Disclaimer: I do not own/say goodbye to the Avengers or Harry Potter
A Day Off
Tony Stark looked awkward. Clint knew that this could not possibly be the first occurrence of awkwardness that Stark had ever gone through, but it was surprising to Clint who had never seen it before from the man. Stark's reaction shouldn't have been a surprise. The man's file discussed in great detail his father's death and his not so good reaction to it. So, it made sense that Tony wasn't on his best game at funerals, especially funerals of friends. The fidgeting of hands, the shifty, red rimmed eyes, the constantly shuffling feet all indicated that the man didn't really want to be here. Clint couldn't blame him.
After all, he didn't really want to be at Phil's funeral either.
Clint scanned the rest of the grounds until he spotted the figure he was looking for. The kid had grown up a lot since the first time he had met him. He grimaced at the image of the war-torn, over worked child that popped into his head. He wondered idly if he had grown a conscious after his years of working for S.H.I.E.L.D. He glanced at the newest headstone in the cemetery, maybe he had, but if so it was the fault of one man.
His heart that was supposed to be nonexistent clenched in his chest. He had made a lot of promises to himself in years gone by and he had broken his biggest one the first time after he had met Phil.
Don't get attached.
Clint knew he wasn't ready to fully accept Phil's death. There was just too much unsaid between the two men. Clint doubted he would ever really accept it, but he could still felt the guilt weighing him down. No matter what the agency shrinks would try to tell him, the blame for Phil's death could be partially laid at his feet. Phil, the overly professional man whose only life was work and Harry. The only S.H.I.E.L.D. handler that could ever live up to the title. The man who could stand amongst heroes and gods and not look small.
Clint forced his mind onto different things, there would be enough heartache today to mull over. His eyes moved back to Harry, the kid. Not so much a kid anymore. Harry had become a hero, a billionaire with a charity, and, somewhere along the way, a bartender. Clint didn't know what to think about these developments. That didn't stop him from protecting the kid though. He had known the child soldier who was vulnerable and needed a friend. Just because he was no longer so vulnerable didn't mean he didn't need a friend.
Clint had spent the last several days skulking around the vent system near the interrogation room. Perhaps it was an overreaction, after all it wasn't like Fury could do anything to a man so in the spot light, but that didn't stop him. Clint needed to protect something, needed to do something. His whole body started shivering uncontrollably if he sat still for too long, thinking about what had happened. For a man like Clint, whose life revolved around his ability to control his body, it was a betrayal of the worst kind.
Looking after the kid had given him an excuse. S.H.I.E.L.D. wasn't anywhere close to trusting him again, he avoided hallways because of the looks he got from passing agents. He couldn't allow his brain to slow down, there was too much danger in slowing down. So, he had protected the kid from afar, making sure he was close enough to help if something were to happen, which it hadn't.
That left him where he was right now. Possibly the worse place he could be. He glanced at the headstone again and pulled tight on the reigns of his body. He wouldn't cry. He hadn't cried since he was four years old. He wasn't about to start now, in the middle of a group of agents who he would have to work with later. So, he wouldn't, couldn't cry. He repeated to himself.
He lost himself there for second, staring at the headstone trying to prevent himself from the outburst of uncontrollable sobs that wanted to invade his body. He was so lost that he didn't even realize someone was next to him until he felt a hand touch his shoulder. Clint's flinch and quick turn left a knife against a familiar throat.
The sad green eyes that stared at him didn't flinch away from the knife on his throat, but Clint did. He tucked it away quickly, almost disgusted with himself. He was losing control again, something he had promised to never let happen after Loki.
"Sorry." Clint said gruffly, his voice out of use. The man's green eyes softened.
"I understand the feeling. I'm about ready to stab someone too." Clint did his best to contain the flinch that his body made. The kid gave a sad smile to Clint. "Come on, let's go for a walk." Clint let his eyes drift over to the congregating people, the hole in the ground, and the accursed headstone. Harry's eyes followed his path and he shrugged. "We'll get back in time. Come on."
Harry's hands were in his pockets, shoulders slumped making the fitted suit look too big on him, a kid in mans clothes. Clint flashed back to a similar image of a teenager in a combat uniform that didn't fit him. Harry started walking away a Clint followed.
