“You said this is a safehouse?” Tony almost raced down the ramp of the Quinjet, looking around when he got to the bottom, a wary expression on his face. “A farm in the middle of … where are we anyway?”
“Iowa,” Clint answered. He stopped walking behind Tony, turning back and holding a hand out to Steve. Steve kept a tight hold on Natasha until they got close to him, then he made room so Clint could slide an arm around her shoulders. Steve could tell her eyes were still a little glassy, her pupils still blown wide, and he actually wasn’t sure she would stay standing if they let go of her, so he wasn’t planning on doing so anytime soon.
It took them a few moments to get down the ramp all together, Bruce and Thor slowly trailing after them.
“This is your safehouse?” Tony asked Clint when they’d all stepped out onto solid ground.
Clint looked over at Steve, who gave him a subtle nod. It was about time the rest of the team knew.
“It’s ours,” Clint said.
“Ours?” Tony repeated, eyebrows raised.
“Ours,” Clint said. He gestured to Steve, to Natasha and to himself. “The three of us. It’s ours.”
Tony stared at Clint, then turned his gaze next to Natasha who was looking at the ground and then finally to Steve. His mouth was open slightly, eyes wide. But then just as quickly, his entire expression changed into a grin.
“Well,” he said brightly, “that sure does explain a whole lot of things I never wanted to ask about!”
One Year Earlier
It wasn’t his favorite safehouse, Clint told Steve later that night, but it was good for blending in when he needed to be near things. No one in the city paid attention to anyone else, especially not an average guy in average clothes.
“What happened to you two?” Clint asked as he ushered them inside, quickly closing the door behind them.
“Everyone at SHIELD is trying to kill us,” Natasha said, her voice giving away just how exhausted she really was. She looked a little like she might fall over. Steve slipped an arm around her shoulders just in case. “You’re the only one we can trust.”
“What? Everyone at SHIELD is trying to kill you?” Clint shook his head. “I go off the grid for two days …”
“It’s not SHIELD. It’s Hydra,” Steve said.
Clint blinked. “Hydra, as in the two-headed snake organization you guys took out years and years ago?”
“Except we didn’t,” Steve said. “They’ve been hiding in SHIELD all this time, and they chose now to make an appearance.”
“Wow, I’ve missed a lot.” Clint raked his eyes over both of them and frowned. “You two look like you were caught in an explosion.”
“We were,” Steve said, not able to keep the bitterness out of his voice. It had been a long day.
“What? And you guys are okay?”
Steve shrugged. “Super serum. It helps a lot.” He gestured to Natasha, who was now leaning wearily against him, with his chin. “She got hit pretty hard, though.”
“I’m fine,” she said.
Clint snorted. “Well, considering the last time you told me that, you were really bleeding out from a gunshot wound to the thigh and passed out in the shower five minutes later, forgive me if I don’t really take your word for it.”
From the corner of his eye, Steve could see Natasha scowl.
“Come on,” Clint said. He turned around and gestured to them both to follow. “Let’s get you two cleaned up, you” — he pointed to Natasha — “looked at, and then Steve can tell me all about what you two did to piss of Hydra and how we’re going to fix it.”
“We’re going to fix?” Steve said, as he helped Natasha to follow Clint through the living room and down the hall.
“Of course we,” Clint answered. “Isn’t that why you came to me in the first place?”
11 Months Earlier
“Just don’t tell me you’re reading those Captain America ones,” Steve said out loud, chuckling as Clint almost fell backward out of the chair.
“Man! A little notice next time!” Clint righted himself and glared at Steve.
“You’re the one in my hospital room.”
“And no, Iron Man. Some kid by the vending machine gave it to me.”
“Hmmm,” Steve said, then, “Isn’t it Natasha’s turn to guard me?” She and Clint had been alternating ever since he had woken up. He didn’t really remember much about what happened, except for staring his former best friend in the eye, up on a helicarrier far above the Potomac, knowing he was going to die, and hoping with all his heart that Clint and Natasha had gotten out okay.
They had, although Natasha was apparently pissed off at him for almost dying. Steve was still convinced she had been planning to pummel him when she realized he was awake before Clint grabbed her arm and made her see reason.
“I wanted to talk to you about something.”
Steve eyed him. “That never sounds good.”
“It could be good.”
Clint took a breath and templed his fingers. “You want to find Bucky. Nat needs a new cover. I don’t want to be in the city anymore.”
“So we should leave. Go away.”
“The three of us?” Steve quirked a brow.
“The three of us,” Clint affirmed.
“Wouldn’t that be weird?”
“Why?” Steve repeated. “I mean, I like you and all, but we hardly know each other.”
Clint shrugged. “But we both like her.”
“Of course Natasha.”
