Clint kicked the dust off his boots and rapped on the door.
No answer. He knocked again, louder, and tucked his hands inside his pockets. It was only six, but the sun was nearly down and the wind was cold off the mountains. Wasn't much he wanted more than to get inside and get them warm. A shower, maybe. The ones up at base didn't really do hot water, and three weeks without was about two weeks longer than he wanted to put up with. Still, a paycheck was a paycheck.
Where the hell was Garrett? Clint cursed under his breath and clomped back down the stairs over to the manager's office. He'd be stuck in the apartment until Garrett showed back up, what with him having lost his key and all, but at least he'd be warm, and not standing outside his own front door with his pack and dirty laundry and all.
The office was tiny and cramped and tidy. Clint made a beeline for the receptionist.
“Hey,” he said, “uh, Marlene? I'm up in 10b, my flatmate's out and he's got my keys, could I get you to let me in? I've got my license, here....”
Marlene blinked at him. “I'm sorry, but 10b is empty. Are you here about your things?”
Clint stared at her. “What?”
“Mr. Slate failed to pay rent the past two months, and was evicted eight—no, ten days ago. Your things are in a storage locker. If you'll give me a moment, I have the stub for them.”
Clint shook his head to clear it. “I'm sorry, ma'am, I—what? Garrett didn't pay? I left the check with him—”
“No, Mr. Barton, he didn't.” She looked sympathetic, like she was sorry to have to tell him this. “I'm afraid there's nothing much to do about it now. He didn't leave forwarding information, and his number has been changed.”
“Oh,” Clint said. “Then ... what do I do now?”
“I have the stub for you,” Marlene said, pulling a drawer open. “You're free to collect your possessions. The fee for the storage space may be made out to us; I believe it comes to two hundred.”
“To keep my stuff after kicking me out?” Clint asked, incredulous. “Look, that's not my fault, I work three week shifts up at the logging site, what am I supposed to do about that?”
“I don't know, Mr. Barton,” she said. “Would you like the number for a good hotel?”
Clint stared at her, running his hand through his hair. It was cold outside. “Yeah, sure,” he said. “A hotel would be good. Thanks. Lemme pay that fee so I can get my stuff and get out of your hair.”
There was one hostel in town, as it happened, that had group showers but not much in the way of locked spaces for personal possessions. Clint passed it by after checking that. An actual hotel was more expensive, and he didn't dare stay there too long, but if he had a spot to stash his laptop and be reasonably certain it wouldn't get stolen, he'd take it.
He went out apartment hunting the next day. Downpayments were going to be his biggest problem, he figured, but maybe he could find some place cheap enough to work. It was only two weeks before he got called back up. He could figure something out.
No-one was willing to drop the downpayment or even lower it, not for a seasonal worker. Clint backed out of six offices and cursed at the seventh before going back to the hotel for the night and posting an ad to Craigslist.
No hits on it when he woke the next morning. Clint went through nine apartments that day and found nothing. Lunch and dinner he ate out; the hotel's kitchenette wasn't sufficient for anything else. Staring at his bank balance that evening, he cursed.
The hotel was eating into his meager funds. If he didn't leave it soon he wouldn't even be able to afford a month's rent, much less the first month down. Not being able to cook his own food wasn't helping matters.
Well. He'd lived out of his car before. Not this far north, and not with winter coming on, but he could do it again. And it was only a few days. He could shower ... somewhere. Maybe the Y. Or check out that hostel. It had to be better than nothing, and he could keep his things right by him, move everything into the car while he was out looking.
He checked out in the morning and checked into the hostel. The main room was crowded; he couldn't afford to get one of the smaller ones for himself, and they didn't lock anyways. It wasn't much, and he slept with an arm over his bag, but it was a roof over his head and warmer than out under the stars.
