Exhausted, Clint dumped his duffel bag onto the bed of the hotel room. He’d been driving for days; flying when he wasn’t the pilot had never been on his list of favorite things. He hadn’t intended to go this far away from New York. He was supposed to have gone to his farm, spent some time with his kids, sign the divorce papers, and leave. But that meant leaving the only home he’d managed to have in his entire life, and it was messing him up something fierce.
Especially since Laura had told him if he went back to being an Avenger, he wouldn’t have a home to come back to. She was done with him being gone all the time, done with his nightmares, done with the things he couldn’t tell her, done with his half-finished renovations, done with having to manage three kids and not having the help he’d promised, done with coming second to everything else. He’d promised her he’d retire, spend time with their kids, and that had lasted all of a month before he’d picked up his bow and quiver and ran headlong into danger because Captain America asked him to help. He couldn’t blame Laura, especially after he’d found out that she’d asked Steve if he was done leading his team into dangerous situations. It had taken months for the political machine to hammer out a resolution to half of the Avengers getting arrested. Officially, all of them save Bucky were confined to the Avengers Facility in upstate New York, under house arrest until further notice. Bucky was in cryofreeze in Wakanda; Clint had gotten an exception for the week to see his family. After two hours of being with his children and now ex-wife, Clint had had to leave, unable to stand being around the shattered remains of his dream.
His phone buzzed. Clint picked it up, aware that his teammates were concerned, and that he couldn’t run far without at least one of them tracking him. Some part of him that lived in terror of being lost to someone else’s control felt relief at knowing that.
Forty-eight hours and we’ll come pick you up unless you say otherwise, Steve’s text read.
Clint closed his eyes, grateful that Steve understood. No, forty-eight’s good. I’m in Portland, Oregon. Gonna find someplace to eat and get a few drinks. But if you’re thinking of flying me back, I don’t want to leave my Jeep.
You leave how we get your Jeep back to me. It’s better for both of us if you don’t know how it wound up in Oregon. I’m more concerned with you being back before the week is up.
Forgetting Steve couldn’t see him, Clint nodded agreement before belatedly sending an emoji of a nod.
You should check out this brewpub, came the reply, with a link to directions.
It was on my list, Steve replied. Tell Eliot I said hi if he’s there.
Clint half-laughed at that. Steve’s list of things he had to check out was now infamous amongst the team, especially since they’d taken turns helping him cross off items. Steve had a harder time with modern slang and pop culture references than he did technology, and it had been fun getting to know Steve in the process. By now, Clint knew there was very little the older man wouldn’t do for his friends. Meeting Bucky after all the mess in Siberia had only cemented that belief. Clint knew Steve had taken a road trip after the Battle of New York, claiming he wanted to see some places that he hadn’t gotten a chance to see while touring with the USO. Clint didn’t doubt that Steve had made a number of acquaintances along the way.
Clint texted his thanks and decided, after looking at the Yelp reviews, that the brewpub sounded good after a shower and a change of clothes. He needed a distraction from the heartbreak rattling around in his heart. He suspected that once he got back, Steve would be volunteering to let him work off some of the grief, maybe even getting the others to help. For now, though, some place that wasn’t a meat market, with good food and decent beer, sounded like just the place. The pub was within walking distance, so Clint felt okay about leaving his Jeep in the hotel parking lot.
The brewpub looked like a dozen other gourmet brewpubs Clint had been in over the years, but it felt warm, comfortable, and the music wasn’t so loud that it bothered Clint. The server who came to take his order was professional, with just the right touch of friendliness that Clint knew he’d remember her. He was nearly done with his dinner when his instinct for danger went on red alert. Breathing deep, he forced himself to look casual as he scanned the restaurant for what had triggered his instincts, only to swear when he recognized the danger: the man who was making a beeline towards him. Clint didn’t know the name, only the set of shoulders and the walk. Military or ex-military, might as well be wearing a uniform with that denim shirt and jeans and the combat boots, not armed with any weapons Clint could see which only meant confidence in his unarmed combat skills, but damn, he looked fine. His dark brown hair was pulled back in a short ponytail, and the way he looked at Clint said he knew Clint was looking at him with wary assessment.
Clint knew he had a weakness for dangerous people; the fact that Laura hadn’t been one of them had been a huge appeal. Clint had sworn off getting involved with other dangerous men because inevitably one of them would fuck him and then fuck him over; it had gotten so bad that Coulson had written him up for bad judgment, then questioned whether Laura was some kind of fake agent to get to the famous Hawkeye.
The stranger came to a stop beside the table and held out his hand to shake. “Welcome to my pub. Name’s Eliot Spencer,” he said. “A mutual friend said you might be stopping by, said you might want someone to keep watch while you get drunk.”
Clint barked out a laugh and shook hands. Trust Steve to find someone to watch over him when he couldn’t. “Clint Barton.”
