He's Gone Tasha.

Summary. . . . . . . . Set in the aftermath of the Manhattan battle, one of the Avengers suffers alone.

Disclaimer. . . . . . . I own nothing.

A.N. . . . . . Just a small one shot of shameless fluff and emotions.

Tony had insisted they all return to Stark Tower after they had eaten, insisted that they could all wait until morning to give their reports in, "they'd earned the break" he'd said, and like the Shwarma place had ushered them into a limo and whisked them away before they could protest, not that any of them had the energy to. A whole floor was given over to them, a communal living area, complete with fully equipped kitchen, was centered in the middle with numerous hallways branching off to bedrooms, each with a different, but still impressive, view of the city that spread out before and below them. They'd all dropped into the comfortable chairs and couches as soon as they had stepped inside, all eyes growing heavy as the coming down of battle reminded them of just how exhausted they were. Because of this no one noticed when he snuck away.

He shuffled across the thick carpets barely able to find the energy to pick his feet up, yet somehow managing in doing so as the need to get away grew. His eyes were closed, yet he instinctively knew which bedroom to aim for, and once inside he locked and closed the door behind him, before crossing to the rooms other door and retreating to the bathroom that hid behind it. He didn't pause, just placed one heavy foot in front of the other until he was sequestered behind walls of marble. Numerous shower heads battered his body as he pushed at multiple buttons and hoped that one of them would turn the shower to its highest pressure, and hottest water; chuckling softly to himself as it did just that, and he thought "at least something has gone right for me today." But the laughter doesn't last.

He just stood there at first, still fully clothed in his S.H.I.E.L.D uniform and tactical boots, his head slumped to his chest, the water quickly plastering his short hair to his scalp, and drenching through the fabric that coated his frame, until a guttural sob managed to break free from where he was desperately trying to keep them, undoing all his efforts to try and keep focused and stoic. Crippling emotions break the spell and he flings his arms out to stop himself from crashing to the ground. His fists collide with marble, the pain breaking past his grief momentarily, and he finds himself pummeling the walls over and over again, until red stains dribble down the walls, yet he finds the pain is not enough.

His knees buckle beneath him as memories invade his mind, bad memories of what he has done, and good memories that he knows will never be made again. The jolt of his legs hitting the tiled floor reverberates around his frame, igniting all his other aches and pains, but it's not enough to break him free from the past. His knees bent, he sits upon his heels, his hands and arms limp by his sides, his head raised towards the sky as if in prayer, but he knows they'll be no forgiveness from higher beings, knows he doesn't deserve to be forgiven. Instead he just sits there, allowing the water to wash away the blood and grime and sweat from his body, but not his hands, they'll never be clean again, they're stained brilliant red, and he knows no amount of scrubbing will ever cut through the tarnish.

Yet more choked sobs force their way painfully out of his body, no matter how hard he tries to stop them, ripping and tearing at a throat he tries to close, but it's no use, and soon he's bent over his knees, his head touching the floor, and there's salt water middling down the drain. It's too much; he lets it all go and does something he's not done since he was a child. He cries. Alone and in pain he cries for what has been done to him; he cries for what he has done; he cries for who he has lost.

It's Natasha who finds him, still curled up in that position, still with the water crashing down on him, still sobbing. Not caring that she too is still fully clothed she enters the shower and quickly turns off the water. She tells Jarvis to inform the other's that she has found Barton, before asking to A.I to keep them away for now. Turning to her partner she crouches down beside him hoping for some sort of response, yet almost instinctively knowing she's not about to get one; she's seen him like this before, knows how he gets when his emotions overwhelm him, and those times he didn't even know the victims, just two nameless children caught in the middle of chaos. Knowing he will be no help to her, she takes control.

Pulling him to his feet, she takes off his boots and strips him of his clothes, leaving them pooled on the floor around his feet. She towels him dry as best she can, being careful of his damaged hands, before she steers him out of the shower, his feet following on auto pilot as she maneuvers him back into the outer room and the king-size bed. Pulling off her own damp outerwear, she wraps his nakedness in a robe, before turning back the duvet and pulling an unresponsive Clint down to the mattress with her. She says nothing, just spoons against his back, holds him and waits, feeling her own emotions rise when eventually he says just five words.

"He's gone Tasha, Coulson's gone."

A.N. . . . . . . . . . Thanks for stopping by, I hope you enjoyed and I wish everyone a very Happy Holidays, and a safe, healthy and prosperous New Year.