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All We Can Do (Is Keep Breathing)

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Clint counts.

He counts the seconds between each of Tony's breaths, he calculates the height of the rise and fall of his chest. He makes up an equation to figure out the angle of Phil's frown from where he's snuggled up on Tony's other side. His thumb rubs small circles next to cannula in Tony's arm, the tube carefully arranged so no one tugs on it while they snuggle up to him.

Tony breathes.

It's easier than before, Clint notes, still stroking the delicate skin. Tony always looks so fragile like this and it terrifies him. Even in his armor, he wasn't completely safe. Clint wished he could convince Tony to stay out of the fight, but what kind of hypocrite would he be if he did? He dips his head and kisses the skin of his shoulder, revealed by his hospital gown. They aren't in the hospital, no, but it made checking on his injuries much easier. They were home, in their bed, with Jarvis (and Calliope and Artemis) monitoring his vitals.

Phil thinks.

Clint's intimately familiar with that face of Phil's. He's doing his usual "what could I have done to prevent this" bedside face. One that Clint had put there far too often over the years. There was no blame in any direction, Phil was just assessing what had been done and what could have been done instead. Finding the best strategy for the future.

Clint  waits.

He's been waiting for almost 30 hours now for Tony to wake. He hasn't slept a wink and neither has Phil. Both of them know why, too, so there's no one to tell them to get some rest. They promised each other they'd keep watch so the other would sleep, but sheer stubbornness kept either of them from dropping off.

Tony pauses.

It's enough of a pause in breaths to cause alarm. Clint sits up and looks to Phil and back to Tony while Phil twists away, his hand hovering over the emergency call button as Clint softly counts. They had had some close calls earlier and knew to ten before slapping the button. At twenty, Phil's hand twitches, at twenty-one, Tony breathes again.

Phil sighs.

It relief and exhaustion and a million other things all wrapped in one. He settles back down on the bed and Clint reaches across to him. They thread their fingers together and squeeze firmly, their arms held over Tony's wounded torso. Clint tugs a little and kisses Phil's knuckles, shooting him an encouraging smile. Phil sits back up to kiss Clint, to gently nudge their noses together, to press their foreheads against the other and just breathe in unison, four of their breaths passing before Tony takes his next.

Clint swallows.

It's loud in the room and it doesn't stop the feelings churning in his gut. It doesn't stop him from wanting to cry and apologize because Tony's hurt because Clint didn't see someone and Tony played the human shield. The guilt rises and ebbs in waves that try to choke him like a rising tide every time he stops obsessively counting everything that has to do with Tony.

Tony twitches.

Just one finger, just the tiniest bit. Clint doesn't see, and Phil is too busy quietly comforting him to notice. His low whisper rasps out of his throat, raw from barking orders and screaming when the suit powered down and Tony began to fall. Despite his best efforts, a few tears slip out. Phil brushes them away with light fingers, and gentle lips. Clint calms fairly quickly and lays down next to Tony again, his nose tucked into Tony's soft hair. Phil mirrors him.

Phil murmurs.

Clint can hardly make out the words, they're low and right in Tony's ear. It sounds like bribery of sorts. Why he should wake up, how much they missed his smile and his voice. Please, Tony, please wake up. Clint nuzzled Tony's hair, his throat tight and his eyes threatening to leak again. He pulled back a little to lick his bottom lip, chewing on it. He mumbles a little bribery of his own.

Clint pecks.

It's a small, delicate kiss to the corner of Tony's eye, at the faint crow's feet there, after slowly tracing a path up his cheek with the tip of his nose. He curls his hand over Tony's bicep gently, rubbing circles with his thumb again as he just rests his lips against his temple. He can faintly feel Tony's pulse against his lips and it gives him the opportunity to place more gentle pecks against his skin.

Tony blinks.

He feels the flutter of Tony's lashes against his lips. His heart lurches painfully in his chest and he skims his fingers down Tony's arms to lace their fingers together. Tony's name is like a prayer on his lips, so full of hope and the return squeeze makes a lump for in his throat. He pushed up onto his elbow to beam down at Tony. The return smile is weak and tired but the best goddamn thing he's seen in days.

Phil smiles.

Tony isn't completely out of the woods yet, but he's awake and smiling as best he could with stitches near the corner of his mouth. They're all together and where they should be, in each other's arms. No better place than that.