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The power of the right shirt (a.k.a. God bless America)

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"He just…" Phil trails off, mouth gaping. He is staring at the field outside the house, eyes glazed.

Clint sighs. "Yeah, he just ripped a log in two with his bare hands."

Phil doesn't seem to hear him. "But—I—" he stammers. There is a pink hue to the tops of his cheekbones, and his throat clicks when he tries to swallow.

Clint looks at the ceiling, silently begging the exposed beams for any kind of assistance. It's not that he's a jealous man – he has never had much that was his to be jealous over, much less people – but there's only so much he can take of his boyfriend gazing at another man – at Captain America – like he wants to drop to his knees and take one for the team.

It's a look not unlike the one Tony is wearing this same second, as it happens.

Tony looks away after a moment (Clint would, too, at the sight of that much physical perfection), and grabs another axe. He goes at the logs like he's bearing a personal grudge – and maybe he is, but if that's the case, he's on his own. He's the one who came to Clint's house looking for a few days' timeout to regroup, at the farm Clint bought before everything went to shit (but also before he'd known Phil just happened to not be dead, so, you know, it kind of balances out). So whatever 'issues' Tony is currently having, he can deal with them like the grown-up he's supposed to be.

Next to him, Steve is still going at his own pile of wood (heh) like it's his sole mission in life. Could be it's soothing, to do something so simple and menial – when there's a formerly brainwashed assassin squatting on the roof of the house, watching him while pretending to be absorbed in cleaning his guns and sharpening his knives, Clint reckons he'd be happy to let out his frustration by hacking at wooden blocks with sharp implements, too.

"Mnh," Phil says, when Steve swings his axe and lets it fall in a particularly bloody-minded manner, and Clint snaps a little.

"If you've got a boner right now, so help me," he says, hating the whine that has crept into his voice. He's a self-assured master marksman, damn it, and besides, Steve is kind of astronomically hot.

Phil ignores him. Of course he does—oh, wait. Phil's hand has found his wrist, pressing onto his pulse point with the kind of calm, familiar authority that makes Clint shudder all over.

"Just because a guy can rip a log in half with the power of his biceps, doesn't mean I want to have sex with him, Barton."

"I could totally rip a log in two," Clint grumbles sulkily. Going by the look on Phil's face when he turns to look at him, he's missing the point entirely.

"Of course you could, baby," Phil says. Clint wants to punch him. (Except for how he doesn't.)

"You're humouring me," he complains, hand flexing on the handle of his chef's knife. He'd been chopping carrots. They were making stew with dumplings, Natasha's secret favourite – she's due at any moment, fresh from scouting out just how fucked up this whole situation has gotten, since she and Maria Hill have more contacts in all kinds of places than the rest of them put together.

"Smells amazing in here," Sam remarks genially, thundering down the stairs with Triplett and Skye at his heels before Phil can answer. "What're we—holy mother."

He stops next to Phil, staring out of the window with the same dazed expression that's on Phil's face. Clint scowls again, chopping through the rest of the carrots and starting on the pile of washed, peeled potatoes (you wouldn't believe how much food this lot could put away).

"God bless America," Skye adds in an awed manner, coming to stand next to him.

Clint looks sideways at the four of them, lined up like meerkats sniffing the air.

"Yo Cap," he hollers through the open window. "You might wanna give it a break? You're attracting groupies."

Steve and Tony straighten and turn. Steve's skintight shirt is sticking to him in a few damp patches, making it child's play to count each and every muscle it lovingly clings to. Clint could totally pull off a shirt like that, too.

Tony looks at Sam, Phil, Skye, and Triplett's faces – knowing, desperately deadpan, unapologetically drooling, and guilty, respectively – and cracks up. Above them, there is a scrape of whetstone on steel, loud in the sudden silence, making at least two people jump. Steve looks at his audience, face unreadable. Then he reaches for the neck of his shirt and strips it off, mopping his sweaty chest with it.

"O-kay," Clint declares, dropping the knife. "That was such a dirty move, Steve, I think I'm proud."

Tony looks like a feather would knock him over, shamelessly gaping at the vast expanse of Steve's chest. Triplett sounds like he's choking, and even Skye has gone all pink, mouth open in shock.

Sam starts laughing hysterically. "Are you trying to start a riot, Rogers?" he yells, whistling appreciatively as punctuation.

"Well, you’re all kinda easily distracted," Steve says, sliding his eyes to Tony, who snaps his jaw shut and narrows his eyes at him.

"Okay, I want to be offended, but really, well played, Rogers, that was a fine piece of misdirection."

"Thanks, Tony," Steve says dryly, throwing his shirt over his shoulder and stalking towards the house.

"Hide me," Phil whispers in Clint's ear.

"No," Clint says vindictively.

Steve's eyes flick upwards, and a small smile lights up his face. Clint finds himself smiling with him. Mollified, he turns his hand, catching Phil's fingers with his. After all, he got Phil back from the dead. He can afford to cut him some slack. Phil nuzzles into his neck in thanks, and Clint's knees abruptly feel all wobbly.

"You know I'd be just as dedicated to ogling you, right?" Phil murmurs, but Clint, with years of dedicated practice, hears what he's really saying.

"Love you too, babe," he returns quietly, as Steve reaches the door and steps inside.

As one, Triplett and Skye side-step Sam, leaving a clear path for Steve to take to the stairs, while Sam cackles, because Sam is easily amused by other people's epic fails. Phil, to Clint's secret pleasure, doesn't move from his position, even if he's looking at Steve out of the corner of his eye. Stomping footsteps bring Tony in Steve's wake, just as on the other side of the house there is the roar of a Mustang that announces Natasha's arrival.

"Yo Barnes, dinner," Sam yells out of the window. Upstairs, there's a thump, and Steve's smile grows and turns quietly happy.

The world is, slowly but surely, going to shit around them. Clint, however, is an old hand at this, and it doesn't stop him from taking this moment out of time to appreciate what he's got.