“Tasha? I might’ve done something stupid. And it was completely accidental! You have to believe me! So, if somehow in the future I go missing… tell Kate to take the dog and if I don’t ever resurface she gets the Bed-Stuy apartment and all of my bows and arrows. Yes, even the boomerang arrow!” Clint muttered after he had flopped down on the couch dramatically. His face was mushed against the pillow on which Nat’s feet rested. He waited for a reaction, a comment, a follow up question, any indication that she’d heard him but nothing, not even an arched eyebrow when he lifted his head with a deep sigh to check.
“Okay, okay, fine. I’ll tell you. Jeez. Sometimes your interest in my possible early demise really doesn’t end, huh?” He pouted, poked her legs until she finally put down the magazine he knew she was only pretending to read. “Yay! Now that I have your undivided attention. As you may know… I might not be the best at doing laundry. So, I usually just… wait for someone to start a machine and just put some of my stuff in, get it out before anyone notices. And Barnes was getting ready to wash some white stuff, which, I know, weird, I didn’t know he even owned anything that’s not black but anyway, I snuck in some of my white things but I might’ve… accidentally, I swear, added a purple sock? And when I came back to grab my stuff before the Terminator saw… it maybe… wasn’t white anymore? More of uh… a really nice… lilac? And I don’t know if I should just… steal all of his clothes and make them disappear or just pretend they’re all mine or, you know… we could all just agree that it’s totally still white and he’s just imagining the lilac? I… come on, Tasha. Help me! You know him. Sort of. What would make him… you know. Less… murdery? I could… should I hide out in Bed-Stuy? Until he forgets I’m probably the only person in this tower who owns purple socks?”
Nat had been listening silently, her face passive while Clint got more and more desperate. She lifted an eyebrow; none of his ideas were any good, but it was kinda cute how scared he was of Barnes’ reaction. “He’s not gonna be happy, маленький ястреб. I don’t think pastel anything is really his color. And he won’t believe it was an accident. You’ve been riling him up every chance you get, anyway, and I don’t think hiding from him will make this go away. As much as you like to remind him that his brain resembles swiss cheese he’s not likely to forget this. Now, be a sweet little hawk and make me some tea while you get your coffee.” She thought for a moment. “ If you’re after forgiveness, Barnes really likes anything fruity. Pie, muffins or, if you want to go all out, maybe ask Steve for some old recipe,” she said and reached out to brush her fingers through his hair, gently tugging at some of the longer strands. “You’ve never been all that good with your words or with communicating your feelings. You could try to be… nice. Actually show someone that you like them. You’d be surprised how that might work out for you,” she said before pushing him off the couch. “Now that you’re almost standing, could you maybe get me my tea?” she asked with a sweet smile and fluttering eyelashes.
Clint snorted and rolled his eyes but dutifully got up from the floor and pressed a kiss against Nat’s temple. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’m great at words. And I don’t like anyone. But I might… ask Steve about that recipe. Just because I don’t want Barnes to actually hate me.”
When Steve walked in, closely followed by Bucky, they were sitting on the couch, Nat back to reading her magazine while Clint fiddled with his phone, not quite able to relax. Clint sank back into the cushion, trying (and failing) to stay out of view. Steve and Bucky were talking, not quite arguing, but Bucky seemed pissed and well, Clint could try and run, but there were no clear exit routes and maybe it wouldn’t be so bad? Maybe Bucky hadn’t had time to get his laundry and it was something completely unrelated that he was pissed about.
“No. I know how to do my own god damn laundry. And I checked! And, besides, I don’t even own anything purple. So, who do we know whose whole wardrobe consist of fifty shades of fucking purple, huh? And who coincidentally seems to have something against me. But if I…” Bucky stopped abruptly, eyes narrowing when he spotted Clint’s mop of perpetual bed hair. “You know I can see you, right? You’re way too tall to hide behind the couch anyway and eavesdropping is considered rude by most,” he grumbled and glared at Barton for a moment before eventually moving to the kitchen to grab the two bottles of water he’d come for. “I’d watch my back, if I were you. You dyed my favourite pair of shorts. And they were a gift,” he added while tossing Steve the second bottle. “Come on, Stevie, I suddenly feel like sparring some more.”
