“Hey, Clint. Just checking on you before we get on the plane.”
“Awh, Captain America cares about little old Hawkeye. How sweet,” Clint replies, pushing the fridge door shut with his bare foot. He can almost feel the aura of menace coming from behind him as he does it, but he ignores it in favour of taking a swig out of the half-empty carton of orange juice. It tastes stale. Well, as stale as orange juice can be. He wonders if the Chinese from a few days ago is still edible. Probably not, but he’s going to eat it anyway. “Where are you and Nat headed next? Bosnia?”
“Uzbekistan,” Steve answers, sounding resigned. “There’s been rumours, but I don’t know how reliable the information is.”
“Well, it might be a nice holiday anyway,” Clint reasons, setting the carton down on the counter. “What food do they have in Uzbekistan?”
“I don’t know, I ate boiled things for most of my life before now, I’m hardly a foodie,” Steve replies mildly, and Clint grins because he’s sassy. It’s cute.
“Alright. See you around, yeah?”
“Yeah.” A pause. “I’m going to find him, Clint.”
“Maybe he’ll get his head out of his ass and find you,” Clint says, and a balled-up piece off paper bounces off of his nose. He raises his middle finger in the direction it’d been thrown from without looking and kicks the paper under the cupboards where he can forget about it for the next few months. Steve sighs over the phone, and he sounds tired. Clint feels bad for him. They’ve been gallivanting around the world for months, searching and searching and coming up with nothing. It’s like their quarry had just vanished into thin air.
Of course, there was a good reason for that.
“Okay. Talk to you soon.”
“Yup. I’ll be here. Say hi to Sam for me. Don’t eat spicy street meat or you’ll end up on the can for a week.”
He sets the phone down when Steve hangs up, squints at it. There’s a hairline crack right at the bottom, next to the back button. Shit. He can’t be bothered buying another one- and anyway, if he gets a new phone he’ll have to redo all the levels on Gardenscapes, and it’s not worth it. He’ll crush that butler’s smug face in if he has to fight through level one hundred and forty-two again. He lets out a resigned huff and turns around to reach for the orange juice. Just before his fingertips close around it, a knife slams into the wood of the countertop, just missing slicing into his skin. Clint doesn’t flinch, just turns what’s probably not a very intimidating look onto his unwanted house-guest, who’s glaring. Clint had to teach him what the buttons on the television remote meant, though, so he’s completely unaffected by the murderous stare.
“I just put the polyurethane varnish on this, what the fuck is wrong with you? I know you were brainwashed for like, seventy years, but that doesn’t mean you can just go around and throw knives at people, Barnes. Didn’t Hydra teach you any manners?”
“Stop drinking out the carton, that’s disgusting,” the former Winter Soldier snaps back. “How can you even talk about fuckin’ manners when you’re doing shit like that?”
“It’s my goddamn juice!”
“What if someone else wants orange juice?”
“No one else comes here!” Clint throws his hands up in the air. “No one else knows I even own this property, except for someone who broke in here a few weeks ago because he’s too chickenshit to talk to his boyfriend!”
“My b- my boyfriend?”
That derails the argument entirely, and Bucky’s face scrunches up with clear disgust. It’s quite comical, really, and Clint forgets he’s angry in favour of snickering at his expression. He gets a truly offended stare for his efforts, which makes him laugh more. Bucky’s definitely gotten more comfortable in the last week, less scared and broken and more snark and razor-sharp wit. Clint likes it- he didn’t know how to deal with the empty stares and the pacing during the night. He knows how to deal with this, though, because he’s painfully familiar with the act of pretending you’re alright until it stops feeling like an act. Bucky makes a face at him and takes a swig of the beer sitting by his knee.
Clint points at it first, then back at Bucky with an accusing finger. “And you steal my beer, too. I could forgive the breaking and entering, but my beer, man? Come on.”
“I’m also wearing your pants,” Bucky adds nonchalantly.
That takes Clint’s mind in directions he didn’t want it to go in, because Bucky somehow managed to find the only pair of skinny jeans that he possesses and they fit like an absurdly sexy, tight glove. It’s made worse by the way he sits, with his long legs sprawled out in a way that’d look awkward and ridiculous on Clint but somehow manages to look graceful on Bucky. He tries not to look too hard at those thighs, because damn. Steve’s a lucky man, and Clint’s a little jealous. Oh, man, he needs to get laid. It’s too bad the only people around the Barton farm for miles is the old couple who grow massive cabbages and a formerly brainwashed assassin who’s completely off-limits. He may as well have red tape labelled keep out on him, as far as Clint’s concerned.
He lets out a sigh and flops down on the couch next to him. There’s a quiet lull while he gets comfortable, and then Bucky shifts a tiny bit closer. Clint’s a fairly touch-positive person, and he can’t imagine what it’s like having seventy years of just scientists prodding him, so he doesn’t call Bucky out on the movement. He's figured it out over the last few weeks. Bucky’s like a cat in the sense that he tends to gravitate towards whatever warm spots there are in the room- sometimes the chair by the window in the morning, sometimes with his hands wrapped around a mug of coffee, but mostly up against Clint, shoulders brushing the way they are now. Clint really doesn't mind, but he's also painfully aware he's probably not the person Bucky wishes he was cuddling up to.
“He misses you, you know,” he says.
Bucky grimaces. “He misses his best friend from the thirties, not… this.”
Clint taps his fingers against the metal of Bucky’s left hand idly. It’s meant to be a comforting gesture, and Bucky lets him do it, although he looks down at the arm like it’s dangerous to touch. Clint’s not particularly worried about that- if he was going to attack, he would’ve done it by now. It’s been what, six weeks? Something like that, and so far Bucky’s been more prone to hurting himself than he has been to hurting Clint. He’s not concerned anymore. And once Natasha finds out he’s been hiding Barnes here, it might count as a mercy killing anyway.
“You can be Bucky Barnes and the Winter Soldier at the same time, you know,” he comments. “You’re not the ladykiller from the thirties, sure, but you’re not really a stranger either. Give him a chance to love you as you are without just writing him off.”
