Clint realized he was shaking. He felt as though his legs were going to give out on him.
Clint strode into the hospital, looking around. The E.R was busy, which immediately made him worry. He found the nurses’ station and headed straight over.
The nurse was a blonde, her hair a mess. She didn’t even look up.
This time the nurse gave Clint a cursory glance, but no more than that, looking right back at her clipboard. Clint felt anger swelling in him. He slammed his hand down on the desk, swiping the clipboard aside. It flew off the desk, clattering to the floor.
The woman jumped, her gaze flying up, eyes wide, alarmed. She stared at Clint. He stared right back, eyes narrowed.
“…….excuse me,” he repeated slowly, voice steely. “I’m looking for Tony Stark.”
The woman still looked almost too scared to speak, but she managed. “……he’s in surgery.”
Clint felt his heart drop to the floor. “Surgery?!”
“Yes, he…” But the nurse didn’t get to finish.
“What’s wrong? What happened? He told me what was wrong, he shouldn’t be in surgery.”
“He had a broken collar bone, sir…” but again Clint interrupted.
“So?! That shouldn’t require surgery!”
The nurse was obviously growing weary of Clint. “Well, there was a complication.”
“Complication?!” This woman was taking way too long to explain everything. In a minute, Clint was going to slam her head through the desk.
“Yes. Internal bleeding. They brought him into surgery.” But before she had finished speaking, Clint was moving down the hallway, shoving his way through doctors and nurses alike, heading towards the door that said ‘surgery’ above it.
“Sir! Sir, you can’t go in there!”
Clint felt the woman tugging at his arm. He shoved her aside…..harder than he’d intended. She went sprawling on the floor, eliciting gasps from the crowd of nurses and doctors nearby. Almost immediately, a loud beeping began ringing through the hall.
Clint didn’t even have time to wonder what that was about before a team of security guards barreled into the hallway, looking around. They spotted the nurse on the floor almost immediately, and she pointed at Clint. The men headed towards him. Honestly, he didn’t think much of it. It’s not like any of them were a match for him. But they WERE going to waste more of his time…..time he could be using to get to Tony.
One of them he took out with a single hit. It was a bit harder after that, because then they were all on him at once, but he took down half of them before they managed to get hold of his arms and restrain him.
“Let me go you bastards! I need to get in there!”
There was a doctor there now, extremely calm despite the situation. “Sir, you aren’t allowed in surgery. It’s a sterile environment. We can’t risk it getting contaminated by outside presences.”
That gave him pause, and some of the fight went out of him, though that panic was still making his heart pound. “…..but…….Tony…..”
“Mr. Stark is being taken care of. They’re operating right now. There was…”
The doctor launched into an explanation of what exactly it was that had gone wrong. Clint caught words here and there, things like “bone fragments” and “cauterize” and more complicated words that he didn’t understand at ALL, and all of it was just making his head pound.
It didn’t matter that there were men restraining him; he broke their hold, grabbing the front of the doctor’s jacket. “I don’t fucking CARE about all your technical bullshit! Just tell me if he’s okay!”
The doctor stared at Clint from mere inches away, eyes wide with alarm. “….I……yes. He’ll be fine.”
Clint released the man’s jacket, a sigh escaping. It felt as though all of the air went out of him. He realized he was shaking. He felt as though his legs were going to give out on him. And for some reason, even though Clint had just been scaring the hell out of him, the doctor was helping, guiding Clint to a chair, sitting him down before he could collapse to the floor.
Clint looked up at him. “Thank you. I……sorry.”
The doctor shook his head. “It’s fine. You’re not the first concerned friend we’ve had in here.” He smiled. “Probably the most physically intimidating.”
Clint couldn’t help a breathless burst of laughter. “Heh….yeah.” He rubbed at his eyes. He felt as though a full week had passed since Tony had told him about the explosion, though it had really only been a matter of hours. Clint looked up at the doctor. “…..he’s really going to be fine?”
The man nodded. “He is. He won’t be able to use his left arm for a long time…”
Clint immediately interrupted. “How long is ‘long’?”
“……about three months, most likely.”
Clint nearly choked. “Three months? THREE MONTHS?!” The doctor obviously didn’t understand what Clint was so astonished about; he simply nodded. Clint was completely dumbstruck. He shook his head. “….there’s no way I can get Tony to take it easy for three months.”
“Well, I’m afraid you’ll have to. He won’t heal if he uses that arm.”
…..fuck. How the hell am I going to do this?
Just then, the doors to surgery opened, and a gurney was wheeled out. Clint’s heart leapt when he saw Tony. He sprang to his feet.
Tony was obviously just waking up from the anesthesia. He blinked sleepily up at Clint. “…..Clint?”
