jendavis: (Default)
[personal profile] jendavis
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: R
Summary: It was supposed to get easier, afterwards.

Previous Chapters (You'll probably need them, since it's been a billion years since I've posted): DW // LJ // AO3


"Not that I've already confirmed it or anything, but I'm guessing that the warehouse footage is, like, totally scrambled from the moment Barton showed up on the scene?"

Unfortunately, Stark's not wrong. Hill's team has already moved on to scouring the traffic cameras in the vicinity of the warehouse, but they're taking their sweet time finding the missing truck, and odds are that they know it's a goose chase. Anyone good enough to move a truck full of stolen goods out of a secured warehouse without alerting anyone to the fact is probably good enough to disappear into the chaos of rush hour traffic. "I'm not in the mood, Stark. What do you have?"

"Trackers, built into each and every piece of tech that leaves the shop. Nothing special, just the kind of thing you set up when you cut your teeth building things that people tend to kill for. Anyway. I've got a location. They're still in New York, and I'll bet you dollars to donuts that Loki's nearby."

It's not wise to let Tony Stark know that you're impressed, so Fury glares at him. "You were holding out on me?"

"You never asked. Anyhow, Asgard's a little out of range. I wanted to be sure before I got your hopes up."

Ceding the point is sometimes the shortest route through Stark's bullshit. "Then by all means, consider my hopes suitably raised."

"Good. 'Cause here's where I crush them all over again." Tony grimaces, swiveling the screen to face him. The missing truck's grainy, taken from what looks to be a street camera, but the angle's not wide enough to see where it is. "It's not Loki who's got them."

"You want to tell me who it is, or are you gonna keep dicking around?"

"Sheesh. You've got no appreciation for dramatic timing." Stark frowns, brings up another image, this one a close up of the cab.

There, sitting in the driver's seat, is Erik Selvig.

Fucking lovely.

---

Phil doesn't even get the chance to ask before Dr. Sawyers- right now, he can't remember if he's the neurologist or one of the psychiatrists- has the nurses set Phil up in the room next door to Clint's.

All the rooms on this level are the same size, but this one feels twice as empty. There's no input, here. He spends hours weighing the pros and cons of opening the door- better eavesdropping versus the possibility that one of his subordinates might walk past- before finally going to crack it open. The walls are too thick to hear what's happening inside Clint's room, so Phil concentrates on listening when he hears the doctors going in or out. They're too well trained, of course, to hold conversations about their patients out in a hallway next to an open door. But it passes the time. Eventually, he manages to doze off.

When he wakes up, Natasha's standing next to his bed, arms crossed, shoulders sagging.

"It's almost two in the morning," she says by way of greeting; he glances at his wrist before remembering he'd left his watch with Clint. It's only been a few hours; if he'd gone off the expression on Natasha's face, he would've thought it had been days. She looks like she's just hit the tail-end of seven back-to-back missions, none of which had gone well. It's nearly habit, but he quashes the urge to ask if there were any fatalities. "I was just up in the office with Fury," again answering his question before he's even had a chance to phrase it. "He and Sitwell had some questions regarding my initial assessment of Clint's condition back on the helicarrier."

Maybe it's the exhaustion in her tone, but Phil's suddenly annoyed on her behalf. This doesn't sound like Fury. The man's a lot of things, but he's not the one to look for excuses to pin blame weeks after the fact, and if he were, he'd do it himself, not send Sitwell. It's strange.

"Why?"

Her fingers flex, stretch, and she regards them carefully; she's editorializing, removing her opinions from the facts. "They wanted to know what I missed, and why I missed it." The circuitousness of that statement fills in the blanks, better than Natasha might even know. It's not the sort of second-guessing Fury would go for, but the Security Council is probably having a field day with this.

"What was their assessment of your assessment?"

"Undetermined for now, but as I was on my way out, Sitwell told me not to worry." Her shoulders relax only slightly, more, Phil guesses, from the routine familiarity of debriefing than from the content. "We were just finishing up when Fury heard that Stark was waiting for him in his office." She grinned. "He actually looked relieved to be going up to meet him, and ordered Sitwell to report back to him once he and I were done."

"That's good," Phil nods, earning a puzzled glance in return.

"It is?"

"If he hadn't, it would mean that Fury's already signed off on whatever Sitwell decides. If Fury had merely neglected to mention it, there would be no reason for Sitwell not to report his decision to the WSC before checking in with him first. Ordering him to do so both gives Fury leeway in the event that Sitwell disobeys the order by talking to them first, while also affording Sitwell the protection to not talk to them first."

It takes Natasha a moment to follow the logic on her own; the painkillers might have him more muddled than he thinks. Eventually she nods, her stance finally dropping that last degree. The things that relax her- in this case, the notion that the WSC are out to complicate the situation- are strange and varied, but this one, he understands. Things are going sideways the way they always do, and Fury has their back they way he always does. Things are about of normal as they can get.

