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Maybe we can try to make it right

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It was a dumb idea. It was probably one of the dumbest ideas Steve had had in the last months. He knew that Bucky hated to go to clubs but yet, here he was, dolled up like an idiot - black leather pants, boots and a red shirt, he even had his hair in a bun - and glared at the other people. He held a bottle of beer in his hand because he also hated all those idiotic colorful and way too sweet cocktails.

Steve smiled broadly, talked with Sam and Natasha, cops like Steve, and even went onto the dancefloor every now and then. Bucky had no idea why he had demanded to come along. He knew he dragged them down with his mood but yet, Steve insisted. And Steve could insist very strongly.

He took a sip from his bottle when Natasha and Sam came back from the dancefloor and sat down. She looked at her phone and smiled.

“A few friends of me will come, too,” she said. “I hope that’s okay.”

“Sure,” Steve grinned. “The more the better.” Bucky rolled his eyes and only when Steve looked at him with his puppy eyes he took a long sip from his bottle and leaned back.

He hated the club. Too many people here, the music was too loud and not really his genre. He loved hard rock and metal. This latin pop and hip hop and whatever all this was - he had no idea - was not his type of music, definitely not.

Steve and Nat rose and went onto the dance floor again. Sam stayed at the table for a moment, then he rose, too, and said he would fetch new drinks. Bucky nodded. He and Sam didn’t go along too well and he knew he just didn’t want to sit here with him and watch him brood. He had told Steve that it was a dumb idea.

He watched Sam walk to the bar and talk to the bartender but then he let his eyes trail through the club. He saw Steve and Nat dance and smile at each other. But then his eyes landed on another couple. The woman was a brunette with big boobs. She wore a tight, glittery dress in black and pink and pumps with really high heels. She danced with a cute guy with blonde, spiky hair. He wore tight black pants and a purple shirt that accentuated his muscular torso and arms perfectly. Bucky’s mouth went dry. The guy was really cute and boy could he dance.

He and his partner moved to the music so gracefully, they already had a crowd who watched and cheered. Bucky was astounded that she could dance like this with those high heels but it worked and it looked good, but he had only eyes for the man, the way his muscles moved under his tight clothes, the way he held her and especially the way he smiled at the girl. The guy let his hips roll and worked in some complicated looking dance figures and Bucky couldn’t look away, it was way too fascinating.

In the meantime the other dancers had stopped and made space for them, watched them as well, cheered and the two of them put on quite a show. And then the song was over and thunderous applause broke out. The two grinned, waved… and went straight over to Nat and Steve.

The man hugged Nat, then gestured a the woman and they talked. Apparently Steve didn’t know her and the guy introduced her. But when they turned to come over to the table where Bucky still sat, his mouth went dry again. The guy would come here, to sit at this table. He grabbed his bottle but it was empty and he cursed Sam for being still away.

“Hey, Bucky,” Steve yelled over the music, “These are Clint and Darcy,” he introduced the two of them. They held their hands out and Bucky shook them. And maybe it was his imagination but this Clint guy held his hand a bit longer than necessary. They sat down and Nat came over, together with Sam, and they held drinks in their hands. Nat pressed a bottle of beer in Bucky’s hand and one in Clint’s and then she sat down beside Steve. Clint slid around and sat beside Bucky.

“You’re a good dancer,” Bucky said after a moment. “You and your girlfriend.” Clint looked at him, raised a brow and snorted.

“Darcy? She’s not my girlfriend,” he said and Darcy looked at him and slapped his arm.

“You say that as if that was something disgusting,” she said but with a wink in her eyes.

“You’re not disgusting, you’re my bestestest girl,” Clint grinned.

“That’s not a word, that doesn’t even make sense, Barton,” Darcy huffed and Clint’s grin broadened.

“In my head it totally makes sense,” he shrugged.

“You’re head is a weird place,” she said. “But no,” she looked at Bucky now. “We’re not together.”

“We work together,” Clint smiled at Bucky now. “She’s my trusty assistant.”

“Assistant?” Bucky’s eyes snapped up and Clint started to chuckle.

“Yeah,” he said. “I shoot at her and she looks pretty.”

“What the… what are you doing?” he wanted to know.

“The Amazing Hawkeye at your service,” Clint grinned.

“They are one of the main acts in a circus,” Nat said and laughed when she saw Bucky’s confused glance.

“That’s why he’s so flexible,” Darcy added and Bucky felt the heat in his cheeks.

“Darcy!” Clint hissed. He turned beet red.

“So, no girlfriend?” Steve said now and Clint shook his head.

“He doesn’t swing that way,” Darcy smirked and then she winked at Bucky. He raised his brow. That was a very intimate detail to just blurt it out to everyone. But apparently Clint wasn’t angry, he just shrugged.

Bucky looked at the beer in his hand. Steve had very intently insisted that he should come along today, despite him knowing how much he, Bucky, hated to go to clubs and just that day - surprise, surprise - Nat’s friend was here, too? He turned his head to Steve, who looked away too fast and the tips of his ears were bright red. They set him up. They tried to set him up with that Clint guy.

“I’m sorry,” he said and rose, squeezed past Clint and Darcy and went to the restroom. He threw a few handfuls of water in his face and glared at his image in the mirror. Why couldn’t he just leave him alone? After his last disastrous relationship with Brock he wasn’t too keen to get into the next one.

