Rated: T (Teen)
Pair(s): Phil Coulson/Clint Barton, Tony/Steve
Summary: Clint will always love Phil. Always. Post-Movie.
Disclaimer: I don't own anyone.
Warning: Slash, Character Death, etc.
Clint rolled over in the bed, only to find the other side vacant and cold. He didn't want to awaken. If he did, he would find his side of the bed abandoned. His clothes had been taken out of the closet. His knick-knacks and other useless stuff that Clint had once teased him about had been donated to charity. All that Clint had to remember him by were some blood-stained Captain America cards, and Tasha seemed to insist that it was unhealthy for him to keep them. Sanitation and what not. But Clint couldn't force himself to throw them away.
It had only been one day. One day. Not since Phil's death, of course. No, it was one day since Natasha Romanov decided that the world was no longer in jeopardy and he deserved to know the truth. He deserved to know that, when he went home, Phil wouldn't be there to kiss him and tell him that he had done his job well. Phil wouldn't be there. Loki had stabbed him. But the fate of the world was more important than Phil's death. But what about Clint? To Clint, Phil was his whole world. Didn't anyone care about that?
There was a fierce knock on the front door. Clint squeezed his bloodshot eyes closed and covered his head with a pillow. He didn't want to face the world. Not today. He was weak and hurt, and all he wanted – no, all he needed – was the comfort of his ever-dutiful lover. The knock persisted. Clint knew that he wouldn't be able to avoid them forever. Slowly, he slid out of bed and threw on the nearest clothes that he could find. Whoever it was would have to deal with his bare chest, because he wasn't in the mood to search for a shirt in this mess.
Shortly after he had arrived back home, he had totally demolished the bedroom. A broken mirror lay in one corner, his clothes were all over the floor, and several bottles of expensive cologne had been broken. Clint didn't care. Correction: Clint couldn't care. Nothing seemed to matter to him anymore. It was like Phil had defined him, had formed into the man that he had always wanted to be. But without Phil, Clint's world lost all color and he was all alone. And Clint hated to be alone.
He answered the door. It was Natasha. "What do you want? I'm busy."
Natasha took the liberty of allowing herself into the apartment without invitation. Clint rolled his reddened eyes, but shut the door behind her. "Nice job with the renovation. I like it."
"You don't have to play coy with me, Natasha." Clint snapped back. He was tired, frustrated, and he wanted to lock himself in his memories and throw away the key. "I know the reason why you're here."
"Oh?" The Russian woman raised one red eyebrow. "Do tell."
"Director Fury sent you to make sure that I'm not 'defective' after the loss of my lover. He wouldn't want his best marksman on the other team, after all." Clint sneered. His reference to the Loki incident was not lost on Natasha.
"Actually, that's not the reason I'm here." Natasha stated matter-of-factly.
"Oh?" Clint mimicked her rudely. "Do tell."
"I came here on my own to make sure that you're okay. You took the news a little hard." Natasha said.
Clint blinked. His lover died because some idiot had set Loki free, and he had taken the news a little hard. "Yeah, listen. I'm not interested in your commiseration."
"You're not the only one who cared about Agent Coulson, Clint. Don't be an ass and pretend like you were." Natasha said bluntly, but she could tell that her words didn't sink in.
Clint didn't answer her. She didn't care about Phil. Not like he did. Phil was his lover, his life, his world. He wasn't that to Natasha. Who was she to tell him how to feel? After all, she was the one who had lied to him from the start. She had told him that it was all okay. She had lied to his face. How could he trust her after that? He fixed himself a cup of coffee and sat down on the bar stool. Natasha continued to stand. Her face was steeled to show no emotion, like it always was. Clint's face was void of emotion.
Slowly, he drank his coffee. He drank it black, no sugar or sweetener. The coffee was so hot that it burned the roof of his mouth, but he didn't care. Natasha walked around so that she stood in front of the island counter. Now, only the marble surface stood between them. Clint didn't want to look at her. Her face may be void of emotion, but he could see how she truly felt in her eyes. It was an ability that he had always had. And he could tell that his behavior hurt her. Well, her behavior had hurt him.
"Clint." Natasha said softly. "I'm sorry."
Clint blinked dumbly. Well, that was unusual. Natasha was never sorry. "Well, that's nice to hear. It's just a shame that Phil's not here to hear it. He's the one that you should say 'sorry' to."
"He wouldn't want you to do this to yourself, Clint. You'll make yourself sick." Natasha continued. "Agent Coulson would want you to continue to save lives, because that's what you do best."
"I couldn't save him. What makes you think that I can save someone else?" Clint asked lowly.
"Because I know you, Clint." Natasha said simply. "I know that you loved Phil, and you would respect his final wishes. He died believing in the Avengers, Clint. And the Avengers aren't complete without you."
Natasha stared at Clint for a moment. Clint hadn't moved from his seat on the bar stool. He continued to stare down at his blackened coffee. With a sigh, she could only hope that she had managed to break into the shell that Clint had formed around his heart. Calmly, Natasha walked over to the door and saw herself out. Once he was alone, Clint finally allowed the tears to fall out of his eyes. Clint was the only one who cared. He was the only one who cared about Phil. To everyone else, all he was was a marksman. He was a tool. Phil was all he had.
