Clint was late for the dinner.
Even though the restaurant was just near the Tower (the same restaurant Tony nearly fell on before his suit reached him in time during the 2012 fiasco that regretfully Bucky wasn't there yet or he would have punched Loki in the face with his cybernetic fist for putting Clint through a hellish ordeal).
"Why here?" He had asked, discomfited by the attention they were getting from the public who were polite enough to keep their distance yet weren't polite enough to get a move on. "And why it gotta be outdoors?" He hated being stared and pointed at.
Steve, that traitor, merely shrugged and sipped his beverage. "Clint's request."
"And he's not even here yet!" Bucky glared at the Tower's double doors, as if expecting Clint to burst through any moment, looking awkward and sheepish yet decidedly not apologetic.
Natasha was eyeing the Tower's rooftop apprehensively, a small smirk on her lips. She exchanged knowing glance with Tony, who winked back at her. Steve grinned in barely suppressed excitement.
Bucky scowled. "You know something I don't. Out with it!"
"Classified," the three chorused, before breaking out into laughter, much to Bucky's increasing annoyance.
Bucky hated them all at the moment.
"Calm down, Terminator," Tony glanced at his watch, "Your precious boyfriend will appear in three, two, one..."
Bucky stared at the door, but no figure came out of it.
Steve nudged him. When Bucky turned to glare at him, Steve gestured helpfully. "Up."
Bucky glanced up, and promptly shot to his feet.
A familiar silhouette carrying a bow was perching at the rooftop of the Tower.
"Clint?" Bucky frowned, incredulous. "What the hell is he doing up there?"
As Bucky watched, Clint aimed the bow towards the sky, and released several arrows simultaneously.
The arrows exploded into dazzling purple fireworks that soon revealed his full name right there in the black night sky.
"JAMES BUCHANAN BARNES."
As soon as the name gently faded, Clint fired his arrows in rapid succession, igniting timely, consecutive explosions that eventually formed:
Everything else ceased to exist as Bucky stood there staring at the fading words in stupefied silence.
"Say yes, say yes," Tony's voice rambled in the background, and Bucky blinked himself back to awareness, only to realize that not only his friends were rooting for him; everyone around them were cheering for him to say yes, say yes.
Natasha slipped him two flares, red and purple. Bucky glanced down at them, not understanding.
"Purple for yes," Natasha had to shout to be heard among the heated chanting from the gathering crowd. "Red for no. Choose wisely, Bucky."
There was no thought involved. Bucky reached for the purple flare, ignited it and sent it careening towards the sky, where it exploded into a bold, striking YES.
Everyone everywhere erupted into congratulatory cheers but Bucky tuned them out, watching in part horror, part awe, part fascination as Clint deftly abseiled down the side of the Tower, vaulting off the final few feet into a strong leap that propelled him towards Bucky, right into his arms.
The force of it sent them both to the ground, with Bucky sprawling inelegantly on the floor and Clint straddling him.
"I, uh," Clint looked sheepish, flushing with embarrassment. "I'm sorry, Bucky. The ring isn't with me. I think it's still in my room..."
"Clinton Francis Barton, you dummy," Bucky was not crying, okay? He reached out and pulled Clint into a searing kiss. "I don't care about the ring, okay? I only care that you're mine just as much as I am yours for the rest of our lives."
Cheekily Clint asked, "Till the end of the line?"
Predictably, somewhere behind him Steve cut in with an affronted "Hey!".
Bucky smiled tenderly at Clint. "Till the end of the line."