Title: And Time Yet
Length: 885 words
Summary: from Stark Tower to shawarma.
Author Note: Title from The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock by T S Elliot, shawarma picture that partly inspired this fic is at the end, spoilers for The Avengers film.
Natasha finds Clint on the pinnacle of Stark Tower, crouching at the edge and aiming his single remaining arrow at a number of targets below, shifting his position repeatedly and favouring his left leg. She strolls over to sit next to him with her feet dangling over the brink. She doesn’t bother making any noise to alert him and he doesn’t bother acknowledging her; each of them is already aware of the other and equally aware that the other is aware of them.
Following his line of sight she can see Stark on the balcony underneath them demonstrating some device that removes his armour to Bruce. Thor joins them, which means that SHEILD must finally have shown up to take Loki (and Selvig probably) away, relieving Thor of bad guy minding duty. Steve follows, dropping one hand onto Thor’s shoulder and then letting it fall.
“I do not like leaving my brother with those people,” says Thor, his booming voice easily reaching Natasha’s ears despite the distance.
She reads Stark’s lips as he replies with words to the effect that none of them are happy about it, but that Loki should have too much of a headache to cause much trouble for the time it takes Thor to have something to eat, and then Steve and Stark apparently offer to help Loki on his way back to Asgard. Something about the cube needing to be beyond temptation (Steve) and something about eternal, mythic punishment (Stark).
“We would not be so cruel,” Thor states, but he smiles and his posture is less dejected.
Next to her Clint aims at each of them in turn, over and over.
He could easily take out Stark, who’s all too human and vulnerable without the suit. She suspects that the super solider serum would allow Steve to move out of the way in time, but he seems tired and if he were hit even the serum probably wouldn’t cure an arrow to the head. She’s checked the Hellicarrier footage for anything that shows Loki, so she’s seen him telling Thor that he can be killed, but she wouldn’t place a bet on a simple pointy object doing the trick.
Bruce, she knows, would be fine. It’s Clint who wouldn’t be, once the other guy came out to play.
Clint turns and the tip of an arrow brushes Natasha’s hair back from her face. For a moment, with an arrow at her temple and air beneath her feet, something inside her settles, stills, and Natasha closes her eyes to savour it.
Then Clint lowers his bow and she opens her eyes to watch him in her peripheral vision as he relaxes the string.
“We’re going for shawarma,” she tells him.
Clint raises his eyebrows.
“Well, we do need to eat and the Captain says we kind of owe Stark.”
“I reckon it’s Tony who owes Steve for not ordering that portal closed long before his metal ass had a chance to fall back through it,” says Clint, reaching back to slot the arrow in his quiver.
“Steve can chose where we eat next time then.”
Natasha tilts her head to look at him properly and she’s not entirely sure what he sees on her face, because he always seems to see more than what she shows to the world, but he lets out a quiet sigh and says, “So, Avengers Initiative.”
“Shawarma,” she repeats, but she knows what he means.
They go for food, walking through destruction to get there and being stared at the whole way, which Natasha blames on their uniforms. Bruce is wearing normal clothes, but he’s filthy and his outfit looks as borrowed as it is. Tony, in his own clothes, that were dirt (if not sweat) free beneath the suit, wouldn’t stick out if only he weren’t Tony Stark. Steve looks the least uncomfortable about the eyes on them and Clint the most, neither of which surprises her.
She’d like to have changed into something less conspicuous and a shower would be fantastic, but right now she just wants to be away from SHIELD and everyone else, and she suspects that the others feel the same.
Steve and Thor eat more than Natasha thought humanly possible, but then neither of them are exactly human, and it’s not like the rest of them spare any breath for talking. Even Tony is quieter than she’s ever experienced. Steve keeps a hand up to cover his mouth, trying to hide how much he’s yawning, and she’s pretty sure that Bruce meant to put salt on his pita instead of sugar.
Clint shifts sideways on his seat, trying to find some room to stretch out his left leg, and Natasha moves forward, creating space behind her, before leaning down and lifting his leg up onto her chair. She doesn’t look at him, because she doesn’t need to, instead focussing on Tony across the table and arming herself with a glare for his inevitable comments (and anybody else’s for that matter), but Tony still doesn’t say anything and doesn’t seem to have noticed with his head tilted back, staring at the ceiling.
Natasha turns a little, pressing her leg firmly against Clint’s, eats her shawarma, and tries to pretend that this isn’t the most relaxed she’s felt in years.
Author Note 2: Partly inspired by this still from the second extra scene at the end of the film, picture from celebutopia.net, for those of us outside the US: