colère è_é
Note désabusée d'Urdryamnash: "C'est fou comme tes menaces sont crédibles..."
Une place en plus sur le podium!
40 participations! Pour moi, c'est simplement incroyable
Du coup, forcément, je peux me p
When Scarlett regained consciousness it wasn’t at all how she had hoped or what she had expected. Instead, it was thanks to her body sending panicked signals of pain every which way. Eyes snapping open she immediately regretted giving into her instincts. The ice cold water she’d been dunked in burned her eyes and she instantly closed them and shouted in pain, another action she regretted considering she was under water.
There was a hand on the back of her head, gripping her hair to hold her underneath since she’d tried to pull away from what was causing her pain. Choking on the water that had passed through her lips in her attempt to cry in anguish, Scarlett did the only thing she could think of. She thrashed violently. Throwing her arms out she reached for the edge of whatever was holding the water, it was smooth and metallic and just as cold as the water inside of it.
Still it was her ticket to being able to breathe, and the water in her lungs, as cold as it was, was creating a panic she couldn’t escape. Fighting the hand on the back of her head, Scarlett kicked at whoever was behind her and swung her arms wildly. She at last managed to break free of the grip in her hair and then finally escaped the water. Inhaling greedily, she found there was too much water in her throat to breathe so instead leaned hunched forward and coughed, spitting out as much of the water as she could before it made its way into her lungs. It was hard enough to breathe before she’d been dunked under water and had ice cold water in her windpipe, with it had been nearly impossible. Still was as she coughed and gagged, unable to do much else than that.
Usually in this situation, Scarlett would be on her guard and ready to fight her way out. She’d know in an instant how many villains were in the room, what she would have to do in order to escape and would locate her best exit. But Scarlett wasn’t herself. The fight with Scott had broken her spirit and her arm was throbbing miserably thanks to how she’d thrashed about. No one had bothered to tend to the gunshot wound so it’d crusted over and there was blood dried along her arm. At least it had stopped bleeding on its own.
But whoever was torturing Scarlett, and as she finally looked up she saw that it was Mikhail, was well on their guard. She had been allowed to step back and breathe since she had been startled awake. Blinking her sore and swollen eyes she stared up at Mikhail, still hunched over. Her stomach was tender and aggrieved from being kicked around so many times and her flesh burned from the temperature difference outside of the cold water. She shook her head to try and ward off the pins and needles traveling throughout her face.
Mikhail was staring at her expectantly, no emotion behind his gray eyes as he watched her every move. The defensive part of her mind was telling her she should say something snarky about her condition but instead she coughed and felt water dripping over her lips instead of words. Her reflexes weren’t working with her, not yet. The fight on the suburban streets of Russia had taken too much out of her and she wasn’t recovering as quickly as she had hoped. It was an unfortunate consequence of getting older, being kicked around, and being sick.
“Can you breathe?” Mikhail asked, leaning over and looking mildly startled that she hadn’t lashed out at him. The Scarlett he’d crossed a month ago would’ve come at him the moment she caught her breath. Something had changed.
Reluctantly she nodded, trying to gather her bearings. “Good.” Standing upright, Mikhail straightened his sport coat and nodded to a pair of guards nearby. Each guard grabbed one of her arms and dragged her back to the basin that she’d broken free from. It was filled with water and ice and she resisted instantly, recalling the pain of the water in her lungs. Twisting her hand free from one of the guards, she stomped on the foot of the second.
Mikhail grabbed her hair and the gunshot wound on her left arm to weaken her. She howled in agony as the crusted over wound burst from the pressure of his hand and bled freely again. Before she could retaliate her head was shoved far beneath the water that she had desperately hoped to avoid. This time she’d at least had warning so she was able to hold her breath and close her eyes tightly. They had still burned from the freezing water getting in them before but now she would at least be prepared for the shock, depending on how long they chose to hold her underwater that was. Clearly this torture had been designed to wake her up, but she didn’t quite understand why it was happening in the first place. She’d fully expected to come to in a drug ridden stupor after some procedure had been done to her.
If she had to guess only a few hours had passed since the fight in Suburbia, if that.
Eyes clamped tightly shut, Scarlett’s lungs begged for air much quicker than she’d thought they would. The ice water was making her shiver and tremble and though she shoved and pulled at those holding her, she was only pushed further beneath the water. If they didn’t let her up soon she’d have to inhale and she’d already almost drowned once in the last ten minutes, she had no desire to do it again. The longer she struggled to breathe, the worse she felt. Her stomach churned and felt sick, her throat was burning with vomit she refused to release, and her heart was pounding so hard in her ears she was sure it was going to explode or stop dead.