Clint looked at Bucky with big eyes, unable to come up with anything to say in his defence. He didn’t have anything against Barnes (quite the contrary), but how was he supposed to tell him that and holy fucking hell, Bucky looked way too hot all sweaty and with his hair in a messy bun with some strands falling out and curling at the back of his neck. He opened his mouth and closed it again before looking at Steve for help, but he just seemed all too amused by the whole thing.
“I’m dead. I’m so dead. I gotta update my will. And cuddle Lucky some more before he’s gonna make me disappear,” Clint whined when the elevator doors closed behind them.
It was after a long fight with some disgusting, slimy aliens in Central Park, and Clint was dead on his feet. He was covered in goo that just seemed to get stickier and harder to get off the longer it stayed on. He and Barnes had been up high, picking them off one after the other when one had snuck up on him, and Barnes had shot it. Instead of just turning into a puddle of slime it basically exploded right in his face and Barnes, okay, he did check if Clint was okay first, but then he’d laughed, that jerk. “Good luck with getting it out of your hair, Barton,” he’d said.
What an asshole.
So, after the fight and being covered in alien goo for another two hours, Clint was ready to shower for five hours, cuss out Barnes the whole time and then go to sleep, preferably for at least fifteen hours or maybe even twenty. At least the goo didn’t smell bad.
He stood in the shower, barely able to keep his eyes open while furiously scrubbing at the slime. He’d used almost half a bottle of shower gel and, after apologizing for laughing, Barnes had even brought him the fancy shampoo Nat had gifted him for Christmas last year as a token of goodwill. It smelled all citrusy and fresh, just like Bucky’s hair did, even though the color did seem kinda odd. But Clint was tired and in a bad mood so he shrugged it off, just wanting to get the goo out of his hair before he had to shave it all off.
Clint eventually made it out of the shower, his mood marginally better after all the goo was gone and he smelled citrusy with a hint of cinnamon. He wiped a second towel over the fogged up mirror and stared at his reflection for a moment, not quite able to comprehend what was going on. The goo was gone alright, but what the fuck ? He slowly lifted his hand and reached up to touch his hair, to make sure it was actually there, but yeah, not a dream or an optical illusion. “It’s.. why… what?” Clint stuttered, his tired brain not quite able to make sense of the black mess on top of his head. He slowly dried off, eyes constantly drawn to the unfamiliar splash of dark hair in the mirror. Had the goo somehow dyed his hair? But why would it only dye his hair and nothing else? What if it was permanent? He knew he sort of looked… acceptable with black hair, had dyed it black for several missions, but he liked his blond hair. Maybe it would turn back to normal in the morning. That sounded like a problem for tomorrow Clint. With a sigh Clint nodded at his reflection, frowning at the dark hair once more before he finally stumbled out of the bathroom and into bed.
He woke slowly the next morning, awareness creeping in at the edges until he finally opened his eyes, groaning and grumbling while he stretched his sore muscles. Right, stupid slime monsters in stupid Central Park with their stupid goo… his eyes widened. “Oh no. Oh no no no. Please be gone, please be gone, please, please, please…” Clint jumped up, almost falling out of bed with his comforter tangled around his legs. He made it to the bathroom, gripping the edge of the sink tightly before lifting his eyes. “Awwm hair, no.” He pouted, pulling at the stubbornly black strands of hair, his shoulders sagging. “Stupid aliens with their stupid goo… but at least I smell nice… wait a second. That… that fucking… oh my god. I’m gonna kill him. Oh, no. Barnes, this was a mistake,” he said, a wicked grin forming on his lips. “It is so on.”
