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Title: Come Undone
Fandom/Pairing: The Avengers, Clint Barton/Phil Coulson
Spoilers/Warnings: Is there anyone who hasn't seen the movie yet? Well, if not, this is a fix it. Eventually.
Rating: PG-13 (maybe going up to R later)
A/N: I just realized I hadn't been posting this up on my journals. Doh! But it's also up on AO3.
Summary: It was supposed to get easier, afterwards.


Phil can't feel anything below his arms, but he can sense the time passing. It feels like it's flowing out of him.

Maybe it's just the blood.

Thor's probably hit the ground by now, and from the sounds he's hearing, broken equipment struggling to function, gunshots and yells from the upper levels, the helicarrier's not all that far behind.

His earpiece is on the floor, less than a foot from his knee. It seems wasteful, really, to even reach for it. There are three hundred forty eight people on board, at least there were at last count, and they all have things they need to be doing if anyone's going to make it out alive.

And if they're all going to crash and burn, spending his last minutes in medical won't do him any good.

It's not so bad, dying, but it's strange. It hurts, it's so overwhelming that he can't even track it, can't unwind the pain from the adrenaline and the endorphins. He thinks that Budapest might've actually felt worse.

He allows that he might not be in the best position to determine such things.

The helicarrier's been creaking and knocking all over the place, and footsteps are echoing down from the levels above. He wonders where they're going. What they're trying to fix. Who they're fighting.

For a moment he imagines Clint running, his next target already acquired.

Only Clint's targets aren't what they should be, and it's not Clint, it's just Loki running in his place.

He senses movement over by the door, but it's Fury's heavy bootsteps that he's focusing on. If Fury's got the time to be here, maybe everything's under control after all. But then he's kneeling in front of him, and that hope's gone as swiftly as it had arrived.

"Sorry, boss," bad jokes seem extremely appropriate, right now. "The god rabbited."

"Just stay awake. Eyes on me."

Phil tries to his breath; he's pretty sure he groans with the effort, and he already knows that he's just about done following orders. "No, clocked out here."

At least he won't have to be here when the orders change. It's inevitable, really. Subdue and detain is going to become something worse, something he's been refusing to word even in his own head.

"Not an option," Fury says, because he's the one that makes the calls. He's the one who gives the orders, even when they're impossible. Especially then.

At least it won't be Phil's voice on the line, telling someone- Natasha, probably, but he'd rather it was Hill, who won't take it as hard- to exterminate, take out or kill Barton on sight. Because when it comes down to it, Phil supposes, Clint hadn't been the only one who'd been compromised. Hell, he probably hadn't even been compromised first.

Phil gasps, manages to take in half a breath. Objectivity seems as futile a thing to be grasping for, right now, but he tries.

It's been a while since Natasha's checked in, and even aside from that, he'd seen the first expense report this morning. They've spent thousands of dollars on predictive modeling and situational analysis, and there's still no telling if Clint's still alive, if he's even still in there. For all they know, he's been dead since Loki hit him with his spear.

Death's not preferable to much, but he'd rather face his own than Clint's.

"It's okay, boss." Fury's still glaring, but Phil's not the only one bowing to inevitabilities, right now, and debriefing is Phil's last priority. "This was never gonna work." There's not enough air to get the words out, but he supposes that this is how it goes. A last-minute flash of insight- an idea- would be welcome right now, but all he has is an explanation, maybe just a best guess, and the light fading out. "They didn't have something..."

He doesn't even know how the sentence is supposed to end.


Chapter 2

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July 2013

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