But Steve… Steve… the door went open and he saw Clint in the mirror. Their eyes locked for a moment and the other man opened his mouth but Bucky just shook his head, turned on his heels, squeezed again past him and went to the exit. He could feel Clint’s eyes follow him.

When he was outside he realized he had forgotten his jacket but he didn’t care, Steve could bring it. He looked along the street, saw a cab and hailed it over. He told the driver his address and leaned back, closed his eyes.

This Clint guy was really cute, his smile, the way his eyes sparkled when he laughed and his body, oh god, his body was like a wet dream come true. He felt like an ass right now for being so rude to him. After all, he didn’t seem to know about their plans as well. But he wasn’t ready for a new relationship yet.

When the taxi held in front of his apartment building he paid the driver, got out and took a deep breath. The car drove away and he glared at the door for a long moment, but then he shook his head again and walked along the street. On the corner, two blocks away, was the gym where he worked as a trainer and he had the keys on his keychain.

He shoved his hands in the pockets of his pants and sighed again. If he would’ve met this Clint guy without his so called friends’ idiotic plan, maybe he would’ve talked to him, would’ve invited him to a beer… or a coffee and maybe… maybe… but not like this, not because they pitied him.

Fuck! he cursed inwardly and kicked a soda can out of his way.

***

When he reached the building with the gym he unlocked the door, went in and locked it again. He went to his locker, changed and went to the gymnastics room. He grabbed a skipping rope and started to warm up before he put on his boxing gloves and went to the punching bag.

Meticulously he delivered blow after blow, kick after kick until he couldn’t feel his own hands and shins anymore. He slumped down and glanced at the huge clock behind the counter. He was here for three hours already. Steve and Nat were probably at home already and with a sigh he removed his gloves, threw them back in his locker and went to the showers. He let the water run over his head and felt the warmth seep into his muscles. Slowly he let his hands roam over his own chest and over his abs, and involuntarily they reached his dick. Bucky let his fingers trail over the shaft and it started to stiffen. He closed his hand around it, pressed the other one against the wall and stroked his cock faster, let his thumb flick over the head every now and then and moaned quietly. His thoughts went back to the club, to Clint, the way he moved, the way his hips swayed with the music and he moved his hand faster, harder. He breathed hard and imagined the other man here with him, touching him, sucking his dick, smiling and he threw his head back, shot his load against the wall in front of him with a loud groan.

God, he was so fucked up. He met the man only hours earlier, had barely spoken five sentences and now he jacked off thinking about him.

The water still ran over his body and Bucky forced himself to move, to clean himself. With a towel around his hips he went back to his locker and realized that he couldn’t get back in his leather pants with his skin still damp but luckily he had some sweats in his locker, too. He took them out of it and pointedly didn’t look at his blinking phone.

He looked at the clock again. It was 4am, and the gym would open at 7am. He knew Coulson had a comfortable couch in his office and instead of walking home he just went there, flopped down and glared at the ceiling. Steve was such an ass. He knew that he, Bucky, didn’t want a new relationship now and yet they tried to set him up. “Idiot,” he grumbled and continued glaring at the ceiling.

***

“What are you doing on my couch,” someone said and Bucky startled violently. Apparently at one point he fell asleep and now Coulson stood in his office, looking down at him.

“Sleeping?” said Bucky lamely and Coulson raised a brow.

“Don’t you have a bed at home?” He asked but made a step back so he could sit up. Bucky yawned and stretched his sore muscles.

“I have a Steve at home,” he muttered and looked at Coulson’s coffee maker longingly. Coulson looked at him a moment longer, rolled his eyes, went to the coffee maker, poured a cup of coffee and gave it to Bucky.

“Here,” he said, “drink that and then… then go home and sleep.”

“What? No, didn’t you just listen to me? Steve is there and I don’t want to see him,” he sighed.

“What did he do?” Coulson poured himself a cup of coffee and sat down behind his desk. He leaned back and sipped slowly.

“He tried to set me up with a guy last night,” Bucky said. Coulson raised his brow again, took another sip from his coffee and nodded.

“Can you work?” He asked instead of a comment. Bucky nodded. “Then do that,” Coulson said with a smile.

“Okay, boss,” Bucky said, took the mug with him and left the office.

On his way to the gym he looked at the schedule and saw that he had a private lesson in half an hour. Oh god, not another one of these frustrated housewives who always hit on him. With a sigh he emptied his mug and went to meet his first customer. Of course, a middle aged woman who smiled suggestively and winked at him. He forced a smile on his face and went out to her.

“Mrs. Greenman, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” he said and shook her hand. “I hope you enjoy your first training session here.”

***

Coulson sent him home early. He was unconcentrated, tired out and when one of his clients hurt herself he told him he should go home and sleep. Bucky wanted to protest but Coulson insisted.
He muttered something under his breath but he left.

Bucky still didn’t want to go home, to the apartment he shared with Steve. He wore his leather pants and the shirt from the day before when he walked along the streets, deliberating what he should do when his eyes fell on an advertising poster.

Carson’s Carnival Of Traveling Wonders stood there but his eyes were drawn to the second line: “The Amazing Hawkeye! - World's best marksman” was one of their headliners.

