AN: Somewhere around the third time I saw the movie I started wondering where Clint and Natasha were during Tony's back-from-the-dead scene and how they met back up with everyone to go capture Loki. This started as a drabble, but then I wanted to know what happened in between the end of the battle and when Thor and Loki leave (other than shawarma), since clearly everyone has had some time to heal. Closes with my guess about what Natasha says to make Clint smile during the closing scene.
Later, when Natasha thinks back on closing the portal, she remembers the total lack of sound. She remembers the crackling of the tesseract and the booming of the battle dropping away as soon as she shoves the scepter into the center of Selvig's crazy contraption.
Later, she realizes that her loss of hearing was a precursor to passing out, the first of her senses to be overwhelmed by all the energy imploding so close to her relatively unprotected body. At the time, she had a sudden doubt- that maybe destroying the portal would somehow cause the end of the world, that maybe that was Loki's plan all along.
Clint was always annoyed that he had missed most of the end of the battle. Apparently swinging through a window and knocking your head rather hard on the ground in the same day as a serious 'cognitive recalibration' is enough to take someone out (who knew?). When he came to, he could hear Tony and Steve in his earpiece jibing about the Hulk saving the genius-billionaire-playboy-philanthropist from his swandive out of the portal.
"Hey, guys?" He taps the comm a few times, not sure if it had survived his little jump off the building. "Guys, can you hear me?"
"Hey, Barton," Steve's voice sounds relieved. "We weren't what happened to you. Are you hurt?"
"Not seriously." Feeling like a creaky old man, Clint drags himself to a sitting position so he can look out the window. "Just got knocked out. Looks like you took care of things without me. How's everyone else?"
"Thor, Hulk, Stark, and I are a little bruised, but otherwise fine. I haven't heard from Romanoff since she blew the portal, so no word on her or Selvig."
Clint's training automatically kicks in as he forces himself to keep his breathing calm. "Any particular reason no one's gone to check on them?"
"Calm down, Katniss. We're on our way there now. Someone is being Captain Responsible and insisting that we grab Loki before we have dinner."
Clint is about to ask Tony if he's lost his mind when Thor's voice cuts in. "Barton, where are you? I can help you get to the Lady Natasha."
The thought of the look on Nat's face if she heard Thor calling her that is enough to shake his worry long enough to direct Thor to the partially destroyed office building. Clint follows the trail of glass to the gaping hole and grabs on to the god as soon as he is within reaching distance.
Thor may not be used to humans and their strange customs, but he knows that Barton is not in a jesting mood. Thor himself is now feeling slightly guilty that it took Barton reappearing in the comm to remind the brawlers of the sixth and smallest Avenger. While Thor accepts the Lady Natasha as a warrior equal to the challenge presented by Loki, he is suddenly wondering- as are they all- if she was strong enough to survive being so close to the tesseract when it was disengaged.
Thor carries Barton to the top of the tower and matches the agent's worried glance with one of his own. The cube still glows brightly in the middle of a blackened hull of metal, casting strange shadows on the prone, unmoving forms of Erik Selvig and Natasha Romanoff.
Clint is vaguely aware of Thor's huge form bounding across the roof to roll Selvig onto his back. He can hear the rest of the team in one ear as they arrive in Tony's destroyed home to see Loki still unconscious. Most of his cognitive power is focused on cataloguing what is wrong with Natasha.
She is breathing normally, which is enough to bring his heart back to a slightly normal pace. Her heart seems to be functioning normally, and while her face is bleeding in several spots she doesn't seem to have any major injuries. Her hands are still clenched around Loki's scepter, and he has to struggle a little to get her to let go of it. If he were slightly less terrified he might be amused by her unconscious dedication to holding on to the weapon.
"Natasha?" He carefully sits cross legged next to her, pulling her upper body into his lap so that he can feel the back of her head for any more lacerations. "Nat, can you hear me?"
She makes a 'hrumph' noise in the back of her throat and wiggles in an approximation of the motion she makes when she doesn't want to give out of bed. The combination is so familiar, so Natasha, that he chuckles a little, drawing curious looks from Thor and Selvig, who had been about to go down to meet the rest of the team.
Clint ignores their pause, and the ongoing buzz in his ear asking for an update. "Natasha, you crazy girl, didn't I always tell you to find cover before you set off an explosion?"
As expected, the jibe is enough to make her crack open an eye. "Sorry, I was too busy saving the world. And anyway, it didn't explode, it just…"
"Pushed energy away from itself to dispel all of the excess coming in from the portal snapping shut," Selvig offers.
Clint raises an eyebrow. Natasha sticks out her tongue. Thor looks thoroughly confused. Selvig, displaying remarkable deductive skills for a guy who is having the craziest week of his life, suggests that they go downstairs to find some water, leaving the agents to themselves.
Natasha sits up a little, carefully testing her range of motion. "Nothing's broken," she announces, sounding a little surprised. "And I can hear again."
"Good," Clint murmurs, engrossed in brushing the biggest pieces of gravel out of her hair and away from the large cut on her forehead, when he notices the look of alarm on her face. "What?"
"You're bleeding, you moron!" she snaps, scooting around to his side to poke at his shoulder. "How in the hell did you do this? Why isn't it bandaged? Are you trying to get blood poisoning?"
"Jumped off a building and rappelled through a window. Battle just ended. Was trying to get to you. Hey!" He slaps her hand away, ignoring the venomous look she shoots him.
"What, you're going to leave the glass in your arm?"
"No, and I'll even let you pull it out as slowly as you want later, but Loki's waking up," he taps at his earpiece, realizing that she must have lost hers somehow, "and we should be there."
Her brow knits together just a little further as she snatches up the scepter. "Let's do this."
Thor had just been about to go back to the roof to see if the agents required assistance when they came striding into the room.
Well… maybe not striding. Their injuries had impacted their movement enough that it was more of a brisk limp. But they were both armed and looked ready to take on the world and Thor is suddenly extremely aware that he may have underestimated the humans, even if they don't have any special powers.
He is also impressed by how well they work together. He knows that they are partners and friends but the way that they automatically reposition around each other and communicate with a glance suddenly has him thinking of Jane, and wondering just how well the Avengers actually know each other.
Later, when Natasha thinks back on the shawarma outing, she wonders just how their group of misfits managed to save the world.
They are all exhausted and barely poking at their food (except for Thor, who would probably require the actual end of the world to be put off his appetite). No one seems to have noticed Clint's leg propped on her chair, or the way her hand has been on his thigh for most of the meal.
She knows that she should have insisted on medical treatment first, as everyone but an un-Hulked Bruce Banner looks pretty banged up, but somehow this act of sitting in a restaurant together makes it feel like they actually succeeded in their mission.
Later they all end up in a lower floor of Stark Tower that escaped most of the fighting. Pepper had insisted early on in the Iron Man adventures that Tony install a first-class infirmary, and the team obediently files in to be examined by Bruce. He and Steve are both most concerned with Tony, who is unsuccessfully trying to play off the impact the nuke's blast had on him through his suit, so the SHIELD agents take over another examining table to show off their knowledge of field medicine.
She picks glass out of his shoulders and he pokes at her ribs and they hold a whispered conversation that most everyone fails to notice and Thor intentionally ignores. He can't quite ignore the slight lingering of hands, the locking of eyes, the way his lips brush over her forehead after he bandages the laceration, but he decides that it's really not any of his business.
When Clint is helping Natasha slip her boot back over her injured ankle he looks over and catches Thor's eye. Clint's shoulders immediately stiffen, drawing Natasha's attention, but Thor simply smiles and begins to loudly tease Tony about the demise of yet another suit, giving them cover to slip upstairs in search of the guest rooms Tony had promised earlier.
They relax a little more once they are alone, though they both know that it will take weeks of waking up to normalcy before they truly accept that Loki has been defeated. Fury (or rather, probably Hill) has managed to send ahead the team's belongings that had been left on the hellicarrier and the familiarity of their own toothbrushes and weapons back-ups draws most of the remaining tension out of the room.
Natasha thinks about initiating the conversation that she- well, probably they- need to have, about how terrifying it was to fight each other and the moment when he went silent on the comm and she just wanted the damn portal closed so that she could find him, but she is entirely too tired to think coherently.
Instead, when Thor looks in on them later, he finds the master assassins curled up together, white bandages stark against skin still grimy from the battle, and looking entirely too peaceful to be disturbed.
Some combination of their training and the fact that they went to sleep earliest has them out of bed first in the morning. By the time the rest of the team stumbles out to the kitchen Clint and Natasha are showered, re-bandaged, and dressed, and have begun to poke through the cupboards in search of breakfast.
Tony heads straight for the coffee. Bruce and Steve bend over the newspaper that Natasha has left spread on the table. Thor raises his eyebrows, and Clint catches his eye and smiles before bending to give Natasha a quick kiss.
The next week passes in a similar fashion, to the point where Thor, Clint, and Natasha have begun to take bets on when the rest of the team ceases to be quite so oblivious. The couple has never been overly physically demonstrative, and the other men are generally so wrapped up in themselves and their own conversations that they don't notice the occasional whispered conversation or holding of hands under the table. Bruce makes a comment in passing about how much time they spend together, thinking it odd that the partners wouldn't want to take advantage of being able to have some time alone, but Tony declares that SHIELD must brainwash the full-time agents so that they no longer have any concept of fun.
That night Natasha sneaks into Tony's room and steals several of his shoes, one from each of his favorite pairs.
The day finally comes when Bruce and Erik declare the tesseract stable enough to make the jump back to Asgard, and the team converges on the chosen location in an isolated spot in Central Park. Although most of them will be going back to Stark Tower later, largely for lack of a better idea, Thor's imminent departure gives the whole affair a feeling of The End.
Thor embraces each of them in turn, ending with the assassins. He reminds them of his terms in the bet and kisses Natasha on the forehead.
"And no cheating!" He declares quietly. "You do not win the bet if you tell them yourselves during your chosen time."
Natasha gives an over-exaggerated sigh. "Fine, fine. But none of this is going to matter if you don't come back. We expect to see you again."
The sentiment is probably unnecessary given Thor's determination to see His Jane Foster again, but evidently averting an apocalypse makes even the Black Widow a little sappy.
Amazingly, the other men have failed to notice Thor's lingering exchange with Natasha as they gloat amongst themselves about how ridiculous Loki looks in the metal contraption secured over his mouth. As Thor and Loki prepare to return to Asgard, Natasha turns to Clint.
"Do you think it counts as telling them if we have sex on the kitchen table?"
AN the second: I like the idea of Thor being observant and the other guys being oblivious. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to write the scene where the team actually figures it out (largely because I haven't decided how they figure it out, though Natasha's idea has merit), but Thor really wants to know who wins the bet so I think I might have to...