“So, what's up with Archer boy?” asked Tony as he eyed Clint from across the bar.
The Avengers had opted to go out and have a few drinks that particular night in hopes of establishing a bit more of a rapport with one another. Since Loki's first few attacked, and the Avenger's subsequent victories, the team as a whole had grown stronger and more attached to one another. Fights still occurred of course, internal tensions like those the newly created group had been facing from the beginning didn't disappear over night. But things were getting gradually better and everyone was starting to trust one another.
Natasha glanced at Clint from where she sat beside Steve, talking about something that might have been history related. “He's moping.”
Tony snorted slightly and took a sip of his drink. “I can see that. I meant why.”
She shrugged. “He has been like this since his deployment to New Mexico during Thor's initial landing and refuses to discuss the matter. Well,” she paused, weighing her words carefully even though a touch of hurt leaked into her voice, “at least with me he refuses to discuss the matter.”
Beside her, Steve took in Clint's stance. “I think he's having issues with a girl.” At the joint raised eyebrows from Tony and Natasha, he continued. “I saw it a lot in the army, guys who would be moaning because their relationships were falling apart or they weren't brave enough to ask the girl's they wanted to ask out. He's got that same look.”
Tony smirked. “Maybe he found the perfect girl back in New Mexico but she told him off.”
“I wouldn't be surprised,” admitted Natasha. “He can be overly cocky to the point of driving one to physical violence.”
Steve just shook his head. “One of us should talk with him.”
“How 'bout Thor?” suggested Tony with a borderline-evil grin. “I bet the big guy would have some suggestions.”
Natasha rolled her eyes. “Perhaps you should speak with him, Tony. You are the 'playboy' among us after all.”
Tony considered it for a moment, shrugged, and stood. “Sure, why not?”
Both Natasha and Steve stared slack-jawed for a moment before jumping to try to intercept Tony. Steve knew Natasha had been kidding about Tony speaking with Clint, but neither one of them was able to grab the insane genius before he was out of range. Steve briefly considered tackling him in the middle of the bar, but threw it out just as quickly because, really, that would just look weird. Realizing there was no way to stop the insane genius, both Steve and Natasha exchanged doomed looks and settled in to watch the potential storm brewing. Neither wanted to remain at the bar, but leaving Tony to his own devices was a bad idea. Besides, if Clint murdered Tony someone had to know to bail him out of jail.
“How bad do you think this will be?” asked Steve nervously.
“Bad,” muttered Natasha in return. “Clint will not speak to me about whatever is bothering him. Tony doesn't have a chance.”
Steve nodded slowly. “Think he'll just tell Tony off?”
“Depends, how many drinks has he had?”
“I've seen him with four shots of something...”
Natasha groaned and shook her head. “Tony is dead. Four shots isn't enough to make Clint miss a punch.”
“Great,” muttered Steve, banging his head against the table lightly. “Our first outing as a team and we're going to start a brawl.”
“Look at it this way,” offered Natasha with a smile, “at least it's Tony starting the brawl. Everyone will excuse him as having been insanely drunk.”
“Maybe that will work then.”
Both of them watched Tony drop onto the stool beside Clint and start talking to the archer. Steve couldn't hear what they were saying, being too far away, but he did hear Natasha muttering beside him. “Let the fireworks begin.”
Tony eyed Clint for a moment before choosing his words. Maybe it was the father in him, but somehow the genius found himself wanting to actually help the archer, rather than make things worse. Well, potentially worse. This was Tony after all, not making things worse is impossible for him.
“So, what's got you down Clint?” Using first names as opposed to nicknames when confronting a pouting person. Check. Try to sound concerned or worried. Check. Time so see how far the 'comfort Darcy' checklist can go when dealing with other people.
He watched Clint's eyes widen in surprise, then narrow dangerously. “What do you want, Stark?”
Tony shrugged and leaned against the bar casually. “I don't know, to help a teammate?” When Clint just gave him a withering stare, he plowed on. “Look, clearly something went south for you recently. You're pouting like a kindergartener who got told they couldn't have a cookie because it wasn't snack time. All I want to do is help you out, so spill. What's got your bow-and-arrow boxers in a bunch?”
When Hawkeye didn't immediately punch him, Tony checked off the 'sincere concern' box as well. Apparently he wasn't that bad at being honest. Or at least appearing that way, even if he was being honest when he said he wanted to help the moping archer. Apparently, the paternal instinct extended to non-family members. Was that normal? He'd have to ask Pepper about that later. She'd know.