The second day, Clint received a call from Director Fury. If he was interested, he could escort Black Widow on a scouting mission to create relations between S.H.I.E.L.D. and a new breed of creature that had recently invaded the earth from a distant realm akin to Asguard. It wasn't meant to cause trouble, just to see what breed of creature they were and to identify them as friend or foe. Black Widow could handle them on her own, but if he was interested, he could come too. Did the Director think that he was kid that needed to be babysat?
Ever since Clint had received that impromptu visit from Natasha, he hadn't left bed. The only nourishment that he had received was that cup of coffee. He was shaking he was so hungry. But he couldn't do it. He couldn't leave the memories. But he couldn't confront them either. Clint buried his face in Phil's pillow and inhaled his hearty scent. But that scent had started to fade. Soon, it would be gone. And then, all he would have were those damn Captain America cards. The cards that were stained with his lover's blood. Tears slowly started to streak down his face.
"Why did you leave me, Phil?" Clint asked softly. He was frustrated, filled with hate and distaste for Loki, the man who had taken his entire world from him. "Why did you take Loki on by yourself?"
"You know that I never meant to hurt you, Clint. I did my job. You did yours. S.H.I.E.L.D saved thousands of lives."
Clint looked up at the sound of his lover's voice. Great. Now, there were hallucinations. How much better could this get? "I saved every life but yours."
"I'd rather have died then know that I let him walk away."
"You'd rather leave me behind?" Clint asked, the tears renewed.
"You know that that's not true, Clint." The translucent man climbed onto the bed with Clint and secured an arm around him. The arm was solid. "I love you."
"I love you too, Phil." He tried and failed to keep the tears at bay. "Why did you have to leave me?"
"Don't cry, Clint. It doesn't suit you. And I didn't mean to leave you. You know that I would never hurt you like that on purpose. This separation isn't permanent. One day, we'll be reunited."
"I don't want to think that it will be 'one day'. I want you back now." Clint sounded like a petulant child, but he didn't really care. He missed and needed his lover.
"One day, Clint. One day."
"Tony, I don't think that this is the best course of action." Steve said solemnly, his calm blue eyes fixed on the small form of Clint Barton. It had now been one week since he received the news of Phil's death.
"Steve," Tony said seriously, "look at the man. He's barely eaten in a week. Obviously, he hasn't showered. In fact, the only reason he's still alive is because of his mutated DNA."
Steve looked down at the man's emaciated body. "I understand, though. I mean, if you had actually died when you diverted that bomb from New York, I would be in the same boat."
Tony smiled softly at the older man. "You don't have to worry about that. I may be old, but I'm not ready to die."
Steve returned the subtle smile. "Good."
Not so subtly, Tony walked around to the vacant side of the bed and started down at Clint. His body was stiff on the other side of the bed, and Phil's side remained untouched. It was a heartbreaking vision. Not wanting to bask in the sadness of the situation, Tony reached out and shook the smaller man's shoulder. Clint let out a loud shout as he sat upright. His heart hammered madly in his chest as he felt around for his arrows, but Steve's soothing voice calmed him almost immediately. Slowly, he allowed his body to fall back onto the mattress.
All of the color drained out of Tony and Steve's faces as they saw the actual condition of Clint's body. The faint lines of his ribs were visible and his body shook from starvation. He had a half-filled glass of water beside him, and that seemed to be the only thing that had gone into his body. It was worse than S.H.I.E.L.D had feared. It had come to the attention of the other heroes and Director Fury that it had been a mistake not to inform Clint of Phil's death earlier. Maybe then he wouldn't have taken the news so hard.
"What do you," even Clint seemed shocked by how horrible his voice sounded. "What do you two want?"
"We're here to check on you, man." Tony said calmly. If he noticed how Clint's eyes narrowed, he didn't comment. "And, may I mention, you look like shit."
"Tony!" Steve whacked him in the arm a little too hard.
"What?" Tony exclaimed as he rubbed his arm, which had started to bruise. "I told him the truth!"
"He didn't mean that, Clint. Would… would you like us to make you breakfast? Or… lunch, rather?" Steve asked. He knew that Clint would need to eat soon if he didn't want to starve.
"No." Clint shook his head, before he bunkered down and closed his eyes. "I just want to be left alone."
Now, Tony and Steve were more than a little worried for their friend. They didn't want to force food down his throat, but they also knew that he really wasn't in any state of mind to think clearly. Even if he had denied it, they made him some food and set it on the bedside table. Both were sure that it would remain untouched. They cast one last look at Clint, before they made their exit. There was no more that they could do. Once they were outside of her bedroom, Clint rolled over and stared at the food.
"You need to eat, Clint."
Clint shook his head, a sour look on his face. "I don't want to."
"Then what do you want, Clint?"
Clint blinked slowly. "I want you."
It was after ten days that Clint's body finally caved in to starvation. He was curled in his hallucination's arms. He knew that this Phil wasn't real. He was dead. But the comfort that washed over him as he leaned into the man's chest one last time warmed his fragile, icy heart. Slowly, he felt every part of his body shut down. His limbs became weak and heavy, and each beat of his heart was a bit fainter then the last. With his final breath, he smiled at the hallucination and mumbled 'I love you'. And then he died.
S.H.I.E.L.D walked away from the loss of Hawkeye with a valuable lesson. Lost love may lead to broken hearts, but grief can kill.
A/N: This is my first Avengers story, so please let me know how it is. Sorry if anyone seems OOC. Please Review!