The next days followed the same pattern. Clint got through every rental in the city before giving up. He just wasn't going to be able to find housing this time, no matter how he tried. It wasn't going to happen. The hostel it was, and maybe by the time he was back down from his next three weeks something would have opened up, someone looking for a roommate or some such.
Even the hostel wasn't as cheap as renting, though. Clint didn't like to think about it, but the little fees for the shower and fresh sheets started to add up. Thirty dollars a night was better than a hotel, but when he calculated it out for a month, and with no place to stash anything—his things were still at the storage unit, Clint unwilling to leave them in the bed of his truck while he was gone or sleeping, and that was another twenty each day, and they'd keep costing him while he was gone instead of sitting nicely in an apartment.
When he went back up the site, he was somewhere between relieved and nervous as hell. Three weeks of knowing where he was going to sleep didn't make up much for wondering where he was going to be at the end of it. That sort of uncertainty wasn't one he'd had to deal with in years, not since he was a kid running away from the circus.
There was no internet up at the site, no real phone service, but it didn't seem to matter: when Clint headed back down and checked he'd gotten nothing anyways. Maybe that would have made him wince a month ago; now, after having mostly expected it, he felt nothing but numb. Even the wind didn't get through to him.
Christ. He was going to end up homeless. All this work, this entire last decade, and all for nothing. One good for nothing housemate and a lousy hand, and he was going to be out again.
Clint sat in his truck outside the hostel and rested his head against the dash for a long minute before revving it back up. He'd been up there three weeks, and after tonight he wasn't even going to have the hostel. He wanted a hot fucking meal before he cut out, even if it was only from a pub.
The little place down the road, Wanderlust, did a mean burger that Clint had enjoyed more than once over the season. Thursday night it was mostly empty, though that would change as the night wore on. Clint didn't mind; he'd checked in at the hostel already, his place was secure, and he planned on staying as late as the pub was open. They had wifi, he could use it to do one last emergency check for housemates before admitting to his situation. Better than nothing—better than sitting and doing nothing on his bed at the hostel. Inactivity made him twitch, and he didn't think it'd be any better for the next weeks.
It stayed a slow night. Around nine a guy came in, scanned the room, and made a beeline for the bar. Clint watched him. The guy was definitely something, dark hair and trim build and fire in his eye, the type Clint would normally hit on without a second's thought, but he didn't feel much like picking up a stranger tonight.
And anyway, what would he say, if the guy didn't want to go to his own house? "Come back to the hostel with me?" Yeah, no, wasn't gonna happen.
Good-looking enough, though, Clint could admire that, even as the guy flirted with everything on two legs. None of it serious, or at least serious enough to make the guy leave his seat, but everyone around him was laughing and having a good time, so there had to be something there, even if Clint was far enough back that he couldn't hear it.
He had a suspicion, though, that the guy wasn't there to pick someone up. It had to do with the sheer number of shots he kept putting back, a stiffness in his shoulders whenever people turned away and stopped talking to him. Clint knew a bad day when he saw it, and this guy was practically shouting it out.
At closing time the guy was draped over the counter, to all appearances dead to the world. Clint eyed him, eyed the manager, and heaved a sigh before sauntering up.
“Need help getting him out to a cab?”
The manager didn't even come up to his shoulder. She was competent enough, Clint knew from watching, but there was running a pub and then there was hauling people twice your size. “That'd be great, thanks,” she said. “Call it a free one next time you're here.”
Clint grinned at her. “Wasn't gonna ask, but I'll take that. He called one yet?”
“He is still—still awake,” a voice slurred. Clint looked down to see the guy peering at him out of one eye.
“Yeah, dude, but I don't think you're driving,” the manager said, “so let's have your phone and this lovely man and I will get you outside to a cab.”
“No cabs,” the guy said, trying to sit up and swaying so bad Clint had to grab his arm before he tipped over the barstool. “Got a car.”
“You're not set to drive it,” the manager said. “Cab or walk, but I am not giving you your keys back until you're sober.”