Clint said he was the Amazing Hawkeye and… Bucky stopped and stared at the poster for a very long moment. He… he could go there and… and see him, see his show. Maybe he should apologize for being an ass if he met him. Just when he turned to walk away a taxi stopped beside him and someone left it. It was empty and no one hurried to get it. Without really thinking about it his feet started to walk and suddenly he sat in the car.

“Whereto?” the man asked when Bucky didn’t say a word and he looked over his shoulder at him.

“Do you know where Carson’s carnival of traveling wonders is?” he asked. The man frowned, then thought about and shook his head. But he reached for his phone and called someone and only a moment later he started to drive.

“So, the circus, huh?” he asked and Bucky nodded.

“Yeah,” he said. “I owe someone an apology.” He turned to look out of the window and listened to the man’s babbling about visiting a circus with his children once. Every now and then he hummed and nodded. Twenty minutes later the taxi stopped, Bucky paid the man and left. Not far away stood the big top, surrounded by smaller tents and trailers. He could hear animals - dogs and horses and something else - and saw children run around. People stood at the ticket booth and seemed excited to get in.

This was a mistake. He should leave. He acted like an ass yesterday and he should go and never see the man again. It was better that way.

But once again his feet seemed to have a mind of their own because he found himself in the line at the ticket booth. When it was his turn he bought a ticket but then he looked at the young, red haired woman in the booth and licked his lips nervously.

“Uhm… is… is Clint here?” he asked. The woman frowned.

“You know Clint?” she asked with a thick Eastern European accent.

“Uhm… I met him yesterday and…” he stopped. He had no idea what he should tell her. “I just…”

The woman opened the door of the booth and called, “Pietro!” A moment later a young man came to her, she talked to him in a language Bucky had never heard in his life before and the man jogged away. “You can wait over there,” she said.

Bucky nodded and stepped away so the other people could buy their tickets. He wiped his hands dry on his shirt and paced. And then he saw the young man come back and beside him smiling broadly, was Clint. He wore tight, purple pants and a skin-tight black shirt without sleeves. The muscles in his arms were more than impressive and Bucky’s mouth went dry. The young man pointed in his direction, Clint looked, and the smile fell. He turned around and wanted to go but Bucky was on his way over to him already.

“Wait,” he called. Clint stopped and hung his head for a second before he turned around.

“Why?” He asked. “That you can throw some homophobic slurs in my face this time? Wasn’t it enough to run away disgustedly?”

“What?” Bucky stopped dead in his track, “No! What? You think…”

“What should I think? We get introduced, you find out I’m gay, you run away, Steve asked me to look after you, I find you in the restroom, you see me and run away again. Tell me, what am I supposed to think?” He asked and threw his hands in the air questioningly.

“They tried to set us up,” he blurted. “And that’s… that’s why I ran away.” He made a few steps in Clint’s direction so that not everyone and their uncle could hear what they said. Clint frowned and that tiny wrinkle between his eyes was way too cute. Oh, he was sooo fucked.

“A few months ago I broke off my relationship with my asshole boyfriend and since then I refused to go out and Steve, that asshole, apparently thought he needed to set me up with someone. Unfortunately, they picked you,” he said.

“Uh huh, unfortunately,” Clint said. “I understand.” Bucky groaned.

“NO! Not… not because of you, for crying out loud because if I met you without them I would…” he stopped himself before he could say something dumb. “I don’t want a new relationship and I told them and unfortunately for you!” he said pointedly, “they picked you.”

Clint took a deep breath, then gestured with his hand, “Give me your phone number.”

“Wha… why?” Bucky asked confused.

“Apparently it’s too long and too complicated and I need to be in a show in,” he looked at the watch on his right wrist, “twenty minutes. I call you and you can explain everything over a cup of coffee.”

“Sure!” Bucky nodded eagerly and searched for something to write his number on but found nothing and so he just grabbed Clint’s arm and wrote it there. The man looked at his arm, then at Bucky, his brow raised.

“I haven’t had that since I was twelve,” he muttered. Bucky blushed violently. But before he could say something Clint held out his hand, “Give me your ticket,” he said.

“What?” Bucky was confused, “but I want to see the show.”

“You can see the show, and now give me your ticket.” Bucky did and Clint waved the young man over who’d fetched him, said something to him in that weird language, gave him the ticket and the man raised a brow but jogged away. A minute later he was back, another ticket in his hand and gave it to Bucky. It was a seat at the ringside.

“Wow!” He blurted. “That’s…” He looked up and Clint winked at him.

“Have fun,” he said and left together with the young man. And Bucky couldn’t help himself, he had to admire his ass in the tight pants because… holy cow!

The young man glared at him for a while longer but then he, too, turned and left. Bucky felt a bit uncomfortable. But then he went to the big top, searched his seat and sat down. He took out his phone, saw seventeen missed calls from Steve, thirteen from Nat and even two from Sam. He didn’t bother answer them, he just turned off the ringtone so it wouldn’t disturb the show and then he leaned back.