"Do you know what Stark wanted to talk to Fury about?"

"Actually, yes." Natasha brightens slightly, if only because of the change of subject. "I ran into Pepper in the hallway. Stark knows how the arc reactors were stolen." It's good news, but she shifts, putting her weight on her other foot and, crossing her arms in remembered irritation.

"How?"

"Eric Selvig."

If he'd been more up for it, he'd have made a frustrated gesture, but Phil settles for easing back against the pillows and shaking his head. Here he'd been, smugly satisfied that for all the chaos out there, he'd known what to expect. He hadn't accounted for this.

"How? Loki?"

"I hope so," Natasha replies, because if it weren't the case, then there was yet another enemy out there they needed to deal with. "But from what Pepper said, it doesn't look that way."

He waits a beat, hoping that she'll continue, but it's clear that she's given him all she knows. She's not the type to draw conclusions from such scant information, and if she were, she still wouldn't be the type to voice her suspicions.

Phil's not either, but it doesn't stop him from trying to guess.

Natasha's fingers are at still at her sides, flexing and straightening.

---

Clint's had Phil's watch in a tight grip ever since last night, but it hasn't broken yet. It's impossible to tell if it's the drugs that are keeping Loki at bay or if he's actually free of him, but he's been in control of himself for nearly twenty four hours now, even if it doesn't really feel like it.

The passage of time is something to focus on, even when he closes his eyes and tries to follow the doctor's orders to rest. Every tick of the watch is something to focus on that isn't the busted ribs or his pounding head. Every minute that passes is another minute that Loki hasn't come back. It's a major win to go two minutes without feeling the knife handle in his hand, held tight. When he fails, which is more often, he just grips the watch tighter and follows the shape of it back to here and now as if it'll actually give him some distance.

He really needs to stop staring at it, though. Phil's been sitting on the chair, staring at him, for exactly ten minutes and fourteen seconds, and if Clint doesn't say anything, this silence is going to just keep stretching, going nowhere. He takes as deep a breath as he can manage, hoping that the pain will jar him to full alertness.

"You want your watch back?" It's the closest thing to a safe topic he can think of. He's slow and groggy from the painkillers; wrangling the most basic of sentences seems an insurmountable task.

Phil shrugs, and there's a beat before he answers. "You done with it?"

Clint doesn't feel up to shrugging; he feels even less like answering, so he eases himself up, ignoring Phil's assessing glare. "What've I missed?"

Phil winces; whether it's because of his injuries, the awkward change of subject, or the new subject itself, Clint can't be sure. "Things are progressing, plans are in the works, and that's just about all I can tell you."

Clint's about to ask why when the obvious strikes. He's a security risk.

"Okay."

"If it makes you feel any better," Phil smirks, obviously trying to lighten the mood, "I don't actually know a whole lot."

"I could always ask Natasha."

It's a familiar joke, halfhearted at best, but Clint doesn't know exactly how much until but Phil glances down at the foot of the bed. He's choosing his words carefully, deciding what to tell him, and Clint prepares himself for the bottom to drop out again. "I don't want you to worry about it, because it's not a big deal, but Natasha won't be able to tell you any more than I can. She's been benched for a bit. They're a little concerned about her assessment of your condition after you fought on the helicarrier, and they figured now was as good a time as any to find a scapegoat. Fury and Sitwell had to play along. It's mostly for show."

Mostly for show.

She'd vouched for him, trusted him enough to let him out into the field, and yeah, Clint can kind of see Fury's point, because he obviously hadn't been all right, but that had never been on her.

The sudden weight of having to speak on his own- to be responsible for his own thoughts and words, seems terrible. He doesn't know where to start or where to finish, so he says nothing at all. Stares again at the watch in his hand, trying to figure out if two minutes and forty seconds or three minutes and forty seconds have passed. He doesn't have the energy to complain; it doesn't feel like he's said anything of substance since Loki stopped putting the words in his mouth.

As long as he's watching the clock, he doesn't have to think about it.

---

The morning's gone from bad to worse. The trackers on Stark's arc reactors had gone offline three hours ago, and listening to Fury and Stark hurling insults at each other on the comms line hadn't done anything for Maria's headache. She's almost relieved when the other shoe finally drops, because she's got ten handlers and nearly two dozen agents in the field. It's been an hour since anyone had a new idea, two since anyone's had a workable one.

It might be bad news, but it's something at least. Vang's team's intercept is only three minutes old, but that's still seven minutes newer than the satellite imagery Fury's glaring at across the room.

"Sir. We've just intercepted something you need to hear."

"What's that?"

"An explosion at the Los Alamos Test Site, about fifteen minutes ago, but it looks like it's our scene."

"How do you know?"