Tiny, maybe, but steel in her voice. Clint could appreciate that. “What she said,” he told the guy. “C'mon, man, let us get you home, you know you wanna crash out on a bed.”
The guy looked Clint up and down, very slowly. “That,” he said, “could be arranged. That could definitely be arranged.” He waved a very clumsy, very imperious hand. “Make it so, you can drive me home and crash. But not in the road. In the bed.” He paused, and clarified, “With me.”
Clint put his head down, laughing a little. This guy was his kind of asshole. “Maybe when you're sober, man,” he said. “But sure, I'll drive you home. Why the hell not.”
“Excel—excellent,” the guy said. “Tony. Name's Tony. Wanna hear you say it, gorgeous.”
Clint cast the manager a glance and got back a look of dry amusement. “Tony,” he said. “C'mon, up we go.” He stepped in close and got his shoulder under Tony's arm. He was heavier than he looked, more muscled.
If Clint hadn't been broke, if Tony hadn't been drunk—they could really have gone somewhere with this. Killed each other's pain, maybe, or at least laid it to rest for a little while.
Clint shook his head ruefully. World was what it was. “I need your address,” he told Tony. “Where'm I taking you?”
“Got a thing,” Tony said. “It's a, here, gimme your phone. No, my phone, gimme my phone, it's a—it's a thing.”
“A thing,” Clint said. “A GPS thing, maybe?”
“Jarvis,” Tony said. “Better, Jarv is awesome, c'mon, aren't you Jarvis?”
“As you say, sir,” someone said from the phone in Tony's pants pocket.
Clint blinked. “That's some speed dial. Jarvis, can you give me directions for getting this guy home? He crashed out at Wanderlust, didn't want a cab, I volunteered. Name's Clint.”
“Certainly, Clint,” Jarvis said. “Are you familiar with the northern end of town?”
“Yeah,” Clint said, getting Tony moving. This wasn't exactly easy—Tony was handsy, and Clint maybe wouldn't object any other time, but Tony right now was definitely too out of it to be saying yes. Clint had to get Jarvis to repeat himself more than once while he pulled Tony's hands out of his clothes, and it was a relief to get him up to the passenger side of the truck.
“Oo, right up against the truck,” Tony said, almost no slurring at all, and for a moment, Clint was tempted. Then Tony lurched to the side, Clint barely managing to catch him in time, and he shook his head.
“Maybe another time,” Clint said. “When you can, y'know, stand up straight for more than five seconds.”
Tony's glare wasn't particularly effective. Clint had seen drenched kittens more threatening.
“Not doing much to get me to change my mind,” Clint said, then, reaching around Tony to open the door, “Stay.”
Tony snickered. “Gorgeous and kinky. Must be my lucky day.”
“Uh-huh,” Clint said. He looked Tony up and down, taking in the wobbly knees and the way Tony reached for the door to steady himself. No way was Tony hopping up into the seat on his own. “Right. Don't panic on me, man.”
“I said it's Tony,” Tony began indignantly, then squawked as Clint picked him up and put him in the seat. Two quick motions and Clint had him strapped in.
“Stay,” Clint repeated, closing the door, and went around to the driver's side.
Tony was staring at him when he got in, looking hungry enough Clint wondered if he should've stashed the man in the back. He really didn't fancy running off the road if Tony couldn't keep his hands to himself. He took a second to rest his head against the wheel before turning the key.
"You're strong," Tony said.
"Yeah," Clint said, and thankfully Tony let him have his silence after that, watching out the window while Clint followed the directions Jarvis had given him.
The road led to the edge of town and out past it into the resort areas. Clint hadn't been out this far before; this territory was for people with more money than sense, and he'd never counted. Made him wonder about Tony, though; he wasn't dressed like he was all that, and there were classier places, even in this town, than Wanderlust. Some young heir to something or other slumming it up, maybe.
Or running away from something. Clint remembered the tension in Tony's shoulders well enough. Nobody happy carried himself like that.
