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Rules of Courting

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For all that the original basis for the friendship was a mixture of being the only breakable people around and snarking at former KGB brainwashed assassins (those came in pairs, apparently), Clint turned out to be soft and sweet when it came to romance. He’d blushed, honest to god flush of red on his cheeks, when he asked Sam out.

He’d seemed sure Sam would say no which was both incredibly dense and amazingly sweet.

"I just thought—" Clint tried to explain later over dinner (just the two of them, no teammates, nobody knew where they were going, cross-their-fingers no aliens tonight). He bit his lip a little, trying to find the words. "I just thought—you spend all your time with Captain America."

"Yeah," said Sam, still staring at Clint’s mouth because it had gone a bit pink where he’d bitten it. "Yeah, Steve. Right."

"And he’s, you know," Clint said, waving a hand vaguely. "He’s all that.”

"And a bag of chips?" asked Sam, kicking Clint under the table. "I don’t want to date Steve, you know."

"Everybody wants to date Steve," said Clint darkly.

Sam frowned. “Hey, man, if you want to date Steve—”

"No, god, no," said Clint. "I…um. I want to date you.” He started to play with the edge of the table cloth.

"Good," said Sam, grinning. "That works out well for both of us."

And he leaned in to kiss Clint—this was the perfect moment to kiss Clint—when the front window of the restaurant exploded.

He leaned back and sighed. Clint smirked.

"Check please!"


Sam pressed the button in the elevator for Clint’s floor and then screamed like a small, terrified child when the Black Widow spoke up from above him.

"I don’t see flowers," she said.

"JESUS CHRIST," said Sam vehemently.

"You should leave now and buy him flowers," she said, swinging down from the panel she’d opened in the ceiling of the moving elevator. “He likes flowers.”

"Why would I buy him flowers?" Sam asked, trying to get his breath back.

She narrowed her eyes. “Are you saying Clint doesn’t deserve flowers?” She took a menacing step towards him.

"I didn’t know he liked flowers!”

She didn’t even blink. Sam didn’t think she’d blinked this entire time. Jesus.

"He does." Without breaking eye contact, she pushed a series of buttons on the elevator and it abruptly started going downwards, back to street level. "Something purple."

"I could have guessed that much," said Sam, resigned.

Sorry, delayed by deadly Russians and flowers, he texted Clint.

The response came quickly. It happens.


Clint had two purple t-shirts without bloodstains or dog drool on them. One was even his. He held one in each hand and weighed his options.

"Son, just don’t," said Steve, leaning against the doorframe. "Those are not date appropriate shirts."

"What, I—who said—what even—" Clint stammered, clutching the two shirts to his chest in a weird impulse to cover his nipples in front of Captain America.

"You can do better than this, surely," said Steve, plucking one of the purple t-shirts out of his hands. "Don’t you own a button-up?"

"I…what?" Clint said. "I don’t think so?"

"Show some respect for Sam," Steve said in the same voice he had used to tell Doom about Truth Liberty and Justice only three hours before. "Dress to impress."

"Don’t…say that," Clint said weakly. He sighed. "I can’t go on my date?"

"Not dressed like a homeless teenager," Steve agreed.

"I could borrow—" Clint started to say and then looked closer at Steve’s shirt. "Yeah, I can’t borrow your clothes, can I?"

Steve glowered. “You could try.”


"I’d like to make a reservation for 7 o’clo—-" Sam said and then all sound on the other side of the line fizzled and went dead. "Hello?"

"I apologize, sir," said JARVIS through Sam’s cell. "I have been instructed to discontinue your phone call."


"Mr. Stark has informed me that your taste, and I quote, ‘sucks balls,’" JARVIS said primly. "He would prefer you choose a better restaurant for your date with Agent Barton."

Sam pinched the bridge of his nose. “Does he have any suggestions?”

"Funny you should ask, he’s on the line with La Tour d’Argent at the moment making you a reservation at the chef’s table."

"JARVIS, give it to me straight: is this restaurant even in this city?"

There was a brief pause.

"Unfortunately, no." JARVIS did seem apologetic, but only slightly. "Mr. Stark has also given instructions for his private jet to be fueled and ready for departure within the hour."

"…his jet," said Sam tonelessly.


"So we’re leaving the country."

"It would appear so."

Sam looked up at the ceiling.

"Fine," he said. This was his world now. "But you have to tell Clint."

He could hear Clint swear from the bathroom where he had been in the shower.

"BUT I’M HUNGRY NOW,” Clint shouted through the door.