“I don’t know.” Steve rubbed his head. “I don’t know what I want to do yet.”
“Just think about it,” Clint said. “I found some photos online of a house in Iowa. It’s on a farm.”
“You want to be a farmer?”
“Sure. Why not?” Clint grinned at him, but Steve honestly couldn’t decide if he were joking.
9 Months Earlier
They were still in D.C., all of them somehow inexplicably in Steve’s apartment. At least it was inexplicable to him. It was like one day he came home, and there was Natasha eating cereal at the kitchen table like she belonged there, and the next day he found Clint on the couch in his boxers — in his boxers — on the couch watching bad reality TV.
Soon they were there so often, Steve thought he should ask them to move in. He didn’t, of course, but that was only because they pretty much did it anyway. At least that’s what he assumed had happened the day he found his clothes squished on one side of the closet because Natasha had taken over the other half.
The nightmares, though, were new. Clint said she’d had them when he first brought her into SHIELD, but that was before she trusted him and she wouldn’t tell him what they were about. He assumed her past, but he didn’t ask her. But it had been awhile since Clint had seen her have one, and Steve hadn’t seen her have one any of the times they’d slept in the same room when they were partners.
This one was, though, was bad. She was crying so hard between screams they were afraid she was going to hyperventilate. After awhile, they each just laid down on either side of her, holding her between them and stroking her hair and rubbing her back until she was calm enough to drift off again.
Steve waited until he was sure she was out before speaking.
“Maybe we should go to Iowa,” he said.
Clint propped himself up on his elbow. “Are you sure? Your leads for Bucky are here.”
“They have internet there.” Steve shrugged. “She should be our first priority, and she’s too on edge here. Too many reminders.” He ran a hand down her arm and down her side, feeling her skin warm beneath his touch.
On her other side, Clint pursed his lips. “You love her,” Clint said quietly.
Steve kept his eyes on Natasha, on the tear tracks on her face. It broke his heart to see her cry. He’d never seen her like that before and he never wanted to again, if he could help it. And he knew the man across from him felt the same way.
“So do you,” he finally said.
“You’d think that could be an issue,” Clint said.
Steve lifted a hand, wiped a tear off Natasha’s cheek. “Only if we let it.”
6 Months Earlier
She was asleep now, stretched out on the couch in front of the fire, tucked lovingly under a blanket by Clint. From his spot by the window, Steve could see her out of the corner of his eye, the flames reflecting shadows off her face and her hair.
He felt motion behind him and turned, smiling softly at Clint as he came to stand next to him, both of them staring out into the night.
“Steve?” Clint’s voice sounded tentative, so unlike him, it instantly made Steve’s spine tingle with fear.
“Would you mind if I kissed you?” The words came out in a rush, so jumbled together it took Steve a second to even process it. Once he did, his eyes darted to the side, to the woman sleeping on the couch.
“We both already sleep with her,” Clint said.
“And you figured this would make it easier?”
“No, I just really want to.”
“Oh.” Steve didn’t know what to say to that, but he ended up not having to say anything. Clint leaned forward, and Steve leaned in to meet him, lips meeting for the first time slow and tentatively, then meeting for the second time more sure, and then meeting for the third time like they needed each other to breathe.
When they pulled away, they were both panting, so lost in each other, they didn’t realize she was standing there until there was an arm slung around each of their necks, causing them both to yelp.
“Oh, don’t be that way,” Natasha said with a smirk. “I’ve been waiting for this a long time, boys.”
Clint, halfway out of his own t-shirt, nodded agreement. “Tony did make me promise not to have sex in the common rooms unless we wanted an orgy with the rest of them.”
“Oh, lord.” Steve rolled his eyes.
“But yeah,” Clint continued. “They seem to be taking it well.”
Steve turned his eyes to Natasha. She was lying in the center of the bed — her usual spot — just staring up at the ceiling. She’d been almost completely silent since they’d found her after she was hit with Wanda’s spell, all her walls back up and locked in place.
Steve pulled back the sheets and slid in on her right side, Clint doing the same on her left.
“Hey.” He reached over, placing a hand over her hands that were clasped together and resting on her stomach. “You doing okay?”
Natasha shook her head. “I don’t know.”
“It’s okay,” Steve said. He leaned over and kissed her gently. “We’ve got you.”
He pulled back to let Clint kiss her, too.
“Just sleep, Nat,” Clint told her, lifting a hand to push her hair off her forehead. “We can talk in the morning if you feel up to it.”
“Can you guys just hold me tonight?” Her voice was soft, almost like she was ashamed to be asking. Maybe she was. Asking for what she needed was still something she was getting used to.
“We’re not going anywhere,” Steve told her.
“That,” Clint said, leaning over to switch off the lamp, “is one thing you can always count on.”