Title: Anchor Point
Fandon: The Avengers (2012)
Rating: PG13 [This chapter. References to violence.]
Summary: Six nights in one bed.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007. 10:33 p.m. EST
Phil watched the second hand tick past twelve, marking the passage of another sleepless minute, and resisted the urge to sigh.
Clint was fast asleep in his arms, wrapped in the unshakeable unconsciousness of painkillers and muscle relaxers. Wherever Phil put his hands, he could feel the rough edge of bandages or the tender swelling of bruises, the inescapable evidence of one more trauma to be reported and catalogued and shuffled away into Clint’s over-stuffed personnel file.
He wasn’t thinking about Clint lying on the sidewalk, face awash in fresh blood, or about the detached, clinical description Clint had given of Park’s first assault. He wasn’t thinking about the dozen executable plans he could set in motion to ensure that Park never came back from Antarctica, and he certainly wasn’t thinking about what Park’s face would look like as he writhed on the floor, slowly bleeding out from a precisely placed knife wound in his stomach.
The implement would need to be dulled in order to inflict greater damage. A letter-opener, perhaps? Or a steak knife. Maybe even using an arrow to gouge....
Clint stirred in his sleep with a faint whine, and Phil pressed a soothing hand to his chest.
“It’s okay,” he whispered gently. “You’re okay. I’m here.”
Clint gave a little snuffle and shifted, hooking one of his feet back around Phil’s ankle and burying his face in the pillow. His hand flexed around Phil’s, and his breathing evened out again as he stilled. Phil exhaled.
Damaged goods. Clint had called himself damaged goods, like he was something to be used and traded and sold, relegated to the ten-cents table from which Phil had claimed him. He had his flaws and his baggage, sure, maybe even more than most, but Phil would have gladly given his whole life for just a fraction of Clint and called it a bargain.
For the first time, Phil allowed himself to think about Colombia. Not about red wounds and pale skin and the flash of a knife, but about watching a dying soldier slowly raise his arm and take aim at Clint. He’d seen it, caught the movement as it began, but it felt like he could have counted every synapse as the image traveled from his eyes and through his brain and out of his mouth in a shout of warning. He couldn’t move, couldn’t stop it, could barely breathe or speak. All he could do was watch the trigger compress under the soldier’s finger.
He felt now as he’d felt in that moment, perhaps with less intensity and urgency, but with equal helplessness and fear.
It was given that he would take a bullet for Clint - a hundred bullets, or shrapnel, or a guided missile, or the full force of a nuclear explosion - but the strength of that willingness was only as good as his ability to physically place himself between Clint and the impending threat.
He couldn’t block a bullet if he couldn’t move or stop an attack if he wasn’t there, and he couldn’t get between Clint and the thousand remembered horrors in his head. Clint could take care of himself, to be sure; he didn’t need Phil to fight his battles, or for anything else. Still, nothing put knots in Phil’s gut like having to sit aside like a useless cock and just watch.
It was the gasp of pain on the other end of the comm. It was the enemy spotted over a shoulder. It was every storm that beat and buffeted every nest. It was the tiny white waiting room in medical.
A car honked a few blocks away, and Phil sighed, his breath stirring the short hairs on the back of Clint’s neck, ghosting over the swollen, yellowing bruise. Clint shifted his head on the pillow and slept on.
The second hand completed another round, and Phil closed his eyes and wished for morning.