For almost a minute, Clint stared at Tony in a way that made Tony think the other man might be reconsidering the whole punching thing. Then, he sighed and motioned for another shot. “I can't believe I'm about to do this.”
Tony raised a surprised eyebrow. “Do what?”
“Tell you about this,” admitted Clint as he downed the shot set in front of him. “Two rules though: don't interrupt me and don't laugh. This is bad enough as it is.”
“Right, got it,” assured Tony as he motioned for another drink himself. “So spill. What's got your cupid's bow drawn down?”
Clint shook his head, grabbing a beer that had been sitting by his right hand. “How can you still think of archery-related analogies when you're probably halfway towards smashed?”
“Skill,” assured Tony with a grin. “Plus, and if I ever hear word of this getting out I'll make damn sure you suffer creatively, I'm not as drunk as I look. Learning how to act drunk without actually being drunk meant that I could avoid the consequences while still blaming any bad behavior on drunken debauchery.”
“I think that makes it worse,” groaned Clint as he lightly hit his head on the bar. “I can't believe I'm doing this. Alright, so here's the situation. Back in New Mexico, I met this girl...”
Everyone appeared to be having fun, or at least as much fun as a 'yay, we didn't die horrible fiery deaths!' party could be. At a small-ass dive bar in a tiny New Mexico town that, frankly, Clint couldn't remember the name of. Even though he was still in it. Yeah, it was that small.
His eyes darted this way and that, taking in the room carefully. Most of the people in the room were on the older end of the spectrum, though a few younger individuals were scattered around the room. Most of the younger men were eying a woman about their age with dark-brown hair, glasses, and a good-sized chest to boot. Not that he was looking or anything. She was sitting in a corner with Jane Foster, who appeared to be attempting to drown her sorrows in liquor. The girl was completely sober from the looks of it, or at least as close to that as someone could be when they were drinking a concoction that contained weird colors and looked like it belonged in a chemistry lab. Or a nuclear physics one.
Every once in a while, a guy would approach her and attempt to flirt but she always shut them down quickly, either with a look or a few well-placed words. The boys walked away looking chastised or whimpering slightly but none the less they tried, one after another. Clint just shook his head at the sight. He was so glad that period of his life was mostly over. Now, he was pretty sure he could get a girl if he wanted one.
When some of the S.H.I.E.L.D Agents tried their luck, however, Clint found it hard not to laugh. She turned them down with the same ease as she had the other boys and possibly with dirtier looks. He couldn't be sure, but it looked like the word 'tazer' had left her mouth more than once. Usually during the end of an encounter.
Shaking his head, Clint turned back to the bar and waved to get the bar tender's attention. Catching the man's eye, he motioned for another beer. As he waited, his eyes darted to the mirror over the bar and the patrons reflected there in. Without a thought, he searched out the table with the brunette woman and Dr. Foster, only to discover that Dr. Foster was now at the table with Dr. Eric Selvig.
Furrowing his brows, Clint turned to scan the bar, only to find that the brunette woman was missing. Disappointed, he turned back to the bar in front of him where the beer he'd ordered was now sitting, only to find a small piece of paper folded up in front of him. Opening it, he found a note:
'Its not nice to stare and not at least come introduce yourself.'
“What the hell?” muttered Clint, shaking his head.
A soft laugh from behind Clint drew his attention. The brunette woman sat on a stool, smirking at him while looking him up and down. “You know that whole 'admiring from afar' thing? Girls actually hate that. We prefer when a cute guy approaches us, rather than just stares.”
“Sorry,” apologized Clint, “you just really didn't seem interested in company. The whole 'line of guys who look like they just got their balls handed to them' was kinda a good warning to stay away.”
She laughed again, the sound happy and rich. “Yeah, well, they weren't you. There's songs about trying even if you think you're going to fail. Its not a bad mentality.”
Clint smirked. “What, see if something blows up on you even if you know its going to?”
“Yep,” confirmed the girl. “Plus, explosions are awesome.”
“I can agree with that,” confirmed Clint, a smile forming from his smirk. “So, what's got you seeking out my company?”
The woman shrugged. “You're hot and look interesting. Like you might actually have some personality rather than being a Coulson Clone.”
Both of Clint's eyebrows shot up. “A 'Coulson Clone'?”
“Yeah. You know, a clone of Agent Dickwad Coulson.”
The smirk reformed. “I'm pretty sure his first name is Phil.”
“Eh,” shrugged the girl, “Dickwad works too. Anyway, so why are you alone over here? There's a party for the S.H.I.E.L.D people in that corner.” Her hand motioned to the corner where most of the other agents had gathered, many of them after the woman in front of Clint had handed them their balls on a platter.