“Aren’t you under mental health review from SHIELD? I’m not sure I trust your judgement,” Bucky replies.
“Weirdly enough, I think I might be the most sane Avenger,” Clint shrugs. “Steve jumps out of planes without a parachute, Tony’s a hot mess, I’m fairly sure Thor lets his brother stab him on several occasions, and Bruce thinks yoga is an acceptable hobby.”
“What about the Widow?”
“You couldn’t pay me to say a bad thing about Natasha, she’s my girl,” he says. “But I will say that she sleeps with two handguns and four knives, and that’s a bit excessive.”
“You sleep with your bow,” Bucky answers, unimpressed.
“I do,” Clint agrees. He also sleeps with a knife under his pillow, but Bucky doesn’t need to know that. “She’s a nice bow, and there’s no awkward conversations about our relationship status or arguments about who’s the little spoon.”
Bucky grunts rather than actually replying verbally, and his hair brushes Clint’s bare shoulder. He’s listing sideways like he can’t help it, and it’s kind of hilariously endearing how obviously he wants physical contact and affection. Clint takes pity on him and gives into the urge to settle his arm over Bucky’s shoulders, letting his fingertips rest on the fabric of his borrowed t-shirt. He’s almost expecting a half-hearted complaint, but the brunet just settles in close and goes back to watching the television, which boosts Clint’s ego a little. Who would’ve guessed the scary old Winter Soldier would be so comfortable with Human Disaster Clint Barton? Not him. Maybe there’s some comfort in knowing they’re both fucked up beyond repair.
Steve should be here, though, cuddling Bucky, and that thought makes him frown. He still hasn’t figured out why Bucky chose to come here rather than stay on the run or go for the Avengers Tower or something. Clint had just been hanging out by himself, rebuilding the old Barton farm and minding his own business, and now he’s got a half-frozen former assassin nearly in his lap. Not that he’s complaining by any stretch of the imagination, but… there’s got to be a reason behind it, surely. His thumb brushes a bumpy scar on Bucky’s shoulder and traces over the healed skin absently. Knife wound, probably. He wonders if it was Hydra’s doing or if he had it before all that, protecting Steve.
God, Steve. He’s a bad person, and he can’t quite stop himself from touching Bucky.
“What’re you thinking about? I can almost see the smoke coming out your ears,” Bucky mutters, and his breath’s warm on Clint’s skin.
“I’ll make you sleep in the barn, Barnes,” he replies. “Don’t test me.”
“You won’t. You offered to sleep on the couch when I showed up,” comes the answer, and Clint grimaces because he’s right, but does he have to be so blatant about it? And that’s another problem- they’re sharing a bed, because the guest bedroom’s full of Barney’s stuff that he left here years ago, and Clint can’t throw it away. He wants to, god, he wants to set it all on fire and tell Barney to go straight to hell, but he can’t. But that’s not the point. The point is that this would be fine except it means that Clint wakes up every morning with the former Winter Soldier curled up against him, messy-haired and oddly vulnerable in the morning light, and it’s too much for his poor fried brain. They never actually cleared him from therapy after the Loki thing, so maybe he can plead insanity, because the truth is that he’s a fucking disaster.
The truth is that he kind of likes Bucky Barnes, the snark and the not-so-stealthy cuddling and the theft of half of his wardrobe, and he’s glad Bucky doesn’t want to talk to Steve because if he talks to Steve then Clint loses this. But he also really needs Bucky to go, because he’s having feelings and that’s never a good thing in his experience.
“I’m making you help with the chickens tomorrow,” he says, trying to ignore all the thoughts swirling around in his head.
Bucky grunts and turns his face into Clint’s chest like he can hide two hundred and-something pounds of supersoldier in the fabric of an old Cobra Starship shirt. It’s cute, but he’s gotten wise to the subtle manipulation of the former Fist of Hydra, and he’s not getting out of it that easily. Clint hooks his fingers in the soft mess of Bucky’s hair and tugs lightly, enough to get his point across, that the ruse doesn’t mean he gets out of getting up at ass o’clock in the morning to feed those worryingly aggressive hens.
“They bite,” Bucky says pitifully, and Clint refrains from laughing. “Can’t we just cook them?”
“And then what would I do with the farm? You have a fucking metal cyborg arm sewn in on your body, you can handle giving Carol her breakfast. I’ll even bribe you, I’ll make pancakes.”
“I’m not sure I want you cooking, you might poison us both and there's no hospital for miles,” Bucky answers dryly. “What if I do breakfast and you take care of the demon birds?”
“You can cook?”
“You thought I’d let Steve cook? Fuck no, he can burn water. Yes, I can cook.”
“Alright, deal,” Clint agrees. He doesn’t comment on the Steve thing- he’s a little scared to, at this point. “I’ll wrangle Carol and her horde, and you can be a good little housewife.”
Bucky makes a disgruntled noise but doesn’t even make the effort to move to hit him for that comment, and Clint’s heart melts inside his ribs a little. He’s warm against Clint’s side, not quite boneless but relaxed enough considering he’d paced nonstop for the first week, and he’s watching the television with Clint’s hand still in his hair. There’s a advertisement for some kind of plastic rainbow fish that wiggles in the water on the screen, and he snorts, more to himself than to Clint, amused. It’s comfortable- normal, even, which is a little shocking. Clint didn’t think he was allowed normal anymore, not since-
The world shifts and he suddenly remembers the way Bobbi used to sit with him and watch Law & Order, how she’d make him sit on the floor between her knees and patch him up, lecturing the whole time. How he was an idiot that took too many risks and all that shit Clint never really listened to, even when he hadn’t needed his hearing aids. The antiseptic always burned but it was nice. Clint’s stomach lurches at the reminder, and the first white thread of panic winds up his spine. He’s not allowed to make this more than it is, he can’t, it’ll get fucked up and twisted just like his relationship with Bobbi. He stands up on wobbly knees, pushing Bucky away, and Bucky backs off immediately, eyes wide and startled. He looks worried, and Clint waves him off with hands that he hopes like hell aren’t shaking.