They walked for awhile before they passed another new headstone. It was recently placed, the loose ground spoke of a newly buried body. Clint couldn't stop his body from freezing in front of it. Harry was a few steps away before he realized Clint wasn't following him and came back. He glanced at the headstone.
"Yansin 'Lucky' Roberts. Did you know him?" Harry asked looking through him.
"For a second." Clint's mind flashed to the image of him his bow, an arrow notched in. A quick release, the hit through the heart. The man wasn't far enough away for anything other than a perfect hit. The nametag of the man flashed in his mind as his body hit the ground with a familiar thump, Roberts. One of his causalities. He had met the man just in time for 'Lucky' to die.
Clint had memorized the names of the people he had killed while under the control of Loki. It was a type of torture that all agents undertook at least once in their careers. Lucky Roberts had been one of the first, but the cemetery was littered with the new headstones that he had placed there. There was one name that weighed more than the others though, Phil Coulson. His handler had died and he was partially at fault. It hurt more than any torture he had ever endured.
Harry hand touched his shoulder again softly. Clint couldn't help the flinch, but he didn't remove the hand. "It will be okay Clint."
"How do you know?" Clint said caustically. "I made headstones in this cemetery. The place where I will once end up and I put people here. How do I know they won't all mug me when I finally get here for good. Their killer in the same resting place as them. It is disgraceful." Clint couldn't take his eyes away from the shining stone.
Harry's hand twisted his body around. The kid's eyes were bright, almost angry.
"Don't say that kind of stuff to me Clint. You weren't the person who killed these agents. That blame rests solely on Loki's shoulders. You weren't yourself." Harry said convincingly. Clint liked the words, but his subconscious would never accept them. No matter who was really to blame Clint was the one that pulled the trigger, released the arrow, killed these good men and women. He didn't understand how someone else could forgive him from something he couldn't even forgive himself for.
Harry sighed and brushed his hand through his hair, a familiar nervous gesture.
"I was never good a funerals. Too many in too short of a time." Harry looked tired. Clint knew why, a few days in an interrogation room would make anyone exhausted even one as nice as the one Harry had stayed in. That was only part of it though, the kid hadn't been sleeping well, something Clint knew from all of the hours he had spent unable to get to sleep in the vents because of Harry's tossing and turning. Harry had a faraway look in his eyes. "You aren't the only person who had put a friend in the ground Clint." Harry said softly, his voice cracking a little.
He was more worn out than Clint had first thought, there was no other way he would start talking about that. It was Clint's turn to place a hand on Harry's shoulder. He didn't say anything, there wasn't anything that could be said.
"I miss him." The voice was soft, Clint almost missed it and kind of wished he had. His heart did that funny clenching thing that it wasn't supposed to be able to do. "I hate him a little for it too, that's the worst part. How could he die, how could he do that to me? He left me alone...again. After everything we went through and he dies trying to play the hero." Harry scoffed a little. "He should have known better, he shouldn't have left me in the first place."
Harry paused for a second. "You want to know the worst part?" Harry didn't wait for an answer before continuing. "He told me he loved me...and I hate him for it." Harry rubbed his eyes and Clint could see the wetness that was accumulating in them. "I hate him for it because he didn't give me the chance to say it back to him. I didn't get to say goodbye. After everything he pulled me through I think I loved him more than my own father for awhile. Of course, my father died before I ever got to know him so it wasn't a big contest, but Phil he just..." Harry's voice cracked and he stopped talking. "The first time I have ever regretted not being able to carry a phone with me. He called and I..." Harry rubbed his eyes again. "I couldn't answer him. That's what hurts the worst. He finally needed me and I was nowhere to be found. It kills me inside." Harry's tears were coming too fasts now for him to rub them away. His body was trembling. "I don't get to see him anymore."
Clint didn't know what he was doing. He had never comforted a person in his life, just ask Natasha, but seeing Harry breaking down caused an instinctive reaction throughout his body and before he knew it awkward arms were encircling the man. He didn't know what he was doing, nothing felt right about his position, did people really do this to each other? Clint almost released him, but when Harry's arms closed around him too he felt himself relax a little.