Just when she thought she was going to have no choice but to inhale and deeply at that, she was pulled up from the water by her hair. The tug hurt her already pounding head, but being under that water, even for just a few seconds had properly woken her up from the unconsciousness that had lingered on her thoughts. When she was brought up for air she breathed in greedily. Mikhail released her hair but the guard next to her was still holding her so she wouldn’t escape.
Angry, Scarlett let him get close enough to check her pulse and then grabbed onto his wrist. She twisted it unnaturally and swung him in between her and the basin. She then head butted him hard in the face, knocking him back and almost sending him flying into the ice water. The second guard grabbed for her but she stumbled sloppily out of the way just in time and knocked him hard in the jaw. Unfortunately her left arm buckled under the contact and she saw stars. It had been easy to forget that her arm was injured when she’d been so panicked underneath the cold water. Still she somehow managed to be on her guard as the first guard regained himself.
But Mikhail was quick to react and grabbed her hair with unnatural strength. She was dragged back to the water basin that she hadn’t managed to move far enough away from despite her attempts. He was cursing in Russian but Scarlett wasn’t listening and only knew bits and pieces of the language so it was impossible for her to translate more than common swear words. Stomping on his foot, Scarlett grunted as the guards grabbed her arms again to keep her from thrashing. He grunted in annoyance as she slammed his foot a second time but persisted. Mikhail purposely smashed her head on the top of the basin to teach her what would happen if she continued to resist.
Dizzy with blood dripping into her eye, Scarlett braced herself for contact with the ice water again, rushing to hold her breath so that she would last as long as she was sure she would be held under. Mikhail pushed her under the water with more force than the previous times. Half of her body was practically underneath the water from how hard she was being shoved. The little remaining air she had managed to hold escaped her lips in bubbles and she struggled against Mikhail’s grip in order to break free to no avail. She couldn’t handle being dunked under again after this. Something in her head was sending off panicked alarms, warning her that if she went under a fourth time she wouldn’t be able to hold her breath and would actually drown.
When Mikhail lifted her back up again, her head spun. Would she really be able to fight like this? She’d hoped that after she’d succumbed to the beating Scott had given her she would have some time to recuperate and reevaluate her situation. Twisting free now that she was slippery and wet was easy enough to do, so Scarlett broke away from the men holding her arms and turned, swinging blindly toward Mikhail.
But her balance was worse than she thought and she missed entirely and stumbled backwards. Trying again to hit him, Scarlett found that she was unable to and placed her hands on her knees, coughing up the water that had gotten into her lungs the first time she’d been dunked beneath the freezing water. Her head was pounding from the constant temperature changes and her teeth were chattering when she wasn’t coughing. Chest aching, Scarlett couldn’t find any relief despite how much she continued to cough. Her body was shivering and in over drive, the water having drenched her black coat, dripping down the rest of her and making her nerves twitch.
Standing up straight she decided that staying on the defensive was the right idea, considering she had little to no strength left. But it only took a few seconds for her to lean over and start coughing again. The cold feeling of the water that she’d inhaled wouldn’t go away and she continued to gag so hard she nearly fell over. Mikhail shook his head in disappointment, showing no other emotion than that. Then he nodded to the two masked guards, one who had his mask rolled up over his nose since Scarlett had busted his lip when she’d head butted him. The two grabbed her with ease and dragged her backwards and away from the basin. Scarlett was only partially relieved. Water torture sucked, but it was a breeze in comparison to at least at thousand other things Scarlett could think of. If she hadn’t been sick, then it wouldn’t have been nearly as much of a struggle as it had been.
Apparently she had pissed MedCo off enough that they weren’t going to spare her any suffering. Recounting the last few weeks, she could see why they wouldn’t want to keep whatever experiments they were going to do painless for her. As much as being stuck in another hellish torture sounded like a nightmare, it would at least give her the opportunity to try and escape before anything terrible had been done to her. Well, more terrible than being beaten and abused that is. Scarlett was trying to look on the bright side of things and it was much harder to do when she was being strapped to a metallic chair in the center of a room designed for imprisonment and torture. Though her head was still spinning and one eye refused to focus she managed to take in her surroundings.
There were chains hanging from the ceiling, presumably so she could be whipped at some point. The water basin was near the door along with a table where several instruments of torture were sprawled out, she assumed to pose a threat. They likely wouldn’t leave those in there with her when they were done with her if they chose to leave her alive. She would be too much of a menace with any tool they provided her. Unfortunately, it seemed that MedCo had learned that lesson twice now in the past. They’d held her once in Afghanistan and while she had been helpless for weeks she had still managed escape, by mere determination and then again in South Africa where they had chosen to provide her with the very tools that had aided her on her way out.