He didn’t have to wait too long, the show started only fifteen minutes later and Bucky sat up. The ringmaster came in, welcomed the people and told them, that they would start with a children’s show. Kids from artists showed what they learned and it was awesome. A five year old boy juggled with seven balls, a ten year old girl with knives and two twelve year old boys came in as clowns and the crowd laughed because they were really good. A nine year old girl came in and performed with cats and small dogs and the ringmaster said she had trained all of them herself. It was really impressive since Bucky knew Nat’s brat of a cat. A boy and a girl, both eleven years old, showed their athletic skills on the back of a horse.

And then the real show started. Athletes, clowns, animal trainers, a magician, more athletes, Pietro and Wanda, the two young people he had met at the entrance, performed at the trapeze, and then, when the show was almost over, the ringmaster finally announced one of their headliners, the Amazing Hawkeye. Bucky sat up, leaned his elbows on his knees when a man came in. He wore a purple, glittering tunic, the tight leggings he had seen before, musketeer boots and a bow and quiver over his shoulder. Beside him was a woman in an equally purple and glittering outfit and he recognized her immediately, Darcy, the woman who danced with Clint in the club.

They started slow with a few regular shots and then he started to step it up a notch. He shot blindfolded at Darcy, he shot in weird contortions at her, he shot from the back of a galloping horse and every single time he hit his mark. It was awesome and the people clapped like mad but when he removed his boots and shot an apple off of Darcy’s head with his feet while he stood on his hands they rose from their seats and cheered like crazy. Now he understood what Darcy meant when she said he was flexible and Bucky imagined what it would be like to have sex with him.

His ears were beet red when he sat down again to watch the last performance but in his mind he was with Clint.

When the show was over he looked around if he would see him but it was highly unlikely because so many people streamed out of the big top and to the exit and Bucky went with them. He had to wait thirty minutes till he managed to grab a cab and now he told the driver his address.

***

“Bucky!” Steve pulled him in a bear hug as soon as he had unlocked his door and stepped in his apartment. “I thought you’re dead, you asshole!” He yelled only a second later. “Where have you been?”

“Here and there, at work and then…” he didn’t say that he was in the circus to see Clint, no, he wouldn’t tell them.

“We called the morgues,” Sam said dryly.

“And the hospitals,” Natasha added. “Because we were worried.”

“You were, I wasn’t,” Sam shrugged.

“But why…” Steve started but when Bucky glared at him he shut up.

“You know exactly why!” He snapped. He still was angry at them even if he just had a nice evening. Steve blushed violently.

“We thought…” he started again, and once more Bucky interrupted him.

“I don’t need you pitting me,” he said. “And now I go to bed.”

He just left the three in the living room, turned on his heel and went straight to his bedroom. He leaned against the door and sighed. Why was he so angry? He really just had a nice evening and he had seen Clint again and… but they tried to set him up.

When he fell into his bed he wanted to set the alarm on his phone and saw that he had a message. He opened it and read it. It was from Clint who told him that the circus didn’t have shows on Monday and Tuesday and that he would like to meet him for the cup of coffee and the explanation.

Bucky sent a quick text to Coulson and asked him if it was possible to change his Monday shift with someone else. A few minutes later Coulson wrote back, Melinda would take his shift and he could take hers. He grinned, and wrote to Clint that he could meet him on Monday and suggested a location. Clint agreed and said he looked forward to see him.

Bucky grinned for a long time until he finally fell asleep.

***

Bucky was nervous the whole Sunday. He paced in the living room, went for a jog, paced again, tried to watch TV, paced, snapped at Steve and Sam and then went for another jog. And somehow he managed to survive the damn day.

He stood in front of his wardrobe for half an hour and tried to decide what to wear. In the end he picked a pair of black jeans, a plain red shirt and Chucks. He tied his hair into a bun again and grabbed his black leather jacket he had forgotten in the club and Steve had brought back.

He used a cab again and drummed with his fingers on his knee until he could see the cafe where he would meet Clint. He payed, left the car and saw the other man doing the same just this minute. They shared a glance and couldn’t hold back a grin. Clint looked a million dollars in his blue jeans, his tight purple shirt and his boots. He also had a leather jacket, only his was brown and not black like Bucky’s.

“Hey,” Clint said when he was within earshot and smiled and Bucky’s legs turned to jelly. This smile was a weapon of mass destruction.

“Hey, hi. It’s… it’s nice to see you,” he said and Clint’s smile broadened and he scratched the back of his neck.

“Wanna go in?” he suggested and Bucky nodded. They found an empty table at the window and sat down opposite of each other. When the waitress came they both ordered coffee and chocolate cupcakes.

“So,” Clint said when the woman was gone. “How did you like the show?”

“It was awesome! I mean, I’ve been in the army and I’ve been a sniper but what you can do with a bow, it’s just awesome,” he blurted out. “And the thing with shooting with your feet,” he said and gestured with his hands as if his head would explode. Clint blushed.

“You liked it?” He asked and Bucky nodded enthusiastically.

“It was awesome,” he repeated. “Thanks for the ticket.”

“You’re welcome,” Clint said. He took a deep breath and looked at him. “You wanted to explain why you ran away in the club.”

“Yeah, that…” The tips of Bucky’s ears turned red. “Four months ago I broke with my boyfriend. Since then I had no desire to go out. And Steve said he worried about me. I mean, Brock’s been an asshole, I don’t want a new relationship, do you know what I mean?”

