Clint woke with a gasp, his muscles protesting his tightly coiled position. He lay there curled in a tight ball, shivering in reaction. He was at the tower, he was safe. Clint reached down to cup himself with a small shudder, trying to ignore the missing press of his balls against one leg. Trying to ignore the catch of the criss crossed scars against his skin. With a curse he forced himself up and moving, rubbing at his face to remove any trace of tears.
He hadn’t lost a limb. He could still work. That would have to be enough. It wasn’t like it was a life changing injury. He limped his way into the shower and groaned as the hot water started loosening his aching muscles. He got dressed in workout clothes and grabbed his crutches. It was going to be a long day, he had not even started his rehab for the day and he already hurt.
Clint ignored where Natasha and Phil were already in his kitchen drinking coffee. Phil had a stack of folders set to one side while he worked on his tablet. Gathering a yogurt and protein drink Clint settled in to bask in the comfortable silence.
“Are you heading into Shield? Can I get a ride?” he asked once Phil started to gather his things.
“Of course. Meet me at the parking garage in five.”
“Thanks, Phil.” Clint went to his room to get his shoes while Natasha trailed behind him sipping her coffee.
“Do you need help?”
“Nah, I’m good.” Clint grunted as he forced his feet into his beat up Chucks and snagged a messenger bag which he quickly stuffed with his tablet, phone, wallet, and physio papers.
“The team mentioned doing another movie night if you are interested. Tony’s planning to order pizza from that place you like in Brooklyn.”
“That’s the place Steve likes.” Clint pointed out with a grin as he hit the button for the elevator. “What are your plans for the day?”
“I have meetings at Shield after lunch. I thought I would tag along to your PT session and have lunch with you before I have to spend the rest of the day with Woo.”
“Sounds good.” Clint agreed as they made their way to the waiting car, Phil already in the driver’s seat.
“Coming along, Natasha?” Phil asked, watching in the rear view mirror as Clint eased himself into the backseat.
“Someone needs to keep our Hawk out of trouble.”
“Just for that you’re buying lunch.” Clint muttered, pulling out his phone and adding a note to his growing to do list.
“You’re pushing yourself too hard.” Natasha said watching as Clint eased himself into the passenger seat for the drive home.
“No pain, no gain, and all that.”
“The therapist changed your schedule.”
“Caught that did you?”
“What are your plans for tomorrow if you don’t have PT?”
“For how long?”
“A few hours. I need to get my arms back in shape too, Tasha. You know the drill.”
“You’re still pushing it too fast. You’re going to injure yourself if you keep going like today.”
Clint snorted but didn’t disagree. The physical therapist had been pissed when he insisted on doubling his exercise reps for the session. He was fairly certain that the guy had been expecting him to collapse or need a wheelchair at the end of it. He might have felt like a limp noodle at the end but he walked out of the gym and out of Shield with only the limp he had come in with. After climbing skyscrapers with broken bones, PT was easy to push through.
Once they arrived at the tower, Clint did his best to ignore the glares that Natasha was sending his way as he headed to the shower. Frankly he was surprised she did not join him in the shower so that she could see just how healed he was herself. The lack of the clothes that he had left however was glaring. The terry cloth robe was missing as well.
“Tasha, bring back my clothes.” He snapped, fighting with his temper.
“Come out and get them.”
“I’m really not in the mood to play with you, Tasha.”
“Then stop playing.”
Clint stomped out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his hips. He ignored where Natasha was seated on the bed and proceeded to lock himself into the closet/panic room that each floor had. He limped out once he was dressed and pulled on a hoodie before gathering his bag and crutches.
“Where are you going?”
“You aren’t supposed to be walking this much.”
“I’ll get a cab.”
“What, Nat? I can’t let you memorize every inch of me right now. I’m sorry but I can’t.”
“I just want to know that my partner is okay.”
“Yeah, well I’m not.” Clint snapped, rubbing a hand across his face. “Not right now. Just give it some time, Nat. Give me some time.”
“Jarvis, can you call me a cab?”
“Of course, Agent Barton.”
“Where are you going?”
“Just a bookstore with a coffee shop or something. I just need to get out a bit.” He said tiredly, giving her a faint smile to show that she was forgiven.
He really wasn’t that surprised when Phil sat down at the table with a large coffee and a scone several hours later. Clint simply set his book to the side and took a sip of his tea while Phil split the scone and slid half across the table on a napkin.
“You know running from Natasha is never the healthiest thing a man can do.”
“She sic you on me?”
“She’s spent the last four hours in the gym on level two taking on every rookie who’s looking to say he’s taken down the Black Widow.”
“How many are in the hospital?”
“Two, however one called her a bitch and the other laughed.”
“Serves them right.”
“The team wants to know what time to start movie night.”
“We normally do them after dinner. I figured I would head back around seven.”
“Were you planning to have dinner?”
“Does half a scone count?”
“No.” Phil said brushing the crumbs off his sleeve and gesturing for Clint to finish up.
Clint gathered up his bag and stuffed his new books into his messenger bag before hobbling after his handler. By the time he reached the street Phil already had a cab waiting since he was BAMF like that. He hauled himself into the cab with a grunt leaving his crutches for Phil to slid in as he shut the door. Phil must have already given the address since the cab set off without a word.
He settled back, turning away from the window slightly so that he could keep Phil in his peripheral vision. They had always worked well together, Clint mused. Phil was willing to sit in silence as easily as he was able to let his dry sarcastic wit out when Clint was snarking over the coms.
“Hope you’re up for steak.”
“Always.” Clint said giving Phil a tired grin.
The meal was nice with them comparing the fall out of old missions, favorite meals and restaurants, and lamenting the lack of time to research good local bands. It was a great end to a long day but Clint was exhausted and soon all the coffee in the world could not stop his yawns. Phil waved over the waitress and paid the bill, snagging Clint’s messenger bag before he could get his crutches to cooperate.
“I’m not a total cripple.”
“You’ve carried me out of enemy territory twice, Clint. Let me carry your damn bag.”
“Fine.” Clint huffed as he limped his way up to Phil’s magically appearing cab. “How the hell do you do that anyway?”
“Finding a cab with in three seconds of hitting the street? No one gets a cab that fast in New York.”
Clint merely grunted and sat back trying to ignore the pain that was starting to pulse along his groin and abdomen. Phil was silent as he followed him to the tower elevator. Natasha was waiting for them when they got off on Clint’s floor.
“You pushed it too far, Clint.” she chided, helping him take off his boots while Phil sat his bags to one side.
“Can you get my pills?” He asked, voice cracking as he gingerly peeled out of his hoodie and Henley. He blinked dazedly when she dropped several pills into one of his hands and produced a water bottle from thin air. “I’m not drunk enough for the magic tricks, Nat.”
“I hope Phil knew better than to get you drunk right now.”
“Baked potatoes, Nat. It was awesome.” Clint said, handing back the water bottle and laying back with a groan.
“In a minute.”
“You’re going to be out in a minute. Now.”
“Bossy.” he slurred at he even as he let her help him out of the loose slacks he was wearing.
He was already drifting as she smoothed a hand through his hair. He missed Phil and Natasha eyeing the thick red scars that extended from under his boxers, cross hatching his stomach and waist line and running thin puffy pink lines down to his knees. The worst visible was a thick divot that scrawled an angry raised line along his right leg.
“We should have been there.” Natasha said, gently pulling the blankets up to cover her partner.
“Nothing we can do about it now, Natasha.” Phil said, his mask slotting back into place. “We give him what we can and watch his back.”
Phil gave a firm nod of agreement before turning and heading down to his own floor to get cleaned up. Someone needed to inform the rest of the avengers that the archer would be missing movie night, after all.