Eliot just nodded. “Mind if I join you?”
“Not at all.”
Eliot took the empty chair, angling it so Clint still had a clear line of sight to the doorway.
“You, ah, just doing the captain a favor?” Clint knew that there were plenty of people who’d leap at doing Captain America a favor, but something told him that Eliot was different.
“I prefer not to owe anyone unspecified favors,” Eliot said flatly. “Now, people who get screwed over by assholes, that tends to make me interested.”
“My fault for volunteering,” Clint countered.
Eliot shook his head. “If it wasn’t the Sokovia Accords, it would be something else, and you know that. Say, a special task force for some general with a special interest in some country.”
Clint’s eyes narrowed. Eliot’s voice held the weight of experience. “What branch were you? No, you can’t tell me, not if that’s true, so what would you do?”
Eliot shrugged. “Change the game around so I know where the next shot’s coming from, but you didn’t come here to talk shop.”
“No,” Clint admitted. “Wanted somewhere to forget for a while.” He studied Eliot a moment, seeing the stillness of a man who wouldn’t ask questions unless Clint wanted him to have the answers. He took a breath and added, “Just signed the divorce papers.”
“That a good thing or a bad thing?”
“We were married for seven years,” Clint said heavily. “Thought I had a home to go home to between missions.”
Eliot nodded. “Know that feeling. So what brings you to Portland?”
“Seemed like the farthest place away I could get from New York in a relatively straight line and still be in a car.”
“Aren’t most of the mountain passes closed by now?”
“I did say relatively straight,” Clint replied, grinning.
Eliot started to stay something but then he paused.
Clint recognized the look on his face as that of someone listening to someone else on a comm unit, and realized abruptly that Eliot’s approach was not random. “Look, if you’re here to kidnap me –”
“– and be the idiot who kidnapped another of Captain America’s friends? I don’t have a death wish,” Eliot snapped, clearly annoyed. “All I was hoping for tonight was to get to know you a little, maybe see where the night goes. But my partners tell me your hotel’s crawling with cops and there’s an open bounty on your head, so why don’t you come with me before someone else recognizes you and realizes you’ve slipped your leash? You’d be a fool to go back to your hotel. I promise you I’ll protect you with everything I can, but if you’re going with me, you need to decide now.”
Clint went with his gut. “All right.”
Eliot rose and led him to the back of the brewpub, through a door marked ‘Employees Only’. Clint caught a glimpse of a sectional in front of an array of security cameras, the smell of popcorn lingering in the room, before Eliot led him up a curving staircase to a locked door. Opening it with a biometric fingerprint, Eliot showed Clint into a studio apartment that spanned the entire width of the floor. Shutting the door behind Clint, Eliot locked it.
“You’re safe here.”
“What’s going on at my hotel?”
“International security seminar that’s running all weekend, not that you’d know that unless you were in the business. That hotel’s pretty good about not blaring they’ve invited half the spooks in the world to a convention.”
Clint winced. He had the worst luck at times. “Damn it.”
Eliot acknowledged that with a brief nod. “My partners are moving your car and getting your bags; the hotel won’t have a record of your stay by the time they’re done. They should be here in twenty minutes. If you’re still hungry, I can make you something or have something brought up from downstairs. If you’re still in the mood to get drunk, the bar is stocked up here.”
“You’ll meet them soon enough, or not, your choice, and they’re the best at what they do,” Eliot said firmly. “Have a seat. You into football?”
“Isn’t that like a national requirement?” Clint asked as he took a seat on the surprisingly comfortable couch in front of the massive flat screen TV. “But to be honest, I haven’t been tracking this season.”
Eliot nodded understanding and flipped on the TV to see what was on.
While he was doing so, Clint took the moment to get a better sense of the floorplan. Massive support pillars delineated the space. Clint wasn’t a chef, but he’d spent enough time in the common room of the Avengers Tower to recognize a high-end kitchen when he saw one. The living room was the immediate area in front of the door; the dining area bridged the space between the living room and the kitchen. Clint couldn’t see what was in the closed-off area beyond the kitchen – pantry and storage he supposed, maybe even a guest room – but he could see into the bathroom. The bedroom formed the corner diagonally opposite the living area, and between it and the living area was an area set up as a workout space. All the furniture looked like the kind Clint associated with people who’d made buying things that would last and be functional a priority over aesthetics. The bedroom was separated from the workout area by a half wall and a shoji screen that had been half-folded. The floor of the entire apartment was hardwood, with an area rug in the living room. Clint was left with the impression of a neat, clean, organized space, with clear sightlines for most of the apartment. He wondered if the storage area had a hidden exit door and then realized that if this was his apartment, it would have one, and then spent a moment wondering why he thought Eliot was a sniper.