She guessed she wouldn’t be afforded that luxury a third time. Her ankles were bound to the chair she sat on and her hands were tied behind her back so she wouldn’t be able to lash out again. Her left arm was done for the time being anyway. Even though she tried to move it, and her fingers obeyed the order, she couldn’t feel them well enough to get anything accomplished. She guessed that her grip strength was going to only get worse as the blood dripped down her arm. Plus she was so damn cold that she could barely feel her fingers on her right hand either. Never in her life had she wished to get rid of her jacket so desperately.
Finally able to put the room back in focus, Scarlett realized the absence of the one person she had expected to be there for every moment of her torture. Scott was nowhere to be found. She’d really expected him to be there as the person to comfort her so that he could finally rescue that damsel in distress he’d claimed to clean up after for years. Anger surged within her again at the betrayal of someone she’d made the executive decision to trust. Talk about causing major issues, how was she supposed to trust anyone after this? But where was the slimy bastard if not watching her? If she got out of there, she was going to hunt him down and show him just how vicious she could be.
Tony had once accused her of being obsessed with vengeance.
Back then he’d been wrong but now she was so consumed with vengeance she found that she was gritting her teeth at the mere idea of finding Scott. How could she have ever felt guilty for what had become of him? He’d brought so much suffering down on her head over the years and didn’t bat an eye! Why couldn’t she have been this angry when she’d first found out… and more importantly when she’d had a gun?
“Miss Damien.” Mikhail finally spoke, drawing her attention back to him and away from the spot in front of her she’d chosen to focus on during her musings. She hadn’t even bothered examining the left side of the room after she’d realized Scott wasn’t there. Out of the corner of her eye she caught sight of a cot that looked eerily familiar to the world’s least comfortable cot that had been provided for her during her imprisonment in Afghanistan. Did every terrorist organization shop at the same Ikea or something?
Scarlett finally turned her attention fully on Mikhail since he seemed to be waiting on her to do so. Cocking an eyebrow curiously she coughed and waited for him to continue. Whatever he had to say Scarlett didn’t care. She was so done with MedCo and the people who ran it that she felt there was very little left to say. The game of cat and mouse had ended and it had been made clear just what role she’d been given.
Tony was right. She should’ve involved S.H.I.E.L.D. and she should’ve let him help when he offered the chance. They could’ve gotten it done from the safety of his basement workshop together. Instead she’d insisted on pulling old tricks and chasing after ghosts when she could barely keep her mind straight and get some damn sleep.
“No greeting? Awfully rude, aren’t we?”
“You just stuck my head in a pool of ice water. I think if it’s a contest you won.” Scarlett managed to find her voice at last which was scratchy from having coughed so much. Plus there was still that nasty cling of near frozen water in her throat that was threatening her windpipe.
“Ailing and frail and still haven’t lost that spunk of yours. It is a relief to see. When you missed with that sloppy punch I was starting to worry about you.” Mikhail didn’t look worried at all, in fact he was stoic. Once again Scarlett became nervous of what he was capable of. He’d never gotten enraged with her. He’d never even rose his voice to her. Instead he’d remained calm through every confrontation and had barely blinked an eye when she had been getting the best of Scott for the brief few seconds she’d managed to gain the upper hand.
Sociopaths were scary as hell and Scarlett was not at all pleased to be caught in the grasp of one.
“Well, you know me… people pleaser and all.” Scarlett coughed, clearing her throat of the ever annoying cling that made it harder to breathe.
“I have a few questions for you, Miss Damien. The next few minutes will be as painful as you choose for them to be.”
“Oh goodie. This should be great.” Scarlett grumbled, closing her eyes. She was never good at this part of being held captive. Interrogations never ended well for Scarlett, not in a single situation she could think of. Even spirited debates usually ended badly for her most of the time. It wasn’t like she could help the insulting things that came out of her mouth faster than her brain could think them up. Sometimes being quick witted was a massive curse.
“What is it that Tony Stark knows about us?” Mikhail stood in front of her, his arms crossed over his chest. The guards stood on either side of her and waited for her to strike out. Apparently Mikhail had learned a little bit at long last when it came to dealing with Scarlett’s mannerisms.
“What?” Scarlett furrowed her brow, trying to wrap her mind around the question “What do you mean? What does Stark have to do with this?” Tony’s name was one she was hoping she wouldn’t hear. It was as she feared. He was too far involved now to get out scot free.
“What have you told him? How did you get in contact with him in the first place? Your escape in South Africa, you can’t expect me to believe that was coincidence. Iron Man shows up on the same day you blow Erick’s brains out…”
“Have you ever considered that maybe he’s just much smarter than you think he is? I thought he worked for you back then, so I didn’t tell him a damn thing.” Scarlett wasn’t exactly lying when it came to that part of the story. Tony had shown up in South Africa on his own volition after having discovered that his ex-business partner Obadiah Stane had been working with the company under his nose to smuggle out munitions from Stark Industries and sell them for an expanded profit to terrorist organizations. Tony had been trying to make amends for the wrongs he’d done over the years including having ignored that his weapons had ended up in the hands of people who had no problem harming women and children as well as American soldiers.