"Shitty day?" he heard himself asking.
"Girl troubles," Tony said after a long moment.
Well, Clint had seen him flirting with both back at the pub. "Bad breakup?"
"Something like," Tony sighed. "Should've known better, Pop said she was no good, figures the old man would know."
Clint made a sympathetic sound. Maybe he couldn't save himself, but he could be a listening ear for some other poor bastard.
"Just, y'know, I thought she wanted me. And then she only wanted insider stuff. Information." Tony's voice had a plaintive note to it. "Why couldn't she've wanted me instead of company business?"
"Some people are like that," Clint said. "It's shit luck, though."
"Yeah." Tony sighed heavily, leaning against the car door, resting his cheek against the glass. The coolness of it probably felt good to him, flushed as he was. "Fucking sucks."
Clint let an appropriate noise come from his throat and thought about what he himself was heading for. That was the world, sometimes.
Silence reigned for the rest of the drive. Clint pulled up a long and winding driveway some twenty minutes later and had to stare. Even in the dark he could tell that the house was more of a mansion than anything, carved straight out of the woods around it. He'd bet that the smooth darkness behind it was a lake or an artificial pond or some such, too.
"Home again," Tony said, voice starting to slur again. He needed sleep, if Clint was any judge. His hands fumbled at the door handle, and Clint made it out and around the car before Tony succeeded in falling out.
"Hey," he said, reaching over to unbuckle him. "C'mon, Tony, let's get you in. Where's Jarvis?"
"Right here, sir," Jarvis said from behind him. Clint jumped, whirling around, but there was only an older man standing there, not particularly threatening. He looked more like a butler than anything else, and the English accent was suddenly too funny for Clint to bear without at least a grin.
"Hey," Clint said. "Got Tony here. You want me to put him somewhere?"
Jarvis directed a long-suffering look Tony's way. "If you would be so kind," he said, "as to bring Mr. Stark to his room...."
Stark? For some reason the name was ringing bells. But more of Tony's weight was sagging onto Clint, and he pushed the thought away for later.
"I can do that," Clint said. "Just show me where to go."
The inside of the house was more stark than Clint had expected, more sleek lines and not as much opulence. Tony didn't say much as Clint walked him through it, most of his weight resting on Clint's shoulder, or even when Clint let him fall down on the bed, which was big enough for an orgy and looked incredibly soft.
It was only when Clint started to leave that Tony moved. "Hey gorgeous," he said.
Clint paused, turning back to the bed. "I'm not sleeping with you, Tony."
"Pity," Tony said. "No, no, just, thanks, okay? For the ride. Jarvis knows. Buy you a drink some time. Hell, ten, okay? Just find me and I promise, man's gotta keep his word, that's gold."
Clint studied his face, but he looked to be entirely serious. "Okay," he said finally. "Okay, I can do that. See you round."
Jarvis thanked him heartily as he left, promising that someone would be down to collect Mr. Stark's car the next morning. Clint nodded. With any luck he could avoid being there for that—avoid running into Tony again, too, because the man really was too pretty for his own good and Clint didn't want to go for that just from desperation. He had his pride.
The night was chilly, even with the heater cranked, and the hostel was warm. Clint didn't sleep well anyways. The morning was coming far too soon, and then he'd be roofless.
That morning he bought a camp stove and some gas and cans of chili. Not awesome, but better than nothing, and hot, and meanwhile he wasn't paying rent. He figured he could find a place just out of town, off the beaten trail, to park his truck when night came. His coat ought to be warm enough, but he bought a blanket, too, just in case. Then he settled down near the Starbucks to mooch off their wireless. Nothing better to do.
The first day wasn't so bad. He didn't sleep well, but he was used to that and could live with it. Second day even was more lazy than anything else. He hooked his laptop into his truck and pulled up some saved ebooks he'd been meaning to get around to.