Shaking off that thought, Clint focused on the man sitting on the couch beside him, and noted that Eliot had picked up on his survey of the apartment. “Nice place,” Clint said. “Big.”
Eliot chuckled. “I spend a lot of time downstairs, dealing with the customers. When I come up here, I like knowing I won’t be bumping into anyone who isn’t invited.”
Clint chuckled at that. “I can see where you’d want that. So the pub is yours?”
“Mine and Hardison’s – my best friend. He bought it for me – he had this crazy idea he could just buy a brewpub and it would magically mean he’d have free beer.”
“Sounds like you disabused him of that notion pretty quickly.”
“Yeah, well, someone had to make it a success.” Eliot tried to sound annoyed but it came out sounding more like he’d moved past the annoyance and into reluctant gratitude. “Turns out we both needed something to care about that wasn’t what we do.”
“I know that feeling,” Clint agreed.
“Speaking of beer – want one? We do a pretty good autumn ale if you’re interested, and we bottle it here.”
“Sure,” Clint said. “I’m not a beer snob, so if you’re looking for something other than ‘tastes good’, you’re looking at the wrong guy.”
“It’s okay,” Eliot assured him, rising to go to the kitchen. “I’m not going to be offended if you hate it.”
It wasn’t long before Clint was absorbed into a college basketball game and drinking a beer. He was aware that Eliot wasn’t drinking, seeming to take his responsibility to watch over him seriously, but Clint didn’t care. It felt good to know someone had his back, someone who wasn’t one of his team members and therefore didn’t have the privilege or reason to pry into what was going through his head. Eliot made popcorn and brought over the bowl to share. Clint dug into it and tasted cardamom, cinnamon, and some other spices he couldn’t immediately identify; the scent and flavor reminded him of Moroccan cuisine.
Still, Clint was paranoid enough to use the excuse of needing a bathroom break to use his phone to text Natasha and ask, “Who’s Eliot Spencer?”
The reply he got was, Merc and ex-SpecOps. If he wanted you dead, you wouldn’t be texting me now. SHIELD wanted to recruit him as a hitter but he’s too much of a loner; doesn’t play well with others. If he’s protecting you, it’s his choice. And you are going to tell me exactly how you got him to do that when you get back, because I’ve never heard him choosing to protect anyone. Never mind, Steve just told me.
Strangely reassured by that, Clint decided to go with the flow. As benefitting someone who owned a brewpub, Eliot was aware of most sports, far more knowledgeable than Clint, who tended to watch one series of a show – or whatever was on at the time he turned on the TV – and forget that anything else was on.
“So did you like Wakanda?” Eliot asked during one of the commercial breaks.
Startled, Clint started to ask where Eliot had gotten his information from before he remembered the truth about where Steve had taken his teammates to after liberating them from the Raft had made the news.
“What I got to see of it, yeah,” Clint said. “The king didn’t want us wandering too far, in case anyone got stupid and decided they wanted a shot at us, even if most of the people we met were friendly. I missed my ki-” Clint deliberately changed the subject, aware he was treading on dangerous emotional territory. “One of the national dishes has no meat in it, but it’s the hottest thing I’ve ever tasted. I thought we were all going to die and T’Challa was going to succeed in eliminating us. Then I heard him yelling at the chef, saying none of us were used to Wakandan peppers.”
Eliot chuckled at that. “Sounds like the first time I ever ate a scorpion.”
They traded stories of eating adventures while making commentary on the basketball game. Clint got the impression of a man who’d spent time all over the world and who now made it his business to keep up on current events. If he didn’t know better, Clint would assume Eliot was simply a well-traveled businessman – but Clint could see the combat awareness holding sway over Eliot. Eliot wouldn’t relax fully until his partners were back from their retrieval mission.
He felt, more than heard, Eliot’s partners arrive. Eliot rose from the couch and spoke with them. Something made Clint decide not to turn and find out what they looked like; he wasn’t sure if he wanted to know, even if it would matter later. He heard a woman and a man speak to Eliot. From the conversation, it sounded like Eliot was asking if they’d run into any problems; their replies held the tones of ‘cakewalk’ and ‘nothing to worry about’, before they left the apartment to hold a private conversation. Clint knew whatever they were asking Eliot would likely be the same kind of questions he’d have if the situation was reversed – what are you doing, do you know what you’re doing, and is this really a good idea right now – so he didn’t judge.
Still, he couldn’t resist looking, and turned just as the trio exited the apartment. He caught a glimpse of a slender woman and a lanky black man accompanying Eliot before the door shut.
“Dude, that’s Hawkeye,” Alec hissed as soon as the heavy front door was shut. “We’re protecting Hawkeye?”
“For the next forty-eight hours, he’s just a handsome guy with a recently inked divorce,” Eliot said flatly.
