Pairings/Characters: Thor Odinson, Tony Stark, Clint/Phil, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, Bruce Banner
Continuity: The Avengers (2012)
Genres: Action, Angst, Drama, Hurt/Comfort, Slice-Of-Life
Summary: Thor takes care of his teammates after an arduous battle leaves one of them in the S.H.I.E.L.D. Medical Center in grave condition.
Date Of Completion: March 13, 2014
Date Of Posting: March 17, 2014
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Marvel and Paramount do, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 2557
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Note: Written for this prompt by arwen_lune on avengerkink.
The chatter over the Avengers’ comms was sarcastic yet steady despite the increasingly chaotic battle. Thor appreciated his teammates’ methods of handling the craziness that was their lives, though he had seen crazier in his long lifetime.
“Hawkeye, bandit at four o’clock,” Iron Man snapped.
Thor could see the stalwart Captain America leading the charge on the ground as the Black Widow aimed expertly with one of her deadly pistols. The Hulk was smashing his way through an old, abandoned warehouse to get to the pier as they fought the creatures from Valmere, resembling sea serpents as they splashed enormous tails and created huge waves in the harbor. One of the serpents had sent the Hulk flying into the building and was now trying to swat Iron Man with its tail.
The scene could only happen on Earth, Thor thought wryly. He threw Mjolnir at one of the creatures, its howl satisfying to his ears, but the battle was far from over.
When it was all over, five weary Avengers stumbled back to the Tower. Clint was in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s medical center, hooked up to machines in the I.C.U. Phil was by his side, barely recovered after what Loki had done to him.
Thor immediately went for a shower, pleased at the Midgardian technology that made cleaning up so easy. He dressed in a cobalt-blue sweatshirt and jeans, letting his wet hair dry naturally. He slid his bare feet into comfortable old slippers and trotted out to the living room.
He was dismayed to see his teammates sitting around in a daze, still in costume and Bruce only half-clothed. Thor said gently, “You should get into a hot shower, my friends. You will be revived just like that!” He snapped his fingers.
Tony half-smiled. “I guess you’re right.” He was out of his armor but was rumpled and sweaty. He stood and headed for his room.
They were all worried about Clint, but Natasha especially so. She did stand up from the couch and head for her quarters. Bruce followed her, so tired that he had to hold onto the wall as he stumbled down the hall. She paused and waited for him to catch up, putting his arm around her shoulders to help him to his quarters.
Steve was blaming himself for Clint’s injury. He sat stiffly on the couch, staring down at his clasped hands. Thor went to his side and gently placed a hand on Steve’s shoulder. The captain looked up.
“It will be all right, Shieldbrother.”
Steve smiled slightly. “I think I’ll go take that shower.”
“Good, and then come to the kitchen. The others, too.”
By the time the team entered the kitchen, freshly-showered and dressed in comfortable clothes, Thor was chopping celery as a big pot of chicken stock simmered on the stove.
“Have a seat,” Thor invited.
“Can we help?” Steve asked.
“Surely. Chop some onions.”
“What about me?” Natasha asked, running a hand through her hair.
“I have chicken defrosted in the refrigerator. Please take it out and cube it.”
“Hey, how about me?” asked. Tony.
“Set the table?”
“No cooking?” Tony pouted.
“You’re a great chemist, Tony, but you can’t boil water without burning it,” Bruce teased. “Would you like to add some red peppers, Thor?”
Thor nodded. “A good addition, friend Bruce. Midgard truly has the finest spices and hot peppers in all the Nine Realms.”
Bruce smiled and took out the red peppers, chopping them quickly on the cutting board.
“Now, my friends, all into the pot.”
Each Avenger poured their ingredients into the shiny pot. The stock bubbled as Thor added carrots and potatoes.
“If you like spices, how about oregano?” Natasha asked.
“I approve,” said Thor.
After all the ingredients were added, the soup simmered on the stove. Thor brewed up some hot tea for them while they waited, Bruce approving of his choice of chamomile. Thor presented a plate of gingersnaps as a light appetizer.
It was quiet around the table. Even with hot showers, everyone was bruised and battered and worrying about Clint. Thor stirred the soup and used his cellphone with his free hand.
“Yes, this is the God of Thunder. I wish to know the condition of Agent Barton.” He listened for a minute, then said, “Thank you.” He broke the contact and informed his colleagues, “No change.”
There was no comment, but Thor could clearly see the depression hanging over his teammates. “The soup is ready.” He ladled out bowls and put out a basket of warm bread fresh from the oven with butter in a side dish.
