It's bright in Central Park, far brighter than he feels it has a right to be. He slips on his sunglasses in the car and is grateful for the distance it affords him, the distance it affords him from everyone else. Tash rides shotgun having put Banner's stuff in the back seat and taken out his bow.
He didn't make a thing out of it but only because he is sure that she's put it in the trunk with the rest of their bags. That and the presence of the hunting knife he has strapped his leg beneath his boot. She has another thing coming if she thinks he'll be facing down Loki without a weapon to hand, especially as she has at least one knife on her at all times. He tries not to think how unhelpful being armed was the last time Loki wanted something from him.
Thor had demanded this. Thor had demanded Loki and the Tesseract and Clint knows that the fact that the guy is basically a god would have meant very little had Fury not wanted the damn things off his planet. He could almost imagine the conversation with Thor's booming declarations and half begun threats and Fury blandly declaring he could take them both before Thor could even get up a good head of steam.
As it was the giant man has spent the night keeping vigil over his brother. 'Adopted,' Natasha had pointed out and Clint had thought if this had been all about some ridiculous daddy issues he wanted to hurt the crazy god even more. He may have indulged a few moments of imagining kicking the shit out of the guy and yelling 'Adopted? You little shit try the fucking alternative!' After that he had stopped her not wanting to know any more than he absolutely had to about Thor's little brother. Knowing he had already taken up too much space in his brain.
He hadn't slept much knowing Loki was aboard even with Tasha curled in a tight ball beside him on his bunk. He didn't have much faith in the God of Thunder to control Loki and he'd hoped that Thor's pretty hammer was resting on the shit's chest.
Thor rode to Central park with Selvig and Loki and the guards. Less spectacular than his usual means of transport but Thor seemed delighted to spend time with the physicist. Loki was bound with mystical other worldly chains that Thor assured them negated Loki's magic. His lack of faith was only assuaged when he saw the muzzle and the sour defeated look that peered petulantly from behind it.
Nat hadn't said so out loud but he'd gotten pretty good at reading her and she didn't like him watching them load Loki into the Quinjet. He wasn't certain if she thought he was being masochistic or sadistic but to her credit she did not try to stop him as he glared down on the flight deck and the procession.
He pulls his old jacket from the backseat and puts it on over his hoodie before getting out. The sun may be out but there is still a chill in the air and being around Loki reminds him of a deep internal cold he can't seem to shake.
He is pretty sure the only reason they are here at all is Stark. He's not sure he would have turned it down if SHIELD had offered to let him watch Loki deported in chains and Tasha seems to think it's a good idea that it is witnessed but Thor carting the would be king off in front of Iron Man, Captain America, Dr Banner, Natasha and himself had to be Stark's call. It looks like a half assed attempt at team bonding or pop psychology and only the self-proclaimed playboy philanthropist has that kind of pull or seeming desire to make them his team.
Even so everyone except Thor looks uncomfortable, okay everyone but Thor and Nat who never lets herself look uncomfortable in public. And Thor well it seems that he has two modes: Battle and Jovial. The Prince of Asgard is used to everyone working around him.
It's only been a day, so while Banner was Hulked out and Rogers has those super steroids and Thor's a fucking deity his knee is still strapped as all get out and Natasha has deftly covered that cut and bruise on her forehead with makeup. There is no excuse for Tony Stark looking so healthy other than the guy is wearing makeup too. He scans the gathering and realizes he'd be making snarky comments to Natasha about it on any other day.
He wants to ask her, Hey Nat, how long is this feeling gonna last? I feel like an imposter in my own life. How long is everything gonna be judge against what I would do on any other day? but the question dies in his mouth.
Natasha is at his elbow as they walk and he honestly doesn't know why anymore. He asked her to trust him and she didn't say that she did she just took his hand and followed him. He felt like they had returned to that first day, both injured and angry and not sure who to trust. She hasn't left him since.
I'd think I was on suicide watch Tasha but you seem to need me as much as I need you. It makes me ache you know? Not just the bruising and the bunged up knee, that this is so broken. I wanted it to be so different. The day I told you I loved you… it was supposed to be different, it was supposed to be more, more light, more heat. I… what if I have even less to offer you now?
There was a time before you Natasha when I didn't have silent conversations with you in my head. There was a time before you when it was just me alone in here.
They haven't talked.
And I was grateful for the silence Nat. There was so little left to say, so few words left to say it with but… well, I thought the silence was going to get filled up with the… fuck Tasha… I thought there would be silence because our mouths would be too busy with each other. I thought our hands were going to be too busy with each other's skin. But you just snuck into my bunk and curled up in it, a mess of exhaustion and rage and pain killers for your cracked ribs. Dammit Tasha, cracked ribs and you're flinging yourself round on the parallel bars.
He'd repaired arrows letting the ritual and the repetition soothe him where sleep could not.
Nat you sleep like you are angry at it. Always have. And when you woke up you looked at me like you hated me. It was only a moment and it faded from your eyes as quickly as you woke but I'd be lying if I said it hadn't scared the fuck out of me.
I don't ask you about your dreams. Once early on when you'd woken suddenly, in a safe house that never got warm and smelled like old socks, I was going to but you turned your eyes on me and sucked the air from my lungs. Spies, good spies, don't wake up from dreams like they do in the movies. There is no struggle, no tossing or calling out because the people you pretend to be don't have reason to have the dreams that would cause such a reaction. Even if you have every reason Natasha, you are an amazing spy.
It wasn't that I didn't care. It was that there was nothing I could do about the things that haunted you. And you have always preferred the scars and callouses to the debriding of talking about them.
They're standing in a loose circle around the two gods. Thor looks up in acknowledgement and Clint assumes its some sort of brothers forged in the heat of battle thing. Loki looks… pissed and he grinds down on his teeth wanting to reach for his knife and is forcing himself to stay still. He is caught between at ease and at attention and he is unable to take his eyes off the pale man with the oddly blue eyes. He hides behind his glasses and holds back the inarticulate fury beneath the surface.
Natasha leans in. He sees her move from the corner of his eye and catches vanilla and bergamot on the air.
"Let it go Clint," she says, a husky whisper easily dispersed by the wind, "He doesn't get to rule the world and you get to rock mine."
"A requiem played as you begged for forgiveness
"Don't touch me," I screamed, "I've got unfinished business!"