By the end of the week, though, he was getting restless. Showers at the Y only went so far, he was tired of reading, and there really wasn't much else for him to do. The library didn't have enough for him, he couldn't leave his truck out of sight unless he wanted his things stolen from the back or it broken into, and he was used to more activity. Forced inactivity didn't sit well with him, and it was getting colder.
It got to the point that Clint was downright thrilled to go back up to the site, regardless of the cold and the hard labor. Anything was better than sitting and shivering in the cool autumn air with nowhere to go and nothing to do.
He used work to block the thought of it out of his mind. He had two more shifts after this one. Three weeks off, three on, and repeat, and then he'd be done for the winter and could head somewhere else. Where he didn't know, but anywhere had to be better than this. Some place warm and south of here, in a bigger city where he could find a cheap crap place in the bad part of town, or a roomshare with some college kid or other—anything.
Going back down to the town happened on autopilot. The library was shut in the evenings, and all Clint really cared about was a solid night's sleep, maybe out at the park, and restocking his can collection so that he could have breakfast in the morning. Maybe splurge and buy some bagels and lox. It wouldn't be hot, but it would be a change from soup and chili.
The weather'd turned for the colder, so Clint grabbed some milk, too. He had a cup somewhere in the truck, and it was easily cold enough now that the milk would keep as long as it stayed out of the sun, though he'd have to cover it to keep it from freezing overnight. Checking out got him an odd look or two, probably because he hadn't had a chance to shave the last couple days, but then he was out of the store and into the lot.
He didn't realize until he got right up next to it that the glass on the ground, the beeping alarm, was from his truck.
“Oh fuck,” Clint said, setting his groceries down carefully, mind already going to some distant place. “You're fucking kidding me.”
The driver's window was knocked out, the door was open, and his pack—the one with his laptop and his cold-weather gear and all of his valuables minus his wallet and keys—was gone. The truck bed had been raided, too, it looked like, emptier than it had been. Even the blanket in the back seat was missing.
Clint cursed long and quiet. The hostel it was, and repairs for the truck, and he'd have to go shopping to replace the clothes—fuck, he couldn't afford this, what the hell was he going to do?
The answer, apparently, was load everything he possibly could into the truck, get it into the storage unit with the rest of his stuff, and go to the hostel.
There were no empty beds.
“Sorry, dude,” the kid at the counter told him. “Maybe, like, a hotel? Or, uh, there's a Salvation Army about eight blocks that way, if you want.”
Clint rocked back on his heels, closing his eyes for a moment. “Yeah,” he said. “Thanks.”
He couldn't—there was nothing he could do, was there, but go to the Salvation Army? But there were no beds open there, either, with the way the weather had turned, and when he went to the cheapest hotel he could remember the receptionist took one look at him and demanded a credit card on file rather than cash up front, and Clint only had the debit.
He went to Wanderlust.
He didn't know why. There was nothing there for him, really, the manager'd made good weeks ago on her promise of a free drink, and they'd kick him out by one anyways, but maybe—maybe he could beg a couch off someone. Long shot, but it could work, and some people went for the unshaven mountain-man look. Clint hadn't had to think about that in years, but the true cold when night set in wasn't going to be kind, and a stranger's bed was better than frostbite that would keep him from working.
Somehow, though, he just couldn't do it. Maybe it was pride, that he'd gotten away from that place the first time, maybe it was stubbornness, or maybe it was just that he was tired, too tired for the kind of effort he'd need to put out for that to work, but Clint sat at a table in the corner, as shadowed as he could get, and stared out at the people without actually seeing any of them.
Fuck, he was so tired, and the cold was in his bones by now so that even the alcohol wasn't warming him up.
Last call. He went outside before he had a chance to cause any trouble. He liked these people. It wasn't their fault he didn't have anywhere to go. Wasn't anyone's but Garrett's, really.
Clint stood next to the truck, staring at it. It was tall, even for him, had to be for the rough terrain. He'd get the energy up to pull himself in any second now. Any second.
