So, yeah, um… this one's a bit depressing. I wrote this a while ago and thought I should post it. Warning: character death. I'm really sorry. Clint and Natasha should be together forever in my eyes, so I honestly don't know why I was compelled to write this. Anyway, enjoy, I guess.
Disclaimer: Really not me this time!
The Chitauri were demobilised and lay in dismantled heaps around the group, alongside an unfortunate handful of civilians in the wrong place at the wrong time. Loki was being recovered at that very moment, picked up by S.H.E.I.L.D.s sharpest agents and tossed into yet another laser cage. The perfect New York skyline was ruined, skyscrapers and blocks of flats and corner shops alike run into the ground. De-roofed cars were upturned under others and one rusty yellow beetle was mashed into the ground, so much so that they could walk straight over it and not notice a single difference in the tarmac.
Captain America was bent double over the cracked window-shield of a small car, rubbing his bare, winded stomach through the ripped fabric of his red, white and blue suit. He pulled at the crimson skintight gloves, sweat collected between his fingers and itching. Groaning against the pain of the Chitauri blast, he squeezed as much of his abdomen as he could hold, straightening against the sting and leaning on Thor's shoulder.
Thor himself was cut, not a cheekbone bruise to match Cap's, but a deep gash running from the end of his nose to the tip of his ear. His beloved, shocking red cape was torn in places, but nothing a good dose of Asgardian solvent would mend.
Iron Man dropped jumped to his feet and the remaining helmet fell to the rubble to reveal a hyper Tony. He was grinning widely and brown eyes sparkled as he rubbed roughly at his grubby nose, and then winced. Still smiling a little, he poked and prodded at the bridge of his nose and it clicked back and forth. With a low chuckle, he moved his aching arms in small circles at his hips, his suit rattling along with him.
Bruce stood awkwardly a few feet away from the rest of the team, wringing his hands in front of his bare chest and shuffling around in his newly-donned, purple fold-up cargos.
Natasha pulled off one tattered black glove and rolled it, rubbing at her chin with the rough fabric. Flakes of almost-dried blood floated around her feet and she frowned at the fizz from the air poking at the now uncovered slit lining her bottom lip.
Cap tugged off his blue mask, wiping the light perspiration from his brow and ruffling his hair. He cast a long glance around, scanning the rest of the Avengers. Surprise and concern crossed his eyes at some point and his mouth fell open. Natasha, beside him, noticed his shocked expression and turned to see by what he was jolted.
"Clint." She whispered, jumping over rubble in her way and sprinting in the opposite direction.
She scolded herself for letting him slip her mind. He had never slipped her mind, she always remembered. But she had seen him fall. He fell at least a hundred feet and she had missed his landing. Was he dead or alive?
She panted as she ran; eyes trained on the black figure slumped in a pool of red glass. Her breath caught in her throat as she realised; not red glass- glass soaked in blood. Natasha dropped to her knees at his side and her hand covered her mouth instantly.
Clint lay surrounded by shattered glass and cracked bricks, just outside an open doorway in the shade of a car smashed to pieces. Dried blood covered the entire left side of his face like a solid mask, flecks and spots of red spattered over his nose and lips. His left temple was missing an uneasy chunk of flesh and showed purple and white under the skin. Both large shards and tiny grains of glass were embedded in both arms, running from his elbows up to the crook of his neck.
The most distressing part of his injuries was the chunky shard- block- of glass poking through the front of his field suit. The black vest rode up around the jagged point ripped through the fabric, tinted a deep red. Barton was too still, eyes closed, and Natasha slapped his cheeky gently twice. On the third hit, his eyes shot open and the movement jarred his chest. He cried out in pain and clutched at his body, his shaking hands grasping around the glass that had burst into his torso. He shook his head and began to hyperventilate as Natasha held his face in her hands.
"Clint. Clint! Look at me. Look at me! It's gonna be okay. It's not as bad as it looks!"
"N-not as bad as it looks?" Clint screeched and shuddered, his blue eyes watering. "I've been impaled!"
Natasha sighed heavily and stroked his hair.
"Clint, stop. Calm down."
His breathing slowed and his eyes focused on hers. He reached out and strongly took her hand. She smiled gently and he chuckled both dismissively and gratefully, squeezing her fingers.
When he had calmed, she whispered,
"Clint, we need to get it out of you. It's stopping blood flow, but it's also increasing infection. The glass is muddy and gross and it's gonna hurt more."
She spoke as softly as she could and Clint nodded slowly, taking it in. He inhaled deeply and closed his eyes. Without opening them, he muttered so low she only just heard him over hear own heartbeat,
Cap held Clint's left shoulder and arm firmly and Thor cupped the other. Tony and Bruce propped their hands on the small of Clint's back and looked at Natasha for a sign. When Clint's face hardened and he tensed his jaw ready, she nodded once. In one swift movement, they lifted him off the glass. The jagged lump tore from his back and clattered loudly to the floor. He shouted out in agony as his body was pulled from the glass and began to silently sob where they lay him in Natasha's lap. He curled into her stomach as he felt the pulse of liquid on his chest. Warmth seeped into Natasha's suit and she wiped her face on Clint's hair, not wanting him to see the fresh tears that streaked her cheeks. He convulsed again in her arms, breathing fast, choking.
"Yes." Natasha said suddenly.
Clint frowned in confusion and squinted up at her.
"Yes, what?" He croaked, shaking heavily.
"Yes, I will marry you." She whispered, leaning into him and pressing their foreheads together.
Tony grinned sadly. He knew there was something silent going on between them, knew it. His smile dropped when he realised it wasn't the perfect time to announce his genius.
"Really?" Clint chuckled weakly, eyes drooping.
"Hold on and stay with me and yes, I will marry you." She repeated, clinging to his vest.
At her words, Clint stiffened and straightened as best he could, opened his eyes wide against the bright sun and mumbled,
"Then I ain't going anywhere."
He coughed violently, blood spattering his bottom lip and chin, and squeezed Natasha's hand.
"Widow, backup's coming." Steve whispered, reluctant to interrupt the moment.
Natasha nodded once, not taking her eyes off Clint. His chest wept red steadily and she shakily placed both hands over the long lacerations and pressed down. Clint hissed and arched his back and she scolded him for it opened the slice wider. He coughed again and it hacked through his body, forcing more blood from the wound. Natasha lowered her face again to Clint's hair, burying her face into it and closing her eyes, gently rocking him. He slumped and cried silently into her arm as the team watched on from a few feet away.
Natasha's heartbeat was in her ears and she had one hand over Clint's heart to reassure herself he was still with her, but suddenly she felt nothing. Nothing beat under her palm, no heavy breathing flamed on her arms, and the man she was cradling did not struggle. She moved his face to hers. His eyes were closed and still, his mouth hung slightly apart, spattered with blood, and his chest had ceased in its ragged rising and falling.
"Clint?" She whispered. "Clint. Clint!"
She knew he was gone, she knew it. But she didn't want to believe it. Natasha hugged him tight to her, rocking him more violently, desperate to bring him back.
Bruce ran a hand through his hair and dropped to his knees, bowing his head. Tony followed immediately, laying the pieces of his suit on the floor carefully, staring intently at the ground. Thor bent to one knee and raised his face to the sky, while Steve fumbled with his mask and dipped his head, squeezing his eyes shut.
"Clint!" She cried, letting the tears overflow and fall into his hair; the messed, blood-matted hair of her fiancé.