Bottled Lightning – Ch. 6
Out 4 Fury. Tell team. Don’t try n find me. – CB
Phil read the text from Clint again for what had to be the hundredth time. The man had run from the team straight into nonstop missions for the last six months. The Avengers were coping without their archer but the lack of eyes in the sky had led to several long missions that ran for hours while the team scrambled from one side of town to the other.
He was certain that everyone was regretting pressuring their teammate now that they saw how the team ran without him. Fights and training took twice as long and while Steve did most of the strategic planning, Clint often helped change plans mid battle if he saw things shifting. They’d now lost that insight and several battles had almost turned into inter-team brawls as Thor and Stark were forced to zip back and forth nonstop to cover the edges of the battlefield that Barton normally policed.
Lately, he was at the tower dealing with the team more than he was in his office at the Shield New York base. However today he was wandering the halls waiting for a flight to arrive. He’d gotten the notice four hours ago from Fury that Clint was returning to base and would need a ride.
He wanted to see for himself how his asset was doing. If he still looked as worn and angry as he had when he left then Phil would make sure the team gave him some space. If not they would head to the tower. He knew he had a snowball’s chance in hell of hiding that the man was back in town from Stark but he’d do what he could to keep his interference to a minimum if Clint needed it.
As soon as the younger man shuffled from the plane Phil scrapped his original plans and stepped forward to guide him away from the main building.
“Coulson, I have to debrief.” Clint said but didn’t resist his directions.
“It’s been arranged, you can submit your reports in the next two days and go into debrief on Friday.” He’d make sure it was arranged; he thought fiercely taking in the weight Clint had lost and the utter exhaustion pulling his face into a sickly visage.
“You’re coming to my place. We can sort out the paperwork in the morning.”
“Don’t really want to go to the tower.” “Not the tower, my place.” Phil repeated, getting Clint into his car and buckled in while the archer blinked at him in shock.
“You stay at the tower.”
“I still have my apartment in town.”
Phil drove watching Clint from the corner of his eye. The other man didn’t sleep on the short drive but he also made no move to fidget or fiddle with the radio like he normally would. They arrived and climbed out of the car in silence, Clint following behind Phil as he got the door and disarmed the alarm system.
“Use the bathroom in my room. I’ll set you out some towels.”
“Okay.” Clint said, slowly setting his go bag and weapons case in the corner of the living room.
“I was going to call for some food. Feel like pizza or Chinese?”
“Either.” Clint grunted, clearly not caring one way or the other.
“Okay, go get cleaned up.” Phil said, nudging him towards the master bedroom and its larger bath.
Phil quickly called in an order to the Chinese place around the corner. Digging in his closet he found some sweats and a tee-shirt Clint could wear, leaving them on the bathroom counter along with two fresh towels and an extra toothbrush. While he waited for the shower to finish he quickly changed the sheets on his and the spare bed and started a load of laundry.
He’d just finished laying out the food when Clint shuffled into the living room, his hair still dripping. Clint grabbed a tub of soup and box of fried rice, ignoring the boxes of his favorites that Phil had ordered. They sat and ate in silence, Phil getting them both another drink when his glass got low hoping to tempt Clint into eating more than half a bowl of egg drop soup.
“Do you want to stay up a bit or are you ready for bed?”
“Should probably go to bed.” Clint mumbled, pushing a few grains of rice around his plate.
“The spare bedroom is clean or you can use mine, your choice.” Phil said starting to gather up containers and dirty dishes.
“Where are you sleeping?” Clint asked hesitantly.
“Wherever you need me to. We can both sleep in my room if you want; the bed’s bigger than the ones we’ve shared on Shield ops at least.” Phil said, while Clint watched him for a long moment, exhaustion filling every slumped line of his body.
“Yours.” he said finally.
“Go on and get comfortable then, I need to finish putting everything up.”
Clint nodded and shuffled into the bedroom. Phil watched him go with a small sigh. He finished cleaning up and putting away the rest of the food before heading to the bedroom.
Clint was a blanket covered lump in the middle of the bed. Phil huffed a soft laugh and gathered his own sleep pants and heading to take his own shower. He’d never managed to completely shed his military training and fifteen minutes later he was ready for bed.
“Thank you.” Clint said softly shifting to the side to make room as Phil started easing his way under the covers trying to not jolt the other man.
“Not treating me different.”
‘You’re the same Clint I’ve always worked with. Super powers don’t change that.” Phil said softly, shifting as he settled into his side of the bed.