It felt better. Clint didn't know exactly what it was that was feeling better, but the hand crushing his heart loosened a little. He imagined this how a child must be comforted when they are sad, he had never been a child like that, but from this feeling alone he guessed it would probably have been great. They stayed there for a few minutes just relaxing with each other, sharing the pain of lives lost too early and friends gone too soon. They were friends, getting comfort from one another. No matter how they acted in the real world, right now they were just people who hurt.
Clint released Harry first, reminding himself that he was a highly skilled agent that killed people for a living. That didn't help the little bit of loss he felt when Harry detached from him. Harry rubbed his eyes a little, but Clint was glad to see that he didn't have to. He had kept that part of him locked tight and despite the letting go of control he had a few minutes ago, his eyes had not betrayed him.
Harry looked around the cemetery again, acclimating to the real world again.
"This is a nice place." Harry told Clint. Clint almost smiled.
"Yeah, it is really pleasant here. It is always kind of amusing to think about it though. The location of the S.H.I.E.L.D. cemetery, this place, is probably the worst kept secret in the company." Clint gestured around him. "They try to keep the location secret so that our enemies won't get their hands on our bodies after we are gone. Of course the whole place is kind of a joke anyway. Most of the graves here are empty, some are just a headstone and nothing else. Many KIA or presumed KIA, people that never made it back. Some are cremated and their ashes scattered, others buried in urns. Possibly this is the worst cemetery in existence for actually keeping dead bodies."
Harry smiled a little at that, it reassured Clint that maybe the world wasn't ending.
"It gets better than that though. This cemetery is supposed to be a secret, so much so that S.H.I.E.L.D. has never actually named it. Whenever it is referred to in reports it is always just 'The Cemetery'. So, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, having the morbid humor that they do, decided to give it a nickname. You know the phase, 'I'll sleep when I'm dead'?" Harry nodded a little, his eyes lighter. "We refer to this place as 'A Day Off'. So sometimes an agent will say, 'I'll get A Day Off when I'm dead'." Clint smiled a little at the chuckle that escaped Harry, he was feeling lighter. Harry's laugher filled the area.
"It's perfect. I was always telling Phil he needed a vacation." Clint started see the tears creeping back into Harry's eyes. "He's finally taking A Day Off." Harry's laugher died off and he gave Clint a watery smile. Clint smiled back at him.
"Come on, kid. Let's go say goodbye to a great man." Clint threw an arm around Harry's shoulder and they started walking back. The new headstones didn't stand out to Clint as much anymore, but he still noticed them. He gave a small nod to each one they passed.
The weight on his chest was a little lighter.
Harry entered the Shrieking Shack tiredly. S.H.I.E.L.D. interrogation squad had released him just in time for Phil's funeral. Harry had scrounged around what was left of his apartment for a suit which he hurriedly fixed up in time to get blindfolded and driven to the cemetery where they were burying Phil's body. After an emotionally exhausting day trying to keep it together in front of a group of assassins and superheroes, he had a mini-breakdown in front of Clint that made him embarrassed, but at the same time not.
He crashed on a bar stool and rubbed his red eyes. He hadn't cried this much since Ron's funeral.
All this was compounded by the fact that he didn't have anywhere to sleep tonight. The apartment was still in too much of a mess for him to sleep there. The hotels were filled with other families whose homes had been destroyed in the battle. Which left him with the pub. He groaned and rubbed his eyes leaning against the bar.
He only lifted his head when he heard the dinging of the bell over the door. He turned tiredly.
"We're clos..." He trailed off when he saw who walked through the door.
"Well, you were right, this certainly isn't my kind of place." Tony Stark said looking around the room. "I can see why time-boy likes it though. It certainly does feel like it fell out of the middle ages." He turned outside. "He's in here boys."
"Who's with you?" Harry asked trying to wake up.
"Just some friends. We are here to get pissed." Tony looked contemplative for a second. "That is what you Brits say right? Pissed, drunk, same thing? Whatever it is, that's what we are here to do."
Tony moved out of the way and Steve entered the room after him. He looked sheepish and Harry figured he was probably the one who blabbed to Tony about where the place was. Harry just shook his head at him and sighed. Steve smiled back at him, sheepishness gone, all was forgiven.
