• Amelia Sides

Fatigue – Ch. 5

Chapter 5

The next morning Clint shivered lightly only to frown at the fuzzy material lying against his side. A dark purple and white Sherpa blanket lay next to him looking like it had been tossed there in the night. The scent of bacon and something cooking made his stomach rumble leaving him blinking in surprise; he wasn’t normally hungry in the mornings. Tugging the blanket over his body he couldn’t stop the small sigh that slipped out as the material quickly warmed and he felt his muscles start to unknot at the steady warmth.

With a groan he forced himself up to sit at the head of the bed. He checked his phone and noted several missed calls and messages from Shield that he ignored for now. If Phil was still here and cooking then he needed to get himself together, they needed to talk. He checked his hearing aids were charged before slipping them in, they both knew enough sign to get through most conversations but he wanted to be able to hear Phil’s voice.

“Jarvis?” Clint asked forcing himself to leave the warm bed and start getting dressed.

“How may I help you, Master Barton?”

“Is there any way you can change that to Clint when I’m in my rooms? I understand it when I’m out and about but not here.”

“Very well, Clint, I shall attempt to do so while you are on your floor.”

“Thank you.” Clint said with a groan forcing his aching feet into his boots and fighting with the laces, “Do you know what Phil has planned today?”

“I do not, however he has been researching your possible diagnoses to see if there are things he can assist with.”

“Of course he has.” Clint said with a huff picking up his hat and gloves since he wasn’t sure if they might go out or not.

Phil was in the kitchen and pulled a plate out of the oven as Clint made his way to the bar, taking a seat. The plate was his old favorites, toast with peanut butter, scrambled eggs with too much cheese, and bacon on the side. Phil had made this for him whenever he was coming off of a bad mission for years, it felt surreal to be doing this now.

“Thank you for the blanket.” Clint said stiffly watching as Phil dished up his own plate and took the seat on the end, with one seat between them. “You didn’t have to make me breakfast.”

“It wasn’t any trouble.” Phil said with a shrug, sipping at his coffee, “Do you have any plans today? I was hoping we could talk at some point?”

“Nothing planned,” Clint said with a shrug, “I have a few errands to run and need to talk to Pepper later, I can probably do that on Monday if she lets me have the weekend.”

“Pepper wants to talk to me later this morning.” Phil said turning to his plate and forking up some eggs, “I’ll mention that you want to talk on Monday if you like?”

“Sure.” Clint said with a shrug of his own. “What did you want to do today besides talk?”

“Well, it depends on the talk.” Phil said looking uncomfortable, “I was hoping I’d be able to stay here at the tower for a while if that’s okay. If you want your space I can talk to Pepper about using one of the guest rooms.”

“You want to stay here, with me?” Clint asked blinking as he set his toast down, “Are you sure?”

“I lost you for over a year, Clint. I’d like to at least be available if you need me as a friend until we decide how things are going to be with us.”

“Right,” Clint said with a nod, pushing his plate away, “You lost me.”

“Clint,”

“No, you wanted to talk about this.” Clint said standing and moving to lean against the wall arms crossed over his chest, “You lost me for a year, is that what you really think’s going on?”

“Fury did something when I was healed; I’m starting to think he messed with my memories. I’m having issues doing things, it took me weeks to remember how to strip and load a gun cleanly. My range scores are the worst I’ve even had, if they forced me to recertify right now I wouldn’t pass the physical.” Phil said eyes on his plate before he stood and started cleaning up, dumping both their meals. “We both have issues right now, Clint. We’re going to need time to untangle everything.”

“Yeah, Loki and Shield fucked us both over.” Clint said with a bitter laugh, “You forgot me for a year and I mourned you for one. Not sure that’s even, Phil.”

“Clint,”

“No, I need to say this.” Clint said rubbing at his face, “I’m not sure you want to do this. I’m useless right now, I’m barely making it through the day most of the time and on the bad days I’m worse than useless, I’m helpless. I can’t be in a relationship right now, not and have the other guy expect anything.”

“I never wanted to break up with you, Clint. I considered us together for better or worse no matter what even if we were never married officially. With our jobs I figured one of us would eventually get hurt enough to have to step down. I planned to be there no matter what happened, I don’t intend to change that now.”

“Even if it can’t be a normal relationship?” Clint pressed needing to make sure Phil understood.

“Caring for your partner and loving them no matter the circumstance is what I consider a normal relationship. I want to stay here and help, Clint.”

