They're all sitting there together and it's quiet, though not awkwardly so; they're exhausted and sore and they just saved the world, so they're entitled to a little down time. Steve is sound asleep, chin resting in one hand, and he's snoring slightly, just a tiny noise with every inhalation that seems odd coming from such an imposing figure. Thor and Banner are the only two eating the shawarma with any enthusiasm, both of them scarfing their food down without any hesitation. Natasha and Clint are picking tiredly at their food, and Stark looks to be on the verge of sleep.
"Hey," Barton says suddenly. The word, though not spoken loudly, is enough to shatter the silence, startling most of the table and jolting Steve awake with a snort. Clint is frowning quizzically, but there is an undercurrent of something that looks close to panic, or stark fear.
The silence that follows is, undoubtedly now, awkward. Steve clears his throat and is about to talk when Natasha shoots a glare at him.
"Clint," she says. Her voice is quiet and it has a gentleness to it that surprises nearly all of her companions. Clint looks at her and his eyes grow glassy when she puts a hand on his arm and shakes her head.
"Fuck," Clint says. He stands slowly, like someone with a heavy weight on his shoulders (or perhaps like someone who was just thrown off a building) and limps out of the room.
Natasha gives him a few minutes before she follows him outside. Clint isn't hard to find, sitting atop the building adjacent to the one they'd been eating in; he's not crouched in the familiar tense position, but sprawled inelegantly, legs dangling over the edge, one arm cradling his left side. Natasha can't tell if his expression is one of anger or sadness or guilt, and suspects that it's a mixture of all three. She also suspects Barton's hurting worse than he's told anyone.
"Guess I'm pretty predictable, huh?" He says as she sits next to him.
"We've worked together a long time," Natasha says. "But yeah, you're predictable."
Clint smiles half-heartedly and looks away, out over the rubble-strewn street.
"I'm sorry," Natasha says. "I should have told you sooner, but-"
"I get it, Nat," Clint says. "I was already distracted and beating myself up, and adding Phil's-"
He breaks off abruptly and turns his face away. Natasha doesn't say anything, but she scoots a little closer so that she and Clint are shoulder to shoulder.
"You're still beating yourself up," she says finally, "and believe me, that isn't going to go away any time soon. But Coulson's death is not on you. Loki-"
"Hey," Clint interrupts. "I know that. In my head, I know that. It'll just-it'll just take time."
They fall quiet again before Clint chuckles lightly.
"So our debt is settled," he says. Natasha smiles.
"I smacked your head on a railing hard enough to give you a concussion and now we're square? I think you got the short end of the stick, Barton."
"I mean it Nat. Thank you."
Natasha grins and elbows him in the side to break the seriousness of the moment, but the levity fades quickly when Clint grunts in pain and curls away from her, arms cradling his ribs.
"How bad, Clint?" She asks, even as she moves to unzip his belt and pull the zipper down on his suit.
"Whoa, Nat, moving kinda fast" he says, but his voice is tight and clipped and very not-funny.
"Barton. How bad?"
Clint hisses and arches away as Natasha eases one arm out of the suit, revealing a badly bruised back.
"Fell on my bow," he mutters through clenched teeth. "Had to jump off the-ow, dammit Natasha!-roof, but it's just a few ribs."
Natasha is silent as she prods gently at the black and purple mottling his back, lips pursed and eyes intense.
"This isn't just ribs, idiot," she says, but her tone is less pissed and more- concerned? Worried? "Can you stand?"
"Of course I can fucking stand," Clint snarls, then tries.
His knees buckle and he's unconscious before he can feel Natasha catch him with a muttered Russian curse.
Steve is jolted awake by Romanoff yelling for Thor, and the edge to her voice is more than enough to get him on his feet and running out the door.
"He collapsed," she yells down, her voice tense. "I think he busted up his kidney."
"Shit," Tony mutters even as Thor swings Mjolnir and soars easily onto the rooftop. Steve can hear Clint, evidently conscious once again, protesting that he's absolutely fine, and isn't surprised when Natasha tells him to shut up. A few seconds later, Thor descends with Barton held carefully to his chest. As soon as he lands Banner's at Clint's side, practiced hands running over the archer's side even as the patient weakly protests.
"He is wounded grievously, I fear," Thor says, coming to stand at Steve's side.
Steve stays quiet, looking at the scene before him; Natasha is gently scolding Clint for not disclosing the injury sooner, but she never loses contact with him, a hand on his shoulder or forehead or elbow at all times. Banner is murmuring in that low, calming voice of his as he rolls him to his side, and Tony is talking on the phone, trying to secure medical help for Barton in a city that is full of people who need medical help.
"How fares the Hawkman?" Thor bellows, stomping toward the little group huddled on the ground.
Steve watches for a second more, reveling in the realization that they're a team, then heads toward Tony, yelling, "Stark! Need a living legend to back you up?"
Clint doesn't wake slowly, one sense at a time. No, he jolts awake, eyes wide and heart thudding, hissing in pain.
"Whoa now, easy there Tiger," someone says. Clint turns, frowning, and is semi-surprised to see Tony Stark sitting next to the bed. His feet are propped up next to Clint, and he's reading Time magazine, which is splashed with a picture of the Avengers fighting in New York.
"They profiled each of us," Tony says, licking a finger and turning a page. "We're pretty hot stuff right now." He puts the magazine down and points at Clint.
"You," he says, "are quite the celebrity. Seems girls like men with bulging biceps and impeccable aim."
"Of course they do," Clint says, only his voice is croaky and his throat is sore and is that an IV in his hand?
"You are in the infirmary," Thor says, coming into the room with a mug of steaming coffee. "We were most concerned for your welfare, but the doctors have assured us that you will be restored to your former hale self."
"Oh," Clint murmurs. "What happened?"
"You were stupid," Natasha answers. Barton startles and looks to the side, surprised to see Natasha sitting elegantly in a hospital chair. "Completely disregarded your injuries. You know better than that."
"I thought it was just bruises," Clint says defensively. Natasha rolls her eyes, but then she reaches out and squeezes his shoulder, and they don't really need to say anything else.
Steve and Banner come in together, talking quietly as they walk in. Banner gives a half-smile when he sees Clint awake, and Steve's smile seems to split his face neatly in half.
"Good to see you awake, Clint," Bruce says. "You had to have surgery to repair a fractured kidney, but you're recovering nicely."
"Thanks," Barton says. He's already getting tired, and rubs at an eye in frustration.
"We should let you sleep," Bruce says, glaring at the others. "And give the nurses a break."
They smile and nod and tell him they're glad he's doing well, and pretty soon only Steve and Natasha are still there.
"I'm glad you're doing well, Clint," Steve says in that almost painfully sincere way he has. "And, uh, you're not a loner any more. It's not just Agent Romanoff that has your back, it's all of us. We're the Avengers now, and we stick together. Got it?"
"Got it, Cap," Clint says. Steve smiles and claps him on the shoulder (and Clint manages not to wince) and hands him a copy of The Princess Bride.
"I just finished this," he says, giving a self-deprecating smile and shrugging. "You've probably already read it, and some of it didn't really make any sense, but it was pretty good."
"No, I've seen the movie, but I've never read it. Thanks Rogers," Barton answers, and he means it. "I'll read it."
Steve smiles again and walks out of the room.
"Get some sleep, Barton," Natasha says when it's just the two of them. "I'm on watch."
"Just like Tokyo, huh?"
Natasha chuckles softly. "You and I remember Tokyo very differently," she says.