His jacket had gone missing with the rest of his things. It was so cold outside.
“Hey gorgeous,” a voice said behind him. It was bright and sharp and vaguely familiar. “Let me give you a lift.”
Clint didn't even turn, just raised his middle finger out of sheer reflex.
“Aw, come on, don't be like that,” the voice said, and then there were footsteps coming up from behind him, and then around, and then a man leaned against the side of his truck and cocked his head at Clint. His hair was dark, and he was far too pretty for his own good.
Clint stared at him, trying to figure out where he'd seen him before.
“Don't remember me?” The man shook his head. “You gave me a ride. I owe you one.”
Gave him a ride—Tony. Tony, who lived in the mansion outside of the city with the butler Jarvis and the utterly ridiculous bed, who'd only made it home that night because of Clint.
“You really don't,” Clint said.
“Of course I do,” Tony said, “and being me, and a genius, I noticed that you could probably use a jacket or a heater or both, and I don't think your heater is going to work so well when your window's busted up like that.” He paused. “C'mon. Let me give you a ride home.”
Home. Clint closed his eyes, shamed even before saying the words, but they came out anyways. “Don't have anywhere to go.”
There wasn't even a full beat of silence before Tony said, “Then come home with me.”
It would be warm there. He'd admired Tony earlier. Clint went away further into his own head, where nothing could touch him or hurt him, and then opened his eyes. “Tony, man....”
“Clint,” Tony said, and lifted his hand, slowly, telegraphing it. It was rough and calloused and warm against Clint's neck. “You can't tell me you want to sleep out under the sky in this kind of cold. Just let me take you home.”
Clint held his eyes for a moment, trying desperately not to lean into the warmth of Tony's hand, then nodded. “Okay.”
Tony's face lit up and he started prodding Clint toward his car. “C'mon, you'll love it, it's great, Jarvis'll be thrilled, thinks you're a potentially good influence or something—”
Clint let the chatter carry him through the drive to Tony's house and in past the door and down the hall. Tony stopped short of the bedroom Clint remembered, though, pushing him instead into what looked an awful lot like a guest suite, a big bed and perfectly tidy room and a door off to one side.
“Tony?” Clint said uncertainly. He'd thought—he knew Tony was attracted to him. To stay out of the cold....
“Yeah, no, really not that kind of asshole,” Tony said lightly. “Catch me in the morning if you want. Or don't, either way. But yeah, your room, feel free to crash, the bathroom's through there and there should be towels, I think there're towels, Jarvis's usually pretty good about that and I think there's a robe, too, but I could be wrong. What's your favorite breakfast food?”
“What?” Clint said, unable to really process most of that string of words, too far away still.
“Breakfast,” Tony repeated. “Jarv wants to know these things, beautiful, chop chop.”
“Uh.” Clint blinked, trying to think. “Eggs.”
Tony gave him a patient stare. “Fried, poached, fricasseed, scrambled, omelets, Benedict—”
“That last one,” Clint said. “I had those once at a little place, they were good. Tony....”
“No, no, no Tony-ing me, you need to crash, it is written all over your face, no offense, you know you're pretty, but you really look like you need sleep,” Tony said, backing out of the room. “See you in the morning.”
Then he was gone, the door closed behind him, and Clint stood there staring at it for a moment before slowly swiveling to take in the room.
It was bigger than he was used to. The bed itself looked like it could sleep four comfortably, and the carpet was thick and soft on his feet when he kicked his shoes off. The bathroom—probably another time he'd have goggled at the bathroom, but as it was he only really registered the hot water and enormous fluffy robe.
He didn't have any PJs with him,everything either gone or in storage as it was, but the sheets were soft against his skin, and the blankets were warm and heavy, and Clint fell asleep about as soon as his head hit the pillow.