Bucky never outright admitted to dyeing Clint’s hair, but he had warned the archer to watch his back, and yeah, maybe it had been a little mean to hit him when he was half asleep after a fight, but it had been worth it. He could barely contain his glee when Clint came into the kitchen the next morning, pretending that nothing was out of the ordinary, but Bucky had been watching him and could tell that the black hair irked him. And, well, maybe he had also asked JARVIS how Clint had reacted when he eventually realized.
It was, surprisingly, a lot of fun, this thing they had somehow started between themselves. The other Avengers were a little wary, not quite sure if Barton’s new hair color was something to be mentioned or collectively ignored, which, okay, not as much fun, but he got it. It was… new. They hadn’t quite figured out the rules yet. Clint wasn’t quite sure how far they’d actually take this. Bucky himself had been wearing all of his lilac clothes without comment, only sending a warning glare if Tony so much as opened his mouth. Yes, he’d been pretty mad when he first found out, but, not that he’d ever admit that to anyone, not even Stevie, he kinda liked the color for himself. It made him feel softer somehow, a little less sharp around the edges, and it only served Barton right that he’d forgotten that one amazingly soft and huge hoodie. It was his now and he’d only give it back over his dead body. Barton could get a new one if he really wanted to.
Bucky was lounging on the couch in his new lilac hoodie, drowning in it a little, and perfectly content to just be for a bit. He contemplated reading a book, but his hands were hidden somewhere inside the sleeves, and watching TV sounded like too much sensory input. “Hey, JARVIS? Could you put on some music for me, please? Just… one of my playlists?” Bucky asked the AI, a soft sigh escaping his lips when soft music started at just the right volume.
After a moment, he frowned a little, not quite able to place the music despite it being somewhat familiar. It wasn’t unpleasant so he let it go, deciding to just enjoy whatever playlist JARVIS had picked for him. While he couldn’t fully relax, the music wasn’t bad and it wasn’t bothersome enough to actively change it. Once the same opening chords started up for the fourth time, no piano this time but acoustic guitar instead, he finally opened his eyes, frowning at the ceiling. “JARVIS? What kind of playlist is that exactly?” Bucky asked, growing suspicious when the AI took a moment too long to reply. He sat up and opened his mouth to ask again, when suddenly another song, ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’, started blasting at full volume, startling Bucky so much he fell off the damn couch. “JARVIS?! WHAT THE FUCK?” he shouted to be heard over the music, but still no reply.
Clint had gotten comfortable in the vents, content watching from up there while he patiently waited for his plan to play out. Barnes looked almost cute in his hoodie, so comfortable and soft around the edges that Clint almost felt bad for what he was about to do.
Bucky had been listening to songs about dogs, including four different versions of the ‘Dog Cops’ theme song, for almost an hour before he’d eventually gotten suspicious. Clint dropped out of the vent, laughing so much he barely caught himself. He turned down the volume to a more bearable level and grinned down at Barnes, who looked a lot like a very murderous kitten in his giant fluffy hoodie.
“Took you long enough to catch on, Barnes!” Clint cackled and waved the universal remote in his face. “Did you like all the versions of the Dog Cops Theme song I picked for you? Seemed to relax you,” he grinned and jumped back, dancing out of the way when Barnes tried to grab his ankle to pull him down as well. “Your turn!” Clint sing-songed and waved before he hightailed it to the elevator and away from the murder kitten.
It had been a couple of days since Clint had pranked Bucky and he’d yet to retaliate. Clint wasn’t nervous. Really, he wasn’t. But the suspense kind of put him on edge. A little bit, maybe. He was careful, maybe more than he had been on some missions, but whenever he saw Barnes, they got along surprisingly well. It was an unspoken rule that you couldn’t be mad about a prank (or, well, not be mad for more than a day), and during their ‘cooling-off periods’ they managed to stand on neutral ground. There were no rules about the length of the truce but it worked for them just fine.