"Huh, nice place." Bruce entered the room with Natasha close behind. They settled into chairs around the biggest table in the room. Harry was going to say something before the door flew open and a large Asgardian god entered the room.
"Hello, friends and allies. Harry," Harry almost flinched away when Thor strode over to him, he hadn't forgotten the wall that Thor had thrown him against. Thor did nothing but grab Harry in a giant hug. Harry was immediately reminded of Hagrid, a man who just didn't know his own strength. Harry gasped in the air he had been deprived of when Thor released him. "Son of Coul was a great warrior and an honorable man. We are here to feast his life and deeds. To drink mead and ale till we fall."
Harry scratched the back of his head and blushed a little. "Um, Thor, about Loki..." Harry fell silent as Thor slashed his hand through the air.
"We are here to honor the sacrifice and loss of a great warrior and man. Whatever quarrels we have outside of this are forgotten for this. It would be dishonorable to sully his service with a bar brawl." Thor clapped Harry on the back and he had to stop himself from falling over. "Now, we drink!"
Harry watching in surprise as Thor took his seat at the table. Sometime during the Thor greeting Clint had snuck in. He smiled a little at the image the group made, Tony, Steve, Clint, Natasha, Bruce, and Thor all sitting together ready to drink for a man that some of them didn't even know. These people had saved the world together. Harry felt a rush of pride in his chest, they fit together so well.
"Well, what are you waiting for? We need alcohol." Tony declared and dodged a smack that Steve sent to the bad of his head. Harry couldn't contain the smile on his face. Harry jumped behind the counter and grabbed several bottles and glasses. As he made his way to the table the group was already starting to get comfortable and relax.
Harry passed around a couple of bottles and glasses before he sat down himself. He grabbed an empty chair and pulled it up next to him. In front of the chair he placed down a glass and filled it with firewhiskey. A knowing look passed through the members of the Avengers, but Steve was the first to speak.
"To Phil Coulson." He raised his glass and the rest of the group followed.
"To Phil Coulson." Thor almost drowned out the rest with his enthusiastic cheer. Then, almost synchronously they all threw back their drinks. Harry smiled at the look on Bruce's and Thor's faces, they were the only two that had never tried the substance.
"This is a good drink." Bruce said while coughing a little. Natasha patted him on the back a little while laughing.
"Verily." Thor said taking another swig of the drink. Harry, Tony, and Steve laughed at the man and started drinking themselves. Tony was the first to break the silence.
"Did you know that Coulson used to watch Supernanny?" He asked with a smile. Clint, Natasha, and Bruce laughed and smiled.
"That's not the best of it though." Harry said with a smile. "He loved all of those types of shows, Supernanny, Nanny 911, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, but his favorite by far was the Dog Whisper." Most of the table burst in to uproarious laugher. "He loved the animal planet, I swear." Thor and Steve looked confused.
"There is a man who can talk to dogs?" Steve asked lost. Which caused the table that had slowed down its laughing to start up again. Clint patted him on the back solemnly, swallowing his laugher.
"We will get you back up to speed soon Cap." He chuckled a little. "I have one. There was this one mission in Bangladesh where Phil led us into a lard factory. The mission went sidewise and by the time we got out of there. There wasn't a single man not completely covered in the stuff. From head to toe, we were covered in lard. I was still picking it out of my hair months later." Clint added with a smile. The table started laughing again. This time Thor and Steve added in. Thor's laugher was a lot like thunder shaking the room, but it somehow had everything seem brighter.
"Oh, I've got a good one." Natasha said moving her chair closer to the table. "We were in the middle of an Indian warehouse district and everyone is suited up and ready to go. Phil gets the address and we a pumped, ready to get some bad guys. We bust down this door and almost get crushed by the pile of teddy bears that falls out. See there had been a mistake in the message that had been sent to Phil by some new hire. They had sent the address next door to the one we were supposed to raid. While, the majority of the people in front were getting crushed to death by fluffy bears Phil had to take a small group and try and salvage what was left of the mission. Phil, me, and three others went next down and did a surprise attack. We surprised them alright, everyone of us was covered in cotton stuffing of the bears and Phil even had a pink one attached to some Velcro that was on his suit. It must have been the most hilariously silly raid they had ever seen. We captured them all, of course, and then had to go help our fallen teammates shovel teddy bears off themselves."
