Following the latest slip-up, Clint knows just where he’ll find Bruce.
There is a stiff ache in his side with every step that he takes, the product of black-purple bruising decorating his ribs. It looks ugly, but he’s had worse. Considering the damage that the Hulk did to Stark Tower, he got off lucky.
He enters their shared room and hears the sound of the shower running. It’s never a good sign when Bruce needs to wash the memories away.
The door isn’t locked. He goes straight inside, not bothering to knock, and finds Bruce crouched on the ground beneath the stream of water, nude and soaked. At any other time, that might be the kind of sight Clint would enjoy. It’s spoiled by the misery etched all over him.
“You can’t keep doing this to yourself,” Clint says, with a long sigh that doesn’t even begin to cover his frustration. He steps into the shower, his black boots against the sopping white ground, and crouches down in front of him. “It wasn’t your fault.”
“How many people are dead because of me?”
“Don’t,” Clint says, although it makes him remember the feeling of Loki inside his brain, taking over. It reminds him of what it means to lose control.
“How many?” Bruce insists.
Clint gives a shrug. “We got most people out before the damage got too bad.”
“Clint,” Bruce snaps. “Just tell me.”
Clint’s jaw clenches, but Bruce looks at him through the pouring water and holds his gaze. Everyone thinks that their gentle, soft-spoken scientist is shy. They think he’s weak. No one has seen the steel in his eyes the way that Clint has.
“There were some people in one of the buildings when it collapsed. And the Hulk crushed a car with two agents still inside. We’re waiting for reports from the medical bay.”
Technically no one is dead yet. ‘Technically’ doesn’t mean a whole lot when faced with the anguish on Bruce’s face.
Clint reaches out for him, his hands skimming over the stubble of Bruce’s jaw. He cups his face and doesn’t allow him to look away - he won’t allow him to retreat from the truth. “It wasn’t your fault. You’ve been in control for so long now; you’ve been so good. You can’t blame yourself. I won’t put up with that bullshit.”
“Then leave,” Bruce says. “You shouldn’t have to ‘put up with it’. Just go.”
Clint wants to smack him until he starts talking sense again. He opts for the less violent option. He kisses him so that Bruce has to stop talking nonsense. Soft at first, pleading. The meeting of their mouths makes him feel like something in his chest is breaking, like there’s something here that is going to make him fall apart. It’s always like this with Bruce. He always feels like it’s too goddamn good for a man like him.
Bruce shifts and gives a moan, lost and helpless, and after that it’s all too easy to slip into his lap. There’s not much that Clint can do to make Bruce better; there’s nothing at all that he can do to fix it. What he can do, with his hands sliding over slippery wet skin and his tongue entering Bruce’s mouth, is make him lose himself - just for now.