“On Asgard, after a battle and the wounds are cleaned and dressed, a light repast is served before sleep.” He refrained from mentioning that if the battle was a victory, there would be a great feast to celebrate, but only after any funerals that were necessary. With Clint so injured, he did not want to dwell on funerals. “I have found it to be a replenishing routine.”
Despite their weariness, the Avengers were also hungry. They ate the stew and fresh bread and began to feel a little better. The silence, except for the clink of silverware, was not uncomfortable.
When they were finished, Natasha announced, “I’m going to the Med Center.”
Thor put a hand on her shoulder. “Let me go in your stead. You need your rest.” As Natasha was about to protest, he continued, “I know the way of vigils. You will do Clint and his beloved Phil no good if you collapse on your feet.”
Natasha stared at him, protest in every muscle of her body, then she jabbed a finger into his chest. “You call me if there’s any change.” She glanced up at the wall clock. “And I’ll be there as the sun rises in the morning, change or no change.”
Thor lightly squeezed her shoulder. “It is a deal.” He took his hand away. “The same for you, my friends. You will need your strength, at least for our friend Phil.”
He spoke to all of them but looked at Steve. The captain shifted uncomfortably but a mark of good leadership is to know when to relinquish command. A look passed between them. They were both battle-hardened Warriors and understood each other in ways that few here could.
The Avengers went off to bed, promising to go to the Medical Center with Natasha in the morning and extracting a promise from her to wake them up if she got a call from Thor.
Thor went back to the kitchen and cleaned it up. He put away the leftover stew and bread after putting portions in what Clint had informed him was called Tupperware. He put together a few more necessities, changed his slippers for socks and sneakers, tied his hair back and picked up Mjolnir. With his hammer placed in the bag with the Tupperware and other items, he was ready to go.
Once outside the Tower, Thor hailed a cab. The cabbie was a middle-aged man of some girth, Thor observed, and wore what Steve called an old-fashioned newsboy’s cap. He turned on the radio while Thor gazed out the window. He was not sure if had chosen to ride instead of fly because he was reluctant to find out Clint’s condition, or was just tired.
“The Battle of New York Harbor is over, but the clean-up continues. Numerous boats and warehouses were damaged, and owners are threatening to sue the Avengers.”
“Boy, that’s typical,” said the cabbie. “The Avengers save their butts, but now they’re gonna sue ‘em. No good deed goes unpunished.”
Thor raised an eyebrow. “A pithy saying.”
“Huh?” The cabbie slammed on the brakes as a car cut in front of him. “Hey, buddy, why dontcha get an eye test? Ya didn’t see me comin’? Sheesh!”
Thor regarded all of this with amusement. Humans were fragile, frustrating and fetching. He would never tire of this chaotic world.
He had directed the cabbie to the nondescript building that house S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Medical Center. Once there, he paid the cabbie and added a generous tip, proud of earning his own money as part of the Avengers Initiative.
“Thanks, bud!” The cabbie drove off while Thor went into the facility, using his Avengers card to open the door.
Inside it was quiet. Wounded S.H.I.E.L.D. agents were brought here and treated, and there were special units for I.C.U. and long-term care. Therapy rooms were equipped with the most advanced technology, some of it StarkTech.
Thor walked past the nurses’ station with its busy staff and monitors. A few nurses noted his presence but recognized him, so let him go into the I.C.U.
The ever-present beeping of machines was the only sound in the cubicle. Phil Coulson sat by the bed as Clint lay motionless, hooked up to the machines.
It is good that I came. Phil does not look well.
Phil was holding Clint’s hand and staring down at his lover. He seemed unaware of Thor’s presence, but the Asgardian knew better.
“I come to sit vigil with you, Son of Coul,” said Thor, using the title as a gesture of honored respect and because whenever he did, Phil would smile. A tiny smile curved the agent’s lips now.
“I welcome your presence, Thunder God.”
It was Thor’s turn to smile. He pulled up a chair next to Phil. “It is time for your medicines.”
The lines of pain etched around Phil’s eyes and mouth underscored his need for his pills. Thor went to get water, and Phil gratefully swallowed down his pills.
“I have some stew for you. I will have it heated up in that wonderful invention called a microwave, and then you will rest in the next bed.”
“No arguments. Clint needs you strong, not in a hospital bed, too.”
Phil remained silent. When Thor returned with the warm stew and bread, he ate it and allowed Thor to help him into bed afterwards without protest. That indicated how unwell he felt, otherwise he never would have acquiesced. Out of all the stubborn Humans that Thor had come to know, Phil might have been the most intransigent.