No one got in Clint’s way this time. His path was clear as he moved to Tony’s side. “Yeah…..yeah, it’s me.”
Tony’s left arm was bandaged, but he reached out for Clint with his right hand. That hand was bandaged as well, burns and stitches, but Clint gently took it in his own, raising it to his lips and kissing it, not giving a damn who saw.
Tony looked so sleepy, but he was clearly glad to see Clint. “….I’m sorry.”
“Shut up. Shut up, you fucking idiot.”
That made Tony smile. “I love you.”
Clint’s eyes were burning. I’m not going to fucking cry. He never cried. Goddamn you, Tony. He kissed Tony’s hand again. “I love you, too.”
One of the orderlies pushing Tony’s gurney cleared his throat to get Clint’s attention. “Okay, sir. Let’s get Mr. Stark back to his room.”
Clint nodded. “Okay. But I’m coming.”
“Of course.” The orderlies wheeled Tony down the hallway. Clint didn’t let go of Tony’s hand the entire way. Once they had Tony in the room, his bed back in place and an I.V hooked up, the orderlies finally left Tony and Clint alone, shutting the curtain to the room and giving them some peace.
Clint immediately leaned in, kissing Tony, pulling back to whisper “you motherfucking idiot. God, I hate you so much.”
“You do not. And I said I’m sorry.”
“I still hate you.” Clint stepped back to get his first real good look at Tony. His left arm was bandaged close to his body, his left wrist wrapped (that must be the one he sprained). His chest was wrapped around to support his broken ribs. The burns weren’t horrible, but they definitely weren’t good. Clint couldn’t see many stitches.
“Where are the stitches?”
Tony did that little shrug nod of his and immediately winced in pain. “Ow. On my back. Went backwards through the window, landed on the glass.”
Clint pulled up a chair, sitting beside Tony’s bed. “Well, that ought to be fun, since you’re gonna be stuck sleeping on your back for a long time, with that collarbone the way it is.”
“Yea, well, it shouldn’t be too bad. I mean, bones usually heal in what…..a month?” Clint just stared silently at Tony, who looked back, gaze growing more concerned. “……..more than a month? Come on.”
“…..Tony….” Clint really didn’t want to be the one to share this news, but if it came from one of the doctors, Tony would really flip out. “…..it’s gonna take three months to heal.”
Well, now Tony was fully awake. The curtain pushed open, a nurse peering into the room, concern on her face. Tony’s exclamation had obviously attracted her attention. “Is everything okay in here?”
“No, everything is not fucking okay! Three months? This thing is going to take three months to heal?! THREE FUCKING MONTHS?!?!”
The nurse stared for a moment, then vanished from sight, the curtain closing again. Tony turned to Clint, a look of almost desperation in his eyes. It would have been funny if Clint didn’t feel so bad. He himself hated sitting still. He couldn’t imagine being laid up for three months.
“No, Tony. I’m sorry. If you don’t stay in bed, stay STILL, it won’t heal and you’ll damage it permanently. I can’t let you do that. I can’t. I won’t.”
Tony still had that look in his eyes. Clint couldn’t stand it. “I’m sorry.”
“……Clint…..” But it was clear that Clint wasn’t going to budge. Tony’s eyes narrowed. “Yea? Well you’ll be off on missions. How’re you going to stop me?”
“…..I’ll fucking sedate you if I have to.”
“Oh yea? For three months?”
“I’ll be checking in on you. And I’m sure Steve and Bruce won’t mind standing in while I’m gone.”
Tony glared. “You suck.”
“Bullshit. You’d do the same thing to me if I were the one hurt. And have, if I remember correctly.”
“Oh……you mean when you got hit by a car?”
“THAT NEVER HAPPENED!”
Tony grinned. “It happened, whether you admit it or not.”
Clint glowered, but at least Tony was smiling now. “Yeah? Well, you blew yourself up.”
“I did not. I blew up a building. And if you wanna get technical, it was really the tech that blew up the building.”
“Yeah….tech that you were screwing around with. What the hell did you DO, anyway?”
“Well, I….” Tony had barely opened his mouth to explain before Clint cut him off.
“No, never mind.” He could tell just from the look on Tony’s face, the movement, the way he opened his mouth, that it was going to be a long and complex explanation, and when it came to Tony and his tech, Clint couldn’t understand long and complex. “I’m just glad you’re okay.” Well….. ‘okay’ really wasn’t the right word, but compared to what could have happened, Tony was more than okay. Clint looked him over again. “….do you know yet if you have to stay overnight?”
Tony shook his head. “Not sure. Think they want me to, though.”
“Yeah, okay. Well….” Clint glanced at the couch behind him. “….s’that thing pull out into a bed?”
“Hope so. It’s kinda tiny for me to squish onto, otherwise.”