“Shower,” he supplies, quickly, and then he flees to the bathroom without waiting for a reply.
Once he’s safely in the confines of the white tiled walls, he lets out a sigh and sits on the side of the bathtub. His hands are shaking, fine little tremors that get worse once he notices and tries to make them stop. It’s cold here, silent, and Clint hates it. He’s always hated silence, but this feels worse, somehow, because he’s still straining his ears for any movement from Bucky even in here. He yanks his hearing aids out and tosses them into the sink to make the silence more permanent, and turns the water on scalding hot. The shower doesn’t burn the unease out of his chest, but it gives him an excuse to stand there and just let the water drown out everything else, and that’s the best he can get right now. He lets out a heavy sigh and presses his forehead against the wet tiles.
God, what is he doing?
Bucky doesn’t disturb him, and if he says anything through the door while Clint's in there, he can’t hear it anyway. It’s a relief and simultaneously torturous when he steps out and grabs the purple towel off of the hook.
The television’s off, and he’s not sure how long he’s been in the bathroom, but when he ducks into the bedroom to grab pants he doesn’t see Bucky. For a minute, he’s relieved, and then he thinks about it a bit harder. Shit, he hopes being weird hasn’t made him run off- what if he leaves and then Steve finds out he was here and Clint didn’t say anything? He’s a bad friend. He’d be a bad friend anyway, with the things he thinks about Bucky when he’s alone, but Steve would be so disappointed in him if he let Bucky run off into the shadows again. Ugh. He yanks on a pair of sweatpants and presses the heel of his hand to his forehead to try and physically stave off the headache. It doesn’t work. He should go and look for Barnes before he gets too far away, apologise for being weird and awkward and bribe him with promises of the wine he’d smuggled into the basement, but he feels drained. He ends up curling up on the bed instead, hiding his face in the pillow.
He lays there for a few minutes, contemplating running away himself, and then the bed dips as someone else gets on the old mattress. If it’s an assassin or something, they’re welcome to stab him, because he can’t work up the energy to even look. He knows it’s Bucky, anyway, and he rolls over to face him.
Bucky looks faintly concerned, like he’s worried about Clint, but he doesn’t seem to be offended by the unprompted freak-out or anything. His hair’s getting longer now, curling slightly at the ends and fanning out against the grey of the pillow. He doesn’t really look like an assassin or a brainwashed murderer right now, he just looks… soft, almost, even with the metal arm resting against his side. Grey-blue eyes flick over to Clint’s ears and then back to his face almost imperceptibly, and then Bucky’s shifting back so he can raise his hands in front of him.
That guy with the magic tricks got a rose, he signs to Clint, clear and precise, and Clint can’t quite stifle his snort, because he’s lying in his bed with the former Winter Soldier discussing The Bachelorette in ASL. It breaks the tension, though, and he wriggles a bit to get his hands up enough to form words.
He’s too good for her, Clint signs back, and watches as Bucky relaxes an inch. Okay, so he hasn’t fucked this up too bad, then.
She should pick the guy who acts like a- Bucky stops then, clearly doesn’t know the word he’s looking for in ASL, and then mouths ‘douchebag’ at Clint, clearly. Clint tries not to stare too much at his lips, but it’s hard. He’s the only one trying not to manipulate her and fuck around, and even if he is an idiot, he’s genuine, Bucky continues with deft hand movements.
Genuine idiots are the best kind of idiots, Clint answers.
Bucky’s face softens with visible amusement, and something that looks almost fond. Clint hadn’t realized he’d felt so strongly about that guy on The Bachelorette. Did you want to get your hands on him, instead? He really gives off those strong heterosexual vibes to me.
Bucky snorts and shakes his head. Not my type, he signs back. He doesn’t even try to tell Clint he’s straight, which is interesting, because Clint had guessed he wasn’t strictly into women, but it’s still surprising to see it confirmed. Then he remembers: Steve. Right.
You like them blond, muscled, and filled with righteous fury, yeah? he jokes, and Bucky goes red. It’s unbearably cute, how he gets embarrassed from being called out on his crush on Steve, and Clint can’t help the laugh that follows, even if he is a little jealous. He can’t hear it, but Bucky scowls at him anyway, and it sets off more laughing that has Clint snickering into the pillow.
Go the fuck to sleep, Bucky signs, still flushed and endearingly rumpled. God, he kind of wants to fight Steve Rogers for not kissing this ridiculously beautiful man immediately, even though he’d probably lose the fight immediately and make a fucking fool of himself. But hey, the longer Bucky stays here and avoids Steve, the longer Clint gets to enjoy looking at him.
Bucky throws a pillow at him.
In the morning, he wakes up with a cool metal arm wrapped around his stomach, keeping him firmly stuck in bed. It isn’t surprising, not really, and Clint’s still sleep-dazed and tired, so he just shifts back into the solid body behind him and closes his eyes. Bucky’s breath is warm on the back of his neck, and it’s nice. Simple. With his hearing aids out, the world feels muted, less abrasive and overwhelming, and Clint just tries to enjoy the moment. One of Bucky’s legs is hooked over his hip comfortably, and he smiles to himself, just a little. He’s always going to be a little surprised at how easy Bucky sleeps next to him, like he thinks Clint is safe or something. He’s read the file on Hawkeye, Clint knows he has, so he’s not sure why Bucky thinks curling around a former circus criminal who can kill a man with a paperclip is the best place to relax, but he’s not going to complain.
Metal fingers brush the exposed skin of his hip, and it’s been warmed up by his body, but it still feels so different that Clint can’t quite hold back a shiver.
He’s spent far too long imagining that silver hand on and around his body to pretend he’s not having a reaction to it. Bucky’s holding onto him firmly enough that Clint would definitely wake him up if he tried to wriggle out, fingers splayed out against his bare stomach. It makes his skin prickle with awareness, and suddenly the room feels twenty degrees too hot. Why hadn’t he put on a damn shirt last night? Right, because he’s an idiot, that’s why. His lack of foresight’s going to cost him here if he doesn’t think of something, because that hand is shifting towards the waistband of his pants, and Bucky’s lips are brushing his neck. It’s disconcerting, that he can’t tell how much noise he’s making, and he can feel his heart rate picking up just from the slide of the metal on his overheated skin.
