Natasha was curled up in an armchair and reading a magazine when Clint stuck his head into the living room and said, "How's it going?"
"His pacing was irritating me so I sent him outside," Natasha informed him solemnly as she flicked a page.
Clint squinted through floor to ceiling glass doors that led out to the terrace. Bucky was out there, pacing back and forth as he sucked on a cigarette, bundled up against the cold in an overcoat that was at least two sizes too large for him, his face half obscured by the big red scarf wrapped around his neck.
"You couldn't have sent him down to the gym for time out," Clint said as he watched a flurry of snow dust the shoulders of Bucky's overcoat. "It's below freezing out there."
"Somehow I don't think he's too worried about that," Natasha murmured and she turned another page. "Is there an ETA yet?"
"About ten, maybe fifteen minutes." Clint flopped onto the couch opposite Natasha and propped his feet up on the coffee table. "Where are we up to with the countdown?"
"Seventy two hours, give or take."
"He hasn't tried to abscond to the airport again, has he?"
"That was hour seventy and we'd only just found out that they'd lost contact with Steve's plane," Natasha reminded him. "Trying to steal one of Tony's aircraft is a perfectly reasonable reaction if you ask me."
"You try telling Tony that."
"Tony just needs to get over himself."
"You try telling Tony that," Clint said again with a smirk, and then caught the cushion that sailed his way with both hands.
"How long now?" Natasha asked.
"About two minutes less than the last time you asked. Don't worry," Clint added as she raised an eyebrow at him, "babysitting duty is nearly done."
"I wouldn't have to do it at all you hadn't proved so horribly unreliable," Natasha pointed out to him.
Clint cocked an eyebrow at her. "If a guy wants to crawl into a bottle of scotch as a coping mechanism, far be it from me to stop him."
"You didn't have to go along for the ride, though."
"I am also a big fan of not letting someone drown their sorrows alone," Clint said with complete conviction. "I like to think it's one of my better qualities."
"At least we didn't have a repeat of hour thirty," Natasha mused.
"I never knew Bruce had that in him," Clint agreed. "The big guy, yeah, but Bruce?"
"Someone had to be the rational one."
"I was rational," Clint insisted, waving his hands about for emphasis. "I just happened to also be massively hung-over at the time. And seriously, you can't blame the guy for freaking out just a little. If I'd been in his shoes, I would have done more than just put my fist through a wall; I'd have demolished the entire room."
"I guess you're right," Natasha said and they both looked toward the terrace.
Bucky had finally stopped pacing and was leaning against the balustrade, his eyes focused on some unknown point of the Manhattan skyline and the tension in his shoulders almost palpable. With his sharp eyes Clint could just make out the bruise that marred his right cheek, a legacy of Bruce's' solution to helping him calm down after they'd heard that, even though Steve and his pilot were safe and well after their plane had gone off the radar somewhere over the Beaufort Sea, it was going to be at least twenty-four hours before they could be airlifted back to New York because as it turns out, not even Nick Fury can control the weather.
The sound of approaching footsteps made them both swivel around, but it was only Bruce, looking hopeful and anxious all at once as he entered the living room.
"Any news?" he asked.
"Not long now," Clint said, checking his watch. "Tony said he'd text me once they were in the building."
"Thank god for that," Bruce sighed and he sagged into the armchair next to Natasha's. "I do not want a repeat of yesterday."
"None of us do," Natasha replied, echoing the sentiment of the room.
"Hey, heads up," Clint said as his jeans pocket buzzed. He pulled out his cell phone and checked the message. "They're on their way up. ETA in less time than you can say schnadenfreude."
"Gesudheit," Bruce responded absently and suddenly the tension that had been brewing for the last three days finally broke and without really meaning to they all found themselves laughing.
The laughter died as the 'ding' of the elevation rang out and Clint found himself holding his breath as they waited for the doors to slide open. He glanced at Natasha, who had a similarly expectant look on her face, and time seemed to just hang there until suddenly the room was filled with Steve making a beeline for the terrace while Tony, Coulson and Pepper brought up the rear.
"Bucky!" Steve called out and Clint watched as Bucky's head whipped around and he darted across the terrace, flinging himself into Steve's arms as Steve stepped through the door.
"Oh, thank god for that," Clint breathed as he watched Steve and Bucky mash themselves together and begin to furiously make out.
"Amen," Coulson said softly as he came to a stop behind the couch and rested his hands on Clint's shoulders.
"Hey, as much as we're all loving this reunion show," Tony said. "I've just flown a plane to bumfuck Canada and back and I really could use a drink."
"Yeah, actually, I think they could do with a little privacy," Bruce said, getting to his feet.
"I've organized some lunch for us in the main dining room," Pepper said as they all shuffled to their feet and started toward the elevator.
"And booze?" Tony asked hopefully, winding his arm around her waist.
"Anthony Edward Stark, do you think me a fool?" she answered haughtily and rested her head on his shoulder as they wandered out of the living room ahead of Bruce and Natasha.
"I take it you've had an interesting few hours," Coulson said, falling into step with Clint.
"We coped," Clint said lightly, which was his way of telling Coulson that he'd hand over the full details once they were home and in bed. "How was your trip to Canada?"
"Fruitful," Coulson replied and Clint glanced at the terrace where Steve and Bucky were still wrapped around each other. Neither of them seemed to have noticed that it was now snowing in earnest.
Clint stuck his hands in his pockets and smiled. "Yeah, I guess it was."