Clint had been searching for something to snack on for what felt like hours. Apparently, a sort-of friendship with Barnes meant that all his secret vent-stashes of emergency candy, no matter the kind, would be perpetually empty. “I’m so hungryyyyy!” Clint whined, having found himself in the team kitchen with Steve, after his third round through the various floors of the tower to which he had access. “Only unhealthy snacks can satisfy my hunger so don’t even suggest something as ludicrous as an apple or a banana. It has to contain lots of sugar and preferably some sort of artificial flavouring, Captain Healthy,” Clint said before Steve could even open his mouth.
“I wasn’t going to suggest that, Clint. I just wanted to tell you that Bucky usually has a stash of snacks behind Thor’s Pop Tarts, because hardly anyone is dumb enough to touch them. Also, I wanted to say that I’m really glad you two are finally getting along. He really enjoys spending time with you, even though you always seem to end up in some sort of competition.”
Clint perked up at that, grinning broadly when he pushed past Steve to get to Thor’s stash and as promised, behind all the boxes of Pop Tarts was a box of Oreos. He quickly grabbed it and hugged it against his chest. “Always knew you were my favorite Avenger, Cap. Don’t tell him I took them, I’m gonna replace them, I promise,” Clint said while he ripped into the box noisily and popped the first cookie into his mouth. He chewed for a moment, paused, and turned toward Steve, who seemed to be utterly uninterested now that Clint got his craved snack. Clint took a deep breath, looked down at the full box of Oreos, back at Steve, and back down at the traitorous snack. With one last sigh and a shrug he grabbed another one and popped it into his mouth, glaring at Steve until he was out of sight.
“Clint…? Clint?! Are you…? You’re actually going to eat them? Wait! That can’t be healthy!” Steve called after him, but the elevator doors closed before Steve could get inside.
“You know, it’s cheap that you actually got Steve to do your dirty work. And, jokes on you, I ate pizza out of a dumpster once. These are a treat. So, thanks. But I’m not gonna replace them now that I know you violated those poor, innocent Oreos like that, Barnes,” Clint said while chewing on another, sort of, kinda, disgusting toothpaste filled oreo. “My turn,” he added, and saluted Bucky, who just stared at him with the perfect mixture of disgust and awe from where he stood in the corner of the elevator car.
The perfect opportunity to strike almost presented itself on a silver platter. Bucky had gotten himself a vintage motorbike and, if you asked Clint, had spent way too many hours restoring it, even though; who knew that greasy Barnes was almost equally as hot as a sweaty Barnes.
“You know, once you’re finally done here we could go shoot something. I haven’t beat you in a shoot-out this month. And I need my regular validation,” Clint said, watching how Bucky lovingly polished the shiny, black finish.
“Or, we could go for a ride. Weather’s nice. Get out of the city for a bit before we get called in again?” Bucky offered instead and looked up when Clint didn’t reply.
Clint’s mouth was slightly open, eyes glazed over when he imagined what a ride with Bucky on his new bike would feel like. Pressed up against his back, holding onto him tightly while they whipped down the streets, maybe stopping at one of those old-timey diners for burgers before they’d head back again.
“-rton? Hello? Did your tiny brain finally frizz out on you?”
“Huh? Wha? No! And hey! It’s not tiny! I’ve seen many scans! I mean… yeah. Yeah. Let’s go for a ride. Let me go change and meet back here in fifteen?” Clint asked, hopping down from the case he’d been sitting on. Bucky nodded.
They’d barely made it out of the city before both of their phones went off with the especially obnoxious Avengers alert. With a groan and a curse Bucky pulled off the road and stopped, quickly fumbling for his phone. “You’ve got to be kidding me. Can’t they take care of this without us?” he muttered, cursing quietly when his phone started ringing shortly after, Natalia’s name on the display. “Fuck. Okay. Guess this trip is cut short, sorry, Barton,” he said before picking up, nodding along while Natalia explained the situation. “Okay, fine. We’ll see you there. We’ll meet up at the jet, change on location. Yeah, we’re basically halfway there now.”
Bucky stuffed his phone back into his pocket and tapped Clint’s thigh twice. “Get your game face on. We’ll be there in twenty minutes,” he said with a grim smile and started the engine, pulling away quickly from the curb.