"Because Vang's team caught it off Tony Stark's personal comm line just now." Finally, the satellite images on the screens refresh themselves, and pinpointing the location is terrifyingly easy. "And because it's the biggest blast radius I've ever seen."

She doesn't get the chance to say more before Fury holds up a hand, forestalling her as his other hand goes to his ear, activating his comms unit. "Get Stark's ass in here, right now," he orders, before going silent again. As sharply as he'd sounded, though, he's grinning a moment later and following her to her work station.

"So. Vang's crew finally hacked his suit?

Maria sighs. "Stark's going to be furious."

"Well, it's, bully for him and Christmas for us. Show me what we've got."

She's already switching the output from headset to speakers, and plays the file. Stark's voice sounds only slightly less tinny than usual.

"So, Rhodey, what do you have for me?"

"Los Alamos, five minutes ago. On the plus size, there are no known casualties."

"Radiation?"

"No spikes."

"Really." Stark's smug. "You don't say."

"Really. So what-"

"No, you know that's not how this works. Where's the love?."

There's a beleaguered sigh, but a moment later, Lieutenant Colonel Rhodey caves. "Your arc reactors are awesome, Tony. You were right, again, because you're a genius and dashing as all hell." Even through the line, the sarcasm is audible. Maria's never met Rhodey, but she likes him. "Now what the hell do you propose we do about it?"

"Pants. I'm going to put on some pants. See you in a bit."

The file ends there. It's seven minutes old, and odds are, Stark's already gone. She's about to ask Fury's opinion of Stark's capabilities to dress himself- if he's taken off already, it's yet another crisis on her plate- when Stark himself saunters into the command center.

"Avast, Captain Fury, I think I've got something."

"Oh really," Fury rolls his eye, ending with a sidelong glance at Maria in warning. "What, pray tell, is that?"

"Explosion. Los Alamos." He shrugs. "On the bright side, he didn't decide to test their explosive capabilities in the middle of Brooklyn, right?"

"Your bright sides are only ever bright because they're still on fire." Fury shakes his head, nods at Maria. She already knows the play from here. Tapping into the comms line, she directs the primary response teams to report for transport to Los Alamos, and the secondaries to return to base to await further instructions.

"That's going to take too long." Stark announces, once she's done. "I can have eyes on the ground before you're halfway there."

Fury snorts, but doesn't look up. "Then what the hell are you still doing here?"

Stark pauses in the doorway, turning to regard Fury over his shoulder; it's impossible to tell whether his suspicion is real. "Wait. Hang on. You're not going to tell me not to do anything stupid?"

"You being stupid tends to draw the enemies out of the woodwork," Fury shrugs, "and as long as they're busy with you, that's a few less bullets aimed at my agents. Everyone goes home happy."

Stark smirks, disappearing through the door, but Maria can still hear him. "In that case, I'll warm 'em up for you. With fire, per your request."

---

Something's happening; Fury comes down himself to ask to speak with Phil and Natasha, but they're out in the hallway, now. Try as he might, Clint can't hear what's being said.

He waits, frozen, until the doorway opens again and Fury pokes his head in and asks him how he's doing. He also asks if he needs anything, which is just wrong, coming from him.

He already knows he's in pathetically rough shape, thank you very much, and he knows what Fury's doing, but doesn't say anything. Not even once he's gone, and Phil and Natasha are filtering back into the room, their movements a little more quick and alive than before.

"You're back on duty," he says, so they don't have to.

Both nod, but Phil's the only one frowning. "Advisory only," he eventually says.

"Still," Clint sighs, doesn't push it. Orders are orders. There's no point in asking where they're going, either.

"Don't worry," Natasha says, cocking her head. "I'm babysitting him."

"Thanks for that," Phil shoots her a rueful sidelong glance.

"Thank you," she replies airily, but this is obviously her way back into the loop; she probably means it. The smile changes- it's there, but it still changes- when she tells Clint goodbye, and she's back out in the hallway a moment later. Just around the edge of the door, probably, but it's the illusion of privacy.

Seems like illusions are all he can get, these days. Phil's going to be gone in a minute too. Now you see him, now you don't.

A month ago, you would've killed for him to even be standing there, he reminds himself, and stumbles into what he's probably supposed to be saying. "Be careful, yeah?"

"Will do. I'll call when I can." Phil's grinning a little more easily, now, and Clint hates that his first thought, seeing it, is that he doesn't have a phone. There's no way to articulate it without sounding like he's whining, though, so he tries for confidence that he's not feeling and grins.

"I'll still be here."

He tries not to focus on the accuracy of that statement, but Phil goes pensive. Needing a distraction, he grabs Phil's watch from underneath his pillow and hands it over. Phil, thankfully, doesn't question the gesture, just fastens it around his wrist and nods.

