A/N: Sometimes I just have to write some whump. I also wondered why Clint sleeps on Phil's couch all the time in most peoples' headcanon (well, at least in mine). So this is really just gratuitous whump. Thanks to dysprositos for beta-ing this for me!
"Clint, try and drink this," Phil says, kneeling next to a tattered couch, holding a bottle of water out.
They're in a very small room, an old, run down office in an old, run down warehouse, and the office has been barricaded in by rubble. There's a dead man in the corner of the office, a man in a suit much like Phil's suit, only this one has a bloody arrow poking through the lapel. There's an old couch against the far wall-Clint is laying on it-and there's a beat up oak desk in the left corner, opposite the dead man.
Phil is sweating, his suit is torn at the left shoulder, his lip is swollen from a punch, and his hair is matted to his head. He's trying to keep his hand from shaking as he holds the bottle of water. He's trying to ignore the sweat and the swelling and he's even trying to ignore the comm in his ear with Bruce frantically instructing Phil to take his own jacket off and lay it over Clint, to keep an eye on Clint's hands and how shaky they are, to force Clint to drink some water.
"Clint, come on," he says, and Clint rolls his head to the side and squints up at Phil.
"'m not thirsty, really," he slurs at Phil, waving a shaking arm loosely in Phil's direction. "But thanks." His own hair is matted with blood on the left side where a cut just above the hairline is still seeping, and his blue eyes are hazy, unfocused.
Clint had been a prisoner for about twenty minutes, just long enough to get clocked on the head, injected with who-knows-what, and tied to a chair. It was also long enough for him to break loose from the chair just as Phil found the room they were holding him, to tackle a guard, grab his bow as Phil shot one guard, and take down the other guard, now laying in the corner.
Of course, it was also long enough for the ringleader to escape the room and loose a grenade on the door behind him, only to get pinned down by Thor as he tried to leave.
Clint had set his bow down on the desk, looked at Phil with a grin and then at the rubble blocking the door and said, "Thanks for the . . . rescue?"
Phil had shrugged and offered "Sorry. I had the right room, though. That's good." He had looked at Clint, narrowing his eyes as he took in the head wound and watched as Clint suddenly went paler than a sheet, got a horrified look in his eyes, and stumbled to his knees, vomiting.
Phil crossed to him, thinking it must be from a concussion, and when Clint finally couldn't expunge anything else, he pulled him to his feet, offered his handkerchief, and steered Clint to the nearby couch. Clint had said nothing as he collapsed, wiped his mouth and laying with his eyes clenched tight, breathing deeply.
After a few moments, Clint says hoarsely, "They shot me up with something, Phil. 'smaking me cold," and proceeded to roll over and try to vomit again. This went on while Phil called Steve on the comms, asking for Bruce and telling them to 'hurry-the-hell-up' in digging them out.
Whatever they'd given Clint was acting fast.
He refuses the water and starts shivering. Phil tries to wrap his suit jacket around Clint tighter, but Clint flinches against his touch and Phil sits back, unsure of what to do with his hands.
"Clint, take some water anyway. Bruce says you need it, okay?" he pleads, his voice sounding far away in his own ears.
"Trouble," Clint says suddenly. "Knew you'd cause me trouble, Phil. Always knew it," and his words run together.
"Yeah?" Phil whispers with a smile.
"Yeah, trouble. Too cool, too smart, to damned nice. Trouble," Clint says, and then coughs wetly.
"Come on, have a drink." He manages to tilt Clint's head up and gets him to take a small sip.
Clint makes a face when he swallows. "That's bad water, Phil. Bitter."
Phil presses the comm in his ear and reports this to Bruce. "He says the water tastes bitter." He listens. "Yes, he's cold and trembling." And he hears Bruce shouting to someone else about what Phil said.
"Your office always has the best stuff," Clint says, seemingly at random, as Phil listens to Bruce. "Best snacks, best coffee, best couch, best plants, best music…you know they won't let me play music on the range? Stupid. Not like I can't concentrate." His voice is suddenly clearer, not slurred, for some reason. Phil reports this to Bruce.
"This couch kinda sucks now, Phil. Maybe you need a new one?" Clint asks.
Phil smiles to hide the fact that his stomach just dropped as he realizes that Clint has lost track of where they are. "I've had it a while," Phil says as Clint tries to focus on his answer.
"Yeah, I know. Same damn couch since I st-started sl-sleeping on it," Clint stutters as a shudder wracks his chest. "Shit, Phil."
"Clint?" Phil asks, his name the only sure thing here.
"Feel sick, Phil. Hot."
"Yeah, we're gonna get you some help," Phil says, tapping his comm and demanding, "Get us the hell out of here, Steve." He hears work being done outside the door, but can't tell if they're making any progress out there. He watches Clint tremble on a tattered couch that isn't his and thinks it's too close to irony that Clint might die in a place like this.
"Phil, we're coming; that grenade took down a whole crossbeam and everything with it," Steve says in Phil's ear, his voice strained. Phil just nods without thinking.
"I loved your c-couch, though," Clint says quietly. Phil takes a chance on Clint's tolerance and runs his hand through Clint's hair, gently massaging. "Best couch ever."