Bucky parked in a back alley, visibly uncomfortable leaving his bike there.
“Come on. Quinjet is up on that roof. I’m sure your precious baby is just fine here. We’ll kick some AIM ass and then we can grab those Burgers on the way back,” Clint said with a grin, quickly scanning the area before he spotted a fire escape they could use to climb up. He jumped up and gripped onto the ladder, pulling it down with his weight. He quickly started climbing, trusting that Barnes would follow along. Nat was waiting for them on the roof, a knowing smirk on her lips when Clint slipped past her onto the jet to get changed.
Sam dropped Bucky off on a nearby roof, Clint staying put to pick off the stragglers. The fight was quick and dirty, Tony taking care of whatever tech AIM tried to test out, while Nat and Steve made sure civilians weren’t harmed, leaving Clint, Bucky and Sam to take care of the rest.
Once the fight had wound down, Clint found the perfect moment to strike. He got everything ready, making sure Bucky was still distracted while he climbed down from the rooftop. He took a deep breath and schooled his expression, ready for his performance. “Fuck! No. Oh no no no. Oh fuck. Buck! You gotta come quick! It’s your bike! Someone slashed your tires! he shouted, the right amount of regret and anger coloring his voice.
“WHAT? HOW? OH, COME ON! I’m… fuck! Did you see anything? I swear I’m gonna find the guy…” Bucky dropped down from the roof, not even grunting when he hit the ground before sprinting toward the side alley he’d left his bike in. He spotted Clint kneeling on the ground by his bike and he sped up once more, coming to a skidding stop beside him. He steeled himself for the flat tires, maybe a bent rim, but all he could see were fucking laminated pictures of some weird guy with curly hair and a top hat taped to the tires of his perfectly-fucking-fine bike. “Barton?! What the fuck???” he shouted, not quite sure if he should be angry or relieved.
“Aww, Slash, no. You don’t know who that is?” Clint asked, and he had the audacity to pout, fucking pout up at Bucky, who’s face was still an amusing shade of red.
“NO?! Fuck, Barton... “ he started, but eventually just deflated, relief clearly winning out over anger. “Care to explain, you fucking dork?” he asked with a heavy sigh and an exasperated laugh before he dropped to the ground beside Clint, pulling off one of the pictures.
“Well, that there is famous Guns n’ Roses guitarist Slash. See, I Slashed your tires. Get it? It’s funny… given that you know who that is. We really gotta work on your knowledge of important pop culture, Buck. You totally ruined my prank,” Clint said with a frown, gently shoving Bucky’s shoulder. “Rude.”
Bucky couldn’t help himself and started laughing, shoving Clint back before pulling off the second picture. “You’re a menace, Barton. I swear, I almost had a heart attack. I was ready to rip some poor guy limb from limb. So, my turn, huh? I should just wait for the others to take off and then leave you here. Would serve you right. I’m not sure you’re allowed back on the bike,” Bucky said but couldn’t help the fond smile that seemed stuck to his lips. “Come on, you dork. Let’s get changed and head out before Stevie can be disappointed in us for skipping cleanup.”
“You know, it’s kinda unfair. Since you’ve been on this SHIELD mission for like, a month now, I had no chance to get back at you for my fucking Slashed tires. And you don’t even have to worry about it constantly. Which is at least half the fun. Keeps you on your toes and your mind sharp,” Bucky said quietly, absentmindedly stirring his hot chocolate in the dark room.
“Aw, Buck. You miss me! That’s so cuuuute! But don’t worry. Shit’s about to go down here. Just wanted to check in and let you know. Might have to go radio silent for a bit. But then I’ll be out of here and on my way back. And I’d like to let you know that I recently got a haircut and those damn black tips are finally gone. Back to my all-blond and pretty self.”
“And I’d like to let you know that my clothes are still lilac. Nothing changed there. So, thanks for that I guess. But… anyway. Thanks for letting me know. Be careful okay? Don’t do something stupid and reckless and get hurt in the process. Guess I’m gonna try and get some more sleep. Haven’t been sleeping all that well, or all that long, for a while. And I gotta be awake and ready once you get back.”