Natasha's waiting outside, and Phil should probably already be going. He's still in rough shape, moving slowly as he approaches the bed, and Clint has no idea what kind of timeframe they're working on, but Phil's probably supposed to be rushing, and he's not. That awareness is blocking whatever Clint's supposed to be saying next. He just can't speak, and Phil's got his hand on the side of Clint's neck, now, heavy and warm.

"Hey. I love you, all right?"

"Yeah. Love you too."

He's just with it enough to kiss Phil back, quick, as if the cameras up in the corner of the room can't keep up.

Phil pulls away, but doesn't go far. "I'll be back before you even know it."

And Clint, because he's an idiot, replies, "Yeah, I kinda doubt that." It registers on Phil's face- just for an instant- before it does in Clint's brain, and he sits up too quickly. "No! I mean-"

I'm going to miss you. The words are almost there, but Phil's already nodding, smiling, letting it slide. It's probably just as well, because Clint's not sure how to explain that he knows half the things he's saying, he's getting wrong. His brain still isn't doing what he wants it to be doing. At least when Loki was Clint and Clint was nothing, he hadn't been able to want Phil to understand.

There's a booted heel scuffing across the hallway floor, a quiet reminder that they're on a timeline.

"Go already," Clint grumbles, releasing him, as if this were any other operation, as if a thousand things were different and everything was fine. False bravado. It's that illusion thing again, but at least this time he's in on it.

Phil goes along with it; a kiss later, he's going out the door.

---

Loki can feel the last part of himself joining his form, reveling in the sensation of being whole again, of finally being free of Midgard. He laughs, just to see if he can, yet. There's no sentinel to hear him; by now his guards have surely been summoned to the bridge to gawk in imbecilic confusion at the site of the explosion, where the full force of his magic, no longer stretched between the realms, had made itself known once again.

His arrival is as it should be. All of Asgard stands in awe, and nobody notices anything at all. Thor, though, will be here soon enough, with his tiresome questions.

Loki- all of Loki, not the slight but necessary shell he'd left of himself- will be ready to answer them. For the moment he merely rises to his feet and regards the wavering barrier of his prison. It's thin and diaphanous, parts with a thought, but he doesn't step through. Even with his attention focused literally realms away, he could've broken through it at any time.

Waiting, though, has been worth it.

He's not been long in waiting before a rend appears in the barrier; Thor storms towards him, his hammer clutched in his fist. He doesn't seem surprised to find Loki standing, but his anger is is equally rewarding.

"What have you done?"

Loki looks up at him and smiles.

"You didn't really think I was finished, did you, brother?"

---


[Error: Irreparable invalid markup ('<a [...] jendavis.dreamwidth.org>') in entry. Owner must fix manually. Raw contents below.]