It was simply coincidence that he’d picked Scarlett up out of the desert.
Now was not the time for Scarlett to be questioning the validity behind Tony’s story. She trusted him, didn’t she? But then again she’d trusted Scott and this was the third time he’d managed to put her in a prison cell.
She’d trusted him and look where it had gotten her.
“I told you not to take me for a fool.” Mikhail spat his words. Was Scarlett finally irritating him? This was both a comfort and a threat for Scarlett. She had barely said anything and he was practically growling at her. Maybe the menacing glare he threw her was a design meant to threaten her. Either way, she wasn’t going to show him that it bothered her. Besides, she was too busy over-thinking everything to care.
“Trust me, I know you’re not a fool. But even so what does it matter what Tony knows? I’m obviously the bigger threat here.” Scarlett’s head was pounding for a variety of reasons. The bump on the top of her head from being smacked against the basin of ice water was throbbing unpleasantly.
“You were in contact with S.H.I.E.L.D. the other morning. What is it you told them when you met with their little agent? On that ship you burned to the ground setting us back a year in experiments… what did you show them from within?” This time Scarlett stayed quiet. MedCo was panicking! But why?
She thought they didn’t care much about anonymity anymore! Considering they’d poisoned how many people in the last few weeks, she didn’t think that stealth was their number one concern. Attacking Tony Stark at a charity benefit weeks ago with robots, making no attempts to disguise who they were or why they were there wasn’t exactly the move made by a group of people trying to remain in the shadows.
It seemed like Mikhail didn’t exactly agree with some of the decisions that were being made by his peers or at least that is what Scarlett would’ve guessed by his demeanor. Obviously something else had set him off, something bigger than Scarlett throwing a wrench in the gears of a well oiled machine. If that machine had been well oiled then he would’ve had no reason to panic when she’d informed S.H.I.E.L.D. of their attempts to play God.
“What did you tell them?” Mikhail hunched over her, grabbing the back of the chair and sitting a good six or so inches away from her face, but letting her know he meant business. “Did you show them pictures, files, data? There’s no record of it that we can find.” Scarlett simply stared and kept her lips sealed for the time being.
What did it matter? She was trying to rack her brain for the answer. The only thing she could think of was that she’d inadvertently found something they were still trying to hide, but what could it be? Or maybe it had something to do with the horrible zombie creature that she’d discovered on the ship and had nearly lost her life to.
Either way, Scarlett didn’t think any answer she gave Mikhail would make things easier on her so she kept her blue eyes on him and tried to think her way out of her cell. She had to get Mikhail to leave her alone. Until he did, she wouldn’t be able to even dream of escaping. Mikhail shoved the back of the chair, making it slide against the concrete which made Scarlett’s ears ring and turned away from her. Teetering in the chair dangerously Scarlett leaned forward in hopes of preventing her balance from being lost. He walked over to the table of tools that had been laid out to use for torture and picked up a pair of scissors.
“You know our engineers have developed some great and terrible things that can be used to get the truth from you, Scarlett. I could get answers from you in ten minutes if I wanted to brutalize you. But you are worth more than a few answers so you should consider yourself very lucky. Besides, I prefer simpler methods. They’re not as quick, but far more satisfying.” Mikhail held up the scissors so that she could see them but didn’t turn to face her. Scarlett turned her gaze instead to the guards that would surely be there to hold her down for whatever he was planning to do. Her stomach churned at the idea of being tortured again. Closing her eyes didn’t help either. All she could see were the bright lights overhead in a room where she was strapped to a table and being tortured in her mind. It was clear she’d barely recovered from the first bout of torture in Afghanistan. Would she really make it through a second time?
Snapping her eyes open her breathing became rapid very quickly. She found herself repeating not to panic over and over again in her mind until finally the ringing in her ears that she’d suffered became the only remaining symptom of the attack. If she stayed on her guard she’d be okay. She’d gotten out of this once before, she could get out again couldn’t she?
“I’m more hands on than most. My tools are more practical, everyday devices. Like these, for example. Not designed for torture I know, but really a beautiful device for delivering pain. One stab…” Mikhail slammed his hand against the table as if to prove a point. “Two blades so the wound is more substantial but then… then you open the handle.” He did and the heavy bladed scissor creaked purposely. “Your skin rips, organs destroyed in one blow. You will scream, Scarlett. You will beg to be free. The internal damage is astounding afterward. What was once a one inch wound is a six inch tear through muscle and flesh. The screams… they’re quite astounding.” Mikhail set down the scissors but Scarlett could feel her heart in her throat. Hell, who was she kidding? She’d been lucky to get out of Afghanistan with all of her fingers and toes, how did she expect to get out of this alive? She wouldn’t. The only thing she could think now was how desperately she did not want to be stabbed with a scissor.