“Shit, right. It’s like 3am at home… anything I can do to help? I’ve been told my stories are great for putting a whole room of people to sleep.”
Bucky huffed out a laugh and shook his head. “Don’t… don’t talk yourself down like that. Your stories are great. It’s your archery lectures that put people to sleep.”
“Hah! You think you’re so funny Mr. I-can-talk-about-rifles-for-seven-hours-without-stopping. Get some sleep. Could use some as well. But I gotta go now. Say hi to the others from me,” Clint whispered and sighed softly, waiting another moment, just listening to Bucky breathe quietly, the clinking of his spoon against the mug in the background. “Bye, Buck. I’ll see you soon.”
When Clint finally got back from his mission, he was so sleep deprived that the dark circles under his eyes had even darker circles of their own. He’d ignored everyone and everything trying to get him to debrief or medical or whatever other joke they threw his way; he only had one goal: take off his gear and stumble into bed, and then sleep for a week and get Bucky to make him those fluffy pancakes. Everything around him was a little fuzzy around the edges and his brain just kept repeating his plan. ‘Take off gear. Sleep. Pancakes. Gear. Sleep. Bucky. Pancakes.’
He sighed happily when his head finally hit the glorious softness of his pillow, not caring that he somehow forgot about step one of his perfect plan. He didn’t know how long he’d been asleep, but it couldn’t have been for all that long when he heard the most annoying beeping coming from somewhere under him.
“Nooooooooooo. Let me sleeeeeep!” he groaned, deciding that he could just ignore the beeping and go back to sleep, only to be woken up five minutes later by more beeping and shrilling, this time from somewhere to his right. It got harder to ignore, but he could do this. They’d stop eventually. He just needed to wait them out.
When even louder beeping and then fucking vibration added to the mix, Clint just gave up. He dragged himself out of bed, grabbed his pillow and walked out the door, not even bothering to close it. “Bucky…” Clint muttered once he had found his way to the elevator, trusting JARVIS that he’d drop him off at the right floor. He kept knocking at the closed door until it magically opened for him and something kinda hard stopped him in his tracks. “So. Many. Alarms,” Clint whined, and tried pushing at the barrier. “Gonna sleep here.”
Bucky had been sleeping when the insistant knocking woke him. He pulled the door open, ready to go off at whoever dared to disturb his precious sleep when Clint just walked right into him. Huh. That wasn’t one of the scenarios he had considered.
“Yeah, yeah I know. That was me. You can deal with finding them all tomorrow. Come on…” he muttered and slowly guided Clint toward the bedroom. “Jeez, you’re still wearing your quiver. Come on, strip. You’ll sleep better,” Bucky coaxed and helped him out of his suit, forcing one of his softest t-shirts over Clint’s head before he let him crawl into bed. Bucky hesitated for a second, not sure if he should just sleep on the couch and leave the bed to Clint, but it was a huge bed, and so much more comfortable than the couch.
“It’s not like you’re going to object. And I’ll keep to my side, promise,” Bucky muttered with a shrug, but Clint was already dead to the world.
“Oh my god, you’re such an asshole, Barnes! I just got home from a mission! You can’t just hide alarm clocks all over my apartment. That has to be against the rules!” Clint called from under the bed the next morning, trying to get to the old analog clock that was happily ticking away.
“I even hid some around your apartment. Wasn’t sure where you’d wanna sleep after this,” Bucky said with a proud grin, a laugh escaping him when Clint finally wriggled out from under the bed. “Though I have to admit I didn’t consider you coming down to my room. And I did feel bad, for like a second. If you ask very, very nicely, I might even tell you how many there are.”