The table burst into laughter again. Harry couldn't contain himself and laughed along with them at the image of Phil performing a raid with a teddy bear attached to him.
It continued like that for a long time before Bruce interrupted.
"Sorry, bathroom break." Bruce said getting out of his chair. The rest of the group waved him away, but Harry stood as well.
"That sounds like a good idea." He followed Bruce to the back hallway and stopped. Bruce stopped as well and turned to him.
"How are you?" Bruce asked and then grimaced. "Sorry, stupid question."
"I've been better of course, but I'll be fine. It will take some time, but I'll be fine." Harry said more assuredly than he felt. Bruce nodded. Harry couldn't stop himself from asking, "Why are you here anyway? You didn't know Phil and if I remember correctly, you were going to escape to the middle of nowhere again." Bruce shrugged sheepishly.
"Tony offered me a lab." He said as if it explained everything, which it kind of did. "I won't stay for long of course, but a few weeks wouldn't be so bad. Just to decompress. Besides after that Loki debacle I thought I should stay nearby." Harry had the decency to blush. "Anyway, while I might not have known Phil, which is a shame if the stories are anything to go by, I do know you. I'm here because he was a good man who sacrificed himself for us and if we don't honor that we are kind of terrible people." Bruce shrugged. "Besides, you knew him and you are my friend."
Harry smiled and pushed the tears back in his eyes, he had cried enough for the day.
"I'd better get back." Harry said with a smile. Bruce nodded and they separated.
Harry got back to the table just in time to see that most of the bottles had been emptied. He started picking up empty glasses and bottles.
"Here let me help with that." Steve grabbed a couple empty bottles as well and joined Harry in walking behind the bar. Harry directed him to the kitchen and placed the dirty glasses and bottles in the sink.
"Agent Coulson was a good man." Steve's voice wasn't shocking, nor was what he said. In fact, Harry had expected something like this. "He did his duty to his country and died a hero. It was an honor to have met him." Steve was stiff when Harry looked at him, a soldiers stance. Harry let a sigh escape him.
"You don't have to do his Steve. Phil wasn't your soldier, you held no responsibility for his actions and don't need to give me the grieving mother speech as to why he died. I get it, it was his job. He did what he did because he felt it was best, no other reason. I don't begrudge him his choice, even if I wish he had chosen differently." Harry scrubbed some of the dishes. "Thank you for earlier though. A part of Phil would have been ecstatic to know that Captain America gave his eulogy."
"It was a privilege." Steve said stiffly.
"Go back out. I'll be there in a minute." Harry leaned over the sink scrubbing out the dishes.
He didn't know how long he had stayed lost in thought before Tony entered the room roughly.
"Stop moping in there. We need more alcohol and you have to give it to us." Harry looked at him. Tony looked bad. Not as bad as Harry was sure he looked, but nowhere close to normal Stark standards. Harry smiled at him. The easiest part of grief is sharing it with friends.
"Yeah, let's go get pissed." Harry put down the dish towel and turned off the water. As he was walking past Tony to get into the room he felt a hand pat his shoulder. He turned to Tony in surprise. That was probably as close to comforting as Tony got. Tony shrugged a little.
"Agent was a good guy, even if he did watch Supernanny."
Harry smiled at Tony and they walked back into the room. Harry grabbed more bottles and headed back to the table of already too drunk people.
It was several hours later, dozens of empty bottles, and hundreds of stories later when the group finally decided to call it quits. Bruce was the first to stumble out, leaning against Thor who didn't look too steady himself. Tony and Steve started arguing and then felt bad about it so they decided to leave. Steve was in much better condition that Tony.
All that was left was Clint and Natasha. Clint looked so tired that Harry allowed him to crash on one of the booths. Harry didn't know if he was sleeping or pretending, but didn't really care.
Natasha moved closer to him. Harry had moved behind the counter after he had picked up the remaining glasses and bottles. He would certainly need to restock, but it was nothing major. He stilled when he felt a hand touch his and rub suggestively. Harry looked up into Natasha's eyes. She was much less drunk than she had appeared several minutes ago. Her hand continued rubbing his and a question was in her eyes. Harry sighed and slumped.