“Barnes,” he says, halting because it unsettles him not to be able to hear what he’s saying.
Bucky’s nose bumps his neck and Clint feels the vibrations of him talking, saying something in that sleepy Brooklyn drawl, but he can’t hear it. The metal arm flexes against his stomach and steel fingertips dip below the waistband of his pants, just barely, but enough that Clint nearly breaks out in goosebumps. What is he doing? Is he half-asleep, thinking he’s with Steve again? Bucky says something else, right against the skin of his neck and Clint shivers, but it’s not right, he can’t let this happen.
He thought it’d be a struggle to wriggle out of that grip, but the minute he pulls away Bucky lets him go without complaint. Clint rolls over once he’s gotten enough space between them to think, looks up at his face. Ugh, he’s ridiculously pretty, half-open blue eyes and this sleepy but intent look on his face that sparks off something between excitement and anxiety in Clint’s stomach. He looks like he’s going to do something he will almost definitely regret, and as much as Clint’s body is screaming yes, fuck yes, at him, he can’t do that to Bucky. Or Steve. Clint takes a breath to steady himself and sits up so he can use his hands more easily.
You promised me food, he signs, crossing his legs.
He must imagine the faint disappointment he sees in Bucky’s face, because it’s gone the minute Clint registers it and then Bucky’s yawning and sitting up. He slept in his skinny jeans, what the fuck. Who does that?
I can’t convince you to stay in bed for another few hours? Bucky signs back.
Clint snorts. You just want to lay there until lunchtime. Aren’t you supposed to be guarding the perimeter or setting up booby traps or something? Lazy asshole.
It’s comfortable, Bucky replies with a raised eyebrow. Do you want me to be stabbing your neighbours or something, Barton? Because if you really want me to, I-
No, Clint interrupts firmly. No, no. No killing the farmers! Make breakfast instead.
Bucky pouts at him then, and Clint doesn’t know how he’s supposed to react to that. This situation is absurd, really: the man in front of him has killed countless amounts of people without leaving a trace and here he is, sleeping in his stupidly sexy skinny jeans and joking about breakfast. And he’s in Clint’s bed. Something in Clint’s frazzled brain insists he belongs there, too, wrapped up in the violet duvet and crisp grey sheets with his hair ruffled and messy.
They’re close enough together that when Bucky’s pout breaks into a smile Clint can’t quite push down the urge to lean in, a mirroring smile on his lips. He stops when he realises what he’s doing, but by then Bucky’s gaze has slipped down to Clint’s mouth, and there’s something in his expression Clint can’t quite get a read on. But he definitely knows Clint was thinking about kissing him.
Oh, man, he’s so boned.
Bucky’s eyes flick past him suddenly, past his shoulder, distracted by something. Your phone, he signs, and Clint turns around to confirm that yes, that’s his battered old Nokia lit up on the bedside table. Any other brand gets shattered immediately, so it was a gift from Natasha. Speaking of, that’s her number on the screen. He slides off the bed and picks it up before realizing he can’t hear her. Shit. He can’t sign over the phone and Natasha hates using ASL anyway. He looks helplessly at Bucky and the brunet rolls his eyes and takes the phone from him, swiping a finger across the screen to answer. Clint watches the way his lips shape the word hello? before he manages to shake it off and head for the bathroom. Thank god for Natasha and her impeccable timing, or he might’ve done something he’d regret.
When he comes back out of the bathroom, aids back in his ears and somewhat less tempted to assault his house-guest, Bucky’s rattling around in the kitchen. Clint notes that the counter’s been cleaned, too, and wow. Okay. Bucky’s hair is tied up in a haphazard, messy way that just manages to look helplessly alluring on him, wisps of hair curling around his jaw where they’ve come loose from the ponytail. He’s half-tempted to pull on it, for some reason he can’t quite decipher.
“Don’t you make the cutest little housewife,” he comments. Bucky doesn’t answer him right away, and Clint takes note of the way he’s moving, clinical and efficient. There’s none of that lazy ease he normally has when he’s doing things, and that and the way he hadn’t told Clint to fuck off like he would’ve done usually tips him off. Something’s happened.
“What did Natasha want?” he asks, false-casual, stealing a slice of apple off of the bench and popping it in his mouth.
Bucky barely looks up from what he’s doing. “They’re coming back.”
“Awh, what? Why?”
“Says she’s tired of running around the world after Steve, making fake leads and shit. She wants to come home.”
“Oh.” He can’t really blame Natasha for that, can he? Clint knows he’d be homesick and exhausted after months of running around all these unknown countries getting shot at, too. He leans against the counter and watches Bucky mix something in a bowl and add blueberries. Hmm. Healthy. Clint doesn’t usually do healthy, but he guesses he can deal with it for today. “Are they coming back to the farm right away, or…?”
“Nah. They’re going to see Stark first, and Wilson’s family, and then they’re coming down to visit.”
“So we’ve got, what, a week? Two?”
“Eight days,” Bucky corrects, not looking up from the frying pan he’s procured. Clint’s not even sure he had a frying pan before today. He struggles to find a clean mug in the morning.
Clint opens his mouth to ask when he’s going to be leaving, but then changes his mind. He doesn’t want Bucky to go, but realistically he can’t make the man stay if he doesn’t want to be here. Then again, maybe it’s a good thing if he goes because then Clint doesn’t have to watch him and Steve fall in love all over again. Maybe Natasha will let him flee to her place up in Canada so he can be a depressed hermit for a couple of years.
A stack of blueberry pancakes lands in front of him and snaps him out of his rather dismal train of thought. They’re a little misshapen, but when he inhales the scent of freshly cooked food his brain melts into satisfied goo. What do you know, brainwashed assassins can make a mean stack. Clint cuts a neat square and pops it into his mouth, chewing. He tries not to moan too loudly, but damn. Why have they been eating leftover takeout all this time if Bucky can cook this well? It’s a tragedy.