“No! I don’t trust you anymore! I know how this goes. You hide 9 and tell me you hid 10 and let me search until I’m blue in the face. No. You. Get out of here and make me pancakes. With chocolate chips and strawberries. And that fancy maple syrup you hide from everyone. Then I might think about forgiving you. And my wrath might not hit you where it hurts,” Clint said and poked Bucky in the chest, trying to stay stern but that stupid smug grin on Bucky’s face was just one of his many, many weaknesses. “Pancakes. Now. Chop chop.”
Bucky couldn’t deny that something between them had changed. Yeah, obviously they became friends over their stupid prank war, but there was so much more. He cared about Clint so much, felt so much better, happier , when they spent time together. He constantly felt the need to be with him, find some lame excuse to head out together, mostly with his intentions hidden behind a challenge that he knew Clint couldn’t say no to. It had been a while since his last prank, but somehow he wasn’t really worried about what Clint would come up with next.
“You know, I can’t believe you actually wore that much glitter voluntarily ! It must’ve gotten everywhere. Do you still find some when you least expect it?” Bucky teased, the faded picture of Clint’s circus days clutched tightly in his hand.
“Hahaha. Shut it you hypocrite. Just because your ‘war paint’ didn’t contain glitter. You looked like a trash panda. A very murderous trash panda,” Clint retorted as he tried to get the picture back. “I knew it was a bad idea to show you these. You always hurt my feelings by making fun of my very legitimate fashion choices when I was much younger and maybe a little dumber.” He laughed and rolled his eyes, still trying, and failing, to get the photo back. “I swear to god, if you rip this,” he warned, almost falling backwards off the couch when Bucky finally let go.
“Asshole,” Clint chided fondly before putting the picture back into the box. “So? Road trip to DC so I can make fun of your old-timey photos?”
“Or, or, hear me out. We could just check the internet. I’m sure some history nerd digitised all of them for you to make fun of whenever and wherever you want. But… seriously, a road trip sounds kinda fun. I haven’t been to DC since, well… you know.”
“Since you tried to kill Stevie, Nat and Sam?” Clint offered helpfully and ducked out of the way when Bucky swatted at him.
“Yeah, since I tried to kill Steve, Nat and Sam. You’re always so tactful when talking about those things. I like that.”
“Don’t you mean you lilac that?” Clint asked with an exaggerated eyebrow waggle. He pulled at the soft fabric of Bucky’s hoodie.
“Oh my god. No. Get out. That was so bad.” Bucky laughed and tried to push Clint off the couch.
“Hey! This is my place! You can leave if you want! Maybe go pack for our road trip.” Clint giggled, and batted his eyelashes.
Bucky was still laughing when he reached his own floor, wiping his eyes after he opened his door and quickly grabbed his duffle bag from under the couch. He was almost giddy with excitement to spend a couple of days with Clint, the tenseness of all the possible memories and the prospect of seeing his own name on some monument soothed by the knowledge that he would have Clint’s calming presence beside him. He threw open the door to his bedroom and almost collided with a wall of purple balloons. He blinked, so taken aback he wasn’t quite sure what to do. The balloons started floating toward him without the door to keep them in place. He let out a helpless whine and picked one of them up, ready to just pop it and get it over with when he noticed the glitter inside. “Oh no. No, you didn’t… oh come ON!” Bucky groaned, and carefully backed away from that possible disaster. He stopped, took a deep breath and picked up the closest balloon. “So this whole road trip idea was just to get me back down here, huh?” he muttered, throat suddenly feeling suspiciously tight, eyes burning with the threat of tears. Okay, fine. That’s, well, it sucked, and it kinda hurt, but whatever. It’s whatever. He… well, fuck. No, it wasn’t whatever. He cared about it, a lot, and it hurt more than it should to realize that it had just been a joke to Clint.
Bucky flopped down on his couch, all of the anticipation and giddiness leaving weariness in their wake. He was still holding onto that stupid balloon filled with purple glitter, ready to pop and fuck up his day even more. He swallowed around the painful lump lodged in his throat, his metal hand whirring and tightening involuntarily, the delicate skin of the balloon catching between two plates until it inevitably popped, showering him and everything in his proximity with fine, shimmering glitter.
