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Rest Thy Broken Wings

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"They want me to go."

Natasha won't look at him, but that's actually all right. She knows he's having trouble meeting people's eyes now. It had been okay when there was a mission, a need for revenge, and people like the Avengers, who hadn't known him enough to fear him when he'd attacked the Helicarrier. It had been all right when he kept Natasha's words in mind - Monsters and magic and nothing we were ever trained for. It hadn't been fine when the rest of his co-workers had seen him cutting down their friends and couldn't quite put it aside like good agents.

And it definitely hadn't been fine when he'd remembered he'd done Loki's bidding and it had felt like his own free will.

He couldn't tell the difference between what he'd wanted and what Loki had. Couldn't meet the eyes of his friends. Couldn't trust his reactions no matter how much Fury and Rogers did. Couldn't even trust Natasha had fully gotten Loki out and he'd never doubted Natasha. And couldn't talk with Coulson ever again.

"Do you want to go?" Natasha nudged him slightly.

"I--" he hesitated.

"Pretend you're talking to me," she said, deadpan, and Clint actually cracked a smile before taking a slow deep breath, giving himself time to find the words.

"I don't want to be here. Just for a while." That all came out in a low-voiced rush.

"You know Fury wants you back. Whenever you get there." That Natasha would wait as long as it took didn't even need to be said.

Clint closed his eyes tight for a moment, knowing he'd be different once he told the doctors yes, once he gave in. There'd be no armor or bow to hide behind. No mission. No Avengers. No Natasha. Nothing but him, quiet, and the people who'd try to mend his broken wings.

He was a SHIELD agent, he was Hawkeye, he was strong, he didn't need--

Natasha deliberately caught his eyes when she saw him firming his chin stubbornly, and he had to look away first.

"I'm so tired," he said, dropping his head. Natasha leaned against him, shoring him up.

"That's all right, Clint."

He let himself sag against her, and wondered how it would feel to be able to rest. A damn sight better than he did now. A damn sight better.

"Yeah," he whispered. "Maybe it will be."