Tony smiled. “Gonna sleep here with me?”
“Don’t be an idiot. I already told you I am.”
“Then I don’t mind staying. Much rather be home alone with you, but…..yea. Really don’t know if they’re gonna let me.”
“Yeah. Probably not, after the surgery.” Clint looked at Tony’s bandaged arm. “Fuck, Tony. You scare the shit outa me.”
“I’m sorry! It’s not like I meant to!”
“You still royally fucked up your body! Goddammit, Tony.” He looked at the burns, the few stitches he could see. “…..they say if you’re gonna have scars or not?”
“……no.” Tony looked up at Clint. “……..you still gonna love me if I’m not pretty anymore?” He was smiling, but there was a hint of something almost apprehensive to it.
Clint just stared at him. “………………if you weren’t so injured already, I would hit you for that question. Hit you so fucking hard.”
“You’re a fucking idiot. I’m always going to love you. Always.”
It was hard to tell with all the bruising and burns, but Tony was definitely flushing happily. “Yea?”
“I am not.”
“Are too. God. That was the dumbest fucking question ever.”
“Don’t ‘hey’ me. Would you stop loving me if I wasn’t pretty anymore?”
“Then why would you need to ask that?”
Tony just looked at Clint for a long moment. “……..shut up.”
Clint laughed. “You’re such an idiot.”
“I am not! I’m brilliant!”
“Yeah, you’re not making that one fly today. Not after you blew up a building.”
“Nope. Today, your genius status is officially revoked.”
“Okay, no. You did NOT just go there.”
“Mm…..I think I did.” Clint smiled. “And there’s nothing you can do about it….cuz you can’t move.”
Tony glowered. “Asshole.”
Clint laughed, gently stroking Tony’s hair. “You should sleep. I’ll find a nurse and figure out the situation with the couch.”
“Why don’t we just call one? Can have a nurse come here.” Tony fumbled around, trying to find the call button with his one good hand. Shaking his head, Clint reached across him.
“Stop that. Let me do it.” He found the call button and pressed it. Within moments, a nurse poked her head in.
She entered the room, looking somewhat wary. Clint would bet good money that none of the nurses really wanted to be assigned to Tony’s room…..not after the exhibition Clint had put on earlier. “What can I do for you?”
“We were wondering how long Tony will be staying, and if this couch is a pull-out. If he’s staying, I’m staying, too.”
“Well, I believe because of the burns he’s required to stay at least one night, so that we can monitor him and make sure he’s doing okay. Then we’ll probably send a nurse home with him, just the first few days. After that, as long as someone will be around to take care of him, he should be okay on his own.”
Clint nodded. “I’ll be with him.”
“Okay. Well, we can set up the pull-out for you, and tomorrow, if all goes well, you can take Mr. Stark home.”
The nurse moved to the closet and pulled out some sheets and a pillow. Clint moved to help her and together, the two of them quickly got the pull-out couch set up. She checked to make sure Tony didn’t need anything else, and left them alone.
Clint immediately moved the couch closer to Tony’s bed so that they were less than a foot apart. Tony looked so tired. Clint stroked his cheek again.
“Sleep. You need it. Tomorrow we’ll get you home.”
“Mm…..kay. Sounds good.”
“Yeah. I’ll be right here. If you wake up and need me, need anything, I’m right here. Remember that.”
Tony smiled. “I will. Hey……I love you.”
“I love you too.” Clint leaned in and kissed him softly. “Sleep.”
Still smiling, Tony obediently let his eyes slip shut. He fell asleep almost at once. Clint got up and searched the walls until he found the light switch, flipping it, letting the room fall into darkness so Tony could sleep better. He returned to his bed and sat down, watching Tony sleep. There was still the tiniest dull ache in his chest, knowing how bad things could have ended up. But Tony was okay. He was there, and despite all the injuries, he was going to be fine.
Clint stretched out on his bed, laying at an angle where he could still see Tony, eyes never leaving the man until he fell into his own deep sleep.
~eight weeks later~
Clint tapped his fingers impatiently against the tabletop as he waited for the phone to pick up.
“Hey, Steve. Can I talk to Tony?”
“Oh God, yes. Please.” Steve sounded exhausted, and Clint had to laugh.
“Is he driving you insane?”
“Completely. Maybe once he talks to you, he’ll calm down a bit.”
“Doubtful. But maybe.”
Steve made some sort of noise, a sort of helpless frustration, and Clint stifled a laugh. “Tony. Tony, the phone’s for you. It’s Clint.”
Clint could hear Tony in the background. “Clint? Clint?! Hey, Jarvis, put the phone on in here!!”
There was a clicking noise as the line picked up, and then Tony was there, voice ridiculously happy. “Clint!!”