Parker sighed. “And you want to fuck him,” she said with her typical bluntness.
Eliot raised an eyebrow. “And if I do?” Theirs was a V-shaped triad; Alec wasn’t interested in Eliot – or any man – as a lover. It meant that if Eliot wanted a male lover, he had to look elsewhere. Tonight wasn’t the first time they’d had this sort of conversation, and Eliot was careful to choose his partners. It meant they tended to be of the one-night-stand variety, but it also meant that he was going to have to deal with Alec and Parker pressing in close once said lover was gone, out of a need to reassure themselves Eliot wasn’t going to leave them.
Alec looked at Parker, then at Eliot. “Hand over the comm,” he told Eliot. “I’ll monitor the cameras but I’m not listening to you flirt. You’re hopeless.”
“Oh, and you’re any better?” Eliot shot back, but he pulled out the in-ear bud and handed it to the hacker. “Please. You’re lucky Parker loves you.”
Parker preened for a moment before she leaned in and kissed Eliot. “Be careful.” She handed over a blue-gray duffel bag and a slender leather-wrapped case Eliot suspected contained Clint’s bow.
Alec settled for a nod. “Cameras are off in the apartment unless you hit the panic button. Don’t think an Avenger would kill you in your sleep. We’ll be at my place. I put his Jeep in the parking lot. Tell him I said it’s a sweet ride once you get over the fact it wants to talk to you. Must’ve had Stark work on it – never seen anything more like a KITT before in my life. Think you could talk Hawkeye into letting me borrow it for a while?”
Eliot glared at the hacker. “No,” he said flatly.
Once upon a time, Alec would’ve argued the point further, but he read Eliot’s look and sighed instead. “You are no fun anymore, Eliot. Holler if you need anything; it’s starting to snow. Might have some accumulation by morning at this rate.”
“Thanks,” Eliot said. If it was anyone other than Hawkeye, the cameras would be on, recording; if nothing happened, they’d get erased, but it was a precaution after someone had broken into the apartment, looking for information on the Leverage team. Eliot didn’t wait for Parker and Alec to start down the stairs before he stepped back into the apartment.
He found Clint where he’d left him – on the couch, the basketball game still going, nibbling on the ras al hanout spiced popcorn and drinking a beer. “I have your stuff,” Eliot told Clint, showing the other man the bag and the case. “Okay if I put it over by the bed?”
“Fine with me. Just don’t drop the case.”
Eliot nodded; from the weight, he suspected it held additional weaponry – maybe a gun, maybe a few knives – as well as a bow. “Hardison parked your Jeep out back. He said to tell you that’s a sweet ride once you get over it wants to talk to you. What did he mean by that?”
“Stark AI tech,” Clint said, sounding half-impressed and half-annoyed. “All of them have quirks. All Tony was supposed to do was fix the alternator. Instead he built me a Jeep that tells me I have to initiate a proper launch sequence before I’m able to turn it on and drive.”
Eliot stared at him a moment. “You’re kidding.”
“No, I’ll show you tomorrow,” Clint said. “I’m guessing tonight’s out of the question if I don’t want to show my face anywhere.”
Eliot nodded. “Hardison will be monitoring the police in case but probably not a good idea. From what I heard on the news, they said you and your friends have to stay in New York.”
“Yeah,” Clint said sourly. “Because we can’t be trusted not to go anywhere on our own and not start a war.” He shook his head. “At least I’m here in the US and not in Wakanda.”
“You didn’t like Wakanda?”
“Lovely country, but you can’t get a proper pepperoni pizza,” Clint replied. More slowly, he asked, “Your friends…are they okay with you being here with me?” Clint asked.
“You know how it is when your friends worry,” Eliot said lightly. “And you aren’t the first person I’ve had up here, just the first person in a while.”
Clint barked a laugh. “Yeah. So how’d you get Steve on your list?”
“He showed up at the pub and claimed he had tickets to Rocky Horror, wanted someone who wouldn’t laugh at him for being a virgin at the show.”
Clint narrowed his eyes. “You realize that means he specifically knew to ask for you.”
Eliot shrugged. “Wouldn’t be surprised. I know enough people around here who’d recommend asking me for that sort of thing.” He had a suspicion that he had a redheaded former Russian assassin to thank for it; Natasha never forgot useful information about people, no matter how long it had been.
“Were you surprised Captain America was asking, though?”
Eliot slanted an amused look at the other man. “What do you think?”
Clint laughed. “That he’s a troll under that squeaky-clean image. I swear he’ll be the death of someone who doesn’t know how much he’s willing to trade on that innocent choirboy schtick.”
“Noted,” Eliot said, amused.
“So now that we’ve gotten your friends approval, does that mean the security cameras are still rolling?” Clint asked.
Eliot didn’t bother insulting the other man’s intelligence. “And if I said yes, would that change your behavior?”
