Bruce unstrings his bow, and he's finally starting to understand why Clint's so hesitant to do just that when he's troubled or stressed; it's a sudden loss of direction, a bit like closing a book after reading it, a really excellently distracting book.
Today, though, the quiet of the range clings to them with their sweat; Bruce watches Clint go through the familiar motions out of the corners of his eyes, looking as comfortable, satisfied and tired as Bruce feels.
Clint graces him with a crooked grin as they get into the elevator. "You're gettin' good," he says, leering a bit at Bruce's arms where newly swollen muscles make themselves known. "Form was right on, made it look easy. You in the zone as much as it looked like?"
"It did feel pretty good," Bruce says with a quiet smile. "And I beat my top score again. Still not exactly competitive level, but then that's not why I do it."
"Yeah? You got some ulterior motive for these lessons you keep demanding?" Clint asks, bumping his shoulder up against Bruce's.
"It's all a ploy to spend more time with you," Bruce agrees, and one of his hands shifts, fingertips skimming up the back of Clint's sweat-damp tee shirt. Clint responds with the barest of shivers, then he chuckles and turns his body to face Bruce's.
"That all?" he asks. "Nothing to do with how it drives me crazy to see you like that, sunk in so far that you're one with the weapon and forgetting to be self-conscious? Standing straight an' no hesitation? It kinda floors me."
"I'm pretty sure that's my line," Bruce says, enjoying the feeling of Clint's eyes on him and Clint's arms bracketing him against the side of the elevator.
"Well, you were taught by the best," Clint quips, stepping back and out of the elevator as the door opens, his grin daring Bruce to follow.
It's amazing, Bruce thinks as he follows, how Clint can get him going without pushing or even really touching him. Bruce smiles, willingly trailing after his boyfriend towards his own bedroom.
Clint stops to snag a coconut water as they detour through the kitchen, holding it up and giving it a little shake to check for approval. Bruce nods - tangerine sounds good today. Clint pops it open and downs half of it before handing it off for Bruce to finish. It's sweet and bright and perfect.
Clint goes about life in this way that means every little thing is deliberate, but none of it's too big or heavy to shrug off. Having him around - everything's just a little easier.
Bruce slips through the bedroom door to see Clint shedding his shirt, and he is done with the chase. He slides into his place in front of Clint, hands on the archer's shoulders and lips just brushing Clint's, asking for but not stealing a kiss.
Clint gives a little, putting his hands over Bruce's and sealing their lips together in a brief, wonderful, tangerine-flavored kiss before pulling back, pulling Bruce towards the bed by his hands.
Bruce follows, of course, a tiny groan escaping him as he does. He settles into the bed willingly but then pulls Clint in closer, pulling the archer's hands to his chest. "Do you have any idea how much I want you?" he asks, voice rough.
Clint smiles and rubs at Bruce's chest over his damp shirt, almost just a comforting motion until he runs over a nipple with his thumb and Bruce gasps. "You know, I think I just might," he answers. He puts his forehead to Bruce's, their grounding position, and they check in with each other, breath puffing hot and quick and eyes shining with want.
"I want you so much, Clint," Bruce says, looking into those blue eyes and willing him to know.
"I know," Clint answers. "I feel it. The tension. How much you're holding back."
Bruce closes his eyes in acknowledgement, letting himself feel his own state, how the Hulk growls and thrashes in his mind, how letting go to a tide of emotion is so close and so tempting, how all his love and desire for Clint rides on the surface of that tempest now and demands to be felt, to be expressed.
"I love you," Bruce gasps, clinging to the archer's wrists, keeping those phenomenal hands on him. "I want you... I want everything." He takes a breath. "I want you to fuck me. Today. Now."
Clint's breathing hitches. "You sure?" he asks.
Bruce looks at Clint's eyes once again with that same intensity. "I'm sure I want to try."
Clint grins. "Okay. Let's give it a shot." And he lowers his head to kiss Bruce again, slow, deep, aching, a thumb stroking Bruce's jaw as a reminder to stay relaxed, stay level.
The kiss and the spoken intention are feeding the knot of anticipation in Bruce's gut, half joy and half terror, and Bruce's return of the kiss is shaky, stalling. Clint pulls back, looking again. "You really sure?"
"Clint," Bruce gasps. One of his hands moves to Clint's shoulder, squeezing, reassuring himself. "I need this. I need to try. I don't know if I'll be able to let this happen, but letting that stop me, that's a dead end. Because half of what's got me tied in knots right now is being afraid of having to stop. I think maybe I need to try and fail. Is that okay? Just to stop me from feeling like it'd be the end of the world."
"Yeah," Clint says, nodding in understanding. "Yeah. I gotcha, Bruce. Whatever you need." His hands lay against Bruce's cheeks, just comforting, and his earnest clear blue eyes meet Bruce's, calm and accepting and unflinching.