Clint laughed. “Hey. How you doing?”
Tony’s groan said it all. “I’M GONNA DIE.”
“Tony, you are not going to die.”
“I am. I totally am.”
“You have less than a month to go. I think you can make it.”
“No. Totally going to die.”
“Well, stay in bed, or you’ll just screw up all that healing and all this time you’ve spent in bed will have been for nothing.”
There was a long silence. “……..I hate it when you make sense.”
Clint laughed. “Hey. I want you to get better. And you do, too. If you hurt yourself again….if you fuck this up before it’s healed……it’ll completely interfere with your ability to do your work. Any kind of work.”
There was another of those groans, but louder and longer, with a lot more irritation and frustration to it. “But I’m BORED.”
“Haven’t Steve and Bruce been keeping you occupied?”
“Well…yea. But there’s still only so much you can do in bed.” There was a pause, and Clint already knew that Tony was thinking horribly inappropriate thoughts. “……only so much you can do in bed when you’re being forced to keep still.”
“Ha. Has Steve had to sedate you again?”
“…….not in a week.”
“You’re the worst patient ever, do you know that?”
“Hey! I can’t stand sitting still. I hate this. HATE it.”
“Then don’t blow yourself up.”
“Oh, thanks. I’ll definitely take that into consideration. That’s great advice, right there.”
“Shut the hell up. Asshole.”
“When’re you coming home?”
“I’m packing my stuff up right now. Be on the plane within an hour. So tonight. I’ll be seeing you tonight.”
“Yea? Oh man, great.”
“Yeah. And I’m on leave until the rest of your healing time is done. So I’ll be around to keep you company.”
“Fuck. Fuck, that’s awesome.”
“I thought so. In the meantime, until I get home tonight……go easy on Steve, okay? He sounds like he’s about to lose his mind.”
“Yea, well, so am I.”
“Still. Give the guy a break, okay?”
“Thanks. Hey……I gotta go. I’ll see you later tonight, okay?”
“And just try and relax. You’ve almost made it through. The rest of the month will fly by. In no time at all, you’ll be all better.”
Clint chuckled. “I love you.”
“Love you too.”
The phone clicked as Tony hung up. Clint shook his head, smiling. Tony really was the worst patient. Poor Steve. They’d have to find some way to repay him for being so patient. Though Clint had seen Tony at his worst. He didn’t know that there was any gift large enough to make up for all of Tony’s incessant whining.
Oh well. Tony would be better soon. Only a week more till he was off bed rest, and then he just had to take it easy for a while. Once he was out of bed, he should be easier to deal with.
~three weeks later~
“Tony, don’t push it, okay?”
Tony looked up at Clint, pouting. There wasn’t a trace of a scratch or a burn visible on his face. His shirtsleeves were rolled up as he worked, and his arms had healed well, too. Only Tony’s back still bore any lasting sign of the explosion….a few lingering scars from the glass window he had gone through. His worries about no longer being ‘pretty’ had obviously been unfounded. “I just spent three months in bed and now you’re telling me to take it easy?”
“No……I’m telling you not to do too much too fast.”
“It is not.” Clint moved to Tony’s side, gently but firmly pulling the tools from his hands. “And your lab work isn’t a good way to recuperate. It’s a terrible position to be in. You get all hunched over. Not good for your shoulder.”
Tony groaned. “Cliiiiiiiiiiiiint….”
“No, Tony. You’re just gonna fuck it up again. Besides, when you work in the lab, you get all caught up and forget about time. If I don’t cut you off, you’ll end up working for ten straight hours and then you’ll be screwed. All that recovery time will get set back. You wanna spend another couple months in bed?”
“Didn’t think so.” Clint leaned in, giving Tony a kiss. Tony was still pouting at Clint, his lower lip jutting. Clint laughed. “Come on. Let’s go upstairs. Get something to eat, watch a movie. I’ll even snuggle you.”
At that, Tony’s eyes lit up. “Okay.”
Clint grinned. “I thought that one might work.”
Tony rose, smiling. “Oh, what……bribing me with snuggles, are we?”
“Whatever gets you out of this lab.”
Tony poked Clint’s waist. “Asshole. You love holding me.”
“I admit nothing.”
Tony had to laugh. “Such a jerk.”
But when they were upstairs, curled up on the couch, Clint had to admit to himself, he really did like having the man in his arms. Sitting together, Tony snuggled close into Clint’s body, that warmth emanating from him…..it made Clint feel so happy…peaceful. Made him feel like he was truly home.
Tony glanced up at Clint, noticing that the man seemed distant, lost in thought. “….hey…” He gave Clint a little nudge. “….you okay?”
Clint kissed Tony’s forehead, smiling down at him. “Never better.”