“Even if you can’t even hold me on the bad days?” Clint forced out, “I can barely stand to be touched some days, everything hurts.”

“We all have days we don’t want to be touched. We’ll figure it out.”

“You really want to stay and try to live together again?”

“Yes.” Phil said with a sad smile, “I was convinced you were too busy to see me, not that you ever stopped loving me.”

“I didn’t.” Clint said his voice breaking.

“Would it be okay if I hugged you now?”

“Not hard.” Clint muttered stepping forward and letting Phil’s arms wrap gently around him like he was a precious thing, how he’d missed this.

“Did you want to run your errands this morning or later when I’m done with Pepper?” Phil asked when they finally pulled apart.

“I guess now, it’s not a lot.” Clint said with a shrug reluctantly moving away to get his coat and phone. “Go meet with Pepper; I’ll catch you when we both get back.”

“Alright,” Phil said with a frown clearly not liking the fact that he was leaving Clint alone.

“I’m not going to collapse the second I’m out of your sight.” Clint snapped in frustration, “This isn’t like if I was injured on a mission.”

“Sorry,” Phil said seriously pressing quick kiss to his cheek before pulling on his own coat and moving to the elevator, “It’s just habit at this point. I’ll work on it.”

“Do you need me to pick anything up?” Clint asked awkwardly shifting as he shrugged into his jacket and hat.

“No, I’ll clean out my office on base and see you for dinner at the latest.”

“Clean out your office?” Clint asked freezing as he was pulling on his gloves.

“I asked for a year sabbatical. If they don’t accept it they will have to accept my retirement.” Phil said meeting Clint’s eyes with a tired smile, “They messed with my memories, Clint. Fury’s going to have to explain things in detail before I ever consider going back at this point.”

“Do you want me to see if Tony might be willing to look into that? He invented some crazy scanner to prove that my brain was free of Loki’s magical energy, he could probably figure out how to find tampered memories.”

“I’ll ask Pepper the best way to bring it up.” Phil said with a sigh. “Part of its conditioning. Ask me about Tahiti.”

“What about Tahiti?” Clint asked slowly watching a Phil struggled not to respond.

“It’s a magical place.” Phil said reflectively, wincing once the words forced their way out.

“So Tahiti is what exactly?”

“It’s where I supposedly spent several months recovering however I can’t find anything about the rehab and time on the beach in any records even if I do remember it like it happened and whenever someone asks about it I’m compelled to say that.”

“Reinforcing the mind wipe?”

“That’s my guess.” Phil said rubbing a hand across his face, “I have no idea what they did to heal me but it took at least a few weeks and I still had additional rehab once I was back on base. They don’t want me to remember something and somehow they reinforced that I wasn’t supposed to try to contact you. I think that was the conversations with Fury, he repeated the same phrases each time and I didn’t think much of it.”

“I’ll get with Natasha and see if she has any outside contacts we might be able to use.” Clint said with a frown, “She’s probably out of Shield as well.”

“We might be able to do more with an independent team if we have the background support.” Phil said with a shrug, “We can talk about it later with the entire team. We’ll need to feel out Captain Rogers and Dr. Banner as well.”

“I don’t know if I’ll be up to more avenging.” Clint said with a snort following Phil into the elevator.

“You were always amazing at helping plan the battles. We could set you up with the com lines and video so you can call changes as needed.”

“Maybe,” Clint muttered with a frown settling into one corner of the elevator.

Phil thankfully left him alone to think. He’d just quit both of his jobs because he was pretty sure if he got much worse he’d be stuck at the tower indefinitely and now Phil was here offering him a job he could do without having to leave the tower. They parted in the lobby and Clint caught a cab into the city to get some shopping done even if he would be exhausted later.

He knew he was relying on Jarvis for way too much so he at least tried to do a few things for himself, no matter the later cost. Today was picking up random things from a market and getting new pajamas since Phil was going to be seeing him in the mornings. He’d have to try sleeping in clothes again even if the waistbands made his hips ache.

The rest of the weekend passed slowly with Clint and Phil dancing around each other unsure of what they should be doing. They spent his allotted hour at the range on Sunday and Clint did wince at how bad the ex-ranger’s aim had gotten, he wouldn’t trust him with less than a shotgun or an icer until he got it back in line. Phil watched Clint go through his practice and then collapse for the evening without comment at least. It sounded like Pepper had torn him a new one both for hurting her and for hurting Clint since she now knew exactly who’d he’d been grieving over for the last year.

#fanfiction #writing

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