“Sure,” Clint nodded but he seemed a little disappointed. But he covered it with a sip from his mug. “Why did you dump him? Or is that too…”

“No,” Bucky interrupted him too fast. “No, it’s… it’s okay. I caught him cheating on me and when I confronted him, he hit me. I threw him out of my apartment and his stuff through the window out onto the street.”

“Ouch!” Clint said but with a tiny smirk in his eyes. “Bet he was hopping mad to see all his stuff on the street.”

“You betcha,” Bucky grinned. “He couldn’t decide if he wanted to collect his stuff or kick in my door to strangle me. I called Steve and Sam, just to be sure.”

“It’s always good to have the cops on your side,” Clint nodded smiling.

“Speaking of cops,” Bucky sat up and toyed around with his spoon. “You and Nat…” he stopped to see if he overstepped a mark. But Clint nodded.

“We grew up in the same orphanage,” he said. “She was four when they brought her in and the only one who could get through to her was me. I have no idea why, I guess she just liked me. Nat’s like a sister to me and we protect each other.”

“Oh,” Bucky said eloquently. “That’s… uhm…”

“My parents died in a car crash when I was six,” he said. “And it was the best thing that could happen to me,” he added after a while.

“So bad?” Bucky asked and Clint snorted bitterly. He turned his head and showed him his ears and only now he could see that he wore hearing aids. They were barely visible.

“My dad did that,” he said. “So, no, I won’t shed a tear over him.”

“I’m sorry,” Bucky said. “And how did you end up in the circus?”

Clnt laughed and his eyes sparkled, “I ran away when I was fifteen and joined them.”

“You’re kidding,” Bucky blurted but Clint shook his head.

“No, Nat was in a wonderful foster family at that time. They adopted her later, you know. Okay, me and my brother sneaked away when they came in town. They hired some guys, you know, to help them set up the big top. We got five dollar and a few Annie Oakleys and…”

“You got what?” Bucky interrupted him.

“Sorry, uhm… complimentary tickets,” he said. “We call them Annie Oakleys because there’s a hole punched in it.”

“Okay,” Bucky said. But then he gestured for Clint to continue.

“Uhm… yes, so, me and my brother, we went to help set up the big top, we got talking to some of the guys and Barney, my brother, said that I could hit every mark with my slingshot. A guy heard it, came over and asked me to show it and I did. He asked me if I ever shot with a bow, I said no, he asked if I want to try it and yes, I wanted. So he brought me to a target, gave me a bow, showed me how to use it and only three tries later I hit dead center. They asked me if I want to join them, I said no. I mean, Nat was in a foster family but I couldn’t leave back my brother. They said they would hire him, too, and… that’s it,” Clint said.

“You literally ran away to the circus,” Bucky chuckled. “That’s something…” he just shook his head. “I always thought that just happens in movies or books.”

“No,” Clint smirked. “Sometimes it happens.”

“And how did you and Natasha meet again?” Bucky wanted to know.

Clint looked at his hands for a moment. “We never lost contact. I always wrote her postcards from every town we went to. Sometimes, when we were close to her, I visited her.” He then cleared his throat. “So, now that you know my tragic life story, tell me something about you.”

“I told you about my idiot boyfriend,” Bucky said and Clint nodded slowly.

“Yeah,” he said then, “but I don’t want to know something about him, I want to know something about you.”

“Okay, Steve’s like a brother to me. We grew up together. Our parents were friends long before we were born and my parents are Steve’s godparents. And when his father died in war and his mom a few years later on cancer he lived with us,” Bucky said. “He helped me when I had no idea how to tell my mom that I’m gay.”

“Sounds like a really good friend,” Clint said.

“Yeah,” Bucky smiled. “And god, you have no idea how he suffered when I had that crush on Tom Beck, a guy from our school,” he added laughing and Clint chuckled.

“I can imagine it,” he said. “You should ask my brother.”

“Is he still with you in the circus?” Bucky asked and Clint shook his head.

“No,” he said. “He joined the army when he was eighteen. And last time I heard from him he was a FBI agent.”

“Wow,” Bucky’s brows hit his hairline. “That’s awesome, I think.”

“I don’t know, we don’t talk anymore,” Clint shrugged. “He was disappointed about my life choices.”

“Huh? What’s that supposed to mean?” Bucky frowned.

“Well, to stay in the circus, to go out with men, you know, the usual stuff,” Clint said. “He wanted me to join the army, too, but I didn’t want to hide who I am all the time and so I said no. In the circus no one asks. When the show is over everyone goes to their trailer, locks the door and doesn’t care what you do inside, you know.”

“I understand,” Bucky nodded. “I’ve told you that I’ve been in the army and it was…” he stopped and shook his head.

“Why did you do it then?” Clint asked and Bucky shrugged.

“I couldn’t afford to go to college,” he said. “And Steve went, so I went with him.”

“And what do you do now?” Clint was really curious about him.

“I work as a personal trainer in the gym down the block,” he chuckled. “I know, it’s not much, but…”

“Do you like your job?” Clint interrupted him.

“Yes,” he nodded. “Yes, I do.”

“Then it’s enough,” Clint smiled. He ordered more coffee and leaned back.

“Tell me something about circus life,” Bucky blurted. He, too, was curious.

“Something?” Clint asked and Bucky shrugged again.

“Yeah,” he said. “Something funny, something quaint, something interesting, I don’t know, just something.”