"Thank you," Bruce says, a half-spoken murmur, and Clint shakes his head at it, as Bruce knew he would, and kisses Bruce's nose and forehead before pulling away just far enough to help Bruce out of his shirt.
Bruce leans up to make it easier, and he kisses the sweaty planes of Clint's chest while he's there, tasting salt and smelling Clint and knowing that he's safe. He breathes that in, trying to loosen the knot at his core.
They've talked about this before, Clint's even broken out the lube and gotten Bruce used to the feel of it on his ass, used it for long slow handjobs that mapped every inch of his balls, but he's never been penetrated; he'd sort of got the idea that once any part of Clint was inside him, he'd want everything too badly to stop. It's seemed pretty big. It's been looming, promising and terrifying, despite all Clint's been able to do to smooth the path up to this point.
Once Bruce's shirt is off, Clint kisses and strokes down his chest, undoes his shoes and then his pants, peels them off and kisses Bruce's thighs and knees. Clint kicks off his own shoes but leaves his workout pants for the moment, one more reminder to be calm and slow, that not everything has to happen at once.
Bruce watches, mostly, but then he reaches for something to grab, something to focus on that isn't his own body, and Clint's hand appears under his like magic, and they tighten on each other, reassuring.
Clint is perfect, strong, slow, careful, and Bruce wants him more than ever, so when he reaches for the lube, anticipation is at the forefront.
Hulk is restless, feeling the jangle of nerves but still too angry at Bruce to open his eyes to what's actually happening.
Bruce wants this too badly; this has always been the problem, and it's going to keep being the problem until he faces it. Clint has lube on his fingers and he's looking to Bruce for one more signal, because he can see the tension building. Bruce nods to go ahead.
Clint starts with another kiss, grounding the two of them again and cradling Bruce's neck with his dry hand. Then he traces a line with his thumb through the hair on Bruce's chest, down the center of his belly, and finally gives the scientist's cock a firm stroke, getting him used to the feel of the lube and linking it back to good memories. Only then does he reach for his ultimate goal, sure fingers spreading lubricant generously across the bunched muscle.
Bruce is in a chaos of sensation and thought and emotion, trying to balance all three of them and not quite failing. He's clinging to Clint's shoulders, burying his face in the other man's neck, focusing on that set of sensations that means home and safety, the smell and the taste and the feel.
Clint's finger pushes in, and the archer is murmuring pleasure and reassurance and endearments by turns; it's the closest thing Bruce has seen to a sign that Clint has to make an effort to control himself, to keep things slow. He's wanted this too, a lot, and words are pouring out of him, small, quiet, urgent, and knowing that kind of adds to the tension, but at the very least it gives Bruce something to focus on that isn't the burning digit pushing its way inside him.
Bruce breathes deliberately; he can do this. He wants this so much. He breathes as the second finger slides in, fighting not to fight.
Hulk can sense there's a moment ahead, a crux, a moment in time that could go one way or another and change everything. He can sense that Bruce is worried, worked up, tense, that there's pain. But he still can't see past his own rage to understand the truth of what's happening. He still won't listen to Bruce. He only knows there's a choice ahead. He prepares to act.
Clint is carefully not getting lost in the sensation of Bruce around his fingers; he checks in, watching his lover's face. Bruce looks tense, more than he has before in this bed, but Clint trusts Bruce to know his limits, trusts himself to move slowly enough. He pulls his hand free, and he sits back just a bit to look at Bruce laid out before him, breathing hard and waiting. This might work.
Clint registers a thought. "Might be more comfortable if you turn over," he says.
Bruce rebels at the thought of turning away from Clint, of not being able to see or touch his archer. It's a sudden jolt of negative feeling, and with how Hulk's been hovering, it nearly brings him crashing out.
"No," Bruce says, shutting his eyes and throwing his hands over them. Clint freezes, and Bruce breathes. "Wait. I'm sorry. I'm sorry, but you need to get back."
Clint grimaces, but he does as he's told, retreating to the other side of the bed. He can't quite stop a small noise of disappointment escaping from between his teeth. But he immediately compensates, saying, "I got it. It's okay, Bruce. Anything you need?"
Hulk had been stomped down fiercely, Banner angrier at him than he had been in recent memory. Hulk doesn't know what happened, but now all there is in their shared mind is aching frustration and disappointment and somehow it's all Hulk's fault again, even though he hasn't come out.
Hulk is confused, and Hulk is still mad. But Hulk knows he needs to know more, and he opens out just the barest amount.
He scared the Hawk away. Clint is sad and in pain. Hulk's fault.
Hulk howls, the storm of rage turning sour with despair. Hulk can only smash.
Bruce rubs at his temples. "I'm sorry, Clint," he says, curling into himself a little. "We'll try again another day?"
"Of course," Clint answers. And he gets up, and goes to take a shower.