Halfway through shoving a slice of pancake into his mouth, he realises Bucky’s not eating as well. He raises his head and catches a glimpse of an amused smile and the barest hint of pink on his cheeks. Well, at least Clint’s entertaining someone, even if it is because he’s a dirty slut for home-cooked food.
“My god, Barnes,” he says once his mouth isn’t full.
“You done reenacting a bad porno?” Bucky replies.
Clint waves his fork in the air. “If these were in a porno, it would be the best porn on the planet. You should run a fucking restaurant, I’m not even kidding, dude, this is orgasmic.”
“You don’t have any shame, do you?”
He ignores Bucky’s dramatic eyeroll. “I lost my dignity in the fall of nineteen ninety-three, when I ate an entire peppperoni pizza off of the ground in an alleyway in Chicago. It had olives,” he answers, satisfied with the snort that comment earns him.
“You’re disgusting, I have no idea how you’re as attractive as you are with the way you eat,” Bucky comments.
“Good genetics, Barnes. It’s all that- hang on, did you just say I’m attractive?”
“I’m taking it back,” Bucky says, crossing his arms. “You have butter smeared on your nose. You’re taken off the list of hot people, you’ve ruined it.”
Clint swipes at his nose halfheartedly, which just smears the butter on the sleeve of the unzipped hoodie he’d grabbed from the bathroom. Oh well. He thinks it might be Bucky’s anyway. “Who’s on your list of hot people, anyway? Steve, I’m guessing, and you looked pretty interested when Orlando Bloom was on the TV the other night. Although I can’t blame you for that one, I’m pretty sure Orlando is hot even to straight men.”
“You’re gross,” Bucky replies dryly which Clint’s a little offended by, because even he thinks Orlando Bloom is hot. “Anyway, I liked Keira Knightley.”
“I’d let her peg me in her captain’s outfit,” Clint agrees. “She wouldn’t even have to ask, she could just show up one day and I’d bend over so she could fuck me over the table.”
Bucky snorts at him and grabs a piece of apple off of the counter, takes a bite. He doesn’t seem appalled by Clint’s general sluttiness like Steve had been when he’d made a comment after the battle of New York. Then again, Clint’s not sure Bucky is anything like Steve, apart from them being way too hot for guys in their nineties. Steve is more clean-cut perfect beauty, like a doll, whereas there’s something rough and damaged about Bucky that makes him even more enticing. There’s a bit of flour smudged high on his cheekbone, and if Clint were a braver man he’d reach across the counter and swipe it off, maybe press a kiss to Bucky’s face while he’s at it. It’s fucking typical of him to develop feelings for someone who’s completely off-limits. Typical Human Disaster Clint Barton, that’s him.
“Barton, I wanted to,” Bucky starts, and then stops, shakes his head.
Clint raises an eyebrow. “What?”
“The photo albums in the other room,” he continues, looking slightly pained. Oh. “I was trying to sort out your laundry- seriously, do you even try to keep anything neat around here? But they fell down from the closet. Sorry. I put them back.”
“It’s fine,” Clint says, then frowns. “You were cleaning for me?”
“This place is a fuckin’ pigsty,” Bucky grumbles, then looks thoughtful for a second. “The blonde woman. Were you and her…?”
“What, Bobbi? Yeah, we were married,” he says, and it doesn’t hurt to say the way it used to. “It was a long time ago.”
Bucky’s quiet for a minute as he processes that information. It’s laughable, really, that someone like Clint had been married and fucked it up and Bucky hadn’t had any of that. Bucky deserves it, too, he deserves the chance to wake up next to someone and make breakfast and go on silly romantic dates, but the world is all kinds of fucked up. Clint’s got to keep Bucky here, if just so he can have his happy ending with Steve.
“You still in love with her?”
Clint glances up and Bucky’s looking at him with something unreadable in his expression. He snorts. “Bobbi? No. She… it didn’t work. We tried to make it work, but it wasn’t right. She deserved better. And… I don’t know. Maybe I’m just waiting for someone that’s on my wavelength, you know?”
“What the fuck is a wavelength?”
“Like. Our vibes? Shit, I don’t know, what was the lingo for it back in the thirties?”
“We didn’t worry about weird shit like that,” Bucky says, unimpressed. “You like someone, you take ‘em out. Why make it so fuckin’ complicated?”
“I guess you might have a point there,” Clint concedes, and Bucky rolls his eyes.
The next few days pass within the blink of an eye, and Clint’s still in shock at how normal it all feels when he’s not having a panic attack. Bucky’s funny, he’s got a sharp wit and a dry sense of humour that’s right up Clint’s alley and it’s both wonderful and terrible all at once. He’s all too aware that Bucky could leave soon, probably will leave and Clint won’t see him again. He begins savouring the little moments; ordering weird food from the local takeout places to watch Bucky’s reaction, spending that extra five minutes in bed to enjoy the feel of having someone next to him. The calendar is promptly ignored in favour of showing Bucky the Matrix trilogy, and giving him an old bow to fuck around with, and hearing stories about the Howling Commandos when Bucky’s memories come back in a rush in the middle of the night and he can’t sleep. All too soon Clint gets a text from Natasha saying we’re on our way and the dread claws its way up his throat again.
He finds Bucky sitting on the steps into the farmhouse the day before Steve’s due to arrive, and he’s stolen Clint’s stash of cigarettes again. Clint doesn’t pick on him for it, just sits down next to him and snags the smoke away, taking a drag before passing it back. They sit in silence for a while, watching one of the chickens poke around a tree, looking for bugs.
Bucky stubs out the cigarette on the step. “I’m tired of running. Besides, you were right, I can’t just avoid him forever because I’m scared of what he’ll think of me.”
“If he’s rude to you, I’ll just shoot him in the kneecap,” Clint says jokingly, but Bucky’s grey-blue eyes flick towards him, like he’s looking for something in Clint’s face.
“You really don’t care that I’m the Winter Soldier, do you?”