Clint deliberated for a few seconds and then his smile broadened.

“Okay, there was the one time in Chicago. Manny, our 24 hours man, was already there and…”

***

When he came back he found Steve, Nat and Sam - of course he was here, too, he was always here as if he didn’t have a home - sitting on the couch and apparently waiting for him. Nat smirked, Sam grinned and Steve tried his poker face.

“Hey guys,” Bucky greeted them casually and shrugged out of his jacket.

“Hey, Bucky,” Nat said. “How was your date?”

“First, it wasn’t a date, it was two guys drinking coffee together,” he said and opened his shoes. “And second, it’s none of your business.”

“What about the dinner you had?” Steve asked. Bucky cursed silently. Did Clint tell her?

“What are you talking about?” he asked slowly while slipping in his crocs. They always made fun of his choice of footwear but he loved them, they were so comfortable. Natasha scrunched up her nose when she saw them and Sam pretended to heave.

“We know that you were at Sal’s, too,” Steve said and pointed at a few empty pizza boxes in the kitchen. “I’ve seen you.”

“Oh, that,” Bucky said. “Yeah, we were hungry and Clint wanted pizza.”

“He always wants pizza. He’s as addicted to pizza as he is to coffee and dogs,” Nat muttered.

“And your point is?” Bucky asked now.

“How was your date?” Steve asked again. “Will you see him again? Will you…”

“Steve, that wasn’t a date,” Bucky repeated. “We went for a coffee and then ate pizza. That’s it.”

“That’s it?” Sam snorted. “You had actual dates that didn’t take a fifth of the time you spent with him today.”

He looked at the three of them, then shook his head. “I’ll go to bed now. Have a good night.”

“You know that Clint will tell me everything,” Nat called after him when he went to his bedroom.

“Then ask him if you have to,” he called back and closed the door behind himself. When he sat down on his bed he saw that he had a message and opened it.

It was from Clint. Thanks for the nice afternoon.

You saved me from binge watching the new Supergirl season. He sent back with a smiley.

I’m glad I could be of assistance. Clint wrote and he had added a winking smiley.

Looking forward to Wednesday. Bucky sent and smiled now. They had agreed to go for a coffee again. Clint had off on Wednesday and Bucky could swap his shift with Mack.

Yeah, me too.

Bucky didn’t realize that he smiled when he went to bed this evening. But he did.

***

They met four more times in the next two weeks and every time Steve and Nat saw him they shared glances and looked pleased at each other.

He and Clint, they became… what?... friends? No, more than friends. They were… close friends. Yes, close friends, that what he would call it. They found out that they liked the same music, the same movies, that they completely disagreed what was allowed on a pizza (Clint said only tomatoes and cheese but he could accept salami while Bucky really liked Hawaiian pizza).

And then Clint told him that the circus would move on soon.

“When?” Bucky asked. He didn’t realize that he grabbed the handle of his mug tighter.

“Sunday’s the last show, Monday we pack up and then Tuesday…” he stopped and licked his lips.

“That’s in four days,” Bucky said quietly and Clint nodded.

“Sorry,” he whispered barely audible. Bucky blinked a few times.

“Not your fault,” he said. He knew that the circus would move on, he had read the posters a few times and technically he knew it. But to know that it would happen in a few days was something different.

“We… uh… we go to the barn end of October,” Clint said and when he saw Bucky’s confused glance he said, “the winter quarters. Uhm… if you… if you want to… I could come here,” he added. “I mean, it’s easy to get a job, I always get offers from different shows all over the country where I can stay over the winter and…”

“I… I’d like that,” Bucky interrupted him. “If you came,” he added hastily.

“Okay, then…” Clint smiled.

“Uhm… can we… uhm… do you…” Bucky started and wanted to hit the back of his own head. He sounded like a lovesick teenager who had no idea what to say to their crush. “Do you think we could…” He gestured helplessly at the cup on he table in front of him.

Clint licked his lips and Bucky’s pants went a little tight and inwardly he groaned because fuck you Steve and Nat! I don’t want a new relationship so short after Brock.

“The next few days are a little busy but…” he looked at him through his long lashes and Bucky swallowed hard. Goddammit, he was doomed! “If you want to, you could come over on Sunday, after the show. Come to the backyard, I’ll make sure they let you in.”

Bucky nodded. “Okay,” he said then. “I… I’ll come.”

Clint smiled and he seemed happy.

“Okay.”

***

This afternoon he took his bike to drive to the circus. He parked it and walked to the area where the big top was. It was night and the last show ended an hour ago, the carnies had already prepared everything for the next day and apparently were in their trailers. Only a young woman with a one eyed dog sat at the entrance. She looked suspiciously at him when he came closer.

“Hey,” he said and smiled. She cocked her head and pursed her lips.

But then she said, “hey,” too.

“Uhm…” he said eloquently and cursed inwardly. “I’m Bucky. I’m here to see Clint.”

“He knows that you’re coming?” She wanted to know and Bucky nodded.

“Yeah,” he said. “He invited me.”

“Did he, huh?” she said.

“Is that a problem?” Bucky wanted to know now and she shook her head slowly.

“No,” she said then, “no problem at all.”

“Uhm… where can I find him?” He asked. She was really weird.