Thor studied the machines. He had learned their uses and kept his eye on the blood pressure readings.
Clint looked peaceful as if he was sleeping instead of unconscious. His torso was bandaged and tubes ran from his arms and a cannula in his nose. A large bandage covered one side of his head.
The fragility of Humans scared him. In all the Nine Realms, the people of Earth had the shortest natural lifespans, except for the people of Regulas V, who attained adulthood at five years and were considered ancient at twenty-five.
That fragility made the Earth-dwellers’ courage all the more amazing in his mind. It was one thing to have the powers of a god or nearly be immortal, but it was quite another to be fragile and short-lived but throwing oneself into the heat of battle.
He studied Clint next. At least the grievous chest wounds left by one of the sea serpent’s talons had been treated, though the head wound gave everyone pause. Clint had not yet awakened, and every passing hour increased everyone’s anxiety.
Thor looked over at Phil, who had fallen into an exhausted sleep. He had two patients to keep his eye on.
Clint would be very angry if I allowed Phil to become ill from worry and wearing himself out keeping vigil.
He calmly ate a chocolate bar, assuaging his rumbling stomach. He recalled an ancient poem that the bards recited in the feasting halls of Asgard:
Of the Shield
Are too weak
To lift their heads
Or move their bodies,
They need care,
Whether by highest Prince
Or lowest soldier,
As the sun dips
Below the mountains,
When the Avengers arrived in I.C.U. with the rising of the sun as Natasha had promised, they found Thor and Phil eating breakfasts of scrambled eggs and buttered toast.
“No change,” said Phil.
Everyone was glad to see him eating, however, and Natasha sent Thor a silent Thank you.
“Breakfast sounds good to me,” Tony said. “C’mon, Steve, let’s get some food for this motley crew.”
Bruce checked the monitors and Natasha stood on the other side of the bed as she looked down at Clint. She reached out and touched his hair, then withdrew her hand after a moment.
“Have a seat, Natasha,” Phil said quietly as he sipped his apple juice.
She sat on a high stool, tangling her legs around the chair’s legs while crossing her arms. Bruce went out to the nurses’ station.
“He will be all right, ‘Tasha,” said Phil.
She said nothing as she remained still, but Thor had learned that her silence often spoke volumes.
The day was long and wearisome, but the Avengers kept up a quiet banter that offset the beeping machines. Keeping vigil was tedious work but necessary. A fellow Shieldbrother deserved no less.
Finally, after hours of light banter and worry, the machines’ beeping sounded different. Bruce looked up alertly and immediately stood as the others began to realize that something was happening.
“Talk to him, Phil. Bring him back,” Bruce urged.
Phil stood up on shaky legs and grasped the side railing. “Clint, come on, open those baby blues.” The onlookers could not help smiling. “C’mon, Clint, stop goldbricking. Time to come back to the world.” He touched the top of Clint’s head, mindful of the bandage that covered one side. “I’m here, Clint. Come on, time to come back to me.”
The Avengers held their breath as Phil continued his quiet entreaties. Finally, Clint’s eyes fluttered open. “Phil?” he rasped.
Clint focused on his lover. “License number.”
Thor worried that there might be a brain disorder, but Phil smiled. “Of the truck that hit you?”
Clint half-smiled. “Yeah.”
“The truck was a Valmerian sea serpent,” said Natasha dryly.
“Excuse me, we need to check the patient.”
A doctor and nurse had entered the room and Thor took the opportunity to quietly leave. His teammates no longer needed him and he was suddenly very tired. Carrying Mjolnir in his bag, he had a little trouble hailing a cab outside. Finally he caught one and gave the Avengers Tower address to the cabbie.
The ride to the Tower seemed very long, but Thor reasoned that his weariness was coloring his reactions.
He was glad when the cab arrived at its destination. Once he paid the cabbie, he gratefully entered the building and took the elevator up to the living quarters. When the doors opened, he was surprised to see Natasha standing in the small foyer.
How did she beat me back here? She must surely be a sorceress!
Natasha said nothing but took his arm and escorted him to his room. She turned down the bedcovers and he undressed. As a Warrior in the presence of another comrade-in-arms, he possessed no false modesty, though out of deference to her culture he left his boxer shorts on. He climbed into bed and Natasha pulled the blankets up over him. She rested her hand on his head for a moment, then silently left the room and shut off the light as Thor fell into a tired but contented sleep.