A/N: First of all, thanks very, very, very much to everyone who reviewed, fav'd, alerted, etc. I…did not expect that when the movie came out I'd have to clean out my inbox like every two hours…so I busted my ass to get this out to you guys, cause honestly, I've had friends in town for the marathon since Thursady (I won TWO trivia questions, proving I was the nerdiest person in the theater). I'll try and finish up the Shield fic and Backup in the next few days as well, and I've started working on some of my first post-movie fics for you all to enjoy. Thanks again to everyone!
Tony let Clint spend all his time in the lab for three solid days, so they could…get used to each other again, was how Tony put it. It was still uncomfortable for both of them, but it was getting better. Especially when they put their heads together and came up with a plan.
Tony had sent everyone away, pulled some strings to get everyone out on missions, or off, or back to Asgard so that the only people in the house were him and Clint.
He made sure it was known by letting the information out on some of the SHIELD frequencies he knew to be not as secure. He wasn't putting a billboard up advertising to the Mandarin or anything, but he didn't want to make it too easy for him.
They waited, Tony in his lab and Clint in his room. Jarvis would check in with Clint every ten minutes to inform him that it was situation normal.
Until 2:40 in the morning when Jarvis missed his check in.
Clint grabbed his bow and quiver, moving quickly and quietly down to the lab, not bothering to try and contact Tony through Jarvis.
He already knew the Mandarin was here.
As he shuffled down the stairs, he heard a crash and flattened himself against the wall. He carefully moved his head so he could see with one eye through the glass windows into the lab, inwardly cursing the plan. This was a terrible view, he knew he should have hidden in the vents, but Tony had insisted.
He saw Tony pick himself off from the floor, Zheng Tong standing over him. The Mandarin's back was to the windows, so Clint silently slid over to the door. It wasn't locked, and without Jarvis online to control it, it swung inwardly at his gentle push.
The Mandarin grabbed Tony around the neck, holding the choking man upwards. Clint straightened, holding his bow up. Tony's eyes glanced to him before flicking back to Tong. If his friend hadn't been choking to death, Clint would have been glad to see the normal anger back, and the fear gone.
He supposed he'd have to reflect later on his personal definition of "normal anger".
He pulled back the bow string, this time aiming for Tong's head. He gave a smug smirk as he released, the arrow a whisper in the air.
Mandarin dropped Tony, spinning and swatting it out of the air. Clint's eyes widened but he reached for another arrow, letting fly again.
Tong swatted it out of the air again. "Did you think I'd fall for the same trick twice, Hawk?" The man was furious. He began to step towards Clint, but there was a deafening bang, followed by a cloud of smoke that immediately consumed the coughing man.
Clint saw Tony scramble away from the cloud on the floor before leaping to his feet and running over next to Clint, grabbing one of his guantlets off the table and hooking it up to his arc reactor quickly. "Kinda, yeah," he taunted.
Clint smirked. There was a roar as Tong hurtled out of the smoke towards them, but Clint released another arrow at the same time Tony lifted his repulsor and fired.
The Mandarin was hurtled through the air before he smacked into a wall and slid down, an arrow sticking out of his forehead.
Clint lowered his bow as Tony lowered his arm, and they both moved together towards the body on the floor. Clint leaned down, suppressing a shutter, as he placed his fingers on the dead man's neck. "I kind of wish it hadn't been so easy," he muttered. "After…after everything." He straightened as Tony regarded the dead man on the floor thoughtfully.
"Life's unfair. And in our line of work, we're going to see the worst of it." He whirled around and didn't look back, instead moving over to a computer as he began to try and get Jarvis back online. "All you can do is even the odds," he said quietly. "And hope you have friends to catch you."
Clint looked back at the dead man, before taking out his cell phone and calling SHIELD.
Steve, of course, had been livid when he found out Tony had sent everyone purposefully away to deal with a dangerous psychopath he knew would break into the house with them gone. Clint had been killing time in Tony's lab, repairing arrowheads as Tony worked on something. Both had heard Steve storming down the stairs, and both had said nothing.
"What were you thinking?" he demanded as he burst into the room. Both of them ignored him, but he continued anyway. "Just letting the guy who tried to kill you both, twice now, into the house? Without backup?"
"Didn't need it," Clint mumbled.
"Not the point!" Steve shouted.
Clint slammed his arrows down on the desk in front of him before glaring at Steve. Tony raised an eyebrow looking over his shoulder.
"It was for us to do. No one else. Us. We had a score to settle, a debt, and we weren't bringing anyone else into it." He got up and stalked over to Steve, staring the bigger man in the face. "Don't you dare tell me you never took care of anything yourself because it was personal."
Steve opened his mouth to say something, glanced at Tony, then shut it again.
"That's what I thought," Clint muttered before moving back over to the desk he was working at.
"While we appreciate your concern, Cap," Tony said. "We're both cool now. Really. So you can take your babysitting to someone else. Oh, and neither of us are getting psych evals. Just so you know." Tony smiled blandly as Clint smirked and Steve huffed, narrowing his eyes.
"Fine," Steve acquiesced. "Just…don't do stuff like that in the future…please." His voice softened at the end, and Tony gave him an actually serious nod.
"Deal." Steve walked out of the lab, the fight having left him for the time being. "See? He really does care," Tony said to Clint who smirked.
10 days later, both Clint and Tony found themselves back in the field.
Hawkeye was perched on some scaffolding on 5th avenue picking off A.I.M. agents who got too close to Iron Man as he was trying to dismantle the bomb that would level five city blocks if it went off.
At first the A.I.M. agents had been confused as to where Hawkeye was hiding, but they figured it out quickly enough. They were scientists. Or so they said.
But these scientists still carried grenades, and he scrambled backwards as one pinged off the bars about six feet in front of him before it blew.
The building exploded behind them, pushing them forward. Clint, barely conscious, felt Tony's grip tighten around his shoulders. They hit the ground hard, Tony crying out painfully.
They lay there for a few minutes, and Clint thought he heard the sound of something massive and very far away steadily getting closer. A plane, maybe. A cough sounded from next to him, and he saw Tony's face swim into view from half-lidded eyes.
He felt Tony's hand on his face, saw pain in his eyes. But mostly he saw concern and worry. For him.
"You're gonna be okay, buddy," Tony breathed. "We're gonna be okay."
Clint shook his head, a little dismayed but not surprised to find a ringing in his ears along with shouting. He was still on the scaffolding, but he could see where part of it had been blown away. A red, metal hand gripped his wrist, and he followed it upwards to see the golden faceplate in its open position and Tony staring at him worriedly.
"I'm okay," Clint assured him, sitting up. Tony gave a smirk, before the face plate popped down and he floated backwards away from the scaffolding.
"Hey," Clint said, seeing more A.I.M. agents run towards them from up the street. "Weren't you diffusing a bomb?"
Tony flew back towards the device in question. "Relax, this is chump change. Besides. Just had to make sure."
And Clint knew then for sure they were going to be okay.