“I’m not known for my sense of self-preservation,” Clint answers dryly, then gestures at the scars lancing down his own arm, prominent in the late afternoon sun. “Man, we’ve all done some horrible shit, me included, and I didn’t have an excuse like seventy years of brainwashing. You’re doing your best with this shitty situation, and you’re making breakfast and cracking jokes and complaining about the awkward romance between Neo and Trinity, so I don’t see a problem here. You’re fine, Barnes.”
Bucky kisses him.
Clint’s not really expecting it, so he ends up pushed back with the top step pressing uncomfortably into his shoulder blades, Bucky half in his lap. It’s kind of awkward because Clint’s still frozen in shock, but then metal fingers are pressing against his jaw, tilting his chin just barely and Bucky’s kissing him. His lips are soft but there’s this focused intent behind the way his right hand hooks in Clint’s hair where it’s gotten just long enough to tug on that has Clint half-dazed and wanting. Bucky breaks the kiss and shifts back an inch, just enough that Clint nearly whines out loud in complaint. He really should be questioning this more, but his brain seems more interested in closing the distance between them, and he’s getting sick of keeping Bucky at arm’s length.
He’s not a good enough person to stop this now that it’s been started. God, he wants it so bad that he can’t stop himself from grabbing a fistful of Bucky’s shirt to yank him back into another kiss. He still tastes like smoke and the coffee he’d managed to steal from Clint at lunch- and really, this was inevitable, wasn’t it, if Clint was letting him steal coffee of all things. One denim-clad thigh is hooked over his legs, and it’s such an awkward position, half-sitting and half-laying on the steps to the house, but you couldn’t pay him to move. Bucky’s teeth graze his bottom lip and Clint makes a sound that definitely should not have come from him.
“You want to… go inside?”
“Smooth, Barnes,” Clint says with amusement, and then his breath hitches audibly because Bucky’s lips are on his throat, pressing a kiss to the exposed skin and dragging metal fingers down his neck and collarbone like he’s trying to map out every inch of Clint and commit it to memory. Clint tries not to turn into mindless putty. “Yeah, I want to go inside, the fucking step is going to give me bruising, and not the fun kind.”
Bucky snorts and gets off of him in one surprisingly graceful move and Clint’s left to stumble to his feet clumsily, still a little in shock. He swivels around and manages to navigate his way through the house to the bedroom, although he has to stop in the hallway to push Bucky up against the wall. Bucky lets him, curiously enough, pulls Clint in to kiss him again like he likes being pinned, which is interesting. Clint’s shirt gets tossed onto a low-hanging lamp and Bucky’s grey henley follows immediately after, and then they’re in the bedroom where they’ve been sharing a bed for the last month and a half and Clint’s rummaging around in his drawers for supplies.
All he has on hand is novelty Mai Tai flavoured lube, which is hilarious until he turns and sees Bucky kicking off his jeans. The pants and shirt were stolen from his own closet, but the dark blue trunks clinging in all the right places are all Bucky’s, and Clint’s struck with the oddest urge to drag them off with his teeth. Bucky turns to eye him off, all bedroom eyes and dark intensity, and he’s gorgeous, even though the sight of the twisted scars around his left shoulder make Clint want to rip every last Hydra goon apart with his bare hands.
“You just gonna stand there and stare?” Bucky asks him, dry.
“You can’t blame me for enjoying the view,” Clint reasons weakly, gesturing with the hand not holding the lubricant at Bucky’s… everything.
Bucky takes a step closer and Clint backs up automatically, his back brushing the wall. A metal hand lands on his chest, firm and possessive, and he forgets how to breathe for a second. He’s trapped between the wall and Bucky, biting his lip hard enough that he tastes blood when cold steel drags over one nipple. The sensation sends a shiver down his spine and he can’t resist running his fingertips over Bucky’s stubbled jaw, his mouth. He gets a nip to his thumb for his efforts, and it’d be amusing except he’s going to go insane from how overheated he feels.
“You gonna take your pants off, Barton, or do you want to keep being a tease?”
“Keep being a tease? Barnes, I am trying to be a good person here, no matter how much I want to take you apart with my teeth and I’m- fuck, fuck, don’t stop,” he says breathlessly as his train of thought is utterly derailed by Bucky sucking on his fingers. Immediately, he’s thinking about those lips wrapped around his dick, and it’s not helped by the way skin-warmed steel thumbs at the curve of his hip. God, he’s going to die, this is going to kill him.
“Fuckin’ jeans,” Bucky says roughly, tugging Clint away from the wall and pulling at his pants. “’m going to rip these in a minute.”
Luckily, he manages to get the zipper down without actually ripping Clint’s nice jeans. They're the only pair he owns without some sort of stain or rip on them, so he's quietly glad. Clint kicks them and his violet boxer-briefs off his legs without fanfare and then tosses the lube on the bed before pushing Bucky down next to it. He has to take a moment to drink in the view of the brunet sprawled out on his sheets, turned on and messy-haired and flushed. Bucky watches him as he trails a hand up one thigh, arches into it when Clint’s fingers shift upward incrementally, teasing. Getting his underwear off takes seconds but it still has Bucky shifting restlessly, and it’s both endearing and hot all at once. God, how long has it been since he’s had sex? Hydra probably wouldn’t have seen it as a valid recreational activity, right?
“You done this before?”
“I’m not some shaking little virgin girl, Barton, I was born in 1917,” Bucky grumbles, and Clint’s breath halts in his lungs as he watches that metal hand wrap around Bucky’s cock as he touches himself. It’s breathtaking in the worst kind of way, and he’s stuck staring at the way Bucky bites his lip and closes his eyes. The last thread of Clint’s self-control snaps and he slides onto the bed to slick his fingers up and push Bucky’s hand away.
“God, yeah, like that,” he gets, rough and distracted, when he twists his hand at just the right angle, leans down to bite at Bucky’s neck. Clint’s burning with the desire to have him sobbing with pleasure, make it so good he’ll never even fathom leaving. If he leaves some bruises, well, he’s fucking a supersoldier, it’ll heal fast enough. Bucky seems to like the rough treatment, though, with the way he’s arching up into Clint’s body like he wants more.