"Thank you Natasha, but no, not tonight." Natasha just nodded and removed her hand. Her hands clenched and then rubbed each other. A faraway look in her eyes. It was Harry's turn to place a hand on hers. "Hey, how are you doing?"
"Not great. I..." She stopped herself from saying anything else, but Harry could finish the sentence for her. She missed Phil as well. Which made sense. Phil was the only person crazy enough to be a handler for Clint and Natasha, a fact he had complained about multiple times to Harry. "He was a good handler. Efficient. Professional. I don't think another could do his job as well."
Harry read in between the lines. He stopped himself from hugging her. He doubted it would end well for him.
"Come on, I'll show you something." Harry walked out from behind the counter. "Clint can come too, if he stops pretending to be asleep." Harry almost smiled at the quick movements of the agent. Before he knew it there were two agents following him up a ladder to the roof. "I don't know if you were aware, but the first time I really met Phil, face to face, without all of the codenames and agents speak, was on the rooftop of Clint's arcade. I bought this place partially because it allowed me to buy the rights to a part of the roof as well. I got to change it into this."
Harry pulled himself onto the roof of the building and helped Natasha up as well. Near the center of the roof was a tent-like structure. There was a telescope poking out from a window. Harry walked across the roof and opened the door of the building to the two agents.
The room in the structure had a cushioned floor and pillows with a table and chairs to one side. There was a refrigerator to the side of the room as well. The entire roof of the structure appeared to be glass and what little of the stars you could see shined through it. There was multiple telescopes in the room with the biggest one out of a window, pointed at the sky. Harry crashed on the floor and didn't say anything when Natasha and Clint fell to either side of him, staring at the sky.
"We spent some time in here. Just looking at the sky. The whole thing was a bit of a splurge, but I'm a sentimentalist and it was as much for me as it was for him. New York City isn't really the best place to look for stars, but we made it work somehow." Harry trailed off, allowing the silence to settle over them comfortably. "Stupid man."
Natasha and Clint scoffed a little and laughed. They fell silent again.
"You aren't going to join us are you?" Natasha asked, but Harry got the feeling it was really Fury's question. Harry didn't feel any anger because of it, he was too tired. He just shook his head a little.
"No, I'm not going to join you guys. I will always be here with drinks and companionship if you need me, but that part of my life...that part of me is gone. Locked away for good. I noticed it while I had Loki, it was forced somehow. It didn't give me the rush it used to. I am over saving the world by killing people, I think I going to help orphans and get people drunk." Harry paused and let it sink in. "Can you really blame me for that?"
Natasha shook her head, but sighed. "You would have been a great handler."
Harry laughed and felt Clint do the same.
"There was only one good handler in that bunch of misfits and right now he is taking a day off." Harry replied quietly. He paused and then spoke again. "To Phil Coulson, the best man I knew."
"To Phil Coulson, the best handler a girl could ask for." Natasha said.
"To Phil Coulson the greatest Supernanny watching, trading card collecting hero in the world. The man that we all aspire to be." Clint responded.
They fell silent then. The silence of the room and the noise of the city surrounding them, lulling them to sleep. Their thoughts were as pleasant as the night.
Downstairs in a dark pub, a full glass in front of the empty chair remained untouched, it's owner was gone, but not forgotten.
AN: THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR READING THIS STORY!
For serious my dudes, it means a lot to me that so many of you reviewed. I hope you are okay with the ending. Please shoot me a reviewing if you liked it. I might do bonus chapters from time to time if the mood strikes, but this is as close as it will come to being the ending of this story. If there are a lot of requests for a sequel I might do one. I have a semblance of an idea for one, but for right now I hope this tides you over.
I really hope you enjoyed it, and if you did if you could leave a reviewing telling me that it will make fuzzies grow in my heart and you will get all of the fake points of the internet that I could give you.
PS. The entire time I was writing this I was listening to Advice by Jesse Ruben, it just got stuck in my head and inspired me to write.
PPS. Once again if you see any spelling or grammar mistakes, please tell me. I'd really appreciate it.
Thanks again, I love you all.