<b>Title:</b> Come Undone<br /><b>Fandom/Pairing:</b> The Avengers, Clint Barton/Phil Coulson<br /><b>Spoilers/Warnings:</b> Is there anyone who hasn't seen the movie yet? Well, if not, this is a fix it. Eventually. <br /><b>Rating:</b> R <br /><b>Summary:</b> It was supposed to get easier, afterwards. <br /><br />Previous Chapters (You'll probably need them, since it's been a billion years since I've posted): <a href="http://jendavis.dreamwidth.org/114754.html">DW</a> // <a href="http://jendavis.livejournal.com/140523.html">LJ </a> // <a href="http://archiveofourown.org/works/426397/chapters/716551">AO3</a><br /><br /><br /><cut text="Chapter 10">&quot;Not that I've already confirmed it or anything, but I'm guessing that the warehouse footage is, like, totally scrambled from the moment Barton showed up on the scene?&quot;<br /><br />Unfortunately, Stark's not wrong. Hill's team has already moved on to scouring the traffic cameras in the vicinity of the warehouse, but they're taking their sweet time finding the missing truck, and odds are that they know it's a goose chase. Anyone good enough to move a truck full of stolen goods out of a secured warehouse without alerting anyone to the fact is probably good enough to disappear into the chaos of rush hour traffic. &quot;I'm not in the mood, Stark. What do you have?&quot; <br /><br />&quot;Trackers, built into each and every piece of tech that leaves the shop. Nothing special, just the kind of thing you set up when you cut your teeth building things that people tend to kill for. Anyway. I've got a location. They're still in New York, and I'll bet you dollars to donuts that Loki's nearby.&quot;<br /><br />It's not wise to let Tony Stark know that you're impressed, so Fury glares at him. &quot;You were holding out on me?&quot;<br /><br />&quot;You never asked. Anyhow, Asgard's a little out of range. I wanted to be sure before I got your hopes up.&quot;<br /><br />Ceding the point is sometimes the shortest route through Stark's bullshit. &quot;Then by all means, consider my hopes suitably raised.&quot;<br /><br />&quot;Good. 'Cause here's where I crush them all over again.&quot; Tony grimaces, swiveling the screen to face him. The missing truck's grainy, taken from what looks to be a street camera, but the angle's not wide enough to see where it is. &quot;It's not Loki who's got them.&quot;<br /><br />&quot;You want to tell me who it is, or are you gonna keep dicking around?&quot;<br /><br />&quot;Sheesh. You've got no appreciation for dramatic timing.&quot; Stark frowns, brings up another image, this one a close up of the cab. <br /><br />There, sitting in the driver's seat, is Erik Selvig.<br /><br />Fucking <i>lovely</i>. <br /><br />--- <br /><br />Phil doesn't even get the chance to ask before Dr. Sawyers- right now, he can't remember if he's the neurologist or one of the psychiatrists- has the nurses set Phil up in the room next door to Clint's. <br /><br />All the rooms on this level are the same size, but this one feels twice as empty. There's no input, here. He spends hours weighing the pros and cons of opening the door- better eavesdropping versus the possibility that one of his subordinates might walk past- before finally going to crack it open. The walls are too thick to hear what's happening inside Clint's room, so Phil concentrates on listening when he hears the doctors going in or out. They're too well trained, of course, to hold conversations about their patients out in a hallway next to an open door. But it passes the time. Eventually, he manages to doze off.<br /><br />When he wakes up, Natasha's standing next to his bed, arms crossed, shoulders sagging.<br /><br />&quot;It's almost two in the morning,&quot; she says by way of greeting; he glances at his wrist before remembering he'd left his watch with Clint. It's only been a few hours; if he'd gone off the expression on Natasha's face, he would've thought it had been days. She looks like she's just hit the tail-end of seven back-to-back missions, none of which had gone well. It's nearly habit, but he quashes the urge to ask if there were any fatalities. &quot;I was just up in the office with Fury,&quot; again answering his question before he's even had a chance to phrase it. &quot;He and Sitwell had some questions regarding my initial assessment of Clint's condition back on the helicarrier.&quot;<br /><br />Maybe it's the exhaustion in her tone, but Phil's suddenly annoyed on her behalf. This doesn't sound like Fury. The man's a lot of things, but he's not the one to look for excuses to pin blame weeks after the fact, and if he were, he'd do it himself, not send Sitwell. It's strange.<br /><br />&quot;Why?&quot;<br /><br />Her fingers flex, stretch, and she regards them carefully; she's editorializing, removing her opinions from the facts. &quot;They wanted to know what I missed, and why I missed it.&quot; The circuitousness of that statement fills in the blanks, better than Natasha might even know. It's not the sort of second-guessing Fury would go for, but the Security Council is probably having a field day with this. <br /><br />&quot;What was their assessment of your assessment?&quot; <br /><br />&quot;Undetermined for now, but as I was on my way out, Sitwell told me not to worry.&quot; Her shoulders relax only slightly, more, Phil guesses, from the routine familiarity of debriefing than from the content. &quot;We were just finishing up when Fury heard that Stark was waiting for him in his office.&quot; She grinned. &quot;He actually looked <i>relieved</i> to be going up to meet him, and ordered Sitwell to report back to him once he and I were done.&quot;<br /><br />&quot;That's good,&quot; Phil nods, earning a puzzled glance in return.