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Just for Once

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Bucky finds Clint on the side of a highway, head slumped in between his legs and the bouquet of flowers drooping from his slack hold. He looks the worse out of the two; his suit torn into pieces - half of the pants after the ankle were missing and the right sleeve was entirely gone. The white shirt looked as if it had gone through a shredder itself and the tie was no longer there.

Bucky fared better than the two. His suit was only torn at the sleeve that was worn by his metal arm and there were small tears at his pants from the claws of the mechanical monstrosities they had just finished fighting. Bucky's just grateful the team came in just in time to finish off with AIM's latest creation otherwise Clint probably would've been far gone.

Or not. Something tells him that it could've taken him an hour and Clint would still be here, sitting alongside the highway alone.
Bucky huffs; he's definitely going to make his priority to rip AIM a new one when he gets the chance.

He moves making sure his footsteps are loud against the pavement. He knows Clint wouldn't take out his hearing aids outside but the last thing he wants is to startle him when he's most likely lost in his thoughts. It takes longer than Bucky likes to admit for him to decide to screw the official way of sitting -the suit making it more difficult than it should to sit down- and lets himself plop to the ground. If Clint had been his usual self, he would've laughed and called him an old man but he isn't. He doesn't even twitch and this leaves Bucky at a standstill.

In the three weeks that they've been dating, Clint has always been animated - in the way he talks, in his facial expressions, in everything. Everything opposite of what Bucky was and he's not so sure what to do here. Clint was the one with the pep talks; the one comforting him whenever he was in a particular mood with his silly quips and soft smile.

So he waits. Waits for anything that might give him an opening, waits to see if Clint will speak up first. But he doesn't so it’s up to him. He goes to speak -to say that everything is okay.

"So much for the suits." He says instead and dammit, that was not what he intended to say. Bucky glares at the ground and flexes his hand (it’s a habit he picks up, something to keep his hands busy when he's having trouble with anything difficult). This was easier before. When his mind wasn't a broken mess and emotions were much more easier understood than used as a tactic to take someone down.

Clint doesn't move. Bucky squeezes his hands close and tries again. "I liked the flowers." His voice comes out too rough and he forces himself to open his hands in fear that he'll tear through the skin and bleed if he squeezes anymore. This is getting him nowhere. He always knows what to say to Steve because it's, well, it's Steve. But this is Clint, his...boyfriend and he should know how to be there for him. He should know this.

There's a sound and it takes him a while to realize that it was Clint mumbling something. He lets out a breath he hadn't realized he was holding and this, this was good. He was relieved. It meant that he had done something good and it was a step closer to getting hi- Clint back to his normal self.

He clears his throat and says, "What?" and waits.

"I'm beginning to think the world doesn't want us to be together." It's still low but Bucky hears every word clearly and he feels his heart drop. Clint continues speaking, his voice getting louder but Bucky hears none of it.

It was too true to be good. The few weeks of getting to know him, to find someone to be at peace with, who understood him. To the three weeks that he's been so blissful with once he had let himself have this, it was all fake.

So he closes his hands, digs deep into the skin, musters his strength and turns to look at Barton. "Then if you don't want it, we can end this."

Clint flinches as if someone slapped him.

"What?" He says, blue eyes wide. "No! That's not- no that- Aww, mouth, noo." He's rambling now but Bucky keeps still, doesn't let the emotions show.

Clint groans and rubs a hand over his face. He looks older now, stress taking its toll on him. "No, James, I don't want to break up with you. I was just saying," He moves and reaches to take a hold of Bucky's hands but he thinks against it- must see the defensiveness in his stance- and moves his hand back on his lap. "Just speaking out of my ass again, okay. I promise." He says and there's a small smile on his face. It's not him entirely, but its progress so Bucky lets himself relax a bit.

"So what is it? I'm trying," to help, he wants to say. "To understand." He says instead and Clint sighs.

"I'm just upset! Every time we try to do something or go on a date, it gets messed up by idiots who have nothing better to do. Two weeks ago, it was AIM again with freaky tentacle monsters. Three DAYS ago, it was Hulk and The Thing destroying our pizza place. OUR pizza place. Do you know how hard it was to explain to Lucky how he wasn't going to get his pepperoni pizza from-"

Bucky huffs, but there's a small grin on his face. "I thought this was about us." He says and Clint splutters, his arms flailing everywhere. There's his Clint.

"It is! I just, I just wanted something special this time around. You know, the whole wooing and properly taking you out thing." Clint finishes and then he remembers the flowers in his hand. "Aw, flowers, noo."

The face Clint makes is just enough for Bucky to laugh and he's so relieved; so happy. It wasn't fake, it was real, it was his.

Clint frowns and smacks Bucky in the chest with the flowers. "It's not funny, jerk. This is a real issue. I want to be able to date you without having weird mechanical robot hybrids getting in the way of our dates."

Bucky grins wider now and grabs onto the hand on his chest with flowers and holds it there. He likes it; hearing the man who holds feeling for him want to date him. "I've never been one to let things stop the fun. Pretty sure we got a full hour or two before Steve and his booty call decides to look for us."

Clint blinks. "Oh shit, we forgot to tell them we were leaving."

Bucky shrugs. "You forgot. I didn't tell 'em."

Clint rolls his eyes. "We got a badass over here. Even if it wasn't over, we're in ripped clothes in the middle of nowhere with only a messed up bouquet."

Bucky pauses. He's not wrong but, "All I'm hearing, doll, is there's less clothes to remove."

Clint mouth drops and Bucky loses it.

"Stop. Laughing! This is a forest in the middle of nowhere! We are not- that's not-" He's rambling again and Bucky feels himself falling for the archer all over again.

"We go now and we can be done before Steve and Stark catch us. Why? You aren't afraid of a challenge right?" Bucky asks and Clint stops short and then he's smirking right him.

"Can't deny a challenge. Scout's honor."

---

"I can't. Oh my god I'm gonna pee myself."

Bucky glares, stomping his way into the communal kitchen of the tower. "Shut up." He growls out but Clint is too busy dying of laughter to hear him.

"That-" Wheeze. "Was so." Wheeze. "Fucking perfect. How you just fell straight into the mud." Bucky's glare deepens and he tugs at a strand of his hair caked in mud.

"It's not funny, punk. If you keep laughing, I'm leaving you." Bucky says but there's no fire in it. He hasn't heard Clint laugh so hard in a long time. It's leaving him breathless.

"Nah, you won't." Clint says and swoops in to kiss him, mud and all.

He's right; he won't.

---

Steve and Stark walk in a few seconds after that and the look on their faces makes Clint start laughing all over again.

Maybe this day wasn’t so bad after all.