“The thing about brains – ” he coughs out.
“Stop talking, Barton,” says Phil, who has enough to focus on already and doesn’t need Clint’s waxing philosophical on him.
“ – the thing about brains,” Clint continues as if he hasn’t spoken (and this, at least, is not at all out of the ordinary), “is that they have – they have this, like, kill switch, right – ”
He coughs again; this time there’s blood, but at this point that hardly matters anymore.
“I thought I told you to stop talking,” Phil says mildly, not making eye contact because he’s too focused on what his hands are (ineffectively) doing.
“Like, if you’re bleeding – ” he says like it’s a hypothetical, like the evidence isn’t spreading across the front of Phil’s (new) shirt, like it isn’t staining the ground around them and sticking Phil’s fingers to each other and colouring the pavement sickly crimson-copper tones – “then it’s like you don’t have – personal problems any more, you know? Brain’s got – priorities.”
“Apparently, not yours.”
“No, I – ”
He breaks off with a gasp as Phil does something he can’t see, and then there’s more blood (how much more does he have to lose, anyway? there can’t be that much left in him) that spatters across Phil’s wrists until he manages to pull off his tie (out of bandages, how can they be out of bandages, this is the Avengers they’re talking about, did no one packing the first-aid kits remember how much time they spend bleeding out onto the street?) and use it as a tourniquet.
“I think that’s all of them.”
“See, I don’t need to – prioritize. You do it – for me.”
“Barton, save your goddamn breath.”
“Priorities,” is all Clint says; it comes out raw and hoarse, and then he’s wrenching himself up off the ground (blood, all over Phil’s hands, jesus fuck, how can he still be bleeding) and one shaking hand is caught in Phil’s collar and Clint is almost pressing their lips together, except that his strength runs out before he gets there and it’s just a huff of breath across Phil’s skin before Clint falls back to the pavement and Phil’s barely fast enough to catch him before his head hits.
“… thing about brains…” he breathes out, and there are heavy footfalls behind Phil, people running, med techs finally on-site, he can let go, hand Clint over to them, go back to things that are actually in his job description, things that he knows how to handle, because God knows, Clint is not something Phil will ever know how to handle.
There are other people’s hands on Clint now, fresh bandages that aren’t soaked through and struggling to hold the torn shreds of him together, someone’s trying to loosen Clint’s arm from where it’s locked around Phil so that they can start fluid resuscitation, but first.
Phil leans forward, fingertips brushing Clint’s jaw to tilt his head up so that they can make eye contact, and it occurs to him that Clint has finally stopped talking.
“Priorities, Barton,” he says, and lets their lips touch gently for a moment.