<br /><br />&quot;It is?&quot;<br /><br />&quot;If he hadn't, it would mean that Fury's already signed off on whatever Sitwell decides. If Fury had merely neglected to mention it, there would be no reason for Sitwell not to report his decision to the WSC before checking in with him first. Ordering him to do so both gives Fury leeway in the event that Sitwell disobeys the order by talking to them first, while also affording Sitwell the protection to <i>not</i> talk to them first.&quot;<br /><br />It takes Natasha a moment to follow the logic on her own; the painkillers might have him more muddled than he thinks. Eventually she nods, her stance finally dropping that last degree. The things that relax her- in this case, the notion that the WSC are out to complicate the situation- are strange and varied, but this one, he understands. Things are going sideways the way they <i>always</i> do, and Fury has their back they way he <i>always</i> does. Things are about of normal as they can get. <br /> <br />&quot;Do you know what Stark wanted to talk to Fury about?&quot;<br /><br />&quot;Actually, yes.&quot; Natasha brightens slightly, if only because of the change of subject. &quot;I ran into Pepper in the hallway. Stark knows how the arc reactors were stolen.&quot; It's good news, but she shifts, putting her weight on her other foot and, crossing her arms in remembered irritation.<br /><br />&quot;How?&quot;<br /><br />&quot;Eric Selvig.&quot; <br /> <br />If he'd been more up for it, he'd have made a frustrated gesture, but Phil settles for easing back against the pillows and shaking his head. Here he'd been, smugly satisfied that for all the chaos out there, he'd known what to expect. He hadn't accounted for this. <br /><br />&quot;How? Loki?&quot;<br /><br />&quot;I hope so,&quot; Natasha replies, because if it weren't the case, then there was yet <i>another</i> enemy out there they needed to deal with. &quot;But from what Pepper said, it doesn't look that way.&quot; <br /><br />He waits a beat, hoping that she'll continue, but it's clear that she's given him all she knows. She's not the type to draw conclusions from such scant information, and if she were, she still wouldn't be the type to voice her suspicions. <br /><br />Phil's not either, but it doesn't stop him from trying to guess. <br /><br />Natasha's fingers are at still at her sides, flexing and straightening. <br /><br />--- <br /> <br />Clint's had Phil's watch in a tight grip ever since last night, but it hasn't broken yet. It's impossible to tell if it's the drugs that are keeping Loki at bay or if he's actually <i>free</i> of him, but he's been in control of himself for nearly twenty four hours now, even if it doesn't really feel like it. <br /><br />The passage of time is something to focus on, even when he closes his eyes and tries to follow the doctor's orders to rest. Every tick of the watch is something to focus on that isn't the busted ribs or his pounding head. Every minute that passes is another minute that Loki hasn't come back. It's a major win to go two minutes without feeling the knife handle in his hand, held tight. When he fails, which is more often, he just grips the watch tighter and follows the shape of it back to <i>here</i> and <i>now</i> as if it'll actually give him some distance. <br /><br />He really needs to stop staring at it, though. Phil's been sitting on the chair, staring at him, for exactly ten minutes and fourteen seconds, and if Clint doesn't say anything, this silence is going to just keep stretching, going nowhere. He takes as deep a breath as he can manage, hoping that the pain will jar him to full alertness. <br /><br />&quot;You want your watch back?&quot; It's the closest thing to a safe topic he can think of. He's slow and groggy from the painkillers; wrangling the most basic of sentences seems an insurmountable task.<br /><br />Phil shrugs, and there's a beat before he answers. &quot;You done with it?&quot;<br /> <br />Clint doesn't feel up to shrugging; he feels even less like answering, so he eases himself up, ignoring Phil's assessing glare. &quot;What've I missed?&quot;<br /><br />Phil winces; whether it's because of his injuries, the awkward change of subject, or the new subject itself, Clint can't be sure. &quot;Things are progressing, plans are in the works, and that's just about all I can tell you.&quot;<br /><br />Clint's about to ask why when the obvious strikes. He's a security risk.<br /><br />&quot;Okay.&quot;<br /><br />&quot;If it makes you feel any better,&quot; Phil smirks, obviously trying to lighten the mood, &quot;I don't actually know a whole lot.&quot; <br /><br />&quot;I could always ask Natasha.&quot; <br /><br />It's a familiar joke, halfhearted at best, but Clint doesn't know exactly how much until but Phil glances down at the foot of the bed. He's choosing his words carefully, deciding what to tell him, and Clint prepares himself for the bottom to drop out again. &quot;I don't want you to worry about it, because it's not a big deal, but Natasha won't be able to tell you any more than I can. She's been benched for a bit. They're a little concerned about her assessment of your condition after you fought on the helicarrier, and they figured now was as good a time as any to find a scapegoat. Fury and Sitwell had to play along. It's mostly for show.