“Miss Damien.” Scarlett internally winced. Why did she have to piss off the man holding the scissors? Why? What was it in her brain that broke when she was in these situations that caused her to be such an ass?
“By the time I am done with you in these next few weeks, you will be praying… for your old torture. Do you remember what it was like?” Mikhail stepped slowly closer to her, staring her down. Thankfully he’d walked toward her unarmed. Maybe the threats of torture were all empty ones. She would be of no use to them with her body broken and battered, right? It was a nice theory and it was all Scarlett could cling to for the time being. “Do you remember how sick you were? They would give you just enough medicine to live and then take it away so you would suffer all over again. I remember that because I told them to kill you. I told them to make you suffer in every way imaginable. But there were lines they would not cross and I assure you Miss Damien there are no lines I will not cross. In fact, I cannot wait to watch you squirm. You were supposed to be an investment and instead you have become a liability.”
Scarlett couldn’t listen to the threats anymore, mostly because she was sure that they were true. Every single threat he made was more than that, it was a promise to do her harm in ways that she could only imagine. Afghanistan had been terrible, worse than even her nightmares could recall, but the horrors Mikhail was capable of were even worse than that. Unable to smack or kick or do much fighting to get Mikhail to shut up, Scarlett instead spit in his face. Again, not the smartest idea she’d ever had, but it definitely did the trick. Mikhail stood up straight and stopped rambling about the various ways he’d been thinking of breaking her spirit. Without showing any emotion he wiped the spit away from his face and closed his eyes.
Mikhail kicked between her legs at the metallic chair which fell backwards onto the ground, Scarlett’s head consequently smacking against the concrete and making her see stars. She blinked several times and felt dizzy but managed to stay conscious. The blow had been minor thanks to how she’d tensed up. Mikhail climbed over her and grabbed onto her already sore neck and squeezed, choking her threateningly. Still the lack of rage in his face was worse than anything she’d heard from his lips. It was true, this man was willing to do anything to get what he wanted. And since what he wanted was her this was pretty big trouble for Scarlett. There were no bargains to be made for her life, nothing she could trade her way out with.
She was the target. Natasha had been right about that and it had taken awhile to sink in. Death was the only thing awaiting her when it came to MedCo.
“I was hoping you would be a bit more cooperative since things are looking rather grim for you right now but I see that you are going to be stubborn until I cut that out of your brain, and believe me I will. You will do every damn thing I tell you to do, helpless to fight back. But I will make sure that part of you knows… part of you will realize you are helpless and your suffering will be eternal.” Mikhail kept his hand at her throat and Scarlett could do nothing to fight it. She was trying to loosen the bonds around her wrists, but even if she got them off she didn’t stand a chance against Mikhail. Scarlett was going to have to pick her battles from now on and this was not one of them.
“I cannot wait until I slit your throat and shut you up.” Scarlett didn’t regret those words even if they got her into further trouble. If there was anyone she wanted to kill it was Mikhail. Scott was still a petty pain in the ass and not worth the trouble or jail time that would go into killing him. But Mikhail was a psychopath and if she didn’t do him in then he was going to be more than happy to pursue her for the rest of his days.
Mikhail had apparently had enough of Scarlett’s taunting as well because he let go of her throat and stood up. There was still very little sentiment on his face as he stared down at her. Scarlett coughed and sputtered again. If they kept obstructing her airways then she was going to have some permanent damage to deal with and Scarlett was not okay with that. It was a relief that he wasn’t squeezing her throat any longer. The guards were standing back and out of the way with their hands behind their backs.
Mikhail turned to walk away and then instead walked back over to Scarlett and gave her a swift kick in her side. His boot made contact with her stomach and Scarlett tensed up. If he broke her ribs she would be in serious trouble. The pain of breaking a rib was worse than most people anticipated. It made everything from walking to breathing difficult and Scarlett was already worse for wear. The chair slid across the ground, making a terrible creaking sound against the concrete.
Mikhail followed and kicked her a second time, just as hard as the first but thankfully it was her stomach and not her ribs that suffered the blow. It still hurt, she even cried out and choked since he’d knocked the wind out of her but it was better that she didn’t break any bones in the process. Unless of course she ended up with internal bleeding, because that would suck just as horribly as breaking a rib would. Plus, internal bleeding would kill her much faster than the broken rib would.