“Nope,” Clint said, and moved in for a kiss.
Eliot hadn’t expected Clint to make a move so quickly. “Not saying I’m not on board for this,” Eliot said, stepping back slightly, “but there’s no hurry. We got all night.”
“What, you think knowing my favorite color’s purple gonna make any difference?” Clint challenged, closing the distance. “Or any of that other shit beyond what’s gonna get me and you off the fastest?”
“Maybe, if it means you might want to hear from me in the future,” Eliot said simply.
That made Clint pause. “And if I said I’m not looking for promises?”
“Then I’ll ask you what you want tonight,” Eliot countered. “Because if it’s just to drown your sorrows and make sure you don’t die of alcohol poisoning, I can do that. If all you want is a good hard fuck and someone who won’t ask you about your nightmares in the morning, I can do that too. You’re in a strange place, with someone you just met, which is almost a guarantee that you’ll freak out once you lower your guard. I’m gambling you might want someone who cares enough about you – not the Avengers you – to see you get held when you do get those nightmares, unless you’re the kind who strikes out when you’re having them and can’t stand anyone close.”
Clint closed his eyes, as if it was too much. “If I hurt you when it happens, I’m going to hate myself.”
“Don’t. I wouldn’t offer if I didn’t think I could defend myself,” Eliot said quietly. “I’ve been a lot of things in my life, but being able to figure out what I can handle’s one of my specialties.”
Clint said nothing for a long moment. “In that case, let me finish my beer while we get to know each other a little more. So what do you do besides run this pub?” he asked, settling back onto the couch.
Eliot accepted the turn of subject, aware that Clint was still on edge. He wanted to take that wary edge off, make sure the other man was relaxed enough to trust him. “Would you believe me if I said I tilt at windmills, trying to make sure people get what’s due them?”
Clint barked a laugh. “Maybe. I do hang out with some very interesting people. And does windmill tilting make you happy?”
“More than I thought it would,” Eliot agreed. “I hate seeing people getting walked on just because they don’t have the money or the power and those that do just want them to give up and go away.”
He could see the wheels turning in Clint’s mind.
“Wouldn’t that piss off a lot of people?” Clint asked, sounding concerned.
Eliot shrugged. “Yeah, but I quit worrying about what they think a long time ago.”
Clint narrowed his gaze. “And put you on a hit list?”
“Been on a few of them for decades now,” Eliot countered calmly. “I’m still alive.”
“And what do your friends do?”
Eliot paused and calculated risk. “Hardison’s a hacker and Parker’s a thief.”
From the look on Clint’s face, neither name rang any bells for him. “Well, that would come in handy if you’re tilting at windmills,” he mused. “Though I can’t imagine there’d be a lot of red tape involved.” Then he reconsidered as a thought came to him. “Fuck, that means you’re on two hit lists – the good guys and the bad guys.”
“I don’t always agree with the definition of who the ‘good guys’ are,” Eliot said.
Clint barked a laugh. “Yeah, well, up until a few years ago, I’d have said the good guys were SHIELD. So what does that make you if your partners are a hacker and a thief? You move like a hitter.”
Unsurprised by that assessment, Eliot said, “Yes.”
Clint stared at him a moment. “This tilting of windmills, do you have someone you target specifically, or is that something you won’t tell me?”
“The rich and powerful who’d just as soon squash you like a bug if you dared challenge them. I’m not going to hide what I do, Clint, if it makes you feel better to know I’m capable of making sure you stay safe.”
Clint closed his eyes briefly, shuddering through an exhale. “Haven’t felt safe in years, Eliot. I thought I had it, damn it. A wife and three kids and a farm where the biggest problem I had to solve was whether I had enough materials and time to finish renovating the house so my youngest had his own damn room. I was retired – got the damn papers, I was going to do something right for my wife, gonna stop pretending I could keep up with super-soldiers and demigods.”
“From where I’ve been watching, you did a hell of job keeping up,” Eliot said quietly.
“Yeah, well, something had to give,” Clint said sourly. He raised his left hand, showing the tan line where he’d once worn a wedding ring. “You ever get married?”
Eliot shook his head. “No. Never was my thing. So what’s the craziest wedding you’ve ever been a guest at?”
Clint chuckled. The look in his eyes said he appreciated the shift in topic. “Most of the weddings I’ve been at are classified, but there was one where one of the junior agents invited everyone he knew just so his side of the aisle wouldn’t be empty. The preacher gave us a sermon on sin in addition to blessing the wedding. None of us got the memo that we weren’t supposed to look like government agents, so you had a bunch of SHIELD agents in suits, and the parents of the bride panicked because they were moonshiners and potheads, and someone started a fight two minutes after the bride said ‘I do’.”
Eliot laughed. “Any arrests?”