Clint breathes shallowly for a minute and then looks at Phil again, his eyes cloudy with pain. "Something's wrong. The fire's worse. It's not supposed to be worse here, Phil, not in your office," he says, his voice rising in panic.
"Shhh," Phil says, grasping Clint's shaking hand as he strokes his damp hair. "There's no fire." He breaks from stroking Clint's hair and taps his comm. "Bruce – he's hallucinating, I think. Bruce –okay. Hurry."
"Clint," he says gently, "There's no fire. Can you drink some more water?" He tries to sound confident, under control, but as he watches Clint tremble and suck breaths in more frantically, his confidence is shattering.
"Always a fire, Phil. Not in your office, though. It goes away here. I don't want it here, Phil. It can't be in your office it's supposed to leave me alone here please." Clint chokes on his words and coughs, then, clenching his eyes shut in pain. He finally accepts the water bottle and takes another small sip.
Phil hears the rubble shifting outside and leans closer to Clint. "My office is safe for you, Clint. It's always safe. We're not in my office right now, okay? It's still safe there. There's no fire."
Clint nodded. "This c-couch sucks, Phil," he says after a minute through clenched teeth.
"Yeah," Phil agrees. "I don't want to see it again, either," he adds as he runs his hand through Clint's sweaty hair.
Clint convulses suddenly, arching upwards, and Phil leans on him to hold him down and hears a slam of rocks outside. Phil feels desperate, like he's trying to keep the life force from leaving Clint's body by pinning him to the couch, and he holds him tight, even as the convulsion fades, stops.
Clint lays limp and sweating on the couch, his breaths shallow.
Phil asks, tentatively, unable to keep fear from his voice this time, "Clint? You still with me?"
Clint nods weakly. "Can't get rid of me. . . I'll be okay. Fire hasn't got me yet, n-not gonna get me now."
"Tell me about the fire," Phil says, squeezing Clint's arm gently.
Clint tries to focus on him again and manages a lopsided smile. "You keep – your office is a safe place. Always has been. Fire all around, licking at my feet a-all the d-damned time but n-not there. Not at the range. Not wh-when I'm on a mission with you. There's fire everywh-where else."
Clint stops talking and closes his eyes, and Phil just watches, rubs his arm, and finally Clint speaks again. "Call it my 'downtime fire,'" and he tries to laugh, but it comes out airy and weak. "No fire on your couch, though – why is the fire here, Phil?" he asks plaintively. "You're s'posed to be safe…"
"I am," Phil says firmly. This much he can promise. "You are safe. You're safe with me, Clint. They're coming."
There is scraping and clanging from outside, and Clint lays there shivering for a minute, sucking in desperate breaths.
"Hurts, Phil," he admits after a bit.
"Where, Clint. Tell me so I can tell the medics," Phil replies gently.
"Everywhere. Fire. Every breath. My eyes are burning. Hard to see you. Fuck. I have to see you, Phil." After a pause he whispers, "That's it, isn't it?" He asks and then he curls into Phil's space, trying to press himself against Phil's chest. Phil lets him and wraps himself around Clint's shoulders, trying to warm him, calm him, and douse whatever phantom flame is singeing him.
"Not only your couch that keeps the fire away," Clint rasps, clasping his hands in Phil's shirt.
"No," Phil says with a smile. "It's not just the couch." And he pulls Clint off of the ratty couch and into his lap on the floor. He wraps himself around Clint to keep him warm and dampen the trembling, runs his fingers through Clint's wet hair and talks, in his ear, about safety and warmth and bravery and honor, until he feels Clint go still beneath his hands. He can still feel a pulse, but it's weak and irregular.
He feels fire rise in his own chest as he clenches his arms around Clint.
Suddenly Phil hears a loud roar and sees the pile of rocks get shoved away in one scoop by the Hulk, who clears the doorway and makes a path through the rocks to the outside, turns, and reaches for Clint's limp form.
Phil gratefully lets him pick Clint up and carry him out and when they get to the medics Steve is there, dirt on his face and worry etched in his brow as Clint is loaded on to a stretcher.
Phil looks back at the Hulk and then at Steve who shrugs and says, "We decided Hulk could get to him faster." And Steve watches as the medics load Clint into the ambulance and Phil goes to climb in after him.
A few hours later Clint sleeps peacefully drugged in medical and Phil sits quietly in a chair next to his bed, ignoring his tattered suit and sweaty hair, thinking of other ways he could make his office and couch and, anywhere else he could manage to get to, more fireproof.
The next time Clint limps into his office, a week later, still exhausted from the poison that had torn through his system, he flops down on Phil's couch and sighs heavily. When Phil drapes a new Italian cashmere blanket over his frame, Clint pulls it tight around his chin and grins up at Phil and says, "Oh god, Phil, this is amazing."
Phil smiles, brushes a hand over Clint's forehead and says, "I thought it might help against the fire."
The smile vanishes from Clint's face; he nods solemnly and says, "Yeah. Yeah, it will." And he curls up in a ball and goes to sleep while Phil finishes his reports for the day, inside his fireproof office.