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Holding tight to what remains

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“How many --?”

“Don’t,” she snaps, moving in close. Clint looks up at her with wide eyes that are the right shade of blue, pleading and horrified at what he’s done. “Don’t do that to yourself, Clint.”

She should tell him. Phil is dead, and it weighs on her heart and she can’t breath properly because she was almost crushed by a giant green monster that she couldn’t stop and she wants Phil and Clint to tell her that she’s fine and that everything will be fine, but Clint’s the only one left and there’s no time.

She doesn’t dare tell him. Not now. Not yet. A part of her says she’s only being practical. Telling him will just be a distraction that they can’t afford. Loki is opening his wormhole and they need Hawkeye to be at the top of his game (as on top of it as he can be after being mind-raped given the circumstances). Clint was closer to Phil than anyone, even her, and as good as he is, there’s no way he can keep himself together with that knowledge over his head.

She’s self-aware enough to know the real reason she keeps silent. She’s already lost Phil, the steady voice over the comms that never steered her wrong, the handler that never betrayed her, never made her feel like anything less than a person, human. If she tells Clint now, she knows with everything she is, everything they were, that he would not walk away at the end of this fight. Clint would go in willing to die because as important as Phil was to her, he was Clint’s world, and Clint is all that’s left of hers. Phil was the one who vouched for her with Fury, but Clint was the one to convince them both that she was still human enough to change.

So she says nothing.