He shifts back so he’s got room to wrap his lips around the head of Bucky’s cock, feels like he’s going to melt a little when he pushes one finger in and Bucky moans. Fingers land in Clint’s hair, pull hard enough that the sting of pain has him pulling off to pant for a few seconds before he goes back to it. There’s not enough oxygen in the room, not with the way he’s got Bucky pushing back against his hand like he’s dying for it. He’s half-tempted to touch himself, heat flickering up his spine, but he’s more interested in getting Bucky off, watching him lose that air of careful control that’s always around him. Two fingers and Clint’s mouth on his dick seems to be doing the job pretty well, with the noises that Bucky’s making. Most of it’s filtered out by the buzz of arousal, but he catches a few swearwords, his name, and the way it dissolves into breathless gasping when he brushes Bucky’s prostate.
Clint draws back to give into the urge to bite at his hip, reveling in the way sucking a bruise into his skin makes Bucky shake against him, the tension almost palpable in the air at this point. He has to lean up to watch the way Bucky’s pushing back against him, and he’s gorgeous, lips bitten red and free hand clenched hard in the sheets, and it’s too much. He realises far too late that he’s not going to be able to come back from this, because he’s going to close his eyes and see Bucky looking at him like that, hot and desperate, and it’s going to kill him. He gets his hand on Bucky's dick to replace his mouth, because he doesn't want to miss seeing this.
“Fuck,” he says, more to himself than to the man under him, but he emphasizes it with a particularly hard thrust of his fingers and Bucky’s arching up with a gasp and coming with a shudder. Clint’s brain is still completely offline, but his fingers move automatically until Bucky shivers and twists away, rolling onto his stomach. He’s sweaty and overheated and Clint has no idea what he actually wants, whether he’s supposed to go jerk off in the bathroom or just die here, because he’s shockingly hard and this is all he’s been thinking about for the last week.
Bucky’s head jerks up like he’s heard something Clint hasn’t, and then he turns, wild-eyed and a little dazed-looking. “Car,” he says, lowly, and Clint’s body goes cold. Steve. Oh, god, Steve’s here early and Clint’s just fucked his boyfriend into a sweaty mess without any regard for anyone else's feelings on the matter.
He gets up on shaky legs and makes a break for the bathroom, and this time he doesn’t wonder what Bucky’s doing, more concerned with turning the shower on ice-cold and dunking himself under it.
It’s awful, uncomfortable and far too fucking cold, but it does the job of distracting him successfully from what he’s been doing. The rest of his brain is too daunted by the idea of being smacked around by Captain America to be turned on by the way he keeps replaying the last twenty minutes in his mind like a broken record. He realises far too late that he’s jumped into the water with his fucking hearing aids still in, and these aren’t the waterproof ones Stark made for him that one time.
He jumps out the shower again, freezing and naked, but it’s too late, he can’t even make out the splash of the water on the tiles. He yanks the aids out and drops them on the sink. Fuck. Fucking shit. Clint’s fairly sure his spare pair are back at the tower, too. He swears, can't hear the words or the venom and frustration shaping them.
The door to the bathroom opens and Clint freezes without making an attempt to cover himself up. Luckily, it’s just Natasha slipping into the room, shutting the door behind her and pushing a stray red curl behind her ear. She’s seen him naked far too many times to be phased, but her green eyes flick up to his ears and then to the wet hearing aids next to him and her eyebrows raise marginally. Still, it’s not the weirdest thing he’s been caught doing, so she just sighs visibly and hands him a towel.
Is he still here? she signs while he dries himself off and wraps the towel around his waist. He offers her a shrug in return, because he’s not sure what Bucky’s going to do now that Steve’s here and Clint just… well.
He can’t compare to Captain America, can he? He’s a superhero on a technicality, but he’s not the paragon of virtue and heroism that Steve Rogers is.
Can you put the coffee on while I get pants? he asks, and she nods, but now she’s watching him in that way she does when she’s trying to get a read on him. He’s not giving her anything, though, and she doesn’t stop him when he shifts past her to the guest room. He’s not brave enough to go into his own room in case Bucky’s still there. He keeps some clothes in here anyway, and it only takes a few seconds to throw on jeans and a shirt with minimal staining, but it takes a few minutes of mentally screaming at himself before he can actually move out to the main room.
Bucky isn’t there, which is more or less what he expected, but Steve’s sitting at the table, looking tired and thoughtful. Natasha must have told him Clint can’t hear, because he doesn’t say anything when Clint sits down across from him, just offers a small smile and a nod. It’s almost worse than anger, because he likes Steve, and he’s just gone and fucked the guy he’s been searching after for months and missing for seventy years. He’s a shitty person.
Steve says something to Natasha that he can’t read because he’s sitting at the wrong angle for it, and he lets his head fall back against the chair. He’s exhausted, stressed and wired from earlier events and plagued with guilt at the same time. It’s his house, he can’t just vault up into the ceiling and hide for a few hours until they leave. Anyway, Natasha would drag him out immediately, she’s hasn’t got an inch of pity in her entire body. The anxiety builds until he can’t sit still for another second without going insane, so he gets out of the chair again and makes his way around the counter to the kitchen to help find clean mugs, and ignores Natasha’s pointed stare.
He mechanically fills each cup until he’s nudged with a sharp fingernail to his side, and twitches away from Natasha.
He sees her going in to poke him again from the corner of his eye and flinches, twisting out of her reach. Clint’s not particularly in the mood for her tough love right now, even if he probably deserves it. Now he’s facing her, though, his eyes land on the battered black hearing aids he’d used at SHIELD in her hands. Best work wife.
“I think I might want to marry you,” he says once the aids are in.
“Keep it in your pants,” she answers dryly. “I’ve got enough men to babysit without adding you as well.”
“Hey, I don’t need babysitting,” Steve argues good-naturedly from his seat.
“Yeah, you do,” comes a wry voice from the hallway, and both Clint and Steve freeze. Natasha picks up her coffee mug and takes a sip, looking as unsurprised as you’d expect from her.