Clint shrugged. “I'm not big on pity parties, and I'm pretty sure that's what's going on.”
The girl grinned. “I like you. You've got some personality. Any sarcasm hidden in there?”
“Nope, none at all,” replied Clint with his most sarcastic voice. “All I am is an arrow-shooting jack-booted thug. Sorry.”
“Right,” drawled the girl casually. “And I'm next in line for the English throne.” One of her hands extended towards his. “Name's Day. At least, that's what everyone calls me. Well, what some people call me. Others call me other things that shouldn't be repeated in polite company. Or impolite company for that matter.”
Clint snorted slightly and took a swig of his beer. “Right, a nice girl like you? I'll believe it when I hear it.”
Day winked at him. “Who ever said I was nice?”
He choked a little on his beer, suddenly very nervous. The last woman to wink at him like that also tried to kill him. “Um...”
She leaned forward a little more, eyes locking with his. “In fact, I can be very bad when I want to be. Wanna see?”
“What?” muttered Clint, eyes going wide. “I-I don't-”
Day leaned back again, chuckling as she stole a sip of his beer. “I'm propositioning you dude. Don't look like I'm about to eat your eyelids or something.”
Clint blinked at her blankly for a moment. “Propositioning me?”
Apparently, patience wasn't her strong suit because, suddenly, she grabbed his collar and kissed him. Not a cautious, quick peck but full on lip to lip, brutal type of kiss that left him breathless. And shaking. And more than a bit turned on.
“Okay, I think I understand now,” muttered Clint, the remnants of shock depleting quickly. “But to make sure, you want to have sex.”
Day grinned. “Now your catching on, soldier.”
“Agent,” corrected Clint almost automatically. When Day raised an eyebrow at him, he quickly explained. “I'm not a soldier anymore.”
“Alright, Agent then,” grinned Day. “Now, can I ask said Agent's name?”
Clint smirked. “Why?”
“Cause guys get mad when you scream the wrong name during sex,” pointed out Day with her own smirk. “Don't want to ruin the mood or anything. Plus, its a general rule of mine: get a name to go with your bed partner.”
“Any particular reason for that rule?” asked Clint as she pulled him back down by his collar.
Day shrugged. “Just makes things less awkward than saying 'oh, random dude, harder'.”
Clint gulped a little. “I can get behind that. The name's Clint Barton, ma'am.”
“Clint Barton,” repeated Day with a grin as she kissed him again, pushing him against the bar as she stood from her stool. “I like it. Maybe we can go somewhere else and I can try saying it a few different ways.”
For a second, Clint looked at her and wondered if she was actually legal. Then he remembered the brightly colored drinks and considered her company before shrugging it off and leading her out of the bar. Screw it, the girl looked old enough to be legal and she was Foster's college intern. That had to mean she was at least over 18.
The way she was looking at him, it was pretty clear she knew exactly what he was thinking. Still, one of her hands grabbed his arm, so she could pull him back into another kiss. Which rapidly exploded into something much dirtier and could possibly get them arrested if they weren't careful.
“Unfortunately, all I have is a crappy little motel room,” apologized Clint as he pressed her into a wall near where they were standing.
Day made a strange noise in the back of her throat and ground against him. “If there's a bed, it works.”
Clint groaned and nodded. “Fuck. Yeah, there's a bed.”
“So you scored with a girl. Doesn't sound like a bad situation,” pointed out Tony as he motioned for another drink. Clint was definitely suspecting that it wasn't alcoholic given the man had downed three of those same drinks during his story and still looked the same as he had before Clint started. Or he was just a really good actor.
“I'm not finished,” scowled Clint. “No interrupting, remember?”
Tony nodded and motioned for him to continue. “Right, sorry. Keep going.”
Clint sighed and dropped his head on the table. “Besides, the night wasn't the problem. It was the next morning...”
The sounds of rustling clothing and quiet muttering had Clint awake in a heartbeat. For a second, he kept his eyes closed in an attempt to determine if the noises were coming from within the room or beside it. Given how thin the motel room walls were, he wouldn't be surprised if the sounds were someone moving around in the next room over. The noises were definitely coming from within the room though. His eyes cracked open enough that he could see what was happening in the room clearly without indicating he was awake.
Day was scrambling for her clothing, muttering here and there about something or another and checking her phone almost constantly. A faint pang rang in his chest as he realized she was just going to sneak out. The thought of pretending to be asleep so she could do so crossed his mind for a second before he shook it off mentally and allowed his eyes to open completely. If he couldn't have her again that morning, at least he'd enjoy the view. Plus, he could wait a second or two before “waking up” to ask for her phone number. Last night had been too good for him to do anything less.