Thankfully he reconsidered kicking a third time and left her coughing and bleeding on the floor with the chair tipped over. Wiping his hands together as if to get something foul off of them, Mikhail scowled at her and spit on the floor next to her.
“All this fighting and struggling, Miss Damien, and for what? To end up losing no matter what you do? You’re a very lucky woman. I have much bigger plans for you than breaking your neck.” Mikhail turned away from her, done with her for the time being. Scarlett laid there coughing, but working behind her back in hopes of getting the bonds undone for when she would inevitably be left alone to think about what she’d done. She’d been ignoring the consequences for her bad behavior for years, what was one more afternoon? “Dry her off. She needs some alone time. I don’t think she quite grasps the gravity of her situation.” Mikhail spoke to one of the guards and then allowed the other to join him as he walked out of the room. The heavy door clattered closed behind them and she could hear the sliding of a bolt on the outside.
The guard that she’d head butted earlier was still standing there with his mask half over his face and his lip finally scabbing up though there was dried blood wiped over his chin. Great, they left her with the guard she’d pissed off. This was going to be so fun. The guard pulled off his mask entirely and shoved it into his coat pocket before glancing down at Scarlett curiously. He had grayish blue eyes a peculiarly set nose and a wide jaw. If he didn’t have a fat lip he would’ve been handsome enough.
“Here, careful.” The guard spoke surprisingly kindly as he helped right the chair that had been kicked backwards. Scarlett was surprised by his generosity and narrowed her eyes at him suspiciously all the while working on what was going on behind her back. That was one positive thing about being kicked around. While her hands had been scraped up when the chair had fallen, so had her bonds and they had come loose. It would only be a few seconds before her hands were free.
“I don’t need your help.” Scarlett wanted to be alone. She doubted she’d get lucky and this guard would be as kind as the one that had helped her and become her friend in South Africa. It was easier to get rid of him than it would be to convince him to aid her in her escape.
“Scarlett, right?” The guard was surprisingly devoid of an accent from that side of the world. In fact, he sounded like was from, well if Scarlett didn’t know better, he sounded like he was from Brooklyn.
“Miss Damien, I don’t really like when people who dunk me in ice water call me by my first name. That opportunity was lost when I woke up.”
“I was just trying not to blow my cover.” The guard wiped at his lip again. “And to be fair you almost broke my nose.”
“Again, water torture. You’re lucky I didn’t try to do worse.” Scarlett was starting to wonder if her guard was more than what he appeared to be.
“My name is Clint Barton, Scarlett.” He knelt down in front of her chair and looked at her seriously. “Also known more commonly as…”
“Hawkeye.” Scarlett put the pieces together before he’d finished explaining. This was the man that S.H.I.E.L.D. had on the inside. She was guessing it wasn’t luck that he’d ended up as her detail. Natasha Romanoff was far cleverer than Scarlett gave her credit for.
“I’m here to help you. I can get you out of here, but not until tonight.”
“I’ve heard of you. Black Widow has some very nice things to say.” Scarlett’s attempt at being pleasant came across catty. She was in pain, an attitude couldn’t exactly be helped.
“I’m sure she does.” Clint glanced behind him at the cell door then looked back to Scarlett and was surprised when she had moved her hands in front of her, holding the bonds between her fingers on the seat. “Nice job.” He looked impressed and Scarlett shrugged her right shoulder.
“Sometimes the only way to escape is to get your ass kicked.” Scarlett nodded but was feeling sick to her stomach still. “So why do I have to wait until tonight? Why don’t we just go now?”
“Something’s going on that they won’t give us information about. And broad daylight isn’t exactly easy to sneak out in. I’ve got some back up I can call in and then we can get you out of here in cover of darkness.”
“I don’t need your help.” Scarlett reached down to her ankles and withdrew a pocket knife hidden in her boot. It paid to be well prepared for any situation, even if every part of her body was objecting painfully to this being any form of success. It didn’t feel like success. It felt like she needed a trip to the hospital and some morphine.
“Really?” Clint scoffed, an eyebrow cocked curiously. He didn’t think there was anyone more stubborn than Natasha, but he was starting to realize he was wrong about that.
“Don’t look at me like that. That’s not what I meant. If you help me out, it blows your cover.” Scarlett released her ankles and was relieved, thankful for each of her limbs to be free. She then went about the process of wiggling her fingers, toes, and various joints to make sure nothing was broken and she wouldn’t be surprised when she tried to run later. She had never been the best at judging her limitations, but she could at least figure out that if her ankle was busted she shouldn’t put pressure on it. Simple stuff like that, Scarlett was a pro at. “You need to stay under with MedCo. I can’t do this anymore. I don’t know how to stop them and if I keep it up I’m gonna end up dead. So you’re the next best hope.”