“I don’t know. I escaped before I could get blamed for the mess.” Clint grinned. “You?”
“Does it count if the Butcher of Kiev shows up?”
Clint stared at him. “You aren’t running with very nice people if that’s one of the invited guests.”
Eliot laughed. “Last time I ever believed someone who told me, ‘you’ll be safe here in the kitchen.’”
“Isn’t that where the fire usually is?” Clint asked blandly.
“So I’ve heard,” Eliot allowed, smirking. He studied the other man, reading impatience and lust, and considered his options. He was running out of things to discuss that wouldn’t touch on things neither of them wanted – or in Clint’s case, was allowed – to share. “Something tells me you’re starting not to care about small talk.”
“You’d be right,” Clint agreed, moving closer. “And to shorten it even further, I’m not into pain; getting tied up; called Daddy by anyone other than my kids; or pissed or shat on metaphorically or otherwise. I won’t go bareback for anyone either, so if any of that’s a no go, we’ll go back to discussing basketball and I’ll sleep on the couch.”
“Don’t give me any hickeys or get too rough and we’re on the same page,” Eliot agreed, leaning in for a kiss. He thought he was prepared for what he was getting: a simple prelude to arousal, nothing too complicated. Instead, Clint went straight for what would turn Eliot on the fastest, brushing aside the kiss in favor of nibbling on the skin just below his ear.
Eliot’s breath caught in his throat as Clint proceeded to lay a trail of heated kisses and licks down his throat, slowly pushing him to his back against the sofa in the process. Deciding he’d been passive enough, Eliot went to work on stripping Clint out of his long sleeve t-shirt. Clint took the hint and paused long enough to pull off the garment before asking, “Want to get undressed and move this over to the bed?”
Agreeing with a nod, Eliot quickly got naked and moved over to the bed. He pulled down the comforter and the top sheet before pulling out a tube of lube and a couple condoms from the drawer in the nightstand.
Clint kissed him in thanks. “One more thing – you okay if I let you drive the rest of the way?”
Eliot bit back the laugh at the metaphor. “Want not to think for a while?”
“That’s the plan.”
Eliot kissed him slowly. “Then we take it at my pace.” He proceeded to act as if he had forever in mind, enjoying getting to know what turned on Clint the most. The man was built just the way Eliot liked his men to be – strong, athletic, well-defined in all the right places – which meant Eliot could reasonably guess, as Clint had, the places most one-night-stands wouldn’t touch, like nipples. Clint was very sensitive – and sneaky, Eliot discovered, not above turning the tables to get Eliot revved up just that much more. Eliot loved being in control, but he appreciated that his lover wasn’t passively letting him call the shots, either. Added to that was the discovery that Clint was extremely flexible, in a way that reminded Eliot of Parker, and that was a private extra thrill that sent Eliot’s lustmeter higher.
Clint noticed, and used it to drive Eliot further. “Like that I can wrap myself up this way?” he demanded. “Might regret it tomorrow but damn, you feel so good right there, yeah come on, give it to me.”
Eliot was happy to comply with that. Clint’s ass felt incredibly tight around his cock, and it was getting harder and harder to hold off. Still, Eliot was determined to see to Clint’s pleasure, and he did his best to drive Clint over that edge first.
“Eliot, god, damn, yes,” Clint swore as he crested his peak.
Eliot wasn’t that far behind. Seeing Clint blissed out sent a fresh wave of arousal through him, enough to drive him to climax. For a moment, Eliot stayed put, breathing heavily, as he tried not to collapse onto his lover. He managed to regain enough strength to pull out, careful of the condom as he did so, and dispose of it in the trashcan he kept between the bed and the nightstand. Clint’s arms came around him as he maneuvered back in place.
“Don’t go anywhere just yet,” Clint murmured, his voice sounding rough.
“Wasn’t planning on it. Want to a wet washcloth or a shower?”
“If you’re up for a handsy shower, sure,” Clint said, leering.
Eliot blinked. “You recover that fast?”
“Nah, but a guy can always hope,” Clint said, and Eliot chuckled.
“Give me a few minutes.”
Most mornings, Clint was slow to wake. Laura used to tease him that unless something was on fire, he'd be perfectly fine with wallowing in bed. The only way he could be tempted out of bed was with copious amounts of coffee, but when he was somewhere unfamiliar, Clint tended to wake more quickly. The scent of coffee hit him first, preceding Eliot’s footsteps across the hardwood floor. Instantly alert, Clint sat up. He caught sight of Eliot setting something down on the nightstand before leaning into kiss him hello. Clint’s breath caught at the tenderness of the kiss, echoing the previous night’s gentle passion. Wanting more, Clint returned it with interest, only to feel Eliot pull back and hand him a cup of coffee.