&quot;<br /><br /><i>Mostly</i> for show. <br /><br />She'd vouched for him, trusted him enough to let him out into the field, and yeah, Clint can kind of see Fury's point, because he obviously <i>hadn't</i> been all right, but that had never been on <i>her</i>. <br /><br />The sudden weight of having to speak on his own- to be <i>responsible</i> for his own thoughts and words, seems terrible. He doesn't know where to start or where to finish, so he says nothing at all. Stares again at the watch in his hand, trying to figure out if two minutes and forty seconds or three minutes and forty seconds have passed. He doesn't have the energy to complain; it doesn't feel like he's said anything of substance since Loki stopped putting the words in his mouth. <br /><br />As long as he's watching the clock, he doesn't have to think about it. <br /><br />--- <br /> <br />The morning's gone from bad to worse. The trackers on Stark's arc reactors had gone offline three hours ago, and listening to Fury and Stark hurling insults at each other on the comms line hadn't done anything for Maria's headache. She's almost relieved when the other shoe finally drops, because she's got ten handlers and nearly two dozen agents in the field. It's been an hour since anyone had a new idea, two since anyone's had a <i>workable</i> one. <br /><br />It might be bad news, but it's <i>something</i> at least. Vang's team's intercept is only three minutes old, but that's still seven minutes newer than the satellite imagery Fury's glaring at across the room. <br /><br />&quot;Sir. We've just intercepted something you need to hear.&quot;<br /><br />&quot;What's that?&quot;<br /><br />&quot;An explosion at the Los Alamos Test Site, about fifteen minutes ago, but it looks like it's our scene.&quot;<br /><br />&quot;How do you know?&quot;<br /><br />&quot;Because Vang's team caught it off Tony Stark's personal comm line just now.&quot; Finally, the satellite images on the screens refresh themselves, and pinpointing the location is terrifyingly easy. &quot;And because it's the biggest blast radius I've ever seen.&quot;<br /><br />She doesn't get the chance to say more before Fury holds up a hand, forestalling her as his other hand goes to his ear, activating his comms unit. &quot;Get Stark's ass in here, right now,&quot; he orders, before going silent again. As sharply as he'd sounded, though, he's grinning a moment later and following her to her work station.<br /><br />&quot;So. Vang's crew finally hacked his suit? <br /><br />Maria sighs. &quot;Stark's going to be furious.&quot;<br /><br />&quot;Well, it's, bully for him and Christmas for us. Show me what we've got.&quot;<br /><br />She's already switching the output from headset to speakers, and plays the file. Stark's voice sounds only slightly less tinny than usual. <br /><br />&quot;So, Rhodey, what do you have for me?&quot;<br /><br />&quot;Los Alamos, five minutes ago. On the plus size, there are no known casualties.&quot;<br /><br />&quot;Radiation?&quot;<br /><br />&quot;No spikes.&quot;<br /><br />&quot;Really.&quot; Stark's smug. &quot;You don't say.&quot;<br /><br />&quot;Really. So what-&quot;<br /><br />&quot;No, you <i>know</i> that's not how this works. Where's the love?.&quot;<br /><br />There's a beleaguered sigh, but a moment later, Lieutenant Colonel Rhodey caves. &quot;Your arc reactors are awesome, Tony. You were right, again, because you're a genius and dashing as all hell.&quot; Even through the line, the sarcasm is audible. Maria's never met Rhodey, but she likes him. &quot;Now what the hell do you propose we do about it?&quot;<br /><br />&quot;Pants. I'm going to put on some pants. See you in a bit.&quot;<br /><br />The file ends there. It's seven minutes old, and odds are, Stark's already gone. She's about to ask Fury's opinion of Stark's capabilities to dress himself- if he's taken off already, it's yet another crisis on her plate- when Stark himself saunters into the command center. <br /><br />&quot;<i>Avast</i>, Captain Fury, I think I've got something.&quot;<br /><br />&quot;Oh really,&quot; Fury rolls his eye, ending with a sidelong glance at Maria in warning. &quot;What, pray tell, is that?&quot;<br /><br />&quot;Explosion. Los Alamos.&quot; He shrugs. &quot;On the bright side, he didn't decide to test their explosive capabilities in the middle of Brooklyn, right?&quot;<br /><br />&quot;Your bright sides are only ever bright because they're still <i>on fire</i>.&quot; Fury shakes his head, nods at Maria. She already knows the play from here. Tapping into the comms line, she directs the primary response teams to report for transport to Los Alamos, and the secondaries to return to base to await further instructions.<br /><br />&quot;That's going to take too long.&quot; Stark announces, once she's done. &quot;I can have eyes on the ground before you're halfway there.&quot;<br /><br />Fury snorts, but doesn't look up. &quot;Then what the hell are you still doing here?&quot; <br /><br />Stark pauses in the doorway, turning to regard Fury over his shoulder; it's impossible to tell whether his suspicion is real. &quot;Wait. Hang on. You're not going to tell me not to do anything stupid?&quot;<br /><br />&quot;You being stupid tends to draw the enemies out of the woodwork,&quot; Fury shrugs, &quot;and as long as they're busy with you, that's a few less bullets aimed at my agents. Everyone goes home happy.&quot;<br /><br />Stark smirks, disappearing through the door, but Maria can still hear him. &quot;In that case, I'll warm 'em up for you. With fire, per your request.&quot;<br /> <br />--- <br /><br />Something's happening; Fury comes down himself to ask to speak with Phil and Natasha, but they're out in the hallway, now. Try as he might, Clint can't hear what's being said. <br /><br />He waits, frozen, until the doorway opens again and Fury pokes his head in and asks him how he's doing. He also asks if he needs anything, which is just <i>wrong</i>, coming from him.