A/N: I like this one better... It's written in Tony's POV for a change, but it's always about Clint and Natasha.
"One's not half of two: two are halves of one." - E. E. Cummings
Tony's the last to get it but yet the first to realize it.
He realizes it when they're on a mission and after Steve gives each of them their respective instructions, he tells Clint to go one way and Natasha to go another. The Captain doesn't notice the mistake but he does because he recognizes that look that crosses Natasha's eyes. It's the same look that Pepper gives him when he does something stupid like that time he told her the tower was only 15% hers. He voices his concern in lesser words than it would take him to explain the whole situation. Its three quarters the truth and one quarter a lie. But it's enough to get Steve to reinstruct their resident assassins to stick together instead of going separate ways. He notices the look he saw in her eyes moments ago disappear and for a moment she actually shoots him a look of gratification before she nods, turns and walks away. Clint takes a moment to hover behind for a few seconds and then he clasps his metallic shoulder and nods to him before he turns to follow her.
It's the closest he's ever gotten to a 'thank you' out of the archer and so he holds onto it and tells himself he'll have to try and understand the two of them better if they're going to be living in the same tower as him.
The mission is a success, or at least it is until something goes a bit sideways and Natasha's communication link drops out. Steve checks that they've retrieved the intel and he acknowledges that Clint assassinated the target too. But Clint doesn't confirm the kill or acknowledge them through the com link as he normally does with that 'roger, Hawkeye out'. Clint's voice is hurried when he tells them he's lost sight of her and doesn't know whether some stranglers got to her or whether she's just out of range.
It's the first time that Tony's ever heard the man speak at a tone other than that serious business tone he always uses. Clint sounds like he's genuinely afraid and for a moment, that stuns all of them. It stops Bruce who is green and big and standing there on top of a car with a fist frozen in mid-air. It even stops Steve who in his Captain America suit looks awfully cliché under that street lamp. He imagines Thor would probably look silly too in that seriously tight pants of his, but because of family commitments he wasn't able to join them this time on their 'quest' as he would put it.
Clint's voice hurries through the communication link again and this time he tells them that he thinks he's found her. But he keeps saying the word 'blood' and that's all it takes for all of them to get moving again. Everything becomes a blur after that. Steve's voice floods the communication link when he requests for medics and emergency evac immediately. Bruce takes off at a run as if he's got some six sense of knowing where the archer is.
He finds her in less than 30 seconds but he finds Bruce too and Clint with a lot of blood on his hands. Bruce hovers weirdly in his large green shade behind the archer, but his eyes look ready to kill and his muscles are pulsating as if anything that so threatens to harm them would meet the wrath of his doom. He moves immediately, letting Steve know where they are when Steve reports in that the medics should be there in 5 minutes.
He removes the mask so he could see a bit better and when he does he notices that there are actually tears in Clint's eyes. Natasha looks pale and her eyes never leave Clint's even when she blinks and grimaces each time she breaths in. Clint's free hand slides to the side of her cheek and Tony notices how gently he does it. It is the gentlest he has ever seen the archer act and not to mention the gesture suggests that there's really a lot more to them than either of them have let on.
Bruce doesn't seem to be bothered by it because he still hovers and still looks around every so often when there's a sound of some sort in the distance. He looks almost like he's acting like their protector without that white armour and that sword and helmet.
Tony tells Jarvis to release him of the armour around his hands so that he could help the archer to hold back the blood. But Clint tells him not too and tells him instead to go ahead and make sure there aren't any stranglers within a good several mile radius. Clint tells him that whoever shot her got away and that's all he needs to tell the archer that he'll deal with it. He flies off with one last look at them, with Clint kneeling beside her with a hand on her wound and the other at the side of her face. He sees Bruce still standing there but this time looking at him and giving him a look of approval.
He hears Clint's voice through the communication link a few more times, mostly mumbles of things barely audible. Natasha's voice comes through as well but as the minutes passes her voice cracks just a little more and he knows from the little counter at the top left hand corner of his visor, her blood levels are draining and her time is running out.
He hears the agonizing tone in Clint's voice when he begs her not to let go and just to wait for another few more minutes. It's the single most haunting sound that he'll never forget. He finds the guy though funnily enough at the same moment he hears Natasha's whisper to Clint. She whispers in Russian and he knows that she is still somehow conscious enough to know that the others are listening. He doesn't know Russian and he knows neither do Bruce nor Steve. But he hears the tone of her voice and though she doesn't say much he knows a promise when he hears one. He knows that whatever she's said was enough for the archer to reply a simple, short, 'okay' in English. He doesn't hear her voice after that because the next thing he hears is the medics arrive and suddenly he feels a little bit better.
He momentarily wonders if he should just get the guy and bring him back to the archer. But the thought of what Clint might do makes him shudder, so he ends it, quick and easy. He returns to them soon after and finds Bruce now towering over them as if to block the gale wind from the helicopter. There are at least 5 medics hovering around her. There's one holding a drip and another looking to the pilot and back at the medics again. There's two working on her and there's one making a call. But there's Clint kneeling to her left with that same hand still holding her cheek. He doesn't look like he's crying anymore, but he's saying something and Tony doesn't hear it because he notices their communication links have long been forgotten at the side there with Clint's bow, arrows and her guns.
Steve looks to be busy at the side speaking through his communication link and Tony doesn't hear any of the conversation. He imagines it's probably Fury on the other end of the line and he's partly glad he isn't able to listen in on the conversation. It's likely to be extremely boring.
Things move a lot faster when the medics carry her onto the helicopter. Clint never leaves her side; he looks up once when he's settled in the helicopter with her and it's only for 3 seconds to nod at them as if to relay his thanks.
As the helicopter powers up and just before it lifts from the ground, Tony catches a sight of the archer leaning over her, pressing a forehead against hers. It's all it takes for Tony to realize that there really is more than they've been letting on.
Then the helicopter takes off and silence erupts around them again.
"I don't think I'll ever be able to forget that," Bruce says, hovering somewhere behind him now in his human form.
"They clearly can't live without each other," he comments lightly because everything is still too fresh for him to conjure any form of sarcasm.
"That's because one's not half of two. Two are halves of one," Steve says simply.
"Maybe that's what makes them that good," Bruce murmurs.
"They should just get married," Tony says this time, trying what little bit of sarcasm he manage to salvage.
That's when Steve turns to him and smiles a perfectly toothy grin. Tony raises a brow and glances to Bruce who chuckles despite everything that happened only moments ago.
"What?" Tony grunts.
"They already are," Steve replies simply.