Clint came down to Bucky’s floor about an hour later, bag swung over his shoulder and whistling off-key. “Hey Buckoo, you ready to go… oh. Aw, glitter.” He stopped in his tracks, taking in the whole scene before he realised Bucky hadn’t so much as batted an eye since he came in. “Oh no. Sweetheart, no. No, no no. No sad. Please… I’m sorry! Oh god. I didn’t… Buck?” Clint stammered, quickly dropping his bag and rushing toward the couch, falling to his knees in front of him. He carefully reached out to take Bucky’s hands in his, feeling the light tremor that seemed to shake his whole body.
“Buck… hey, can you look at me? Or… fuck. Do you have glitter in your eyes? I swear that’s the worst…” he muttered, a helpless laugh escaping him. “Tell me what to do to make it better, please. I… fuck. Okay, just stay here okay? I’ll… I’ll get some oil and get this off your face, okay? I’ll be… I’ll be right back. I promise. Hey, JAR? Can you put on Bucky’s playlist? The one with all the old-timey music?” Clint asked before rushing to the bathroom to grab cotton pads and some coconut oil and warm water. He put everything on the couch beside Bucky, gently squeezing his thigh. “The trick is, you gotta rub some oil over the glitter and then wipe it off with some cotton pads. Same thing works for your hair, I swear. And… the glitter on everything else... I used to just take some tape or a lint roller, for the stuff that can’t go in the washing machine. Clothes, well, you just spray them with some hairspray, let it dry and then wash it. Got that tip from the trapeze artist. And trust me, she knew what she was doing.” Clint kept babbling while meticulously rubbing oil over Bucky’s face and then wiping it off with a wet cotton pad. He continued to Bucky’s neck and hand, eventually just starting to sing along to the songs, trying to sound as off-key as possible which eventually got a smile out of Bucky.
“Hey, there you are. Feeling a bit better?” Clint asked quietly and brushed a strand of hair behind his ear. “I’m so, so sorry. I…I don’t know. This was such a stupid idea. I just… I didn’t want it to be too easy? But I guess the glitter was a little over the top. Can you… I mean… forgive me? Please?” Clint whispered and looked up into Bucky’s eyes, a small, unsure smile on his lips.
“It’s… fuck. It wasn’t the glitter… or the balloons. That was… pretty impressive, if I’m being honest. It… it’s stupid. I… fuck,” Bucky whispered and let out a sigh. “I was really looking forward to that road trip. And when I realized it was just something you said to get me back in here… I just…” Bucky started, voice barely louder than a whisper. He stopped and shrugged, not wanting to admit that it had hurt his feelings.
“What…? No, nonono. That… I meant that. I even packed my bag and everything. I’m ready to go whenever. I… I was really looking forward to this too. I…” Clint said quickly, wanted to get all the words out and make Bucky understand, wanted to make all the hurt and sadness in his eyes disappear. He huffed out a laugh and made sure Bucky was looking at him. “I… I lilac you a whole lot, Buck. And I love spending time with you. It’s what makes my whole day, if I’m being honest, too...” Clint said, biting his lip and holding his breath, waiting anxiously for a reaction.
Bucky snorted at the bad pun and glared at Clint halfheartedly, but he could sense how nervous he was, his own heart almost beating out of his chest. Bucky opened his mouth, and sucked in a breath just to let it out again. There was so much he wanted to say, but nothing seemed right.
“I… oh, fuck it,” Bucky muttered and reached out to cup Clint’s cheeks, pulling him closer until he could finally kiss him. It wasn’t much, just lips pressed against lips, but it felt so incredible all the same. He let out a quiet laugh, not much more than a puff of air against Clint’s lips.
“This isn’t… this isn’t you pranking me, right? ‘Cause… cause that’s....” Clint started, slightly dazed and happier than he could ever remember being.
Bucky shook his head, his nose brushing against Clint’s, unable to pull away just yet.
“Clint… I lilac you a lot, too.”