Bucky makes his way over to Steve, who looks like he’s spontaneously turned to stone in his seat. Bucky looks… nervous, almost, teeth indenting his lower lip as he takes a step closer like he’s not sure if Steve’s going to punch him or not. He’s wearing another shirt of Clint’s, this time a genuine Hawkeye brand v-neck with the logo on the front, and the shirt's collar definitely isn't quite high enough to hide the bruising blooming in various hues on Bucky’s neck. Clint’s suddenly worried that Steve is going to be mad at Bucky for this, for him, and he’s hit with the realisation that he’d punch Captain America if he said one bad word towards Bucky Barnes, without a second thought.
God, he doesn’t just want to fuck the man, he wants to protect him and eat his absurdly good pancakes and watch old action movies and complain about the plots. He’s crushing on Steve’s half-frozen assassin boyfriend and he’s fucked him. He’s had a lot of bad days, but this is probably going to end in nuclear levels of disaster.
While he’s been having a mental crisis, Steve’s pulled Bucky into a hug. It looks painfully awkward, and Clint thinks Steve might be crying, but Bucky’s right arm goes around him anyway and holds him close.
“-okay,” he hears Bucky say, doesn’t manage to catch the rest of the sentence.
“You’re- have you just been hiding here the whole time, you jerk?”
Steve pulls back to stare a sheepish Bucky in the face and then his eyes flick down to the bruises, the slightly rumpled Hawkeye shirt he’s wearing, and he seems to actually register them this time. His gaze goes up to Bucky’s face, back down, and then slowly over to Clint. Clint tries not to cringe too hard at the way Steve squints at him. He doesn’t look murderous yet, but it may just be taking him a minute to put the pieces together. It is a bit out of the ordinarythat Bucky would go for a complete disaster like him, so it might take a minute of thought.
Clint contemplates fleeing, but it’s too late for that. Steve would probably catch him anyway.
“You and Clint?”
I’m so fucking sorry, he thinks, but doesn’t say. It won’t help. Look at him. Look at him and tell me how I was supposed to not be a little in love with him, Steve, goddamnit.
Steve pats a flushed-looking Bucky on the shoulder. “I thought he might be your type,” he says amusedly, and what. “I was going to suggest you share his range back at the tower if you wanted to come back, but it looks like you were one step ahead of me.”
“Shut up,” Bucky says, shuffling around like he’s embarrassed, maybe a little bit proud. Natasha snorts from her place beside Clint.
“Clint? You okay, there?”
Steve’s concerned voice has Clint’s brain flat-lining. “I- you and Steve aren’t-? You’re not-”
He doesn’t manage to get a coherent sentence out, but he says enough that Bucky seems to get the gist and turns around to squint at him, forehead creased in confusion. “Wait. You were serious about thinking me and Steve were involved? I thought you were just being a jerk.”
“You’re not? Why is he so desperate and why are you so angsty if you’re not- Jesus Christ, this whole time.”
“Fuck off! You love Natasha,” Bucky argues, red-faced.
“I don’t go running around the world to find her when she last tried to murder me,” Clint retorts, crossing his arms.
“Yes, you do,” Natasha counters, picking up her coffee cup and walking over to Steve. “Remember Chicago? And before that, Mecca?”
“You’re not helping, Tasha,” Clint grumbles. Then his brain catches up. “Hang on, if you and Steve aren’t- then I wasn’t-”
“Good god, Barton,” Bucky says, exasperated, and steps closer to Clint. He barely notices Natasha shooing Steve out of the room to give them some privacy. Bucky’s hair is still messy as all hell and Clint’s tempted to run his hands through it. “Are you normally this fuckin’ dense? Is this your default?”
“Pretty much, yeah,” Clint says distantly, because he’s still trying to process this new information. “You mean I spent all this time keeping my hands to myself for nothing?”
“You call that keeping your hands to yourself?” Bucky asks with amusement, and Clint feels his face heat up when his brain automatically replays the memory of having Bucky under him, naked and desperate. “God, I thought you were fucking cagey or like, traumatized or somethin’, but you’re just an idiot.”
“That’s not very nice,” Clint says automatically, realising that he’s now stuck between Bucky and the kitchen counter. In any other situation this might be a bad thing, but he’s struck with the idea that maybe just this once things might actually go the way he wants them to. And with the way Bucky’s edging closer, even with the insulting, he can’t quite stop the smile curling at his lips.
“I’m not nice,” Bucky answers. “You okay with that?”
“You going with Steve?” He asks the question because he can’t not ask it.
“Depends. How long are you planning on sulking out in the middle of bumfuck nowhere? I might steal your floor at the tower.”
“That’s cold, Barnes,” Clint says, but his heart’s not in it. Bucky’s right, he’s been hiding out at the farm for no good reason, and there’s people that probably miss him in New York. Not to mention all the bad guys that seem to like Brooklyn in particular. And maybe it won’t be so daunting if he has a scary assassin boyfriend at his side. “You really want this? It’s not like, because I’m the only guy who’s treated you like a person in seventy years?”
“I’m going to bang your head on the counter until all of that weird shit that goes on in your brain falls out,” Bucky says, unimpressed. “I know what I want, you asshole, and for some reason I have a fuckin’ thing for morons.”
“Morosexual. Like that one meme,” Clint replies absently, and Bucky just looks confused. “I’ll show you later. But hey, does this mean I get to kiss you properly?”
Bucky snorts, but he leans in to kiss Clint anyway.
“Think we can lock them outside and finish what we were doing before they got here?” Bucky says distractedly when he pulls back. Hmm.
“Natasha has the keys, and if she didn’t, she’d just break the locks,” Clint answers. “I guess we can- we’ve got time, right? Raincheck?”
“Sure,” Bucky agrees. “Raincheck.”
“I really like you,” he blurts out after a second of silence. Bucky looks abruptly surprised for a moment and then laughs at him. “Don’t make fun of me, you’re the one that wants to sleep with me!”
“Yep, that’s me,” comes the wry reply. “I might be rethinking my stance on that, though, pal.”
“Terrible. You break my heart,” Clint replies. His pouting doesn’t seem to affect Bucky, but it doesn’t matter. His chest feels oddly warm, and he’s got the feeling that maybe, just maybe, this might work out for him.