The next time Clint managed to pull himself back from the haze of exhaustion and medications Natasha was reading a book in one corner while Coulson worked on paperwork in the chair next to the bed. He watched them for a few moments before Natasha glanced up and noticed his gaze.
“Welcome back, Hawk.”
“Tasha.” Clint rasped, humming gratefully as Phil brought a cup forward to let him sip cool water from the straw.
“Sorry we missed you earlier, Barton. I understand the Director gave you the pass code?”
“Yeah.” Clint said with a small cough. “Orange slime monsters were fun?”
“Wonderful, Tony and Bruce are sequestered analyzing everything and Steve is helping scrape the dried gel off the quinjet. Apparently it turns to the consistency of concrete when dry.”
“Stark’s new insulation.”
“Probably.” Phil agreed with a sigh. “Do you need anything?”
“No, thirsty a bit.”
“Think you’re stuck with water for a while. The doctor said you might need another surgery in a day or two.” Phil said as he let Clint drain the small cup. Clint hummed sleepily in reply, the pain medications already pulling him back under.
“Go to sleep, Hawk. We’ll keep watch.”
Over the next three weeks Clint had two more surgeries before he was declared fit to be discharged to the tower. Everyone was surprised by how docile the archer was being. It had taken Tony nearly resorting to kidnapping before he agreed to leave the medical ward. Clint hobbled off the elevator on his crutches and limped his way to the couch on the common floor. Just making his way from the car to the elevator had left him pale and sweating with pain.
Most of the team hovered in the background unsure of how to help. Clint had never been one to ask for help and thankfully none of the team was pushing him to accept it yet. Coulson nudged Steve and Bruce toward the kitchen for snacks while he took Clint’s bag up to his room.
Natasha watched him as he slowly lowered himself onto the couch. He had refused to have any of them in the room when his bandages were being changed, something he’d never done before. Clint had never been body shy before and it was making Natasha unsure of how to treat him. He normally craved touch after a trauma but he was shying away from her, keeping everyone at arm’s length.
She followed him into the room and handed him the two pain pills that Phil had given her when he got out of the car. He took them and dry swallowed them without complaint as she took a seat to one side. She ignored the twitch of one arm that instinctively went to protect his injured stomach.
“So, Hawkass. What do you want for dinner?” Tony asked pulling up a list of movies on the TV.
“Doesn’t matter as long as it’s not hospital food.” Clint muttered.
“You’re not craving anything?” Bruce pressed gently as he handed out drinks. “Tea, soda, or water?”
“Water’s fine.” Clint said accepting a bottle. “I really don’t care. Pick what you want.”
They wound up ordering Chinese food. Phil joined them for a plate of Mushu Pork before he headed up to his own floor. Clint frowned slightly when he left but made no comment. He nibbled at a container of fried rice before struggling to his feet and heading to his own bed to a chorus of goodnights from the rest of the team. Natasha followed behind him, restraining herself from commenting on how little he ate.
“When did Phil move to the tower?” Clint asked once they were in the elevator.
“He stayed over while we were looking for you and moved in officially once you were in the hospital.”
Clint grunted in reply, levering himself out of the elevator and to his room. He disappeared into the bathroom with a change of clothes while Natasha settled on his bed to wait.
“I’ll do it in the morning.” he muttered, tugging down the blankets and sitting down with a poorly hidden wince. “You staying?” he asked taking in the pajamas she had changed into.
“Do you want me to?”
“Long as you keep your hands to yourself.” He said with a weak leer.
“Whatever you need.” Clint gave a small huff at that and got into bed, laying on his back.
“You never sleep on your back.” She pointed out softly, they had argued about it enough on various ops.
“Hurts too much on my stomach. The drugs will knock me out anyway.”
“Always the light weight.” she murmured, curling up on her side of the bed. “Clint?”
“Why are your medical records sealed?”
“They sealed them after Loki, Nat. Can we save the strip search till after I sleep?”
“You never cared before.”
“I’m just tired, Nat. We can compare scars later.”
“Alright but you know Coulson won’t drop it.”
“Coulson probably has access to my records, Nat.”
“No, he doesn’t.”
The next morning most of the team is in Clint’s kitchen making him a welcome back breakfast. Well, Steve and Bruce were cooking. Thor and Tony mostly watched from the side lines and gave what they thought was helpful advice. Clint limped his way into the room, glancing at the crowd before taking a seat at the bar with a small wince.
“Natasha out?” Clint asked.
“She’s helping Coulson with something at Shield. They said they would be back for dinner.” Thor said, his eyes intent on the cooking.
“No problem, Legolas. What do you want for breakfast? Bruce and Steve are making bacon and eggs. Bruce thought waffles might be too heavy for your stomach.”
“Yeah, I don’t do well with a lot of food and pain meds. I’ll take toast and some eggs.”
“Just in time for the first plate.” Bruce said sliding a small plate in front of Clint. “Sure you don’t want more?”
“Not unless you guys want to deal with me throwing up for the rest of the day.” He said with a sigh starting to nibble at his dry toast.
“Orange juice or coffee?” Steve asked as he handed a heaping platter to Thor and another small plate to Tony.
“Water, if you don’t mind.”
“No problem.” Steve said filling a glass and handing across before he started running water for the dishes.
“You’re not going to eat, Steve?”
“No, sorry. I ate earlier after my run.” That made Clint blink and check the time, nine in the morning.
“Guess I did sleep in a bit.”
“Well don’t get used to the room service, Katniss. Tomorrow you’re on your own.”
“I’m sure I’ll survive, Stark.” Clint snarked back, finishing off his eggs and easing off the stool to hand his dishes to Steve. “Thanks for the meal.”
“Do you have plans for the day, Eye of the Hawk?” Thor asked.
“Beyond watching movies and trying not to fall asleep?”
“Sounds like a plan. Jarvis, pull us up a list of movies that the Hawk would like.” Tony said with a grin.
Clint watched as Thor and Tony sprawled across the couch in his den as the large TV screen filled one wall. He shuffled his way back to his room for a shower. Snagging his crutches once he was clean and mostly dressed he hobbled his way into the den.
“Bruce can you help me with this stupid tape?”
“Sure.” Bruce agreed moving to help the archer bandage several of the still raw looking wounds.
Clint did his best to ignore the weighted gazes of his team. He was sitting at the bar, bare chested, his wounds on full display. Only the waist of his slacks stopping them from seeing every inch of his injuries.
“I have to ask, Katniss. Is the limp from the leg injury or the abdominal issues?”
“What? You want to know too!”
“Its fine, Steve. You guys might as well get used to seeing it. The docs want me leaving the wounds open to air as much as possible.”
“Yes, Tony. The limp is from the deep cut I had on my right leg.” Clint said trying to not let his exasperation color his voice. “The docs think I’ll get full mobility back in a few weeks. I have to go to rehab tomorrow so they can assess it again.”
Clint tugged on a loose tee shirt and settled into the unoccupied lounger. They spent the rest of the day watching movies while Clint dozed or fiddled with his tablet. He hoped the team could come to terms with him being out for a while.
The physicians were adamant that he not strain the healing abdominal tissues unless he wanted to deal with his intestines suddenly being on the outside. He was thankful when Coulson and Natasha arrived and shooed away the team so the three of them could have a quiet dinner before Clint retired for the night. He needed some quiet time after a day full of Tony and Thor.