“You can’t get out of here without my help.” Clint didn’t seem to care much about blowing his cover. He must have been a much different kind of assassin than Natasha was. She knew that there was history between the two of them but she wondered now what it was. Clint seemed like a much kinder man, even if he didn’t show it right away. He got up from where he stood and retrieved a towel from the other end of the room that had been left for this exact purpose. Scarlett stripped off her sopping wet jacket and threw it onto the floor. Her left arm was aching and pulsing as though to scream out about being shot.
Clint wrapped the towel around her shoulders so she could dry off and then retrieved a first aid kit. He could at least cover up the wound on her arm so that it would stop bleeding. The towel would help with her sopping wet long hair that had to be nearly frozen and incredibly heavy.
“If you can create a distraction and tell me which way to go, then I’ll get out of here without blowing your cover. It’ll be a win-win situation. I’ll go find S.H.I.E.L.D. and tell them what I know for a price I’m apparently willing to pay for my life. And you can continue on with your business here.” Scarlett nodded, grateful for the towel that would dry her off. It was almost impossible to rid the chill from her bones after having been given that ice bath. Between that and the blows that she’d taken, Scarlett was going to have to do some serious work before she could be well enough to escape.
“A distraction? Look it’s not going to be enough. This place is designed like a maze so that people like you don’t get out even if they do escape. MedCo learned a thing or two after you got away last time and they weren’t going to let that happen with anyone else, particularly when they caught you. You know they have a whole lab set up just for you? In the morning they’re going to come in here and they’re going to put you under the knife. I’m not sure they’re going to bother to sedate you. Not after the trouble you caused them. Marcia I’m sure would do that for you but I don’t think that Mikhail has any patience left for you.”
“Yeah it wasn’t a good idea to piss off the sociopath, I sorta regret it. But I needed him to be rough with me. I was tied too tightly and I needed my arms free.” Scarlett shrugged her right shoulder again and then allowed Clint to deal with the wound on her left arm. It would help considerably for that to be taken care of.
“I know what you were doing. It was clever and stupid at the same time. I would’ve done the same.”
“Desperation is a last resort and I’m at the end of my rope.” Once her arm was wrapped up Scarlett rotated her left shoulder and moved each of her fingers. They were still numbed but if she kept moving them then she would be able to use them later, at least to climb and crawl. There were no guarantees that she would be able to make a fist or shoot a gun if she had to. She missed her Tesla glove. It had been her best friend for the last few weeks and without it on her hand she felt naked.
“Let me help you. Please.” Clint looked at her seriously and she almost considered his offer.
“I can’t blindly follow a plan, you know.” Scarlett shook her head. “I’m not good at that or following orders. If you can create a diversion I can get out. I’m clever and an engineer. If you can point me in the right direction, I can figure out the rest. Yeah it may be a maze, but building a place like this still requires logic or it doesn’t work.” Standing up she hoped she could prove that she was strong enough to do as she claimed she could. But the moment she tried to take a step forward her legs gave out underneath her and she collapsed. Clint caught her before she hit the ground and helped her sit back down on the metallic chair. Once again he sat on his knees and looked at her seriously. She averted her eyes, the guilt she’d suffered for the last month returning full force.
He was giving her that look. The look that told her he saw right through her guise. She wasn’t okay and he knew that she wasn’t. Clint wasn’t going to fall for any of her games.
“I’m not dumb, Scarlett. I’m not as fast as you or Tasha but you’re sick. Really sick.” Clint pointed at her and then looked again behind him, paranoid that someone would overhear them before he could put his plan into action. “You’ve had a fever since you got here. You need back up. I can be that back up and get you through here. Besides, I’ve got a plan for this sort of thing. Tasha thought it might come to this so we thought it out last time we talked.”
“I’m sick, not handicapped. I know that things look grim from where you stand but the more I’m awake the more I’m okay. I’ve gotten out of much worse than this in much worse condition. Trust me.”
“Yeah, I was brought up to speed by Mikhail. It sounds like it sucked.” Clint was still looking at her skeptically and Scarlett couldn’t blame him.
“Sucked is a pretty good word for it. Not what I would’ve chosen but it definitely sums it up.”
“Eloquence isn’t exactly my strong suit.”
“I gathered that.” Scarlett offered the weakest and least sincere smile that she’d ever given in her life.
“You need help. Stop being so stubborn and let me help you. Let Tasha help you. We’ll get you out of here. I’m going to come back at nightfall to bring you a meal and when I do, I’ll come back with clothing like mine. We’ll get as far as we can like that and then we’ll fight our way out if we have to. Between the two of us we can do it. I’ve seen your work, you’re talented but you need someone to have your back.”