Clint drained half of it before he asked, “Is this where you kick me out and I get out of here?” He was too much of a caffeine addict for a single cup to do more than just shift his brain to on, but after the first rush of caffeine hit, he realized Eliot must’ve made it double strength.
“Not quite yet, but someone spotted you when you were getting gas yesterday.”
Clint swore and started to get up. Eliot pressed a hand to his chest, stilling his movement.
“Parker figured someone might’ve seen your Jeep; she and Hardison moved it late last night to her warehouse, so it’s under cover and out of sight. That’ll buy you several hours at least, long enough to coordinate getting you back to New York. Is there a certain time you’re supposed to be back?”
“Tomorrow at 1800 hours.”
“No way you’re going to be able to drive to New York in –” Eliot glanced at his watch “– 37 hours. Not unless Stark equipped that Jeep with flight capability, and I’m pretty sure Hardison would’ve told me if he’d figured that out.”
Eliot’s calm tone got to Clint. “You don't want me to go yet.”
“I made pancakes, and Hardison tipped the police he saw your Jeep headed north towards Seattle.”
“I don't want you or your friends to get in trouble for me.”
Eliot kissed him. “If we were eager to avoid trouble, I would’ve never said hello and introduced myself.”
Unable to fault that logic, Clint looked at him and realized, “You knew you might have to shield me. Eliot –”
Eliot kissed him silent. “My choice, and I don’t play by the rules everyone else does.”
Clint narrowed his eyes. “Part of that tilting at windmills you mentioned last night?”
“Yes. If you need help getting back to New York, let me know; we’ll figure something out. Did you want to shower before breakfast?”
Clint nodded, realizing that it would also give him the opportunity to call Steve and figure out what he’d planned in terms of retrieval.
“In that case, take your time,” Eliot told him.
Clint kissed Eliot before moving to pull clean clothes out of his duffle bag. His body reminded him that he'd spent more time the previous night getting very thoroughly fucked than he'd had in years, but it was a pleasant ache. He’d been hoping for more today before heading home.
Clint didn’t linger over his shower, though he appreciated the scent-free soap Eliot had stocked. Finishing off his now-cooled coffee, he took the relative privacy offered by the bathroom to make his phone call.
Steve answered on the first ring. “Was just getting ready to call you. You were spotted east of Portland.”
“How soon do I need to get the hell out of Dodge?”
“Original plan was to get you on a private jet that leaves Portland at 1015 tomorrow, but I can’t guarantee TSA won’t ground the plane. Airline’s EagleAir; it’s operated by one of Sam’s buddies.”
“I may have resources here that can help with that. I’ll let you know I can’t make that flight.”
“Should I ask what resources or…”
“Probably better if you don’t,” Clint said. He knew he was gambling that Eliot would be able to deliver, but given what the other man had said so far, Clint was confident Eliot could.
Steve sighed. “And when I get asked where you are?”
“Tell them the truth: you don’t know.” Clint disconnected the line, unwilling to continue the conversation when the smell of bacon, maple syrup, and pancakes was strong and his stomach was rumbling.
He stepped out of the bathroom and over to the area delineated by the furniture as the dining area. The table looked like one massive block of oak with six chairs; Eliot had set it for two. A platter held a stack of pancakes; another held thick slabs of bacon.
Clint took the hint to sit down while Eliot poured him another cup of coffee. Eliot took the seat opposite him and passed over the pancakes. “Steve thinks TSA might ground the plane I’m supposed to be on tomorrow.”
“What airline and time?”
Clint told him.
“Let me get Hardison on this,” Eliot said, pulling out his phone. He texted the information and waited a moment before saying, “Hardison says don’t worry; he’ll handle it.”
“You trust him that much?”
“He’s the smartest man I know. NSA didn’t know what they had when they had him on their side. And if it came down to it, Clint, I’d get Parker to steal a plane and a pilot and get you back to New York.”
Clint ate some pancakes as he considered the information. They were fluffy and melt-in-his-mouth and made him almost forget he had a timer counting down to when he needed to be elsewhere. “And I’d owe you what in exchange?”
“Just keep doing what you do,” Eliot said quietly.
“And if I wasn’t an Avenger, wasn’t Hawkeye, would you tell me the same thing?”
“Probably,” Eliot said honestly. “I’m not a big fan of playing what-ifs like that because that’s not the hand I was dealt. Not a bacon fan?”
Clint deliberately picked up a piece of bacon and ate it. “Hate it,” he said blandly. “Have to make sure it all disappears. Such a tragedy.”
Eliot barked a laugh and started eating from his plate. “So what do you want to do today?”
“Besides find out if you like getting fucked?” Clint asked.
Caught off guard, Eliot paused. “And here I thought you might be more interested in figuring out alternate ways to get home.”