After a long moment, where she just stared at him, she finally rose. She was smaller by a head but she glared up at him.

“I know who you are,” she said then. “He told me about you.”

“He… did?” Bucky blurted.

“Yeah, he did,” she said. “And here’s a warning. Be sure what you want from him. Clint falls way too easily and when he falls he falls hard. I don’t want him to get hurt again, do you get me? If you just want to play with him, then you better get on your bike and drive away and never come back. Maybe I’m not the Amazing Hawkeye, maybe I can’t shoot the wing off of a fly, but I’m Hawkeye, too, and I have a bow and arrows,” she pressed her finger in his chest. “Never forget that.”

“I won’t,” Bucky said. The young woman scrutinized him again, but then she nodded and gestured with her head to follow her. Behind the big top was an area separated with a site fence, and the fence was covered with colorful plastic sheeting. She led him to a gate in the fence and opened it and Bucky could see the carnie’s trailers. In front of one was a woman who cooked on a small gas cooker. She glared at the young woman. She didn’t seem overly excited to see a stranger inside their area.

A moment later she knocked at the door of one of the trailers and opened it without waiting for someone to call her in. “Hey, Clint!” she called. “Your guest is here.” She didn’t enter, though.

“Thanks, Katie-Kate,” he heard a voice from inside.

The woman stepped aside, muttered, “I told you not to call me that.”

“Hey,” Clint appeared in the doorway, and smiled broadly. He wore a sleeveless shirt and an apron and Bucky’s mouth went dry. His arms were… magnificent, goddammit.

“Hey,” he said. The woman - Kate apparently - rolled her eyes, muttered something unintelligible under her breath, shoved the dog away from the door and walked away. Clint stepped aside and gestured for Bucky to come in.

The trailer wasn’t too big. It had a small seating area, a kitchenette, a bed in the back and a door, most probably the bathroom. A pot stood on the stove and bubbled and Clint went over to stir in it. “Sit down,” Clint said and pointed at one of the seats and Bucky did. “I hope you’re hungry because I am,” he said. “I haven’t eaten since breakfast, well, aside from a protein bar.

“I.. uh… I could eat,” Bucky said. The food smelled delicious, whatever it was. Clint threw something in it, stirred and turned around.

“One pot chicken pasta,” he said. “One of the few dishes I actually can cook without setting the kitchen on fire.” He grinned broadly and when he leaned against the small counter, his arms beside him, Bucky couldn’t avert his eyes from his strong arms and he involuntarily imagined what it would feel like to lie in these arms in the morning after… oh darn it, he was so doomed.

He cleared his throat and leaned back. “Smells delicious,” he said and Clint’s smile broadened and he got those tiny, cute wrinkles beside his eyes and… goddammit!

It happened. He had tried to avoid it but it happened. He was in love. Bucky couldn’t hold back a groan.

“You okay?” Clint asked now. He had stirred in his pot again and now looked over his shoulder, a small wrinkle between his eyes.

“I… I just realized something,” Bucky admitted. And when Clint cocked his head, he rose. “I hope I don’t read this wrong, but…”

He made the one tiny step over to him, stood very close to Clint now and looked down at him. Clint licked his lips nervously, opened his mouth a tiny bit and Bucky raised his hand, put it on his cheek and when he leaned in a tiny bit, he closed the distance and gently brushed Clint’s lips with his own. Clint responded immediately, kissed him back and Bucky could feel a hand on the small of his back.

“Shit,” he breathed as soon as they parted.

Clint’s expression was unreadable and he licked his lips again. “So bad?”

“No, I… I just…” he stopped. Everything he could say now would probably ruin his relationship. Was there something like a relationship? Did he want a relationship? Bucky sighed inwardly because if he was honest with himself - and now was the best moment to be honest with himself - he wanted a relationship with Clint more than he ever wanted something in his life before.

“I’m an idiot,” he said then. Clint stepped back, looked at his feet and pressed his lips together.

“No, it’s… fuck!” He turned and sat down again. “Clint, the last weeks with you… they were wonderful, they were…” he shook his head at a loss for words. “I didn’t mean to fall in love with you, I tried not to, but it happened and now I’m here and you’re going away and I…”

“You… you’re in love with me?” Clint asked and Bucky could only nod.

“Yes,” he whispered and nodded slowly. He looked up and saw Clint open his mouth, close it, open it again and then shake his head.

“That’s good,” he said then and scratched the back of his neck.

“Is it?” Bucky asked now and Clint nodded. He licked his lips as if he tried to say something but then he just went to him again, placed both hands on Bucky’s cheeks and kissed him again.

“I’m not so good with… with words,” Clint said and blushed when Bucky smiled at him. “But yes, that’s good,” he added.

“Something smells weird,” Bucky said and Clint spun around, stared disbelievingly into his pot.

“Aww, pasta, no!” He pulled the smoldering pot off of the stove.

“No problem,” Bucky said, looked in the pot and stirred a bit with the spoon. “Part of it is still edible.”

“You sure?” Clint looked doubtful at the pasta and then back at Bucky.

“Believe me. I share an apartment with Steve and when Steve cooks it’s raw on the inside and burnt to coal on the outside. The only reason he’s still alive is thanks to all those nice people who deliver food,” he said.