“There’s no way to avoid blowing your cover if we do that.” Scarlett exhaled deeply, shaking her head in disapproval. Despite that she knew deep down that Clint was right. She couldn’t escape on her own, not through a facility as massive as the one she was being held in and not in her condition. One good shot or one good hit and she’d be right back where she was now. In a prison cell and feeling like hell.
“Some things are worth sacrificing.”
“Even if it means missing your chance to take these guys down?”
“We’ll get them one way or another, Scarlett. But you’ve fought too hard to die like this. So no, I’m not willing to sacrifice another person’s life to watch MedCo go down.” Scarlett guessed that this was all very much against S.H.I.E.L.D. protocol.
Scarlett silenced and furrowed her brow. Clint barely knew her but he wasn’t willing to watch her die even when he had the chance to put a stop to all the nastiness that MedCo had become over the years. He was hands down ready to throw away all the progress he’d made to save the life of a woman who had caused nothing but trouble.
She was starting to understand why Natasha felt any loyalty to him. If she got out of there alive, she’d have to tell that to her friend. Clint could tell Scarlett wasn’t ready to acknowledge what had been said but somehow he knew that even if she wasn’t going to admit it, she would’ve done the same for someone like him or for someone she cared about. It was easier for her to make the decision to sacrifice her life for the greater good but a much harder decision to miss a chance to stop something horrid from happening.
Clint wasn’t going to try to push her on the matter, she’d been pushed far enough and he needed her with her wits about her if they were going to have any chance of escape. With a heavy sigh, Clint got to his feet.
“Will you rest while I’m gone?” Clint placed his hands on his hips and waited for her answer. She nodded her head solemnly. “Good. Guards will be in and out for the next few hours. You’re a high priority prisoner so they’re not going to leave you completely alone for more than a few minutes. But if you play your cards right no one will hurt you further unless Mikhail comes back. Something tells me he’s got other things on his mind or he would’ve done much worse to you.”
“Yeah, I gathered that, actually. It bothers me.” Scarlett wasn’t objecting to not having her fingers cut off or her feet slashed open, but she was worried about what it was that seemed more important than her at the moment. Not that she wanted to be the focus of attention when it came to MedCo, but what else could they possibly be focusing on that would be more important than her? They’d made a point to show her just how determined they were to get her back into their clutches and now that they had, they were distracted? So by what? She was scared that it was Tony that had become the bigger distraction.
She wouldn’t forgive herself if anything happened to him.
“You can’t think about that right now. We can only deal with what’s in front of us. We’ll deal with that once you’re free. I’ll be back, be kind to the guards and they’ll be kind to you. Most of them are actually really nice guys. They’ll be more sympathetic because you’re pretty so use that to your advantage. Try not to insult anyone else.”
“Are you telling me to use my womanly wiles for evil?” Scarlett laughed. It was the first genuine smile or laugh she’d expressed in a long time.
“I am actually. It’ll work. These guys are stuck with men like me most of the time. So women are treated a bit differently.”
“Smart man, smarter than you look at least.” Scarlett held up her hand. “No offense.”
“None taken. Just get some rest and I’ll be back in the evening.” Clint walked toward the door and knocked against it, pulling his mask back over his face to obscure his identity as he had been trained to do over the years. Once it had been opened by the guard outside, he left. He locked the door to Scarlett’s prison cell, let the guard at the end of the hall know what he had done with her and that he was returning to patrol the upper corridors.
Once he was sure he was on his own, Clint snuck into one of the bathrooms and withdrew his phone. Even with the disguise and a distraction, it was going to be much harder to get Scarlett out of the facility unnoticed. She’d been the primary target for MedCo for weeks and now that they had her, he was sure they weren’t going to let her out of their sights, at least not easily.
“Tasha?” He spoke when someone on the other line picked up and the woman sounded disappointed on the other end of the line.
“They got her didn’t they?”
“Yeah, she’s not doing so great. We have until tomorrow morning to get her out. I can’t stop what happens after that so we’ve got to move quickly.” Clint turned on the water in the bathroom so no one would overhear him on the phone.
“So what do we do?”
“I think it’s time to blow my cover.” Clint kept checking the bathroom door just in case. Natasha sounded exasperated on the other end of the line.
“We’re going to catch hell for this. Fury’s not going to be happy.” Natasha didn’t sound like she was shying away from the challenge, but dealing with the fallout wouldn’t be easy either.
“Could be fun though.”
“Remember that time in North Korea? As fun as that, you think?”
“I worry about your sense of delight sometimes.” Clint chuckled but after given some time to consider nodded his head. “I’d say as fun as North Korea. Maybe a little more since your friend will be with us.”
“I’ll be there by nightfall. Be ready to let me in.” Natasha hung up the phone before Clint could say goodbye.
It was going to be a very long night for Hawkeye and Black Widow.