Morning came in a flood of sunshine through a big window Clint hadn't noticed the night before. It took him a minute to place himself and his surroundings, and he spent some time just looking at everything before his bladder dragged him into the bathroom. The mirror let him know that he really ought to shave, and a moment's investigation showed him both safety and straight razor on one side of the counter. It felt good to scrape the stubble off his face.
He was tidying back up when he heard a knock on the bedroom door. “Yes?” he called back.
“Good morning, sir,” came Jarvis's voice from the other side. “I've taken the liberty of setting clothes for you here, and if you will come to the kitchen once finished you will find breakfast waiting. Down the hall, second left, last right.”
“Thanks,” Clint said, and examined the clothes waiting for him. Jeans. T-shirt. Nothing too bad. He didn't know what he'd've done otherwise; the situation was already surreal.
It only got more so when he made his way down the halls, and he had to stop inside the door. The kitchen was bright and sleek, very open and spacious, and Jarvis was standing at the stove while Tony lounged against a counter like some sort of panther. His eyes lit up when he saw Clint, and he pushed himself up in one coiled motion.
“A good morning gets even better,” he said cheerfully, giving Clint a blatant once-over. “Sleep well, gorgeous?”
“Yeah,” Clint said. “It was great, thanks. Breakfast smells amazing, thanks for that, too. I'll get out of your hair after.”
“Aw, now, you don't have to do that,” Tony said. “Why head back outside? There's plenty of space here.”
Clint raised his eyebrows. “Tony, man, I can't just stay here.”
“Why not?” Tony said. “You said yourself you don't have anywhere else to go.”
“Because—” Clint shook his head. “You can't just take people in like stray cats or something.”
“Who says I can't? Jarv, do you hear this?” Tony leaned back, crossing one leg over the other. “Please, Goldilocks, I've got plenty of space, and anyway you're much more interesting than a cat.”
Clint stared at him. He could feel his shoulders hunching up, the worry, and tried to go away again, but it wasn't working as easily, not in the bright warm kitchen with the smell of eggs and ham, and Tony's eyes on him. “I can't,” he started to say, and then stopped, not knowing what to follow it with.
Tony stilled almost imperceptibly, then his smile changed from leering to something gentler. “Clint,” he said, approaching him slowly, like a skittish animal, putting a hand on his shoulder when he got close enough. “You can. Call it karma. You helped me out on a bad night, you didn't ask for anything, hell, you didn't even take me up on that offer, you could've found me pretty easily. Let me help you out now. It's not like I can't afford it.” He waved around the kitchen, and Clint followed the motion.
“I thought,” Clint said finally, and doesn't follow it up with anything.
Tony shrugged. “Like I said, not that kind of asshole. You're gorgeous, but this doesn't depend on that. Just... let me keep you out of the cold.”
Clint stood there, looking around at the kitchen, the view out of it. At the stove Jarvis transferred poached eggs from a pot of boiling water onto a plate. A coffee machine burbled on the counter; an extra mug sat in front of it, clearly waiting for Clint to make use of it.
Tony's hand slid up Clint's shoulder until his thumb could rub light circles over Clint's throat, and Clint turned back to him. Tony's face was open, eager, maybe a little anxious, and try as he might Clint couldn't find anything hidden in it.
“Okay,” Clint said. “Okay, I'll stay. But.” He ground to a halt. Tony waited patiently for him.
Clint took a deep breath and leaned into the hand on his neck. “Is sharing a bed still on option? Because I seem to remember telling you to find me later, when I drove you home that time.”
Tony smiled brilliantly, his hand cupping the back of Clint's neck. “Oh, it definitely is,” he said. “But if I drag you out of here now Jarvis might actually kill me, so eat your eggs first, gorgeous, and then....” He winked outrageously, and Clint felt laughter bubble up inside him for the first time in weeks.
He let it come. Tony's other hand had migrated to Clint's neck at some point, and it was the easiest thing in the world to duck his head and kiss Tony, warm and eager in the bright morning sun.