Bucky reached for the plates and carefully spooned the edible parts of the pasta on them before he handed one to Clint and sat down again. Clint followed him and both men started to eat.

“That’s good,” he mumbled around a mouthful of food and Clint’s face lit up.

“You like it?” He asked and Bucky nodded.

“Definitely,” he smiled. They ate in silence for a few minutes and then Clint leaned back and took a sip from his glass.

“Tell you what,” he said. Bucky raised his brow and Clint licked his lips before he continued. “I know you’re still not really comfortable with the idea of a new relationship, am I right?” Bucky cast his eyes down but before he could say a word Clint stopped him with a raised hand. “And that’s okay. I mean, you said your last relationship was a clusterfuck and I can understand that you don’t want to throw yourself in a new one.”

“Clint, I…” He said but Clint interrupted him.

“I’m out of town for the next two months. Enough time for you to think about what you want.” He looked at him now through his lashes and Bucky’s mouth went dry. “You know what I want,” he said, “but I accept your decision.”

“Are you sure?” Bucky asked and Clint shrugged.

“You know what I want,” he said again. “But only if you want it too and I don’t want to hurry things. If you’re not ready then you’re not ready and I will accept that.”

“You’re amazing, you know that?” Bucky blurted and Clint chuckled.

“Yeah,” he said. “They write it on the posters, you know.” Bucky looked at him, slightly confused.

“The Amazing Hawkeye, remember?”

“Aww,” he groaned and slapped his own forehead. “Yeah, okay, got it.”

Clint rose and went to the tiny fridge. “Want a beer?” he asked and Bucky smiled and nodded.

“Yeah, sounds good.”

They spent the rest of the evening in Clint’s trailer, talked a lot, drank beer. Later they moved to the bed, lay there, kissed and fumbled a bit but they kept their clothes on.

“It’s not that I don’t want you,” Bucky said. “But I don’t want you to be just a cheap fuck.”

“It’s okay,” Clint said. “You don’t…”

“No,” Bucky kissed him. “You don’t deserve that.” Clint moaned and kissed him back.

“You know, you’re pretty amazing, too,” he smiled.

***

8 weeks and two days later

Bucky almost startled when he finally heard the knock on his door. Steve raised a brow when he almost ran to it and so he forced himself to walk. Before he opened it, he glared at Steve and the man snorted, rolled his eyes but rose and went to his bedroom.

“Have fun,” he mouthed. Bucky flipped him off.

He opened the door and his heart started to beat faster when he saw the man outside. Clint. He looked good enough to eat in his black leather jacket. He had a duffel bag over his shoulder and smiled.

“Hey,” he said but before he could say more Bucky slammed into him, his back hit the wall opposite of the door and he kissed him almost violently. “Missed me, huh?” Clint asked when they broke for air but Bucky didn’t answer, he just shut him with another kiss.

“Get a room,” Steve muttered behind them. He had his jacket thrown over his shoulder and walked down the corridor to the elevator. Bucky flipped him off again.

“Want some coffee?” He asked. Clint nodded and followed him into the apartment. He put his duffel bag down beside the door and threw his jacket over the backrest of the couch. Bucky, who was on his way to the kitchen, couldn’t help himself and stare a bit. The shirt was tight and clung to Clint’s body so nicely that he wanted to touch him right then and there.

When he went back to the living room, two mugs of coffee in his hands, Clint sat on the couch, his hands folded in his lap. He seemed nervous.

“Are you okay?” he asked and Clint half nodded, half shrugged.

“I…” he started, stopped and looked at his hands. “I know we talked a lot on the phone the last weeks but…” he looked up. “This one topic…”

“When you were gone, Clint, I missed you so badly, it almost hurt physically,” he admitted. He had thought a long time about what he wanted to say when Clint was back. “Sure, we talked but…” he licked his lips. “I want you, I want to be with you, I want… everything!”

Clint looked at him for another long moment before his face split into one of his beautiful smiles and he rushed over to sit in Bucky’s lap. He placed both hands on his cheeks and kissed him, hard and deep and hungrily.

“I hoped you would say that,” he murmured.

Bucky let his hands run along Clint’s spine and felt him shiver and on his way upwards he let his fingers glide under his shirt. It was the first time he felt his skin, the silkiness, the strong muscles under it. Clint moaned in his mouth and Bucky could feel his fingers glide under his own shirt.

“God,” he groaned before he kissed Clint again. “Bedroom?” he suggested and Clint’s grin broadened. On their way to the bedroom they lost half of their clothing and the rest landed in an unceremonial heap on Bucky’s floor.

Around twenty minutes later they lay side by side on Bucky’s bed and breathed hard. Their bodies were naked, sweaty and tainted with certain fluids but they couldn’t care less.

“Fuck,” Bucky muttered. “I had no idea that this is even possible without breaking your spine.”

Clint chuckled quietly and turned to look at him. “Your first time with a circus athlete, I assume?”

Bucky chuckled, too. “True. But hopefully not the last time.”

Clint kissed his chin and put his hand on Bucky’s chest. “Are you sure?”

“Yes,” Bucky said and kissed Clint’s forehead. “Yes, I am sure, I’m absolutely sure that I want to be with you. Well, if you want me, too.”

“I love you, Bucky,” Clint said and smiled at him.

“I love you, too.”