“Either I get on the plane Steve arranged for me or you find me something else, and between now and then, that’s at least ten hours where we could be fucking.” Clint knew if he let himself dwell on the situation, he’d get himself wound up and worried, and that would make him unfit for talking to anyone, and just as likely to say something that would get him in a fight, arrested, or more deeply in trouble than he already was. “Unless you had other plans?”
“No. I need to touch base with my partners, make sure they know I’m not available unless it’s an emergency.”
“You don’t have responsibilities downstairs?”
Eliot shook his head. “I usually take Sundays off anyway.”
“Oh,” Clint said, and a small silence fell as both men finished their breakfast.
Clint was half-convinced by the time they finished cleanup that perhaps Eliot was reconsidering his offer of getting fucked when Eliot trapped him against the dishwasher. “The answer,” Eliot said in between kisses, “is yes, I’d like to get fucked, so if you’re going to deliver, get your ass over to the bedroom.”
Smothering a laugh, Clint pushed Eliot back. Eliot stepped back, executed a military-perfect pivot, and headed over to the bed. Appreciating the way Eliot’s ass looked in the faded denim jeans he was wearing, Clint followed.
Eliot shucked his jeans and underwear as Clint quickly undressed, donned a condom, grabbed the lube, then climbed onto the bed. Before joining him, Clint took a moment to appreciate the man in a way he hadn’t the night before. Faded scars Clint recognized as likely from knives and bullets littered Eliot’s muscled body, testifying to a hard-lived life. Clint took the time to kiss and lick his way across that body, noting the way Eliot arched and shivered in reaction to certain spots. It took several minutes before Clint realized Eliot was letting him drive, in a direct counterpoint from the night before, and a smile crept on Clint’s lips.
“We playing turnabout?” Clint asked.
“If you want,” Eliot allowed. “Since you seemed interested in taking a scenic route.”
Clint heard the dare in that sentence and gripped Eliot’s cock. “Oh, and here I thought we’d get warmed up first.” He didn’t wait for Eliot’s answer, but put his mouth and hands to work on Eliot’s cock, until he had Eliot’s breath hitching. Eliot wasn’t a mouthy lover, but already Clint could tell how close to coming Eliot was from the way he tightened his muscles and tried to keep his breathing regular. Clint kept working, enjoying the feel of Eliot’s cock in his mouth and hands and adding slicked-up fingers to stretch out Eliot’s ass. Clint’s desire heated up like wildfire from Eliot’s reactions to his efforts. It didn’t take long for Eliot to crest passion’s peak.
Clint didn’t waste time, but slid into Eliot’s ass. He was rewarded for his quick movement with a hitched breath and a “Fuck yes” from Eliot. Clint waited a moment, letting Eliot adjust to the intrusion, and read the permission to keep going from the look on the other man’s face. Clint wasn’t about to disappoint the man. He tried to hold off his orgasm, not wanting this pleasurable moment to end, but Eliot knew his body already, and was using that knowledge to urge him over desire’s cliff. With a shout, Clint came.
Bracing himself on his hands on either side of Eliot’s head, Clint leaned down and kissed Eliot before carefully separating himself from Eliot and dealing with the condom. Clint then moved to cuddle on Eliot’s left side.
Eliot turned into the cuddle, kissing him slowly. “Round two, your win,” he said.
“We counting?” Clint teased. “Is this a competition now?”
“No? Just thought you’d find it funny.”
Clint laughed. “Am I that obvious?”
Eliot kissed him in apology. “Maybe to someone who watches people like I do. But if you’re worried, I just want to spend as much time in this bed with you as we can. I promise I’ll feed you sometime and make sure we both drink water.”
“Sounds good,” Clint said, and kissed him.
By the time the morning dawned, Clint knew that if Eliot was anyone else, and if they’d met under different circumstances, his heart would be in trouble. As it was, Clint was hard-pressed to remember the last time he’d had so much sex and kisses and snarky laughter. In between rounds of sex, they’d watched a movie with pretty actors and an unmemorable plot, eaten what Eliot had called “just something he made quick” and Clint called “the fluffiest and most filling omelet he’d ever had”, held a conference with Hardison and Parker over how to get Clint to the airport, and napped.
Eliot pulled up to the parking lot of the private airfield where Hardison and Parker had found a pilot and plane willing to get Clint back to New York. He got out of the car as Clint did and met him at the front of the car. “Hardison programmed your phone with our numbers,” he told Clint. “Call us anytime.”
“You might regret that,” Clint warned.
Eliot shrugged and looked unconcerned. He leaned in and kissed Clint one more time. “Go on, get out of here.”
Clint shifted his bag onto his shoulder and picked up his bow case. “Thanks, Eliot. Tell Parker and Hardison thanks for me.”
He didn’t look back as he headed towards the plane. He knew he was headed towards the same problems he’d ran away from, but somehow they didn’t seem as insurmountable.