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One Simple Fact

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Clint wasn't sure what to expect when his sister, Danielle, asked him to come by for a 'check up'. She adamantly REFUSED to do his physicals normally. Still, it was a chance to annoy his baby ("BY ONE MINUTE!") sister and how could he pass that up? Then she took him to one of the hospital rooms and told him to go in. He did not expect to find Phil Coulson, of all people, in there. He could only stare, wide-eyed, at the man he'd thought was dead.

How was this possible? Fury said-- wait, that explained it all right there! FURY! He'd said it to manipulate them into working together as a team. To avenge Coulson's death. Which hadn't really happened. So where did that leave them? He could only imagine the reactions from the others once they found out that Coulson was actually still alive. He wasn't sure WHAT he felt. Here he'd been mourning the fact that he'd never get to tell Coulson about his feelings for him, and now he was right here.

For once in his life, Clint was lost for words. He literally had NO IDEA what he should say. "It's good to see you" was underwhelming. "OMG YOU'RE ALIVE! THANK GOD!" was WAY too overwhelming. NOTHING he could think of was right. So he remained silent, just STARING at Coulson. When the agent gestured for him to come closer, he did so jerkily, all but falling into the chair next to the bed. Much to his horror, he felt tears filling his eyes. I can't cry! I'm Hawkeye!

Coulson didn't laugh, though. He just smiled gently and covered Clint's hand with his. "I'm very glad to see you, Clint." He squeezed gently. "Things just weren't the same around here without you." Much to Clint's horror, tears spilled down his cheeks as something wound tight inside his chest began to loosen. All the guilt and anger he'd directed at himself began to fade when it became clear that Coulson didn't blame HIM for being hurt so badly. He tried to stop the tears, but couldn't.

He buried his face in his hands, trying to hide the tears. Then Coulson's arms were around him, gently drawing him onto the bed. Before he knew it, he was curled up on the bed with Coulson, sobbing into his shoulder as all the sadness, anger, guilt, and other emotions he couldn't name poured out of him. He was dimly aware that Coulson was rubbing his back soothingly. He remained silent, though, as if he KNEW that words were useless in this case. They wouldn't make Clint feel better. This did.

By the time the torrent ended, Clint was exhausted. He rested against Coulson, his arms around him, listening to their breathing. This was kind of nice, to tell the truth. No pressure to talk because Coulson knew he didn't DO small talk. Unless he wanted to be annoying. Then he'd talk nonstop. He didn't WANT to annoy, though, so he remained quiet, his head nestled under Coulson's chin. There was so much he wanted to say, but it could wait. All that mattered was one simple fact: Coulson lives.

* * *

Coulson had badgered Fury into letting him at least telling Clint. He KNEW that Clint would blame himself for Coulson's death. He was the one who'd caused the explosion that made everything go to hell in a handbasket, even if it HAD been as one of Loki's flying monkeys. That would weigh heavily on Clint and Coulson didn't want that for him. He hadn't expected Clint to simply stand in the doorway, staring at him, utterly speechless for once. Coulson stared back, drinking in the sight of Clint.

Coulson watched as Clint realized EXACTLY how he could be alive and mostly well after Fury had said Coulson was dead. Both he and Fury were in for a lot of haranguing from the Avengers once the truth was widely known. Probably Fury more than him because he was the one who'd actually lied. And dipped Coulson's vintage Captain America trading cards into corn syrup and red food coloring. Coulson still couldn't believe that Fury had gone as far as that to make the lie that much more believable.

Though Clint's face didn't change, Coulson could see the emotions flickering, rapid-fire, in his blue eyes. Guilt was foremost, but he saw anger, sadness, and grief as well. He could almost SEE the wheels turning in Clint's brain, trying to decide what to say in the situation. While Coulson preferred to keep his quips to himself, Clint prided himself on being able to deliver just the RIGHT one in any situation. Finally, Coulson just gestured and Clint moved closer, sitting down in the nearby chair.

When he saw tears filling Clint's eyes, Coulson didn't laugh. He just covered Clint's hand with his and said, in his own way, that he'd missed Clint and that he didn't blame him at all for what Loki had made him do. Not surprisingly, the tears spilled down Clint's cheeks after that. Coulson still didn't laugh. He suspected that Clint hadn't LET himself cry yet, despite everything that he'd gone through ever since Loki had arrived on Earth. Clint NEEDED the catharsis of tears, more than anyone.

When Clint buried his face in his hands, Coulson gently yet insistently tugged Clint onto the bed with him. The part of him that'd long been in love with this man gave a crow of delight when Clint just curled up against Coulson as if it were perfectly natural. The rest of him just held Clint as he sobbed, rubbing his back and saying nothing. Words would be useless in this case. They wouldn't be a comfort to Clint. Coulson's presence, however, WAS and that was enough for both of them.

After the tears ended, they just lay together in the hospital bed, breathing together. Neither of them said anything. Coulson knew they had a lot to talk about, but he couldn't bring himself to break the comfortable silence. They didn't always need words and this was one of those times. It was enough to hold Clint and breathe in his scent. Coulson slowly drifted off to sleep with Clint in his arms, secure in the knowledge of a single truth: Fury lies.