Clint and Natasha finally see Phil; he's in SHIELD's most secure section of the med wing at the Triskellion, deep in a coma. The spear entered his back just under his heart, nicking the heart sac as it exited through the chest. It's really a wonder Phil's alive at all.
He lies on his side, bandages on both sides of his body, pale and motionless, scarcely breathing. The wound isn't healing and light, reddish streaks are barely visible around the area.
He looks dead.
Life at the Tower settles down fairly quickly. Much of the time Steve is at SHIELD, Tony spends a lot of time in Malibu with Pepper and Bruce, and Jane Foster, the astrophysicist from New Mexico, along with Jane's assistant, Darcy Lewis. Clint and Natasha are sent on missions with unfamiliar handlers and derive pleasure from disconcerting or antagonizing them (at least, Clint does).
The Avengers are called out on average perhaps four or five times in a month. The Fantastic Four, who had been off-planet during the Chitauri debacle, and the X-Men, who'd been occupied with some internal problem involving a rogue mutant group, occasionally pair up with them, but more often not.
It's just after the first battle the Avengers fight after the Chitauri, that Clint, who's being bandaged extensively due to a nasty fall from a two-storey building, notices the Hulk, still green, standing in the battlefield. Several SHIELD agents face him, and he recognizes the tranquilizer guns. The Hulk roars.
Clint stumbles off the gurney, seizing his bow and an arrow as he does, and limps towards the Hulk, who continues to roar, swatting at the nearest agent. Someone behind him yells, but he pays no heed, moving out of the cover of an overturned vehicle and into the path of the enraged Hulk.
'What's he doing?' Daniels shouts over the noise. 'The idiot! He'll get himself killed!'
Natasha plants two fingers in his solar plexus, enough to stop the agent from running after Clint (maybe a little more, the handler's a moron), and watches her partner. Clint is standing directly in front of the Hulk, one arrow notched on the string. He seems to be speaking.
'Hi Hulk,' Clint says conversationally. The Hulk stops his batting at the cars and looks down to face him. 'I understand you're upset right now. I'd be upset too, with people shooting at me. I know you're afraid of the guns, that Bruce will get hurt.'
He notches the arrow and raises the bow, showing the Hulk. 'This will put you to sleep,' he continues. 'It won't hurt, and I promise Bruce will be fine if you go to sleep, ok? Sleep.' And he lets the arrow fly.
Clint gets reamed out later. Two handlers are calling for his suspension and and on his way in, at least ten people backed or turned away.
He can't blame them; it really does look as if he is suicidal. He thumbs his hearing aids off and stands in front of Fury's desk, waiting until the noise dies down. Natasha stands beside him, equally quiet.
Fury raises a hand.
'All right, shut up, people. Barton, why?'
He breathes in slowly and answers.
'Arrows are silent. Hulk's scared of guns, got good reason to be. He just gets excited when he hears them, so tranquiliser bullets won't work.'
Fury sighs. 'Fine. You're on Hulk duty for the future. Daniels, I'm relieving you of handler duty for the next month; go see Sitwell.'
Bruce is furious with Clint when he comes to, and won't even let him try to explain. When Clint finally corners him, catches one wrist, and manages to blurt out, 'He wasn't gonna hurt me,' Bruce says nothing, just stares at him with eyes far too old for his face.
'Listen Bruce, Hulk isn't gonna hurt me. I stepped in 'cause the tranq guns weren't working, but I knew what I was doing. He's scared of the guns, but arrows don't make any noise, so he doesn't know what they do.'
Bruce twists his wrist in Clint's grasp, shaking his head, but Clint goes on quietly.
'I won't let him hurt me, Doc. I'm not suicidal, and I wouldn't do that to you. Please, just trust me.'
Bruce lets out a breath and Clint catches a glimpse of what he must face every day, knowing that if he doesn't maintain control, people could die. Then he nods shortly and Clint lets him go.