She turned suddenly, scanning the room for something before grabbing it off the bed. A flash of purple told him it was the panties she'd been wearing last night. Ones he suspected might be a little damaged. The way she was looking at them with resignation told him they probably weren't wearable.
Her eyes darted to him as she tossed the panties somewhere over her shoulder and a grin formed on her face, even as she checked her phone again. “Hey Clint morning.” Something on the screen caught her eye and she cursed again. “Shit, uh, sorry to, you know, screw and run but I have to go. My dad's done something stupid again. Like always, right? That's fathers for you. At least mine. Anyway, I gotta dash. Phone number's on the dresser if you ever wanna do that again. It was fun. Ciao!”
Without another word she was darting out the door with the phone already to her ear as she started talking to someone else. “Mom, please, please, please, tell me dad didn't-”
The rest of the conversation was lost to the slamming of the door and hurried footsteps as she practically ran down the hall. Grimacing, Clint rolled out of the bed and pulled on his own boxers to check the dresser. Sure enough, there was a note folded on top of the badly dented and worn wood. Smiling slightly, he picked up the piece of paper and opened it, only to realize it was blank. Completely blank. An uncapped pen lay next to where the note had, indicating she intended to write something but apparently forgot.
“Well, this sucks,” muttered Clint with a sigh as he pushed his hair back and looked towards the door where the girl had run. Going back through their night after they left the bar, he realized two things very quickly: he'd let his guard down in a way that he never had with anyone else (which frightened him) and she had managed to give him one of the best nights he could ever recall having (which was scarier). And worst of all, he didn't even know who she was.
“That's what happened,” sighed Clint unhappily as he knocked back the rest of his beer.
Tony smirked a little and shrugged, feeling sorry for the man beside him. He knew all to well the 'pining from afar' feeling, and it sucked. Big time. Not knowing who you were even pining after so you could at least see them again though, that would be worse. “Sounds like you've got it bad.”
Clint glanced at Tony with narrowed eyes. “I've got what bad?”
“You've got a bad crush,” explained Tony with a grin. “Those, I know all about. What else do you know about this girl besides that her name is Day?”
“Why?” Clint's suspicion was written across his face, clear as his crush's name-sake.
Tony considered the question for a moment, checking with his mental 'Comfort Darcy' list before continuing. “Because I feel bad for you?”
Okay, that was a lie. He wanted to help because he'd never hear the end of it if he didn't at least offer and if it was Darcy telling him this, he'd want to help her find the guy. Largely so he could beat the crap out of the guy for doing that to his kid, but that was a relatively minor detail...
“Bullshit,” snorted Clint as he downed the rest of his beer and stood. “Look Stark, I'll find her on my own.”
Tony rolled his eyes with a shake of his head. “At least let me offer you JARVIS. He's great with finding resources and can track anyone, anywhere.”
Clint turned to glare at him. “What, so you can spy on me? I don't think so. I've got S.H.I.E.L.D. resources I can access.”
“What's got you going so badly that you can't at least accept a little help?” asked Tony, beyond confused by now. This wasn't the way a guy with a crush acted. Unless... “Did you fall in love with this girl?”
“No,” growled Clint, even as his cheeks begin to turn faintly red. “Look, I'll find her myself without your help.”
Tony nodded slowly, the pieces sinking into place. Yeah, Clint definitely had it bad. The 'love' kind of bad. No wonder he hadn't wanted to discuss this with Natasha. Hell, he'd probably only discussed it with Tony because he was inebriated. “Alright, whatever you say Barton. Just keep in mind that my offer still stands if you ever decide to take it.”
Clint didn't relax but he did nod in acceptance before walking out of the building. Tony let out a breath and leaned backward against the bar. Relationship issues. Thank god he'd never had that problem with Darcy. She hadn't even had sex yet, and Tony wasn't looking forward to it when she started. His own romantic feelings were tricky enough, dealing with hers too? Well, Pepper could do that. That's what mothers were for, right?
“Hey, bartender, can I get an actual drink?” asked Tony as he glanced at the man behind the bar.
The man shrugged. “Sure buddy, what do you need?”
“Something with rum.”
“Comin' right up.”
As the barkeeper went about mixing some drink or another, Tony glanced back at the entrance to the bar. Yeah, he was really glad he didn't have to deal with this kind of stuff with Darcy. Not yet, anyway.