A/N: Sorry this took so long to get up. Thanks for your patience. Not how I originally envisioned it, but I think I like it. I'm trying to figure out how to let Thor be the one to take a bullet… Mr. I'm-a-God-so-I'm-Invincible isn't making it easy… Any other requests/ideas? Thanks for the very kind reviews, and adding this story to your favorites/alerts lists.

From his sniper's nest, Clint saw that Steve was in trouble – facing more than a dozen opponents. He quickly began firing.

"Hawkeye…" Tasha's voice over the communicator held concern and warning.

I'm not trying to be the hero... I don't wanna to die...
But right now, in this moment, you don't think twice.
You just do what you gotta do... to defend your own.

Hawkeye ignored her, and kept shooting, giving Steve the cover he needed. Soon, other enemy troops turned their attention to the Sniper, and began firing up at his location. He ignored the shots hitting close by, and kept firing.

Within moments they were on him, and Hawkeye had to move. Three bullets tore through his abdomen and almost knocked him off the building. Hulk jumped from the roof of the next building to the roof Clint was on and roared as bullets harmlessly bounced off him. The enemy troops cowered away in fear. Thor sent lightning down on the enemy as Iron Man landed beside Clint, picked him up, and flew to the SHIELD hospital nearby.

Once the lightning show was over Hulk began furiously smashing those who were left.


It was impossible to miss the barely controlled emotion in Natasha as they all gathered in the waiting room. Clint was still being operated on. Pepper was busy arranging for a hospital bed, and the other things needed so Clint could be moved to the Tower as soon as possible.

Steve didn't take it personally. He knew Natasha valued Clint's life about all other's – even her own.

"What are you so upset about?" Tony asked, trying to mask his own worry for the Archer. "He saved Steve."

"And I'm glad Steve is safe." She looked at Steve, and gave him a small smile. "I'd never want you hurt." She turned her attention back to Tony. "But the stunt Clint pulled…"

"What stunt? It was his usual shooting."

Natasha took a deep breath. "With you being Iron Man, and before that 'The Merchant of Death', I forget just how much of a civilian you are, Tony. There's a reason snipers are used to take out a single target, not large groups like Clint did. After the first couple shots the enemy figures out where the sniper is hiding. For a sniper, taking more than two shots from the same location is very dangerous. It's why Clint moves as he shoots, if he takes more than one shot. Clint was making himself vulnerable, risking his own life, to save Steve. I know it's something we all do, but… I…"

"You're worried," Thor said. Snipers weren't used in Asgard, but he'd immediately understood the concept when he'd seen Clint at work. After all, Thor was a warrior, born and raised.

"Yes," she admitted, looking towards the closed door again, wishing she could make the doctor come through it and give them a report on Clint.

They all fell silent.

No greater gift has man, then to lay down his life for Love.
And I wondered, would I give my life?
Could I make that sacrifice?
If it came down to it, could I take the bullet... I would
Yes I would, For You

Natasha was right. They'd somehow formed a disfunctional family. They'd each give their life for any of the others. And all hoped today wouldn't be the day Clint had to make that sacrifice.

Thor, with his big heart, was soon unable to stand seeing Tasha in such pain, and stepped forward, wrapping his arms around her, using his much larger body to shield her from the others' view as she buried her face in his chest. Her Red Room training told her to pull away, that accepting his comfort was unacceptable weakness; but she didn't want to hurt Thor (emotionally, not physically) by doing that. And she'd learned that the Team was a strength, not a weakness. Tasha accepted the strength and comfort Thor offered, knowing Clint would want her to, since he couldn't be here to offer it himself. No tears fell - she was the Black Widow after all, and only cried false tears during her interrogations - but Thor felt the tremors that shook her body. She couldn't have said how long she stayed that way before the sound of the door opening caught their attention.

"He's out of surgery, but not out of danger," the SHIELD doctor reported. "He's in for a fight, but this is Agent Barton… I wouldn't bet against him. He's not known for losing fights."