<br /><br />He already <i>knows</i> he's in pathetically rough shape, thank you very much, and he knows what Fury's doing, but doesn't say anything. Not even once he's gone, and Phil and Natasha are filtering back into the room, their movements a little more quick and alive than before. <br /><br />&quot;You're back on duty,&quot; he says, so they don't have to.<br /><br />Both nod, but Phil's the only one frowning. &quot;Advisory only,&quot; he eventually says. <br /><br />&quot;Still,&quot; Clint sighs, doesn't push it. Orders are orders. There's no point in asking where they're going, either. <br /><br />&quot;Don't worry,&quot; Natasha says, cocking her head. &quot;I'm babysitting him.&quot;<br /><br />&quot;Thanks for that,&quot; Phil shoots her a rueful sidelong glance.<br /><br />&quot;Thank <i>you</i>,&quot; she replies airily, but this is obviously her way back into the loop; she probably means it. The smile changes- it's there, but it still changes- when she tells Clint goodbye, and she's back out in the hallway a moment later. Just around the edge of the door, probably, but it's the illusion of privacy. <br /><br />Seems like illusions are all he can get, these days. Phil's going to be gone in a minute too. <i>Now you see him, now you don't.</i> <br /><br /><i>A month ago, you would've killed for him to even be standing there</i>, he reminds himself, and stumbles into what he's probably supposed to be saying. &quot;Be careful, yeah?&quot;<br /><br />&quot;Will do. I'll call when I can.&quot; Phil's grinning a little more easily, now, and Clint hates that his first thought, seeing it, is that he doesn't have a phone. There's no way to articulate it without sounding like he's whining, though, so he tries for confidence that he's not feeling and grins. <br /><br />&quot;I'll still be here.&quot; <br /><br />He tries not to focus on the accuracy of that statement, but Phil goes pensive. Needing a distraction, he grabs Phil's watch from underneath his pillow and hands it over. Phil, thankfully, doesn't question the gesture, just fastens it around his wrist and nods.<br /><br />Natasha's waiting outside, and Phil should probably already be going. He's still in rough shape, moving slowly as he approaches the bed, and Clint has no idea what kind of timeframe they're working on, but Phil's probably supposed to be rushing, and he's not. That awareness is blocking whatever Clint's supposed to be saying next. He just can't speak, and Phil's got his hand on the side of Clint's neck, now, heavy and warm. <br /><br />&quot;Hey. I love you, all right?&quot;<br /><br />&quot;Yeah. Love you too.&quot; <br /><br />He's just with it enough to kiss Phil back, quick, as if the cameras up in the corner of the room can't keep up. <br /> <br />Phil pulls away, but doesn't go far. &quot;I'll be back before you even know it.&quot;<br /><br />And Clint, because he's an idiot, replies, &quot;Yeah, I kinda doubt that.&quot; It registers on Phil's face- just for an instant- before it does in Clint's brain, and he sits up too quickly. &quot;No! I mean-&quot;<br /><br /><i>I'm going to miss you</i>. The words are almost there, but Phil's already nodding, smiling, letting it slide. It's probably just as well, because Clint's not sure how to explain that he <i>knows</i> half the things he's saying, he's getting wrong. His brain still isn't doing what he wants it to be doing. At least when Loki was Clint and Clint was nothing, he hadn't been able to <i>want</i> Phil to understand.<br /><br />There's a booted heel scuffing across the hallway floor, a quiet reminder that they're on a timeline.<br /><br />&quot;Go already,&quot; Clint grumbles, releasing him, as if this were any other operation, as if a thousand things were different and everything was fine. False bravado. It's that illusion thing again, but at least this time he's in on it. <br /><br />Phil goes along with it; a kiss later, he's going out the door.<br /><br />---<br /><br />Loki can feel the last part of himself joining his form, reveling in the sensation of being <i>whole</i> again, of finally being free of Midgard. He laughs, just to see if he <i>can</i>, yet. There's no sentinel to hear him; by now his guards have surely been summoned to the bridge to gawk in imbecilic confusion at the site of the explosion, where the full force of his magic, no longer stretched between the realms, had made itself known once again. <br /><br />His arrival is as it should be. All of Asgard stands in awe, and nobody notices anything at all. Thor, though, will be here soon enough, with his tiresome questions. <br /><br />Loki- <i>all</i> of Loki, not the slight but necessary shell he'd left of himself- will be ready to answer them. For the moment he merely rises to his feet and regards the wavering barrier of his prison. It's thin and diaphanous, parts with a thought, but he doesn't step through. Even with his attention focused literally <i>realms</i> away, he could've broken through it at any time. <br /><br /><i>Waiting</i>, though, has been worth it. <br /><br />He's not been long in waiting before a rend appears in the barrier; Thor storms towards him, his hammer clutched in his fist. He doesn't seem surprised to find Loki standing, but his anger is is equally rewarding.<br /><br />&quot;What have you done?&quot;<br /><br />Loki looks up at him and smiles. <br /><br />&quot;You didn't really think I was <i>finished</i>, did you, brother?&quot; <br /><br />--- <br /><br /><br /><a jendavis.dreamwidth.org="" href="a href=">Chapter 11</a></cut>

Profile

jendavis: (Default)
jendavis

July 2013

S M T W T F S
 123456
78910111213
14 151617181920
21222324252627
28293031   

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 21st, 2017 03:57 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios