Without even opening his eyes, Clint can already tell it's going to be an excellent morning.
Consciousness comes to him slowly, as perception filters into the depths of his half-dreaming mind, one detail at a time. He feels like he's drifting, rising up -- a feeling he wants to luxuriate in. There's no Avengers alarm blaring, yanking him into full wakefulness. There's nothing he needs to get up for. He can just stay like this. Right here. Forever.
Besides, wherever he is right now is a pretty good place to be. Like every other Avenger, Clint's had days where you wake up with chains on your wrists and duct tape over your mouth, strapped to a bomb or folded into a cargo container. This is definitely not that. He's lying on his back on soft sheets, a pillow under his head. He's propped up, almost, like he fell asleep sitting up. The fabric smells familiar; it's the detergent Jarvis uses. It's probably his bed in Avengers Mansion.
There's sunlight; the light diffuses through his closed eyes, and he can feel the sun on his face. It's a bright day. A good day.
And, best of all, he's not alone. He can feel the weight of another body, halfway atop his. They're cuddling him, legs tangled with his, an arm thrown possessively over his ribs. Their head is pillowed on his chest. If he focuses, he can feel them breathing, warm air pluming over his skin as they exhale. He's not sure if they're awake.
Focusing inward reveals another detail, a pleasant edge to the sensations he feels: satiated, spent, sensitive. Mmm. He doesn't even remember the last time he got laid, but all evidence points to it being last night.
A tendril of worry curls through Clint's brain, with increasing clarity as he approaches full consciousness: he doesn't even remember last night.
It's okay, he tells himself. It'll come back to him. Don't worry. There was probably a party. He was probably drunk. That's probably why he doesn't remember.
Huh. He doesn't remember a party. And he doesn't feel hungover. He definitely doesn't feel shitty enough to have been blackout drunk. He doesn't feel shitty at all, which ordinarily shouldn't be a cause for concern, but it's beginning to concern him now.
It's okay, he tells himself. It's all okay. He clearly had a good time. It'll come back to him. He doesn't need to question it. He got some. Whoever it was liked him enough to stay the night. Those are both major pluses. He can just let this be. He can take it as it comes. He's having a good day so far.
"I'm too comfortable for it to be morning," Clint finally says aloud, a little mournfully.
He lets himself sink back into the mattress, lean against the pillows; he appreciates the comforting weight of the mystery guest cuddling him. It's been a while since he had a good cuddle, and he plans to enjoy this. He just wants to stay like this. He's got nowhere to be. At least, he doesn't remember needing to be anywhere. Everything's good.
Unfortunately, his body has other ideas. With the return of consciousness comes certain physical needs.
"Dammit," he says. "Now that I'm awake I have to pee."
He opens one eye and then the other, squinting at the ceiling. Yep. That's definitely the mansion. His bed. His room.
His sleeping companion shifts position; Clint hopes that they're going to let him up.
"You're not the only one, Clint," Steve's voice says.
Steve is in his bed. Steve Rogers is in his bed. He banged Captain America?
Clint forgets how to breathe. He glances wildly downward. That's Steve's head, all right, his hair mussed. The body atop Clint's is naked, heavily-muscled, skin pale and a little freckled. It's the body he's seen when Steve strips off his shirt for some gym time. Not that he's tried to look too hard. He never thought Steve would welcome it.
He doesn't remember sleeping with Steve. At all. Jesus, he didn't even know Steve swung that way.
He doesn't remember--
God, he doesn't remember--
He remembers walking into Avengers Mansion. That's the last thing he remembers. All the Avengers, past and present, had been summoned. He'd been fighting some bozo by the name of Mutaurus on the East River waterfront when the guy had just straight-up vanished, and he'd gotten the call -- the same thing had happened to every Avenger everywhere, their enemies disappearing, all at once. He'd made it to the mansion at the same time as Wanda and Pietro. He remembers that. Jarvis had shown him in, and-- and--
Nothing. That's it.
How long has it been? How much time is he missing? And what if it's not anything as simple as amnesia? What if it's time travel? For God's sake, is he still on Earth-616? What if he fell into some other world, into some other Clint Barton's life, a life where he's been with Steve for years? What the hell happened? And why doesn't he remember?
Oblivious to Clint's anxiety, Steve is still talking. "I didn't want to wake you because you probably needed the sleep," Steve says, sounding genuinely apologetic, "but my bladder's about to burst."
Steve pushes himself up, making space between them, and wow, that is a lot of Captain America right there, that is a lot of very naked Captain America right there, that is definitely a lot more of Captain America than Clint thought he would ever see--
And then Steve leans forward and cups Clint's cheek, his thumb smoothing tenderly over Clint's chin. His hands are huge and warm. Even with the calluses, his fingers are surprisingly soft. Clint's always wondered what this would be like. It's clear that at some point recently, he got to find out.
"I'll be right back. Then you can go," Steve says, smiling a gentle smile that makes Clint want to melt even as everything in him is ratcheting up to a full-on panic. "Keep the bed warm for me?" Steve's still smiling as he gets up, turns, and heads for the bathroom.
Clint doesn't even get to appreciate the sight of Captain America's naked ass because he's too busy trying not to freak out in any way that Steve would notice.
Okay, he thinks, this looks bad.
He's got a minute or so for himself. He needs to figure out as much as he can before Steve comes back. First things first. He glances down at his hands. His fingers are bare. No wedding ring. Thank God. This isn't some future or alternate universe where they're married. Whatever this is between the two of them hasn't advanced as far as that. Was it their first time? It's hard to say. Steve was clearly comfortable with him, but maybe Steve just doesn't do awkward morning-afters with anyone in general. How would he know?
His body feels like his body. Steve did call him Clint. He looks down at himself again, just to check. Yep, that's definitely him. No bodyswap. Experimentally, he tenses a few muscles. He's pretty sure he's had sex recently, but he doesn't think he got fucked; he's not that particular kind of sore. He wonders if Steve bottoms, or if they did something else. God, what if he really got to fuck Captain America last night?
He's entranced by the thought of it, of what it might have been like, Steve's perfect body, spread out beneath him--
Clint shakes his head. No. He needs to focus. No time for this.
This is definitely his room in the mansion. Arrows dot the target in the far wall. Everything is more or less where he left it the last time he was here, assuming here is the here that he remembers. It doesn't mean it's Earth-616, of course -- he'll have to find some discreet way of confirming that -- but as a working assumption, it'll do.
So if it's him, and this is his Earth, and he doesn't remember -- well, then that leaves him with two problems. He's got to find out how much he's missing, and, assuming it is amnesia and not time-travel, whether it's magic or drugs or head trauma or--
The toilet flushes, the sink runs, and then there's Steve standing there, exactly as naked as before, while Clint desperately attempts to look like a guy who definitely remembers having slept with Captain America. Play it cool, he tells himself. Casual. You're just a guy and he's just a guy and you're both completely naked and you don't remember an indeterminate period of time including how, when, and why you got naked and everything is cool. Everything is absolutely cool.
Steve grins and chucks a thumb behind him at the recently-vacated bathroom. "All yours."
This is where Clint could ask. He's not an idiot, after all. He knows that if he opened his mouth right now and said Cap, I have amnesia and I have no idea what the hell is going on, Steve would get to the bottom of this. He's Captain America. That's what he does. He makes things right. There would be doctors, tests, visits from the New York superhero crowd's finest geniuses and maybe even magicians. They could fix him.
But then he takes another look at Steve. He looks at Steve's easy, lazy smile. He knows the smile would come right off Steve's face if he said that. Whatever he did, whatever he doesn't remember -- he knows, if nothing else, that the two of them had a damn good time last night. And who is he to ruin that for Steve, just because he can't remember it?
He can figure it out as he goes. No big deal.
Besides, maybe it'll all come back to him. Any minute now.
Clint moves to step past Steve, and Steve... reaches out and caresses his face again. He's just as gentle as before, his touch oddly soft for a man whom Clint has personally seen punch through a brick wall with his bare hands. Clint feels dizzyingly hot where Steve is touching him, where Steve's palm catches on the stubble on Clint's jaw. He knows he probably should move, but he wants to stay right here, with Steve touching him.
Maybe he's a little bit lonely.
And then there's a knock on the door.
On reflex, Clint jumps away. Shit. Okay. Pants. He definitely needs at least a pair of pants in the next ten seconds. And Steve needs to be not anywhere visible when Clint opens the door. Maybe whoever it is can be persuaded to leave without actually seeing him.
"Hey, Hawkeye?" The voice on the other side of the door sounds like... Carol Danvers. Huh.
Clint wonders how many people are in the mansion. It can't possibly still be every former Avenger -- where would they all have bunked down? -- but so far it's him and Steve and Carol, and the fact that there are at least the three of them suggests there are more somewhere. Is there a new team? Is he on the team?
Well, there's only one way to find out.
"Yeah?" Clint yells back. "What do you want?"
There's a brief pause, which is when Clint figures out that whatever Carol wants is something he's already supposed to know. "You know what I want. Geez, I want to do you a favor. Open up already," Carol says. There's a touch of annoyance in her voice. "Come on, it's brand-new, and you don't want me to try to wedge it under the door. There's not enough room."
"Okay." He has to concede now. Whatever it is that she has, Carol needs to see him to give him it. "Give me a second."
His uniform pants, he discovers, have somehow ended up over the back of his chair, and Steve's shirt is under them. Steve's pants are sticking out from under the bed. No other clothing is in evidence. They were clearly very enthusiastic while undressing. Whatever. Carol will just have to deal with his half-naked self.
Commando is where it's at. He wriggles into his pants, makes a concerted effort not to zip his dick up -- because amnesia is already bad enough -- and he frantically motions Steve to the side. Steve, who has somehow found his underwear and is still hopping into his pants, squints suspiciously at him but then hops behind the door where Carol won't see him. Good enough.
He opens the door.
Carol is standing there, in high boots and a lightning-bolt leotard -- he wonders when she switched back to that -- and she opens her mouth, stops, and stares at him.
"Uh," Carol says.
Clint wonders if maybe he should have looked in a mirror. Too late now. He wonders exactly what he looks like.
Recovering her composure, she holds out what looks like Clint's own identicard in one black-gloved hand. He takes it. "Delivery from the genius downstairs," she says. "Everyone's cards have been recoded for the new team, and Tony says Vision's at about fifty percent functional, still mostly phased out, but... hey, could you do me a favor? I can't find Cap; he's not in his room. If you see him around, someone should tell him--"
There's a rustling noise behind Clint.
"Tell me what?" Steve asks.
Oh, fuck. Maybe this is a universe -- or a future -- where everyone knows they're an item. Clint's stomach sinks, and he half-turns behind him to see Steve, who is mostly dressed, yanking his shirt down as he talks.
But when Clint glances back to Carol, the surprise on Carol's face is absolutely genuine. She looks... pretty much exactly like Clint feels. Her mouth is a rounded O, and under the edge of her domino mask her cheeks are tinged red.
"Jesus," Carol says, and her mask twitches like she's raising her eyebrows at Clint. "Somebody got lucky after the party, huh?"
Okay. This is all good information. He should keep track of it, he tells himself. Maybe he'll feel calmer that way. There's a new team. He's on the new team. There was a party, probably at the mansion, probably last night. Somehow Steve came home with him from it, and either it was their first time or they were very discreet before, because this is new to Carol.
Somehow Clint can't imagine that Steve is the discreet type, even if it's guys he's doing. Which apparently it is. And Steve can't be that discreet, because he was clearly willing to tell Carol like it's not even a secret. It must have been their first time.
He can't believe he got to bang Captain America for the first time and he missed it.
Steve's bare hand settles on Clint's shoulder and he manages not to jump this time. If he's slept with Steve, he ought to act like he could have expected that. And when Clint looks back, Steve is smiling this ridiculously idiotic, oh-yeah-I-just-got-laid smile... at him. His stomach does somersaults.
"Yeah," Steve says, fondly, "I think I got pretty lucky."
"Anyway." Carol coughs and passes Steve what has to be his own identicard, which he takes. "Vision's not all the way up yet. But he's up enough that Tony says that he and Vizh can get the Combat Simulation Room running. You know, if you want to put the rest of us through our paces this morning."
Steve's still grinning. "I think I just might. Thanks."
Carol's gaze goes back to Clint. "And, in honor of the new team, Jarvis is making blueberry pancakes, so you'll want to get downstairs soon before Thor eats them all."
The team must be very new if Jarvis is pulling out all the stops. They can't have been without a team that long -- they were probably going to put one together when Clint showed up at the mansion, in his last reliable memory -- so hopefully he's not missing too much time.
Clint smiles something that he hopes is an ordinary, unworried, grateful smile. He's probably trying too hard. "Thanks, Binary!"
And Carol... freezes. Her mouth tightens into a thin, humorless line, and her jaw works. Shit. He fucked up. Now that he thinks about it, what Carol's wearing now isn't what she wore when she was Binary. She must have changed her name back. This is something he's clearly supposed to know.
"Uh," Clint says. "I meant, thanks, Ms. Marvel?"
But that's not the answer either, because Carol just looks even more pained. This is like trying to guess his own e-mail password, but a thousand times worse. What the hell would she have called herself? She's wearing her Ms. Marvel outfit. She doesn't have any other names, does she?
For fuck's sake, he hopes he hasn't also changed his e-mail password.
Next to him, Steve sighs. "Do you really want us to start calling you the Golden Archer again?" he asks, and there's that tone he always has when Clint's pushing the elusive edge of acceptable behavior, the one that's somewhere between fondness and frustration. "Come on. You know her name's Warbird now. You were there."
Great, now Steve thinks he's being an asshole to Carol on purpose. Way to ruin the morning-after, self.
On the plus side, at least he's learned something. Warbird. It's not a bad name, either. But then, Clint's always been fond of bird-themed names.
"Right," Clint says. "Warbird. I knew that."
As Clint heads down to the kitchen, with Steve still at his side, he wonders what the hell he's gotten himself into this time.
He got in a discreet glance at his identicard as they were hurrying out the door. It said Earth-616 on the back; apparently Tony had anticipated that someone might have something like Clint's particular problem at some point. It didn't have the date, but at least he knows he's in the right universe. So here he is, and apparently he and Steve fucked, and this is reality.
Also, as he found out when he looked in the bathroom mirror, the reason Carol was looking at him funny when he opened the door was that he has a huge hickey on his neck. Steve had clearly been into him last night, all right.
He's always had a thing for Steve, he thinks, as he glances over and takes in Steve's easy, relaxed smile. It took him a while to figure it out, sure, because when he first joined the Avengers he mostly wanted to show the world that he was better than Captain America and deserved to be team leader. Clint used to be kind of a shit. Still kind of is, really.
Somewhere along the way, I want to be better than Captain America had turned into I want to be admired and respected by Captain America and then into I want to do Captain America. He doesn't really know when it happened. Maybe it had always been there and he'd never really paid attention. But for a long time now, he's been looking at Steve -- the muscles, those baby-blue eyes, that clean-cut all-American style, his unwavering determination to always do the right thing -- and thinking yeah, I could go for a piece of that.
The thing is, though, it's not like that exactly makes Clint unique. Everybody wants to bang Captain America. The entire goddamn world wants to bang Captain America. Clint is not exaggerating that. Probably even lesbians want to bang Captain America. Clint can name at least five superheroes -- not counting him -- who have Steve at the top of their list of exceptions. Steve's a free pass in everyone's relationship. Anyone would do him if they had the chance. So, really, everyone wants Steve. It ain't like Clint's special.
But the other thing is that not everyone can have Steve. In fact, very few people can. Clint doesn't even need two hands to count the number of people he knows Steve's dated, and the Avengers all know he's not the kind of guy to sleep around casually.
And yet somehow, last night, Steve came home with him. Somehow Steve, who doesn't sleep with just anyone -- who, as far as Clint knows, doesn't even sleep with guys -- picked him. Him. Jesus.
He is the envy of his teammates. He slept with Steve Rogers. And he doesn't even get to remember it. It is profoundly unfair. But that's pretty much the way Clint's life goes.
He wonders how it happened. Who made the first move. What he could have said, what he could have done, to make Steve even consider giving him a chance. If he knew, he'd be able to do it again. Maybe the next time, he'll even be able to remember it.
He hopes it was good. Steve's always seemed like he would be good in bed. Sure, Steve probably doesn't have experience as vast as some people do, but Clint's always figured Steve's the kind of guy who really wants to make sure his partners are happy. He's nice like that. He was probably nice in bed.
Maybe Steve's dick gave him amnesia.
No. That's stupid. That's stupid and weird. But their lives are crazy enough that he can't exactly rule it out. He's not really sure how he would go about ruling it out. It would probably involve telling Steve at some point that he has amnesia, which is not going to happen. He'll just have to table that one.
They round the corner into the dining room, and Clint is greeted by the sight of an entire team of Avengers gathered around the table, on which sit several stacks of blueberry pancakes. This is the new team. The team he and Steve are probably on. The team Steve is probably leading, given the way Carol had talked to him, and the fact that, let's be real, he's Captain America.
Everyone's looking at them as they enter. Carol, Wanda, Tony, Thor, and... shit. Who are those kids?
They're a guy and a girl, on the young side, but old enough that clearly someone let them into the Avengers. The guy's got brown hair, hazel eyes, and a mostly-blue outfit with a white stripe down his chest. His cape drapes over the back of his chair and brushes the floor. The girl is a redhead, and her clothing consists of the superhero-standard leotard -- this one in red, black, and gold -- with a black jacket over the top. Her earrings are huge gold stars. She's wearing a huge pair of yellow -- goggles? Glasses? It looks like a safety visor, honestly.
He must know them. He must have met them. They do look, in fact, vaguely familiar. But there are a hell of a lot of superheroes in the world, and chances are good that they never had those outfits the last time Clint met them.
He's just going to wait for someone else to say their names first, this time.
Tony, the closest to the door, looks like he's seeing morning from the other side; he's wearing a rumpled business suit. "Morning, lovebirds," he says with a grin.
Identical smiles break out around the table.
So people know. So everyone knows. Wow.
Clint should maybe sit down before he falls down. Instead, Steve puts his arm around him. Christ. So that's a thing they're doing in public. Okay, then.
"It was a very high-probability event," Wanda says. She folds her hands together, demurely, next to her breakfast plate, and she has that serene look on her face like she predicted all of this.
Could she have caused it? Her magic does get awfully weird sometimes. Maybe she had something to do with the amnesia. Maybe a hex misfired. It'll be hard to ask without her getting suspicious, though.
Carol laughs. "You don't need probability -- you saw them leaving together!" she says, and Wanda dips her head in acknowledgment. Carol's looking at them a little closer, and then she shakes her head in what looks like astonishment. "We should have a team bylaw about dating an Avenger who looks like you. God, if you two swapped costumes, I wouldn't be able to tell."
Clint knows that's not really true. They're not built the same at all, and he knows Carol knows it. But the idea that they could do something like that... it makes him feel weird and dizzy -- like the Clint Barton of a decade ago, the reformed criminal who wanted nothing more than to be a real Avenger, has finally made it to the top. Swapping costumes with Cap, a real possibility. Steve in his clothes, oh God. It sounds weirdly awesome and weirdly sexy.
"For future reference, I'm actually shorter than he is," Steve says, and it's impressive that he says anything at all given how red his face has gotten, but he must be determined to be open and honest about this. His arm around Clint pulls him even closer. Apparently Captain America doesn't believe in the closet. At least, not when it's Clint.
Clint's... not exactly sure how to feel about that. Kind of funny and warm and tingly. If Clint remembered anything that led up to this moment, he's sure he'd be even tinglier.
Luckily, it's not much effort to come up with something that Clint Who Totally Remembers Everything About Last Night would say.
"And I'm prettier," Clint drawls, as the team obligingly chuckles. Score.
Yeah, Clint Who Totally Remembers Everything About Last Night is probably still kind of a shit. It's okay. Steve clearly likes him anyway.
Huh. Maybe something happened to Steve. That could be why Steve slept with him in the first place. Nefarious supervillain interference. Which, okay, is also stupid and weird but it really does sound like the kind of stupid and weird that the Avengers specialize in. They all know that mind control is a thing. It could be tied in with the amnesia. He'll have to think about how to investigate this.
The rest of the team has saved them two seats next to each other, Thor on one side and the new guy whose name Clint still doesn't remember on the other. As they move toward the table, Steve takes the chair closest to Thor, which means that Clint has to sit next to New Guy and completely wing it. Which happens to be one of his life skills, sure, but it's not one he's particularly happy about.
"Hi," Clint says to New Guy. "How's it going?"
New Guy gives him a big, big grin, like he's so thrilled to be an Avenger and this is the best day he's ever had in his life. Clint can't really remember being that young, but he knows he was new once, and he still remembers all the stupid shit he did to try to earn a place on the team. Jarvis has mostly forgiven him.
"Everything's perfect," New Guy says, still beaming. "Listen, me and Angel, we just wanted to thank you for everything you did for us, Hawkeye."
Fuck. Okay. More new information. He can work through this. They know him. He did something for them. The girl's name is Angel. The guy is-- wait, Clint does know him. He knows both of them. They used to be on the New Warriors. His name is V-- V-- V-something. Victor? Vernon? Vincent? Vince?
Angel leans in. "Vance has wanted to be an Avenger more than anything. It was really kind of you."
Vance! That's it. Vance Astrovik. Marvel Boy. He'd tried to join the team a few years back, and Steve had told him he was too young. It sounds like Clint got him -- the two of them? -- on the team.
Vance's name is probably not Marvel Boy anymore.
"No problem," Clint said, pasting a smile on his face. "It was the least I could do."
There, that's... relatively non-committal. And it seems to have gone over okay, because Vance is just nodding and smiling like Clint's said something perfectly normal. Good. Maybe he can do this after all.
He hopes his memories come back soon.
Grabbing a plate, Clint snags a few pancakes from the pile and gets to eating. Eating is good. If he's eating, he doesn't have to talk. If he's not talking, nothing bad will happen. Also, Jarvis makes excellent pancakes.
Steve's hand slides over his thigh.
Clint nearly chokes on a mouthful of pancake, looks up, and sees Steve smiling at him. His face is bright, guileless. Clint can't ruin this for him. Amnesia can't last forever, right?
"Hey, there," Steve says, softly.
Steve's hand on his thigh is huge and warm. And because Steve's a decent guy, that's where his hand stays for another instant before moving away. No funny business over breakfast.
Clint makes himself smile. Clint Who Totally Remembers Everything About Last Night has a good smile for this occasion, wide and lazy and maybe a little bit tantalizing, and Steve's cheeks go pink.
"Hey," Clint says back, which isn't his smoothest move ever, but the less he says, the less chance anyone has to notice something is wrong with him.
"I'm glad you're here with me," Steve says, quiet, sincere. No joking now.
"What," Clint asks, "on the team?"
"That too," Steve says, and, well, there's that warm tingly feeling back again.
Because Thor is sitting next to Steve, has the hearing of... well, a god, and has the personal discretion of... something that's not very discreet (Clint failed English, okay?), their quiet conversation does not go unnoticed.
"Ah," Thor says, cheerfully. "My friends! Should you wish to plight your troth, Captain, know that I will happily stand with you at your handfasting."
Steve is even redder now. "I think that's moving a little quickly, Thor, but thank you."
Sitting up straight, Steve clears his throat, and Clint watches as the entire table hushes and turns to regard him. It's that Captain America magic. You can't look away from him. You want to do what he says. You could be the stubbornest, most insubordinate ornery son-of-a-bitch on the planet and if Cap looked at you and said jump, you'd throw yourself off a sky-cycle for him. Not that Clint is speaking from personal experience, or anything. It's why even Clint has to admit that Steve deserves to be team leader.
"Right," Steve says, coolly. "I'm told the Combat Simulation Room is up and running--" he eyes Tony, who nods back-- "and I'd like to spend the rest of the morning seeing how you all fight. Paired runs. Are there any questions?"
Steve's looking at Vance and Angel when he says it -- which makes sense, because they're kids, they've never been Avengers before, and so they're probably entirely unfamiliar with the Combat Simulation Room. If anyone has questions, it's the two of them.
But Clint has questions too. Clint has a lot of questions. And the advantage to Clint's carefully-cultivated demeanor is that he can probably get away with at least one of them flat-out and everyone will think he's joking.
Clint leans forward in his chair -- he's got to do this right, after all -- puts on his best fake-earnest poker face, and raises his hand. "I have a question."
Someone, he can't tell who, muffles a laugh. They know Clint's been an Avenger since the days of the first batch of new recruits, Cap's very own Kooky Quartet. They know he knows what's up, and so they know that if he's asking, it's because he's trolling.
And Steve knows that too, so when he glances over, his face is stern... but his mouth is wavering, as he attempts to suppress a smile. "Yes?"
"What day is it?"
Everyone's chuckling now. Perfect non-sequitur. That's just what good ol' Hawkeye would say, isn't it?
The thing Clint's counting on, though, is that even if Steve thinks he's being a shit, he's still going to answer him like it's a real question, because that's the kind of guy he is. The best of the Avengers.
"It's Friday," Steve says, briskly, but his eyes are kind. He glances around the table again. "Now, unless anyone else has any actual questions, I suggest we proceed downstairs."
It was Monday when Clint walked into the mansion. He's missing at least four days. Maybe more, because there's nothing saying it has to be the same week he remembers it being. God. Four days. He wonders what else happened.
It will come back, he tells himself. It has to come back.
They're waiting outside the Combat Simulation Room in ragged formation as Steve stands there, eyeing them all thoroughly. He's making his choices for the paired runs -- which Avengers he wants to see work together.
Clint, after some consideration, edges a little closer to Wanda.
On an ordinary day, his first choice for an Avenger to train with would actually be Steve. They've partnered up enough that they know each other's fighting styles, inside and out, and Clint's never actually asked to try, but he's pretty sure he's got the reflexes for Steve's shield, if it ever comes to that. But asking to touch Steve's shield has always seemed off-limits. Like it's one step shy of asking to touch Steve's dick.
Clint considers the fact that he probably did ask to touch Steve's dick.
He thinks maybe it would still be pushing it.
Then Steve turns as he paces, and Clint can see Steve's back, and what the fuck? Okay, Steve doesn't even have his shield. Not his regular shield. The shield strapped to his back looks like that one they have at the Smithsonian, the one that's kind of a triangle but with points on top.
Clint swallows hard and wonders what the hell he's missed. What happened to Steve's shield? How long has it been gone?
He can't do this. He'll slip up somewhere, and they'll all find out, and Steve will -- well, Steve will be mad, for sure. Steve will probably kick him off the team. And Steve will feel needlessly terrible about whatever it is they got up to last night, and there's no way he'll let Clint do it again. Ever. So it's better, really, if Steve doesn't find out. Clint's just going to have to do his best, and, sure, sometimes his best is crappy, but it's what he's got.
So he needs to not offer to run the course with Steve, because the closer he is to Steve, the more likely it is that Steve's going to find out. He doesn't even know if Steve's going to put himself through the course with the rest of them.
But that doesn't mean he doesn't want to impress Steve, because, honestly, he's wanted to impress Steve since day one. And Wanda is the next best choice. They joined the Avengers together, after all. Cap's Kooky Quartet. He's worked with Wanda as long as he's worked with Steve. They know each other. They'll make each other look good.
"Okay." Steve tilts his head at the new kids. "Justice, Firestar, you two will be going first."
"Yes, sir," Vance says.
At least Clint knows their codenames now. He still doesn't know which of them is which, but, hey -- progress.
Steve eyes the rest of the Avengers, thoroughly. "Scarlet Witch," he begins, and Clint helpfully takes another step closer to Wanda, hoping to give Steve ideas. Steve rubs his chin. "You're with Iron Man."
Clint can't make out Tony's face, on account of the mask, but his armor can't hide the annoyance in his voice. "I set up the course, Cap," Tony says, but at least his complaint sounds good-natured. "Isn't that going to be a little unfair?"
"Then think of it as your time to shine," Steve says, unruffled, and he turns to Clint. "Hawkeye," he says, and a hint of that just-got-laid smile flickers around the edges of his mouth. Again.
Clint knows, then, that Steve doesn't want to play favorites -- doesn't want to even show the barest possible hint of it -- and whoever Steve going to give him isn't him. That's good, at least.
"Go with Warbird," he says, finally.
Huh. Okay. He can do that. And she'll be good, too. She's got that Binary white-hole power to burn. That'll be impressive, for sure. Carol gives him an approving nod.
Clint grins at her. "We can be bird buddies."
"A warbird's not that kind of bird," Carol says, but she's smiling.
Steve gives Clint one last smile, and then he turns to Thor, the only Avenger left. "Thor, you're with me."
"Aye," Thor says.
"I just fixed the damn robots." Tony's hand scrapes over his face in a screech of metal, as he grouses under his breath. "Just-- no lightning, please, Thor. I'm begging you. Have mercy on me."
The crooked grin spreading across Thor's face suggests he has no intention of honoring that. As does his silence.
Steve hits a control, and the simulation room doors swing open, and, yep, there's robots. Robots and lasers and all sorts of obstacles. The room is jam-packed with them, right up to a red line on the ground a couple feet away from the far wall. The safe zone.
"The goal," Steve says, "is for you and your partner to make it across the room while avoiding or eliminating your enemies. You both have to reach the safe zone, so no ditching them and making a run for it." He eyes Clint sternly, and Clint knows he's remembering the amazingly catastrophic training run Clint did with Pietro where they both decided to go it alone. Clint is the proud Avengers record holder of Highest Number Of Faults On A Training Course for a reason. It's been eight years and no one has let him live it down.
He hopes it's still been eight years, anyway.
Clint channels an unworried calm he doesn't feel and smothers a grin.
"Right," Steve says. "Firestar, Justice, go."
The new kids -- whichever of them is which -- make a respectable showing of themselves, as the rest of the team watches on the monitors. They're both fliers, so they neatly avoid all the floor hazards as they clear a path for each other, working in unison. It's not a flawless run -- Vance clips his ankle on one of the low-power lasers as he swoops to avoid a robot, and Angel is wobbly and hesitant in a few places -- but they have good instincts, and they have good awareness of the room, and they're automatically putting each other first, each giving way to the other without fighting for command of the operation. It's not the only style that can work, of course, but it's the one they've picked, and they're good at it. And all the mistakes are little things, trainable. Clint's been in this business a while, after all. And he knows that's what Steve will think.
Sure enough, Steve is grinning proudly, and he claps Vance on the shoulder. "Good job, son."
"Thank you, sir," Vance says.
"I'll be discussing individual progress later," Steve says, and he gestures at Tony and Wanda. "Next."
With a creak of metal, Tony pushes himself upright from where he's been leaning against the wall, and he saunters over to Wanda. He whispers something in her ear that Clint can't hear, but it makes Wanda smile a delighted, determined smile.
When the doors open, Wanda steps in, holds out her hands, and every machine in the room slows and then stops. Lasers freeze in place. Crimson energy crackles around her body.
Tony laughs like a broken radio, grabs Wanda around the waist, and launches the two of them into the air, weaving around the still lasers and the motionless robots. He sets her down in the safe zone and thrusts his fists in the air, triumphantly.
Sighing, Steve punches the reset button on the console. As the two of them emerge from the room, Steve only says, mildly, "I thought you hated magic."
"Yeah, well," Tony says, "I wasn't about to say no."
Clint wonders again if magic is what's done this to him. It seems pretty likely. They've seen magical amnesia before. Hell, maybe he walked into the mansion on Monday and the next person he saw was Doctor Strange and that's why he doesn't remember anything. Strange could have, maybe, but he doesn't see why Strange would have. He doesn't know if Wanda could have done it. He can't imagine any of the good guys having done this to him on purpose, and even if it had been an accident, they'd have owned up.
So if it's magic, either they don't know they did it -- or they didn't do it and it's a villain.
That's... not really narrowing anything down much.
It's going to be okay, he tells himself. Either he's going to figure it out, or it'll all come back soon, or both. This can't be permanent. He's a goddamn Avenger. Even death isn't permanent.
"Anyway," Steve says, in a tone that suggests he'd like to move on, and he tilts his head at Clint. "Hawkeye, Warbird, you're up."
The doors open, and Clint and Carol step in at the same time, because, you know, fuck talking about a plan first. Steve's probably deducting points for that. Oh, well.
Clint ducks behind a barricade to the left of the door, that -- if he's judging the timing right on the lasers -- is only safe for about the next thirty seconds, but it's not like he needs a lot of time. He reaches back to his quiver and grabs an EMP arrow.
"Goddammit, Hawkeye," he hears Tony say, as the doors start to close. "What did I just say about the robots?"
"You said no lightning!" he hollers back. "EMPs aren't lightning!" Whatever. Tony can fix the mess later. That's what he does.
The closing doors spare him having to hear Tony's reply. Right. It's go time.
Clint glances over at Carol, who has positioned herself behind the corresponding barricade on the other side of the door.
"Okay," Clint says. "We can end this fast. Hit 'em with those Binary powers and we'll see how this place stands up to the power of a white hole. If we finish early, we get free time, I bet. Maybe cookies." He grins at her.
But Carol... shakes her head.
She's not going to do it?
Okay, this is a problem. This is three problems. One, Clint currently has no plan for getting out of the section he's trapped in other than Carol picking him up, and if that's not happening, that means that, two, they're going to fail the course, which leads to three, Steve's going to be disappointed in him.
And, admittedly, while Steve being disappointed in him isn't exactly something Clint's unfamiliar with, there's a new factor in play, which is that Clint's hoping not to entirely tank his chances of getting laid again.
He has about fifteen more seconds until the closest robot's laser strafes over the spot he's standing in. And he only has three EMP arrows, which are not going to be enough to clear this course without an assist from Carol, but he can at least fix his most immediate problem.
He fits an arrow to the bowstring, draws, aims, and--
He doesn't quite have it. That calm within him, that inner peace where the world is him and the target and nothing else -- he's not there. When he lets the arrow go, it's a few seconds slower than he normally would be; he has to breathe, he has to bring all his conscious will to bear on something he can normally do without thinking.
He doesn't miss, of course -- but it takes way more effort than it should have.
He realizes he's a little dizzy.
There's something wrong with him, he thinks, as the closest robot crackles with electricity and then tips over.
No shit, there's something wrong with him. He has fucking amnesia. Of course there's something wrong with him.
But amnesia's one kind of problem. Amnesia's a familiar problem. A known problem. Amnesia's a you're a superhero and this happens to you or one of your friends at least once a year kind of problem. This-- this-- whatever it is, the other thing, it's another kind of problem. He's off-balance. Is it personal? Did some villain have it out for him? Is it related to the amnesia? He doesn't know what it is, or why it is, and that's the scary part.
At any rate, he hopes no one else will notice. Steve might, though. Steve always notices things like that. Clint thinks it's his secret superpower.
On the other hand, Steve might be too distracted to notice, on account of whatever the fuck Carol is doing. Or not doing, which is the major problem here. She's just standing there. She's not moving. Her mouth is a thin line, her fists are clenched, and she's staring at the oncoming robots.
"Come on!" Clint calls out. "Not getting any younger here, bird buddy!"
He sinks his second EMP arrow into the robot closest to Carol, once again taking an alarmingly long time to make the shot. He's really starting to worry about himself.
There's another robot just behind that one, and there's nothing to do then but use his last EMP arrow.
Clint grits his teeth. "I'm out of EMPs!" he yells. "If you're gonna make a move, now would be a great time!"
Carol unfreezes and -- thank God -- her fists are sparkling with golden light. She fires a blast of photonic energy, and that's not the range Clint remembers her having, but at least she took out the closest laser emplacement.
"How's that?" Carol yells back, with a grin.
"Solid C-plus!" Clint retorts, with a thumbs-up, which is why he never gets to lead anything that's not the West Coast team.
At least it's a passing grade, right?
Carol's reply is three words long and anatomically impossible, but she's laughing.
"I'll consider it," Clint says. "Hey, can I get a ride across the room now?"
Carol nods, and Clint raises his arms as she throws herself into the air with a little hop, and, okay, she's going to grab him around the waist, like Tony did to Wanda, and this is going to be easy.
Carol grabs his upraised arm with both of hers and takes off.
Clint is dangling, spinning wildly in midair, and this is exactly the way Avengers don't fly, this is the way nobody flies, and this is especially the way he doesn't fly because he's a goddamn archer and he's going to have some problems continuing to be that if Carol manages to dislocate his shoulder.
Pain is radiating up his arm and all the way down his side, a tearing pain that's making his eyes water, and he's still spinning out of control as the two of them are flying across the room, and he can't even shoot anything because she didn't give him both his arms free.
One of the flying bots swings into range and Clint kicks it viciously, sending it caroming off the wall. When a second bot swoops in, he fumbles for an arrow, a plain old arrow, and manages to stab it in its stupid little electronic brain.
He's entirely out of tricks now. And the situation is getting even worse, because there's a laser emplacement on the wall, its beam stretching across the room, and they're heading faster and faster in its direction. Carol is flying high enough that she can clear it, no sweat, but he's still dangling, and unless she lifts him up right now he's going to be straight in the path of the beam. This is non-lethal training, so he'll get a fatality-level fault and end the run -- but on the battlefield, it would actually kill him.
"Up!" he yells. "Up! Higher! Right now!"
Carol doesn't hear him. Clint breathes out and swings, hoping that with enough momentum he can pull himself up enough to clear the beam and oh shit, ow, fuck, that hurts, and God, this isn't helping the vertigo--
The beam stripes neatly across his hipbones, a targeting pattern that would have cut him right in half, and if there's anything more embarrassing than losing a simulation run, it's losing a simulation run because he's been fatally shot in the dick.
"Lethal fault," a mechanical voice announces. It sounds sort of like Vision. "Ending simulation now."
The robots stop moving, the beams shut off, and Carol just... drops him.
Clint lands hard, and the one consolation is that it feels like his shoulder's okay. He tests his range of motion as Carol lands next to him. Yeah, everything seems fine.
"What the hell was that?" he asks.
Carol doesn't say anything.
Maybe he's not the only one with problems here.
Steve's not as upset with him as Clint had thought he might have been; he's aiming that stony glare of disapproval at Carol, because it's plain to see who fucked that run up.
Carol walks out without saying anything.
"I'm going to go talk to her," Tony says, with a significant glance at Steve, and Clint doesn't know if this -- whatever it is -- is something everyone knows about or if it's something only Steve and Tony know about, but no one says anything as Tony gets up and follows her out.
"Right," Steve says, on a sigh. He stands up, brushes his pants off, and grabs his weird triangle shield. "Thor, with me. Let's punch some robots. Hawkeye, run the room for me."
At least Steve still thinks he's relatively competent at something. He slides into Steve's chair, checks the console, hits the button for the doors, and then waits.
This time Thor actually lays off the lightning, but from the video feeds, Clint can tell that Steve and Thor are both swinging pretty hard. Even with the doors shut, Clint can hear the faint crunching noises of robots crumpling. And then they're through, standing in the safe zone. Clint watches Steve's chest heave as he leans against the wall, breathing hard. He hits the button to end the simulation, and soon enough, the two of them are walking back out. Steve is smiling a grimly triumphant smile.
"Okay," Steve says. "I'll see everyone back here for dinner at seven. There will be cheeseburgers and tactical discussion."
The rest of the Avengers slowly file out of the room, and Clint turns -- but then feels a warm hand pressing against his lower back. When he turns back, there's a soft look in Steve's eyes, like he's sincerely sorry. And he probably is, because he's Steve Rogers, and he's sincerely everything.
"Hey," Steve says. "I don't know what that was, with Carol. Tony's handling it; I'll find out from him. I wasn't trying to drop you in the middle of something or set you up to fail. I thought for sure she'd go Binary too."
Well, at least Clint knows it's not an amnesia-related problem, unless whatever did this to him also did something to Carol. Now he can just be twice as concerned because he's got someone else to worry about. Great.
"Okay," Clint says.
The soft look in Steve's eyes spreads to Steve's smile and Steve leans in and Clint wonders, dizzy and a little bit terrified, if Steve's going to kiss him right now. Jesus, there are still other Avengers in the room. Clint had no idea Captain America was into PDA.
Or guys. Or him, specifically.
Steve runs a thumb over Clint's jawline and Clint feels hot all over, and God, he hopes he gets to keep this.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing you later," Steve says, his voice gone low and dark with promise.
Oh, fuck. On the one hand -- yes, absolutely, Clint wants to get laid. By Steve. That's not even a question. But on the other -- well, it would be his first time with Steve. And Steve's not expecting his first time. Steve's expecting his second time.
When people talk about faking it, Clint's pretty sure none of them have ever meant this.
"Yeah, me too," Clint says, because, okay, Clint's dick is now in charge of his mouth. Also great. How is he supposed to handle this?
There's a delicate coughing noise from behind him.
Clint turns around and finds that Wanda is still there. Like she's waiting. Maybe she wants to talk to Steve?
"Uh," Clint says. "Hi, Wanda."
Wanda's gaze is trained on him. "Clint," she says, like she's prompting him, "did you forget?"
Terror runs through him, an icy chill that makes him want to run and simultaneously keeps him planted here, a deer in headlights. Shit, Wanda's figured it out, and Steve's right here, and now everything is going to be ruined, and he didn't even get to fuck Steve and remember it--
"Or, I mean, if you don't want to anymore, that's fine," Wanda continues, lacing her hands together. "It's not as if you knew you were going to have--" she pauses delicately-- "other plans, before last night. I understand."
Oh. He must have agreed to do something for Wanda.
He exhales hard, relieved. His secret is still safe.
Steve's hand drops to Clint's shoulder, and he gives Clint a gentle nudge in Wanda's direction.
"If he has other plans, they're not with me, right now," Steve says. "Sorry, Clint, I'm going to be busy for a bit writing up training guidelines. I'll see you later, though?"
"Sure," Clint says, as cheerfully as he can, and he turns back to Wanda. "I'm all yours until dinnertime, Witchy."
He wonders what he agreed to do. It's Wanda, so it can't be anything too bad. It's not like she would have wanted him to go ten rounds with the Armadillo, or do her taxes for her. Nobody wants Clint to do their taxes for them. Nobody even wants Clint to do his own taxes. After the first year, Tony just took to showing up at his door every April with an already-completed 1040 to sign. It's better that way.
Wanda claps her hands together. "Oh, good," she says. "Let's go shopping."
He wonders if it's too late to suggest the Armadillo instead.
As Clint shifts the third bag of dresses to his other hand, he is once again grateful that Carol didn't fuck up his shoulder carrying him, because this is getting heavy.
Clothes shopping with Wanda is not like clothes shopping with Jan, which is really Clint's only other experience clothes shopping with his Avengers teammates -- well, ones who weren't Bobbi, anyway. That he can remember. He's pretty sure that the time Tony sent him to his tailor to get himself a new suit counts as an entirely different kind of experience, because that was mostly just him standing there, stunned, like some kind of fucked-up circus-sideshow Cinderella, while several very attentive guys with fabric tapes got handsy with him.
It was a good suit. It was a nice suit. It cost several thousand dollars more than any other item of clothing Clint has owned -- before or since. It lasted exactly three days and one unscheduled run-in with the Super-Adaptoid, which is why Tony no longer buys him nice clothes for Christmas unless the nice clothes have Kevlar in them.
At any rate, now he's walking down the street with Wanda, her purchases weighing down his hands. Shopping with Jan involved many more designer boutiques, and he's honestly glad that's not Wanda's style, because he never liked how the salespeople always gave him snooty looks while he sat there waiting for Jan to come out modeling a black dress that looked, as far as Clint could ever tell, exactly like the last five black dresses, only he wasn't supposed to say that.
He supposes he's one to talk, given that his honest-to-God Avengers costume has at various times consisted of (a) a skirt, and (b) an outfit that looked a lot like he stole it from a S&M dungeon and painted it different colors. In comparison, the classic purple he's gone back to is practically sedate.
"Thanks so much for coming with me," Wanda says, smiling, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear as they walk together. "This was fun."
"It was," Clint agrees.
And he means it. They looked through a bunch of stores, had a couple hot dogs for lunch, looked through a few more stores -- and not the kind where the salespeople were judging him. Wanda bought a few flowing skirts that all looked different from each other and were honestly pretty on her. And they weren't all scarlet, either. It's been a good afternoon.
"So," Wanda says, casually. "You and Cap, huh?"
Clint's stomach can't figure out whether the appropriate response to that is pleasant butterflies or spasms of terror. "Yeah," he agrees. "Me and Cap."
Fewer words, he reminds himself. Fewer words is safer. And it doesn't sound like Wanda's figured anything out so far, which is good. Maybe he'll be okay.
Wanda's smile is crooked, and she nudges him. "How in the world did that happen, eh?"
I have no fucking clue is probably something Clint shouldn't say.
"I mean, we all know you've been following him around since you joined the Avengers," Wanda says. And, okay, it's kind of embarrassing that he's been that obvious, but at least Wanda's not asking him direct questions. "Last night, at the party -- I mean, when you started flirting with him, I thought it was just you being... yourself. I didn't think you were serious."
She raises her eyebrows, prompting him for more.
The problem here is that he doesn't know more.
He's no genius, but that doesn't mean he can't try to put it together: there was a party last night. He flirted with Steve. Somehow they went back to his room. He's just missing all the steps in between.
He's flirted with Steve before, though. Okay, maybe he hasn't been obvious about it. He likes to joke. He knows that. Jokes are plausible deniability. If he flat-out calls Steve Captain Nice Ass, Steve will think it's a joke first rather than an actual pass, and he won't be too put-out.
Except apparently Steve wasn't put out at all. What the hell happened? Did he have a really good line? Was Steve pathetically lonely? Did they play spin-the-bottle? Was it sex pollen?
It probably wasn't sex pollen.
Clint attempts to smile a cheerful, unworried smile. "You know me," he says. "I like to keep everyone off-guard."
He hopes desperately that that was the right thing to say and that he hasn't managed to contradict anything that happened.
"I know," Wanda says, grinning back. "But, I have to say, I really didn't think Cap was going to flirt back."
Okay. So Steve was interested. What the hell did Clint say to him? He wishes he knew.
"Me neither," Clint says, which is probably safe to say, because he's pretty sure that Last Night's Clint was just as shocked as Today's Clint is.
"You two seem like you could be good for each other," Wanda says, surprising him. "I hope it works out."
He's really not the first choice he'd have picked for Steve -- but, hey, he's better than Diamondback, right? Though maybe Diamondback wears pink spandex a little better than he does. He hopes it does work out. He kind of likes the thought of this. He just has to keep his amnesia secret until it gets better, and then everything is going to be fine. He's got this.
"Me too," Clint says. "I'm going to try."
All he has to do is keep his mouth shut. Easy, right?
As promised, dinner is burgers and tactics.
Jarvis has the grill set up out back, next to the team statues, and he and Thor are taking turns flipping burgers -- because, honestly, no one's gonna turn down a burger from Thor. The guy's been grilling for thousands of years. There are a couple big bowls of potato chips next to the condiments, and a bucket filled with ice and an assortment of bottles.
Clint dumps a handful of chips on his plate and grabs a beer out of the bucket. He's surprised to see Carol there, and he's even more surprised when Carol only grabs a bottle of sparkling water. The new kids are probably too young to drink, but other than them, Clint knows everyone well enough to say that no one on the team is going to decline a beer with their burger unless they're Tony, and that's because Tony is-- oh--
He's beginning to get an idea of what went wrong this morning.
Carol's walking over to him, and even the domino mask doesn't hide the guilty look in her eyes. "I just want to apologize," Carol begins. "I shouldn't have-- I've been--" She sighs. "I've been drinking more than I should, and -- I'm not who I want to be. I talked to Tony about it, and he gave me some advice, and I'm going to try to be better now. I'm sorry I let you down."
"It's okay," Clint says. This is the part where he'd give her a comforting shoulder pat, but his hands are full. "It's okay, really. Apology accepted, bird buddy. If there's anything I can do to help, say the word."
Carol smiles weakly, and her gaze is full of gratitude.
Maybe he can get by fine without his memory. Everything seems to be going okay so far. He's pretty sure Carol's still got a bunch of amnesia from the time Rogue stole her powers, and she's fine, right? Right? Who needs a memory anyway? He can't be missing more than a few days. That's nothing.
And then he looks up, and Steve's smiling at him from the other side of the patio, over the heads of the rest of the team, and Clint's stomach flip-flops and, yeah, okay, maybe this week is a bad week to miss out on, memory-wise.
He just wants to know what the hell made Steve say yes.
And he wants to do it again. Again for the first time. And if Steve finds out, he knows he won't get to.
The rest of dinner goes pretty much like Clint thought it would. He knows Steve is always good at reading a group, and honestly, most of the team is familiar enough with the Avengers and the way it goes for them that they don't need a full-on summary run-down of their training in the briefing room, with video highlights. They've been here before. So the feedback is all informal, and Clint eats his cheeseburger and watches Steve take each Avenger aside in turn, drawing them out of earshot to give them a casual rundown on what he thinks they need to work on.
Clint's the last one up, of course, as the meal is winding down. Steve comes up next to him and slips a hand around his elbow, his fingers sliding deftly between Clint's arm and his torso, a grip that's a little more intimate than the way he's been approaching the rest of the team. Steve's hand lingers, too, more than is polite. He's not groping him in public -- not that Steve ever would -- but he's a little freer than anyone not planning to sleep with Clint would be, and at the same time he's hesitating a little, like he's not sure where the line is now.
Clint bats his eyes at Steve. "Well, hello there, Captain."
Clint has always provided the valuable service of finding the line and hopping across it.
He's pretty sure he's used that move on Steve before, and it never got him anywhere. So what was the difference last night? Will he ever know?
Because this time, Steve goes faintly pink and licks his lips and he's staring at Clint's mouth.
"Business first," Steve says. He's smiling. "And I figure you know what I'm going to say anyway, which is that you had a lousy run through no fault of your own, and I would have made the same choices as you did. If you'd known that-- that was going to happen with Carol--"
He pauses, and Clint realizes this is him trying to skirt around the issue, because he doesn't know if Clint knows.
"I talked to Carol," he says. "She said she worked something out; she said she talked to Tony. She said she's good. I assume they talked to you?"
Relieved, Steve nods. "Carol and Tony? They did. And so, well -- if you'd known in advance what Carol was going to do, you could have cleared the run yourself, and we both know that you're good enough to, but by the time you'd committed to a course that relied on Carol, that was unavailable. I guess it's a lesson to all of us to... be more observant about our teammates."
The hair on the back of Clint's neck stands on end. Is Steve being observant about him? Does he know? Has he figured it out? He can't have. He'd have said something. He wouldn't look so interested. He's still staring at Clint's mouth, for fuck's sake.
"Yeah," Clint agrees. "I guess so. Doesn't really make up for getting shot in the dick, though."
Steve's face is pink again. "I'm very glad it wasn't live-fire training," he murmurs. "That would have entirely ruined my plans for tonight, you know."
Okay, so it's not the most suave thing Clint has ever heard out of anyone's mouth, but holy shit, Steve is definitely into him.
Clint's good at sex. He's not really all that modest about it -- he likes it, he's good at it, and that's nothing to be ashamed of. And, okay, so he's going to have to pretend that he's had sex with Steve before that he totally remembers having, which will be a new and different challenge, but, hey: sex. With Steve. Sounds like a good trade-off to him.
He can do this. Probably.
Besides, Steve's looking more and more eager, and he's absolutely not here to break Captain America's heart.
So Clint steps in close, tilts his head, smiles. "Oh?" he asks. "You want to tell me more about your plans?"
And Steve just meets him right there, smiling back, looking at him like he's already undressing him with his eyes, and holy fuck, that's hot. It's like that Captain America porno Clint's watched one or two or fourteen times, but with actual Captain America instead.
"Absolutely," Steve murmurs. He's close enough that Clint can feel Steve's breath on his cheek. "Come upstairs with me and I'll tell you all about them."
Clint blinks. "Now?"
Steve squints back at him. "You doing something else?"
He kind of thought Steve would... well, not want to just sneak off. But they're not actually sneaking off, because the entire team knows -- Clint's still not over that one -- and if the entire team knows they're fucking anyway, they might as well just go off and fuck.
It's a pretty sweet deal.
It'd be even sweeter if he had any fucking idea what he was doing.
Ah, well. Story of his life. He's going with it. Time to get laid.
"Nah, I think I'm just doing you," Clint says, with a grin.
Steve smiles. Steve likes all his stupid lines now, apparently. It's amazing.
If it weren't for the amnesia, this week would be the best.
They go to Steve's room.
Clint's been in Steve's room before, over the years. He's been in Steve's apartments. Hell, Clint used to go visit him way back when he lived in Brooklyn Heights with Bernie. And he definitely saw Steve's room -- this room -- before then. At the beginning, Steve had nothing in his closet but his uniforms, his bed made with hospital corners, like he'd always been expecting some sergeant to come in and inspect his quarters. But over the years it's changed: Steve's acquired books, mementos, pictures, and even some clothes that aren't red, white, and blue. It's clear that someone lives here now.
It's also clear that Steve has a vested interest in having a good time with Clint tonight.
The door is barely even shut when Steve pulls back his own cowl, and then his hands are tangling with Clint's mask as he steps in close. Steve's got one hand cupping the back of Clint's head, one hand pressed against Clint's back, pulling Clint to him. Before Clint can really do anything about it, their lips meet, and Steve's kissing him.
Kissing Steve is an experience. Oh, sure, Clint's thought about it, a bit -- but the thing is, he always kind of figured Steve wouldn't be any good. Which isn't to say that he doesn't like Steve, because he does, but he's also kind of gotten the impression, looking at Steve, that the whole unbridled passion vibe isn't exactly a thing the guy has in spades. Clint likes the guy, all right, but he's, well... kind of a dork.
But apparently Steve is a dork who can kiss like nobody's business. Surprise. He kisses the way he does everything else. Confident. Commanding. Like he knows he has this. Clint's mouth opens against Steve's, helplessly, and Steve licks into his mouth, and Clint's cock goes from hey, this could be interesting to possibly going to come in these pants in about five seconds flat because, Jesus, Steve's tongue, there oughta be a law. Not that Clint ever pays any attention to those, anyway.
Steve, unlike Clint, seems to have some idea of exactly what he's doing here, so Clint just moans against Steve's mouth and lets Steve kiss him, harder and harder, and lets Steve rock his hips -- wow, somebody here is excited -- up against him. Steve's got him. He is more than cool with that.
For a first kiss, it's really good. It's pretty good for a second first kiss too, but Clint's not sure there's an established rating system for those.
Eventually the kiss breaks, and Steve's panting hard, his eyes dilated and dark, his hair a mess. His smile is soft, and when he smooths his fingers over Clint's cheek he looks fond -- but his gaze is quizzical.
Shit. Has Steve figured him out? How did Clint fuck this up already? All he did was kiss Steve.
"You weren't this shy last night, Clint," Steve murmurs. "Are you doing all right there?"
At least he knows that Past Clint definitely went right for what he wanted, though. Go him. That's not exactly helping Clint out now, though.
"Uh," Clint says. Quick. Excuses. He needs an excuse. All he can think about is getting Steve's mouth back on him. "Um. I'm fine. I probably had a little more to drink last night. Liquid courage, you know?"
While he can't be sure of that, of course, it's a pretty good bet that he wasn't completely sober if he was making passes at Captain America.
Steve pulls back and stares at him, stricken. "Are you okay with this? I didn't think you'd even finished a beer last night. If I'd known you'd had more than that, I never would have--"
Okay, wow, no, so that was a bad tactic. Looks like Steve cares about his alcohol intake. And it looks like he was apparently pretty close to sober. What the hell? "I'm fine," Clint assures him. "Definitely into it. Just, you know, sometimes the second time gets a little weird."
Especially if it's also sort of the first time. Then it's a whole lot of weird.
Steve smiles again, a gentle and encouraging smile that Clint's never seen on his face before, but Clint's beginning to think that he really likes it. "Relax," Steve says, stroking Clint's cheek, his fingers sliding through Clint's hair and making oddly pleasant little spikes. "No pressure, Clint. You don't have to try to impress me. I'm already impressed. If you want this -- I'm a sure thing."
The thing about Steve as a leader is that he always knows what to say, and apparently the same thing is true of Steve in the bedroom. Because even though Steve doesn't know what's wrong with the inside of Clint's head -- to be fair, neither does Clint -- he's somehow figured out exactly what Clint wants to hear. Clint's spent his entire Avengers career trying to impress Steve, and it's -- well, it's really fucking good to know that he's made it.
"A sure thing, huh?" Clint can feel himself smiling. "Bet you say that to all the boys."
He really hopes he isn't reusing last night's lines.
This time he leans in and kisses Steve, grabbing him by the front of his uniform and dragging him in. He knows Steve is strong enough that he could flatten him if he didn't want this, but Steve doesn't fight him at all, going loose and pliant in Clint's arms, and something about that is just the hottest thing Clint's ever seen.
Yeah, yeah, he's got this. This is going to be good.
Steve's hands are picking impatiently at Clint's uniform and, okay, Steve is on a mission here. Clint is on board with that. He steps back enough for Steve to pull his shirt over his head for him, which is clearly what Steve was getting at. Then, because Clint's graceful like that, he shoves his hand down Steve's pants.
The sound Steve makes, muffled against his bare shoulder, is extremely gratifying, and furthermore, the guy in the Captain America porno had nothing on the real Steve Rogers. Steve, Clint discovers, is pretty goddamn gifted in that department. Steve is holding him tight and making some very nice noises as Clint awkwardly gets Steve's fly open with one hand and, aww, yeah, there we go--
Jerking off Captain America: life goal achieved.
(Hey, it's important to have dreams.)
It's weird, but Clint honestly never imagined it would be this easy. All he has to do is be himself, and it seems like Steve is pretty happy with that. He can't really believe it. Steve's cock is in his hand and he's stroking Steve nice and slow while Steve's still standing here in full uniform -- which was another one of Clint's favorite parts of the Captain America porno -- except, go figure, this is also way hotter in reality. Steve is huge and hot and hard and he's panting and rocking into Clint's grasp, and, yeah, Clint is definitely going to have to remember this one. The amnesia had better let him keep this.
"Oh," Steve breathes. "Oh, God, Clint, you're still so good at that."
Well, at least he knows he still wants to do the same things to Steve.
"Glad to be of service," Clint says, and Steve raises his head and grins a dopey grin at him.
"So," Steve says, "anything in particular you want to do tonight?"
Being less specific is safer. Clint manages to come up with that thought, although it's difficult to keep it in mind when Steve -- oh, Jesus -- licks his ear.
"Mmm," Clint says, dreamily. His cock throbs in his pants. "Anything is fine by me."
Steve's still smiling. "Did you like what we did last night, or did you want something different tonight?"
Oh, shit. Okay, here's the part where having a working memory would really help. Think. Think, idiot. He has to say something, and he has to say it fast, like someone normal would. It's probably safe to assume that he liked whatever they did. Steve must have liked it, or he wouldn't be here for round two. So it was probably pretty good. But if Clint says he wants to do the same thing again, Steve's going to assume that he knows what that is. So if he asks for something new, maybe Steve can suggest something. And that way it'll be something that they definitely haven't done, and they'll be on the same page, relatively speaking, except for the fact that all the previous pages are blank, as far as Clint's concerned.
"I don't know," Clint says, grinning the most unworried grin that he can possibly fake. "Seems a little bit either-or to me. I mean, what if I liked what we did and I wanted something different tonight? You know what they say about variety being the spice of life."
Best answer. Clint mentally pats himself on the back. Technically, he didn't commit to saying anything about last night, so that's even more of a win. Maybe hanging around all the geniuses is rubbing off on him.
Steve laughs. "I suppose I should have figured," he says. "Well, if you ever want me to bottom again, just let me know."
Goddammit. This is unfair. Clint barely manages to keep the disappointment off his face. Steve's ass was on offer, and he missed out? Okay, he didn't actually miss out -- but until those memories come back, he basically has missed out.
He hopes it was good. If Steve is offering to do it again, he must have liked it. It was probably amazing. Steve's probably amazing at everything. Ugh. Stupid amnesia.
"I'll keep it in mind," Clint says, with a wink. He's really trying. Maybe it will work.
He kisses Steve again while he tries to come up with a plan, an idea, anything -- something to say that will lead in to them both having A Very Good Time and not An Upsetting Conversation About Memory Loss. Unfortunately, kissing Steve is also making it really hard for him to think of anything other than how Steve's mouth feels right now. He wonders if he could convince Steve to blow him, or if he missed out on that too.
Steve's hands are sliding confidently down Clint's back, over his ass, and wow, that feels nice. And that gives Clint an idea.
"Hey," Clint says, against Steve's lips, "you wanna fuck me?"
Okay, so maybe he could have been a little more well-spoken, but Steve's hands on his ass are pulling the two of them closer together and Steve's rubbing up against his hip, and it sure seems like Steve likes the sound of that no matter how Clint says it.
And then Steve pulls away from him a little, and he must have the willpower of a saint, because Steve just gives him one of those Captain America Patented Looks Of Concern and says, "You know, you don't have to offer just because I did, right? It's not like everything has to be fifty-fifty."
"I know," Clint says. "I want to. I like it."
Clint already knows that talking about this is a bad idea. He's got a better one. He drops to his knees.
He hears Steve breathe in, shakily, as he nuzzles Steve's cock, and, oh, yeah, this is definitely a good idea.
"And I like this too," Clint says. He hears his mouth curl around the words, making them into a dare. "Come on. You don't have to hold back. I like it rough."
"Okay," Steve says, a little unsteadily, but he doesn't so much as move until Clint gets his mouth on him.
It's been a few years since Clint's given head -- at least, he thinks it has -- but he's always had good muscle memory, and he remembers how this feels, the heft and weight and slide of it. Even though Steve's still in full uniform, he isn't Cap anymore, not like this. He's just a man, coming apart under Clint's hands, in Clint's mouth.
Even so, Steve is barely moving, shaking with the effort to hold still, and for fuck's sake, Clint's not on his knees because he wanted Steve's best manners.
So he pulls off, enough so that he can speak, and says, "Harder. Come on. You can do better than that, Cap, can't you?"
He's found that being a bit of an asshole has a good chance of getting him fucked exactly the way he likes.
And that's when he takes a deep breath and takes Steve all the way down.
That gets a response, all right. Steve groans, hands scrabbling for purchase in Clint's hair, and he thrusts into Clint's mouth, nice and hard, fucking his face just like he likes, brutal strokes that make his head swim as his body begs for air. He likes it best like this, finding his own limits and pushing them, testing his body, making himself better. Being useful.
After a few more thrusts, Steve pulls out, gasping, still hard. "My God, Clint," he says, weakly.
Well, at least he didn't use all his tricks last night.
Clint beams up at him. "You're welcome."
After that, well -- there's some more kissing, and then everyone's clothes end up on the floor, and Clint's on his hands and knees on the bed and somehow Steve's got three fingers in his ass, and Jesus, that's good--
"I like it hard," Clint confesses. He's not sure if it counts as a confession when he's not exactly subtle about it. "Come on, come on, Steve, give it to me hard--"
"Working on it." Steve's voice is strained, and his fingers slide out of Clint's ass, and Clint hears a condom wrapper rip open, and, hey, yeah, here we go, here we go--
Steve slides into him, and he's big, but that's good, that's great. Clint can take this. Clint's got this.
He knows that, practically, he can't match Steve -- on any level, sex or not. Steve's peak human. But Clint is highly trained, and he's been in the superheroing business for a while, and he knows that he can at least keep up, which is something that not a lot of people can offer Steve. Steve doesn't have to be careful with him. He's not going to break.
And from the way Steve's fucking him, Steve knows that. Steve's hands are tight on Clint's hips, and Steve is thrusting into him harder, faster, heavier, like he already knows exactly how much Clint can handle and he's going to take him right to the limit.
Clint's going to return the favor, of course. He arches back to meet Steve with every thrust, tightening around his cock, the way that he knows that Steve is going to like.
"Oh," Steve breathes. "Oh, God, Clint, mmm, you feel so good."
Steve's hands are tighter on Clint's hips, and Clint's going to bruise, and that's exactly what he fucking wants. Steve is kissing Clint's shoulders, his spine, the nape of his neck, and Clint feels the sharp scrape of teeth, the pressure of Steve's mouth, and, oh, that is just fine.
This was a really good idea.
"Yeah," Clint hears himself say. "Yeah, fuck, just like that."
He doesn't know what Steve's history is like. Maybe they talked about it last night. But it's pretty clear that Clint's not Steve's first guy, because Steve knows exactly what he's doing, driving into him hard and sure, gliding across his prostate with every stroke.
Steve goes harder and harder and, yeah, that's exactly what Clint wants. Steve's groaning, breathing out harsh gasps against Clint's skin, his balls slapping against Clint's ass, and then Steve's hand slides down from Clint's hip to wrap around Clint's cock. Clint's always been a big fan of a good reacharound, and with the way Steve's giving it to him it doesn't take more than a few strokes before Clint's coming messily into Steve's hand. He tightens down around Steve's cock, and Steve lasts another couple thrusts before groaning and slamming into him hard, his cock jerking as he comes.
Clint's arms give out and he slides forward. His face is smashed against the pillow and he's lying in the wet spot, but, God, he feels wonderful. He'd almost forgotten what getting laid regularly feels like. He wants more of this. A lot more.
He's dimly aware of Steve getting up to get rid of the condom, then coming back and wiping them both off. And then Steve lies down next to him and nudges his shoulder up so they're face-to-face -- well, mostly. Clint's leaning on him a lot. Steve's smiling that big dorky just-got-laid smile again; Clint thinks it's really growing on him.
"So you liked that, huh?" Clint asks.
Steve grins even wider. "Oh, yeah." But then glances away and back again. "I don't-- I don't usually just let myself go like that, with anyone, you know?"
He runs a tentative hand over the bruises he left on Clint's hip, his fingers fitting into the marks, and from the way his eyes light up, bright but a little tense, he looks like he enjoys the sight of it but kind of wishes he didn't.
Clint suspected as much. "It's not a problem," he says, and he reaches out, takes Steve's hand. "You can let go with me. Let yourself feel good."
He kisses Steve, and when he opens his eyes, there's something wondering and quietly joyful in Steve's smile, like he got a lot more than he'd bargained for, but in a good way. Like Clint was part of a buy-one-get-one-free sale and now he has two Clints, but in, like, a sexy-multiverse-threesome way and not an oh-fuck-my-own-LMD-is-trying-to-murder-me way.
(Clint has seen some shit, is what he's trying to say.)
"Yeah," Steve says. "Yeah, okay." He strokes Clint's cheek. "Can I interest you in staying the night?"
"Sure," Clint says. "I mean, why not. My pants are already here. I'm all set for tomorrow."
Steve laughs and kisses him again.
This is good. Clint hopes he gets to remember this.
Maybe it was some kind of twenty-four-hour curse. Maybe in the morning he'll get to remember everything.
Clint is woken by the beeping of identicards. Not just his -- Steve's too, the both of them beeping in an annoying not-quite-simultaneous angry cacophony. This is another one of those things he's forgotten about. Life While Dating A Fellow Avenger. It used to happen with him and Bobbi all the time in LA, getting the same call-outs when something tripped the monitors at the compound.
He always thought it was kind of sweet. A bonding experience. He knows he's sort of fucked-up.
He wonders if he's technically dating Steve now.
He wonders if he has his memories back.
He thinks about it. Okay, he still remembers last night. He knows for sure that the person in bed with him is Steve this time. That's good. He opens his eyes and glances down. Much like yesterday morning, Steve's curled atop him, weighing him down. Unlike yesterday morning, Clint can still see the bruises on his hips, and the pleasant ache within him informs him that, oh yeah, Steve was definitely giving it to him hard.
But unlike yesterday, there's no time to linger -- the Avengers alarms are still going off, and it's time to be a goddamn hero.
Steve opens one eye, a slit of watery pale blue in the morning light, and he reaches out and grabs his card off the nightstand, switching off the alarm. Clint's card is still beeping from the floor, in his pocket, in the pants he most definitely isn't wearing.
A glance at Steve's clock -- analog, go figure -- lets Clint know that it's seven. Later than Steve usually gets up, sure, which Clint chalks up to the sex, but it's way earlier than Clint would like to be in a fight. Ah, well. He volunteered to be on this team.
He hopes he volunteered, at least.
Clint keeps thinking. He remembers meeting Wanda and Pietro, greeting Jarvis, walking into the mansion, and -- yeah, no, nothing. Still a blank. Steve couldn't fuck the amnesia out of him.
It's kind of disappointing, sure -- he'd really been hoping for his memory back -- but Clint can work with this. He's been doing okay so far. He's fine. Just a bit of memory loss. Pretty soon maybe it'll even stop being relevant. After all, it's not like anyone would expect him to remember all the events of a random week if it happened three months ago.
Steve scowls at his card as Clint gets up to find his and make it stop beeping.
"Morgan le Fay again?" Steve mutters. "Haven't we seen her enough lately?"
Clint nearly says what do you mean, again? before he catches himself. Obviously if this is again there was a before recently.
Goddammit. That's what he should have done yesterday. Not shopping. Maybe not even fucking. He should have headed downstairs to the computers and checked the mission logs for the week, because Clint will bet everything he owns that there are already completed mission reports for everything that happened to the Avengers this week, because Captain I Do All My Paperwork On Time And I Expect You All To Hold Yourselves To This Standard is leading the Avengers right now.
Hell, maybe Clint even wrote a few mission reports this week. That would be useful.
But none of that does him any good right now, because he's here and they need to fight Morgan le Fay and he... well, he has to wing it. Okay. Fine. He can do that.
Clint rolls out of bed, gets all the way across the room, and has his hand on the doorknob when Steve raises an eyebrow and says, "You're going to need your pants, Clint."
Okay, so he has to wing it maybe a little better than that.
He's not doing so great.
He thinks maybe this won't be the best fight he's ever had. Whatever. He'll live.
"Right," Steve says to the assembled Avengers, five minutes later. They're all armed and armored and gathered in the front parlor, which is a little weird but Steve asked them to meet there specifically, so he must have something in mind. Clint's also wondering where the new kids are and why they don't seem to live here. He's just going to assume that if it's important, someone will mention it out loud eventually. "Here's the deal. We're going up against Morgan le Fay again. Tony, I know what you're going to say and I don't think we need to reiterate that."
Clint can't really see Tony's face with the armor on, but the creaking noise he makes isn't one of his happier sounds.
"I like magic," Wanda volunteers, cheerfully.
"I like arrows," Clint says.
Steve raises an eyebrow. "Clint."
"I thought we were naming things we liked," Clint says, with his favorite shit-eating grin. "I could keep going. I like a whole lot of things. I'm easy like that."
He's impressed that Steve's face goes ever so faintly pink at the edges of the cowl. He wasn't even trying to get Steve all hot and bothered. Well, he wasn't trying very hard, anyway.
"Not right now," Steve says, a little more stiffly. "Later. Please."
"Anyway," Steve says--
An energy bolt streaks through the sky outside, across the street. It's coming from somewhere in the park. Clint automatically reaches back to his quiver, grabs an arrow, starts to nock it. Around him, he sees that the rest of the team has likewise noticed the interruption, and he can see them readying themselves into their usual fighting stances. Thor's hand goes to his hammer. Tony's repulsors begin to charge and glow. Carol's fists light up golden and she starts to rise into the air. Wanda raises a hand and starts to sketch out a hex. They're the old guard. They know exactly what they're doing.
"As I was saying," Steve says, with that unruffled tone that Clint thinks you must get from years of giving orders while under heavy fire, "she's across the street, in Central Park. No warping reality this time, as far as we can tell. Just plain magic. As plain as magic gets." He glances at Wanda. "You're our sorceress, so you're the star again. I know you might not be able to reach Wonder Man this time, but feel free to channel our power if you need to. Any of us. Do whatever you need."
Wanda smiles and ducks her head in acknowledgment. "Can do, Captain."
"I don't want anyone to get close to her if you can possibly avoid it," Steve says. "That means that, fliers, the support work will be mostly on you, at a distance. Thor, Iron Man, Warbird -- distract her, keep her occupied, keep her wherever the Scarlet Witch needs her to hex her. We did this once, we can do it again." He looks over at Clint. "Hawkeye, anything you can do at range would be appreciated."
Is he fucking kidding? "I'm an archer," Clint says, and he taps his bow for good measure. "Get me somewhere I have eyes on her and I can empty this entire quiver."
It's not exactly the best terrain. Central Park has a fuckton of trees, and if Morgan is in one of the areas with more trees -- which, given Clint's luck lately, she probably is -- he won't get a lot of visibility or distance. But he's still an amazing shot, amnesia or no amnesia, and if Wanda makes the magic not a factor, he can absolutely take Morgan out.
Steve smiles a tight little smile. "I know," he says, "but remember what she did to all of us a couple days ago?" No, Clint thinks. "I don't want to put any of us in range of another one of those spells, so I need you to be as far away as you can. No one needs Morgan le Fay messing with any of our memories again."
That's what's happened this week. Morgan le Fay's been casting spells, and she-- she did something, she must have done something, and now Clint can't remember a thing. Everyone else got to remember, but he didn't. Doesn't. What happened?
Maybe he'll get to find out.
Maybe if they beat her, everything will come back.
"No problem, Cap. I can stay clear." The hair on the back of Clint's neck prickles. "I definitely wouldn't want that to happen. I like my memory the way it is."
Okay, so maybe Clint's a giant fucking liar.
At least they only have to go across the street. And, hey, Morgan is in a clearing, as it turns out -- which is good news, as far as Clint's line of sight is concerned.
They fan out as they head into the closest stand of trees to Morgan's location, a move that will help conceal them from view for a little longer. It's good tactical thinking, but, then, Steve is always good at that.
Steve motions, and the fliers -- Carol, Thor, and Tony -- rise into the air, leaving Steve, Clint, and Wanda on the ground. Steve falls into point, with Wanda at his shoulder and Clint coming up on the other side. It's a familiar pattern. They've got this. This is going to be easy.
Clint's peripheral vision glows golden, and he smells the familiar sharp ozone smell right before he feels Carol's hands settle on his waist from behind. Thank God, she's going to carry him the normal way this time. She's going to get him where he needs to go. He needs eyes on Morgan, and that means he needs to not be on the ground.
"Going my way, Hawkeye?" Carol says in his ear. She's laughing.
"That depends," Clint returns. "Which way is that?"
Carol laughs again. "Do you really need to ask? Up!"
He relaxes into the hold, and Carol lifts him up with her. They don't clear the treetops, which is good, because then Morgan would spot them for sure. They're brushing past branches, heading closer and closer to the clearing, and when they reach the nearest tree, that's where Carol leaves him, on a sturdy, solid branch about fifteen feet up. She taps her own ear, switching to comms, and Clint does the same as she leaves.
He's not the biggest fan of trees, but he can make this work for him. He glances around. The branch he's on is pretty steady. There are a bunch of branches below him but they're all smaller, as are the ones above. Still, there's enough cover that Morgan le Fay can't see him. He can see her, just barely, in the middle of the clearing. Her gown is trailing in the grass, and she raises her hands like she's casting a spell.
Clint readies an arrow.
He looks around again and realizes that he doesn't see Steve and Wanda ahead of him. Carol must have carried him forward of their position. They're probably still behind him. Shit. Any shot he wants to take is going to be wasted until Wanda gets her part of the assault going. Clint's been a superhero for long enough that he's learned that straight-up shooting at magicians is at best a waste of an arrow and at worst just pisses them off enough to start summoning demons.
"Avengers!" Morgan cries out. "I know you're here, Avengers!"
On the one hand, that's probably not good. On the other hand, anyone with half a brain could figure that they were coming.
An eerie green light starts to spread out beneath her, a circle on the ground expanding outward, lines of emerald fire scorching the grass beneath. As the circle grows larger, the space inside it fills with concentric circles, multiple rings, zig-zags, words in a language Clint doesn't know.
Clint revises probably not good to definitely not good.
The circle is growing bigger and bigger. At this rate, it's about fifteen seconds before it hits Clint, and Clint really doesn't want to find out what happens then.
His comm crackles. "Hawkeye," Steve says in his ear, "you're too close. Pull back." It looks like Steve has figured that out too.
Clint glances around his tree again, more wildly, this time with an eye to escape routes. There's not much. The ground isn't safe and the other trees are too far to jump to.
"Not sure how you want me to do that, Cap," Clint subvocalizes. "Down's not looking real great right now."
"Okay," Steve says. "Who's closest? Iron Man? Grab Hawkeye, would you--"
He backs up, back and back until he's against the tree trunk. It's solid and sturdy and really not actually a safe place to be, as Clint looks down and sees that the edge of the circle has reached the roots of the tree. Shit. On the plus side, the tree's not on fire. The grass isn't really on fire either, just shining with brilliant green energy. It's beginning to creep up the tree, in glowing spidery veins, and, yeah, Clint really wants to not be here right now.
There's a low humming noise behind him, and Clint turns as best he can to find Tony hovering in mid-air.
"Hey there," Tony says. Behind the mask his eyes are bright, unworried, confident. "Your ride's here."
He holds out a gauntleted hand--
And then a bolt of green lightning crackles outward from where Morgan is standing and hits Tony right in the chest. Fuck.
Clint watches in muted horror as Tony goes flying. Tony sails backwards, breaking branches as he goes, and Clint quickly loses sight of him. Over the comms, there's a cracking, splintering noise, and then a thud.
"I'm okay," Tony says, a few seconds later, but he's breathing too hard into the comms and Clint thinks he's probably not. "I'm okay. My flight capability is toast, though. Sorry, Hawkeye." He pauses. "I hate--"
"I know," Steve says. Everyone knows. He sounds sympathetic, at least. "We all do."
"I'd like to apologize on behalf of magic," Wanda says.
"Hawkeye," Steve says, his voice laced with urgency and concern, "has that spell hit you yet? The rest of us are clear, but we don't even know what it does--"
"I'm fine," Clint says, flattening himself against the tree, as the green lines creep up the trunk. "I'm fine, I'm fine, it's not here yet."
"I think," Wanda says, in that distracted way that she gets when she's trying to talk and hex something at the same time. "I think the spell has something to do with memory?"
Fuck. He can't lose anything more. He can't.
He doesn't exactly have a choice, does he?
He stands up, jumps, reaching for another branch a few feet above him, but he's too slow, too slow, and the fire is coming faster. As his hands wrap around the branch he knows the fire is already there.
That's when the spell touches him.
It doesn't do anything he thought it would do. It doesn't burn him. It doesn't kill him. It doesn't even hurt him, not really. He clings to the branch above him, swinging his legs up to wrap around the branch so he can climb up and right himself. Except when he gets to the top of the branch, stretched out along it, it still feels like he's swinging, inside his head, like something is rocking back and forth in his brain, like some part of his mind that's supposed to be constant is shaking, is starting to fracture.
This really isn't good.
And then all of the branches in front of him blow away like he's in a goddamn hurricane, and Morgan le Fay, still in the center of the clearing, has turned to face him. She raises an imperious hand, and Clint freezes.
Oh, he can still breathe. But that's about all he can do. His muscles are locked, rigid, here where he's lying on his stomach, gripping the tree. He can't move his arms. He can't ready his bow. He can't do anything.
Well, this is even worse.
At least it's going to be a good death. Clint consoles himself with this thought. It's noble, it's heroic, and he's still wearing pants. It could be a lot worse.
"Ah." Morgan's voice is cool, crisp, and not exactly sane. "The archer. I remember you."
Clint would really rather not be memorable to Morgan le Fay. He also has no idea what she's referring to, but that's not exactly new for him lately, is it? Whatever this is, it's all her fucking fault. Of course, if she kills him, that's also going to be all her fucking fault, so he's not exactly finding this reassuring.
"You don't remember this, little archer," Morgan continues, with a cold smile on her face, "but you were the first to heed your captain's call, at Tintagel. When the enchantment I had placed over the Avengers began to break, he was the first to realize his true self -- and you, with your faith in him, you were the second. Do you know why you don't remember this, little archer?" Her smile grows wider. "I took it from you."
When she says took, she lifts her hand, clenches it into a fist, and pulls down, like she's drawing his memories out of the air.
And then, oh God, whatever's broken inside Clint's head is really fucking broken. He's sweating, cold and clammy, and he thinks he's going to be sick, and he still can't move and his brain is just having some kind of hallucinatory meltdown. Memory assails him in jagged shards and none of it makes any sense -- there's a castle and all the Avengers are there and they're dressed like a fucking Renaissance Faire and fighting each other -- and then the memory slips and is gone and there are whispering voices in his head, scraps of thoughts, his friends saying things he doesn't remember them saying, and it's a party and he's sitting on the back of the couch in the front parlor clinking his bottle with Steve's, and, no, wait, it's all gone--
"Yes," Morgan says. "Exactly that. A taste of your loss. You don't get to keep any of it, little archer." She smiles and moves slowly forward and Clint really doesn't want her to get her hands on him, but he can't exactly do anything about it.
"Nnn," Clint says, which is when he discovers that he can't fucking talk, either.
His earpiece crackles again. "This really isn't the distraction I was thinking of," Steve says, and there is now a weirdly high amount of concern and dismay in his voice that Clint honestly can't remember hearing before, "but if you can hold on, Hawkeye, I think we can make it work for us. Scarlet Witch?"
"A few more seconds," Wanda says. There's that strain in her voice again -- yeah, Witchy's definitely working up a hex. "I'm almost ready."
Just a few more seconds. Clint can play bait. He still can't move or talk, so he's not really sure how he's interesting bait, but at any rate Morgan le Fay seems pretty occupied. The downside is that what she's occupied with is liquefying what's left of his brain.
Morgan is still smiling. "Do you enjoy it?" she purrs. "The blackness. The space in your mind where even now there is nothing. No more memories. You thought, in your arrogance, that you had defeated me at Tintagel, but even now my spells still ensnare you. And you are only the first, and this is only the beginning. The spell lay in wait in your mind; it spread after I cast it, and it will take more from you soon. I shall sap the rest of your mind from you, and then I shall turn to your friends, and then, then the Avengers will be nothing, and the world mine!"
"Ready," Wanda says, in Clint's ear.
"Do it," Steve says.
Clint still can't see Wanda herself, but there's no way to miss the blast of chaos magic, fountaining forth like a flood, glowing crimson in the air. The magic hits Morgan le Fay dead on, and she just-- wobbles and folds, just like that, dropping to the ground, unmoving.
And then, of course, Morgan's spell begins to unravel. The glowing green fades from the grass, the ground, the bark under Clint's hands. He takes a breath, a full breath, and he feels like he can finally move again.
He also feels like he really, really shouldn't move. Something's still not right inside his head. It's like nothing he's seeing or hearing or even thinking makes any sense. The team is talking in the comms but it's like they're underwater. His vision smears into blurry streaks of color like finger painting gone wrong. And the dizziness is back. Fuck. He's really dizzy. He's really, really dizzy. He's--
Oh, God, he's going to fall out of this fucking tree.
"Clint?" Steve says in his ear, worried. Clint still has no idea where Steve is. "Clint, are you okay?"
"Ngh ugh," Clint says, which is really not what he ever wanted his last words to be, and then everything goes upside down and he can't hold on anymore, and he's falling--
When Clint opens his eyes again, everything's blurry. He's on his back and the glow above him has to be lights. He's a little chilly. He's not wearing a shirt. There are electrodes taped to his chest. He hopes he's in the infirmary. On his left there's a blue blur; on his right, a red one.
"He's awake," says Wanda, and, all right, that's the red blur accounted for. Clint is briefly very grateful for Wanda's fashion sense.
There's a slight indrawn breath from Clint's left. "Oh my stars and garters."
And that would make the blue blur Beast. Okay. Good. He's got this.
Clint tries to smile. "Hi, Wanda. Hi, Hank. What's up?"
He breathes in and out and takes stock of his condition. He blinks a few more times. His eyes are starting to focus now. This is a plus. He feels a little sore, a little bit rattled, and he has a lingering headache, but he doesn't feel absolutely fucking miserable, like he had when Morgan le Fay's spell hit him, so, hey, he'll take it.
He pokes at his memory again. Monday, walking into the mansion, and--
Nope. Still a blank. Blank up to yesterday morning. Taking Morgan down wasn't enough to fix his brain, and frankly Clint's starting to find that a little concerning. Maybe it's permanent.
Think positively, he tells himself. At least it's not getting worse.
"Well," Hank says, "there's good news and there's bad news." He pauses and half-smiles, an expression that bares the edges of his fangs.
Great. That's pretty high up there on Clint's list of least favorite sentences to hear from medical and/or scientific professionals.
"The good news is actually that you fell out of the tree." It's Steve.
Clint knows they have him hooked up to heart monitors because something beeps and he is pretty sure that's because his heart literally went pitter-pat at the sound of Steve's voice, like he's some kind of swooning teenager. It would be embarrassing if Clint had ever bothered to develop a sense of shame.
He pushes himself up on his elbows so he can get his head up and see Steve, who's in the doorway and coming closer. He pushes himself up a little more. There's not a lot of room on the electrode leads, but now he can at least sit up in bed.
Steve's smiling a fond smile, and Clint can't help but smile back.
"How is that good news, exactly?"
"Well," Steve says, "it's more the fact that you fell out of a tree rather than off anything else. It wasn't a sheer drop. You hit a few branches on the way down. Broke your fall. It means you're going to be okay. Physically, anyway." He smiles again, an encouraging smile. Clint feels all warm and fuzzy. It's nice.
"That's great," Clint says. "I love trees. Go nature. Rah rah rah."
Wanda cuts in. "The bad news is that I've been working on the spell Morgan le Fay left in your mind, Clint, and I can't quite reverse it yet. It's a slippery one."
Oh, fuck. The amnesia.
That's right. Morgan le Fay told him about the amnesia. She told the whole team about the amnesia. That means that Steve knows about the amnesia. Oh, no.
Panicked, he glances over at Steve--
But Steve isn't even looking at him. He's looking at Wanda. His gaze is confident, assured. His head is held high. "As I've been saying," Steve says, "we have no reason to assume Morgan le Fay was telling the truth about what that spell is doing. And if it's not what she said it was, maybe that's why you can't reverse it. I mean, look at Clint!" He gestures expansively in Clint's direction. He's still not actually looking at Clint. "He can't have amnesia. We'd have noticed. I'd definitely have noticed."
Shit. Clint realizes that he never even considered this possibility -- that Steve would learn about the amnesia and not believe it, because Clint didn't say he had amnesia, and there's no way Clint would ever mislead his good pal, Captain America, right? His good pal, Captain America, who he's now dating, who -- for some crazy reason -- thinks the world of him. Clint definitely wouldn't ever do a thing like that.
Everything in Clint is tumbling, falling. It's like the week in the circus where he had to fill in for a flyer on the trapeze act and he's finished the routine, let go of the bar, started to drop for the dismount -- but someone's taken away the net and there's nothing but the hard, cold ground--
And then Steve looks at him.
The thing about lying to Steve is this: Clint can't actually do it.
Oh, he can lie by omission. He can mislead. He can let Steve assume things and fail to correct them. That's what he's been doing for the past day and a half. But he can't look Steve straight in the eye and lie to him. He's never been able to. He's not sure anyone can. He thinks maybe it's one of Steve's superpowers.
"Uh," Clint says.
This is the conversation Clint never wanted to have, right here.
Since Clint's looking at Steve, he can see it on Steve's face, in Steve's eyes: the exact moment when Steve realizes that Clint's been hiding this from him.
Steve's lips part. His throat works as he swallows once, twice, three times. And the hope in his eyes, the certainty, the steadfast belief that Clint Would Do No Wrong... well, that's fading. His gaze now is glassy, dull, not quite focusing.
Something inside Clint twists; there's a throbbing pain under his ribs. He's beginning to think that stabbing himself with an actual arrow would have hurt less. He's weathered Steve's disappointment before, of course he has, but God, it's so much worse now.
"Clint." His name is raspy when Steve says it. Steve's chest rises and falls very slowly. He's taking huge breaths. Clint knows he's trying to stay calm. "What's the last thing you remember?"
"You mean before waking up here?" Clint asks, which is just him trying to buy time because they both know that's not what Steve means. "I was falling out of that tree."
The room is very quiet. Hank and Wanda are exchanging looks of muted horror. Great.
"No." Steve's voice is even, level -- it's the kind of calmness that suggests that he's only calm because he's trying very, very hard to keep himself that way. "That's not what I mean. You know what I mean. Don't lie to me, Clint. Please."
His voice cracks on the word please.
Clint swallows hard. "It's Monday. The Avengers are being called to assemble. All of us. I get to the mansion at the same time as Pietro and Wanda. Jarvis lets us all in and... that's it. Nothing." He lets his eyes fall shut for an instant before opening them; Steve stares back at him, wounded, betrayed. "I don't remember anything else."
"Okay," Steve says, low and hoarse. "So you don't remember... Morgan le Fay whisking us all away? You don't remember her taking us to Tintagel and enchanting us to make us believe we lived in the Middle Ages? You don't remember fighting her there? Breaking the enchantment?"
You were the first to heed your captain's call, Morgan said.
Clint shakes his head. "Nope. Sorry."
Steve's sigh sounds almost punched out of him, a grunt of frustration. But it sounds familiar, too -- like this is what he expected, what he always expects from Clint. "Right. So you walked into the mansion. What's the next thing you remember?"
"Uh." Clint shifts awkwardly. It's one thing to make dirty jokes, but it's another thing entirely to have a serious conversation about his sex life, with Steve, when there are people who aren't Steve still in the room. "Yesterday morning. I woke up. Uh. And you were in my bed."
A second passes. Two seconds. Steve says nothing.
And then Steve just breaks.
He goes white, bone-white, like he's going to faint. He's shaking. He drags his gloved hands down his face as if he wants to claw it away, and when Clint can see his face again his eyes are unseeing, blank with shock. His mouth twists, opens in agony, closes into a trembling, wobbly line. He looks sick. He looks horrified.
He stumbles backwards, blindly, flailing, and hits the doorframe like he's about to fall over. He's panting. His chest is heaving.
Okay, what the hell?
Clint figured that Steve would be mad. He figured that Steve would be disappointed in him. Maybe even sad. He wasn't anticipating anything remotely like this. What the hell did he say? So he doesn't actually remember getting together with Steve the first time. So what? What's so bad about that? Did something else happen then that nobody's told him about?
"Oh my God." Steve's voice is raw, ruined, like he's been screaming. "Oh, God. I-- I-- I can't. Oh, God, Clint, I'm so sorry. I-- can't be here, I can't believe I-- I can't--"
He stumbles backwards and out the door into the hall. His footsteps are heavy, rapid, and then gone.
Whatever Clint did wrong, he has to fix this.
Clint starts yanking all the electrodes off his skin, ow, ow, okay, shirt, he needs a shirt, at least they let him keep his pants--
Hank puts a huge hand on his shoulder. "Clint, no." His voice is a growl. "You can't leave. We haven't figured out what to do about the amnesia--"
"It'll keep," Clint says, and he shrugs Hank's hand off. "This is more important."
He dodges Hank's grasp again, slides around Wanda, grabs his t-shirt from the other bed, and heads out the door at a run.
He has to find Steve.
Somehow he has to set this right.
One of the things about Steve that you'd never guess if you knew him just from watching Captain America on television is that Steve is a champion sulker. Clint's one of Steve's biggest fans, but Clint will be the first to admit -- because it's not like Steve will ever admit it -- that Steve does an absolutely shitty job dealing with his feelings. It's like if he has a problem he can't punch, he doesn't know what to do, except maybe try to punch it anyway.
It's not like Clint's the best at feelings either, but at least when Clint wants to hit something, he knows he's not going to shatter solid concrete.
So, over the years, when Steve's sullen, when he's broody, when he's got problems -- Clint's generally appointed himself in charge of being the one to talk to Steve and help him work out his problems. He'll take him out for burgers. He'll take him to his favorite dive bar. Usually the problem is that Steve has forgotten how to be plain old Steve Rogers, and after a pitcher of beer or a couple of burgers, Steve will start to figure it out again.
But this time, Clint is the problem.
This is a new one.
He knows all the places Steve likes to hide. He's not in the gym trying to punch all his feelings out. He's not curled up on his bed pretending the world doesn't exist. That only leaves one more place. He takes the stairs up to the Quinjet hangar, and then up again. Roof access.
He finds Steve on the roof.
There's not a lot of room up here. The mansion spans a block, but a lot of the space has long since been carved out for the Quinjets below, and what's left is mostly just sloping tiles covering the rest of the mansion, dull in the midday sunlight. There's a bit of room, though. There's the stairwell, opening on a metal door. And beyond the door there's a little concrete balcony, and on that balcony there's Steve.
Steve's hands are braced on the railing that tops the waist-high retaining wall. He's leaning heavily on it, staring off into the distance.
He doesn't move when Clint hits the landing, though Clint knows he must have heard him. He doesn't move when Clint lets the door slam shut behind him, and he definitely heard that. He doesn't even move when Clint walks up next to him and drapes himself over the railing. He's just standing there, haunted, eyes fixed on the horizon.
"You asked me what day it was," Steve says, so quietly that Clint has to strain to hear him. "Yesterday morning, you asked me what day it was, and I-- I thought you were joking."
A wave of disgust passes over his face. Hatred. Loathing. Clint doesn't understand.
"I was joking," Clint says. Then he shrugs. "But I also wanted to know what day it was."
He smiles, for Steve. Maybe it will make Steve feel better. He doesn't know what to do this time. He reaches out, sets his hand on Steve's shoulder--
And Steve moves away, and lets his hand fall.
Steve turns to look at him, and there's only misery in his eyes. "I used you," Steve rasps. "Clint, I took you to bed last night and I used you."
Steve's upset... that they slept together? What the hell?
"I took advantage of you," Steve says, miserably. "For God's sake, Clint, I was rough with you. I left bruises. Obviously I didn't know you had amnesia, and I understand -- even if I don't really understand why -- that you didn't want me to know. I know there's nothing I can do to make it up to you. What I did was wrong. But you have to believe me, I never intended to hurt you. I'm so sorry."
And now Clint's just staring. Apparently Steve is mad at himself. Over nothing. "You didn't hurt me," Clint says, confused. "You didn't take advantage of me. You didn't do anything to me that I didn't want."
He feels like they're speaking two different languages, or maybe they're on two different planets. He needs a better metaphor, actually, because he's been to Hala and he's had more luck talking to the Kree than he's having right now. He has no idea what's going on.
"Clint." This is Steve's very patient voice, the one he saves for people who really, really don't get it -- which is usually not Clint. He's not usually this terrible at understanding Steve. Except maybe now he is. "You couldn't give informed consent."
Do words mean something different on Planet Steve? "What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Clint asks. "I liked what we did. I consented. I said yes. I said yes very loudly. I said yes a whole lot. I'm pretty sure you noticed. You were there."
Steve winces. "That's only half of informed consent. Literally, you didn't have the information, Clint. You have amnesia."
So what if he's missing a few days? Why is that such a big deal?
"I know I liked it!" Clint shoots back. He realizes he's raising his voice. Anyone who isn't Steve would probably have taken a step back, but lucky him, he's pretty sure Steve doesn't know how to. "What else do I need to know?"
Steve's staring at him -- not like he's stupid, not exactly, but like he can't believe Clint doesn't know this. It's like the looks Clint used to try not to give Steve when he said he'd never heard of Elvis. Only worse.
"You don't know if you liked it the night before." Steve's voice is tight. "The first time. I'd say that's pretty important, don't you think?"
Clint throws his arms wide and raises his voice even more. "I loved what we did last night, okay?" He doesn't usually stand on the roof of the mansion and yell about how much he likes getting fucked by Captain America, but he's having a lot of new experiences lately. "I fucking loved it! So I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say, you know what, I bet I fucking loved it the night before too--"
"You don't know that." The words are quiet, but Steve cuts him off with finality. "That's the thing. Right now, you don't know that. Neither of us knows that." His mouth twists. "I mean, I thought you had a good time, obviously, but I don't know that for sure, and right now you don't either. For all I know, you wouldn't have actually wanted to do it again."
Clint blinks. "You're really that worried about whether you were good?"
"It's not about that." Steve exhales hard. "It's about how you don't currently have the information to determine whether you liked it."
"I let you stay the night, didn't I?" Clint asks. "I must have liked it, if I let you do that."
"Maybe you were just being polite--"
"I'm sorry," Clint says. "Did you just suggest that I'm polite? Seriously?"
He can kind of see what Steve's saying now, but, still, if Steve's saying he's polite, Steve is definitely wrong about something.
He expects Steve to snap at him, to raise his voice. But Steve pauses -- and then he smiles. And then he starts laughing.
"Well," Steve says, still laughing. "That's one for the record books, I guess. You probably want to treasure that."
Steve puts his back against the retaining wall, and then slides down until he's sitting, half-sprawled against it He glances up at Clint, and Clint doesn't even need to consider it before sliding down to join him.
After a second, Steve holds out his hand.
After another second, Clint takes it.
"What I meant to say, I guess," Steve says, once he's caught his breath, "is that I... assumed that, based on the way you were acting around me yesterday, I could judge whether you'd liked it the night before. But I guess neither of us could, really. I didn't know that. And so I'm sorry."
Clint squeezes Steve's hand. "Look, I was the one who knew I had amnesia when I slept with you. If anything, that means I took advantage of you, okay? That means I took advantage of myself." He frowns. "Not really sure how that one works. Anyway." He licks his lips. "I get it. I get what you mean now. I guess-- I guess I just saw how happy you were, and I didn't want to ruin it for you. Joke's on me, I guess."
Steve's mouth quivers. "I was happy," he says, softly. "I was really happy."
Carefully, Clint peels down the edge of Steve's glove until he hits bare skin. He rubs at Steve's wrist. "I don't have those memories right now. I don't know if I ever will. I just have these memories. But I think they count too. And these ones say this is a good thing, okay?"
Steve is silent for long moments, but then he smiles again. "Okay," he says, simply. "Okay."
"So," Clint says. "What have I missed?"
Steve laughs again, and God, that's a really good sound. "Well, the Avengers were all gathered together, and then Morgan le Fay zapped us all away to England--"
"Not that," Clint says, impatiently. "I want that, I can check the mission logs. I mean, the two of us, how did we end up...?"
Steve cuts in before Clint has time to think of the worst possible euphemism for sex. "How did we get together, you mean?" He tips his head back against the retaining wall. He's smiling a wistful half-smile. "It was just-- I'm not sure I can explain it. We'd gotten back from Morgan, and we'd put the new team together, so we were having a party to celebrate, you know? By the time I got around to talking to you -- honestly, it was pretty early in the night. You were still on your first beer. So you were sitting there, perched on the back of the couch, the way you do."
He gestures. Clint can kind of picture it. He remembers half of a fragmented memory, something Morgan was taunting him with.
Steve smiles again. "And you -- I think you thought you were being funny -- you just looked me up and down, real slow, and you smiled at me, and you said come here often, soldier?"
Jesus. Clint raises an incredulous eyebrow. "And that worked?"
Steve gives a halfhearted shrug. "I guess I figured, you know -- we were both single, and I'd always liked you. Hadn't been with a guy in a while. New team, maybe a good time to try something new for a change. And I--" He pauses, and, wow, he's blushing again. "I-- oh, God, Clint, are you really going to make me say it?"
So far Clint's not really seeing a reason for why I decided to sleep with you that wouldn't also make the same amount of sense as it would in the story of why I decided to take up knitting. It's not really very... personal. And also he doesn't actually know what Steve's talking about, what Steve thinks he's going to make him say.
"Make you say what, exactly?"
Steve's laugh is more awkward now, and he rubs his free hand over his face. "Fine," he says. The word is almost a grumble. "You... you brag, you know?" He says this in an almost-ashamed hush. "You... you boast. You've always done it. You always talk about how good you are, and -- oh, God -- how big you are, and there was that one mission in Madripoor where half the comm logs are you announcing to whoever hasn't asked you to shut up most recently that you went down on Mockingbird for an hour and she came six times and I-- I know you think that I've never noticed, that I've never cared, but I-- I'm really not as noble as you think I am, Clint--" He takes a breath. The words stop tumbling out of him. "I wanted to know, okay?"
"Ohh." Clint understands now. "You wanted the Clint Barton Experience." He grins. "You wanted to ride the Clint Barton Ride." He eyes him the same way he probably did the other day. "Well, you're big enough. You meet the size requirements." He glances down. "And the other size requirements."
"Clint," Steve says, but he doesn't sound exactly like he wants Clint to stop.
"I'm just kidding," Clint adds, in case Steve thinks he's that kind of actual asshole. "I don't really have size requirements." He laughs. "But that line, really? That worked on you?"
"You could have said anything and it would have worked on me," Steve says, and it sounds like some kind of confession. "Anyway, I told you that you knew I lived here, but maybe I'd like to see more of your room. And that was when you figured out that I wasn't joking."
"I bet," Clint says.
"So we went up to your room," Steve says, and Clint's about to tell him that he didn't think this was a letter to Penthouse when Steve just gives him this look, this amazed, wondering look, and Clint realizes that maybe it's not just about fucking.
Clint strokes Steve's wrist.
Steve huffs out a laugh. "I thought," he says. "I thought it was just going to be sex, you know? But we were in your room and we were just kissing and kissing and that was when it just... hit me that maybe it was more than that. And you stopped kissing me, and you-- you looked at me, and you asked me if I knew how long you'd wanted this." He's smiling. "And that was-- wow. You were more than I expected. You were amazing. You were really amazing. It was a great night."
He wishes he'd seen Steve's face more last night. He probably looked... like he does now.
Clint smiles back. "I'm sorry I missed it."
Steve leans into him and kisses him once, sweetly, on the cheek. "It's okay. Maybe it'll come back to you."
Clint slouches down more and rests his head against Steve's shoulder.
He thinks he could get used to this.
That evening, Wanda waylays him in the hall outside the library.
Clint has done A Responsible Thing and finished catching up on the reports from the team's first Morgan le Fay battle this week. As he'd thought, this included the surreal experience of reading his own mission report that he has absolutely no memory of writing. But, hey, now he's caught up, and with that and Steve's description of how they got together, it doesn't sound like there's anything else he needs to know.
Maybe this is all he's ever going to know. Maybe he doesn't get those memories back.
And that's okay. He can work with what he's got. He's got Steve, now, and that's going to make a hell of a difference.
It's only a few days gone. He can live like this.
At any rate, he's all caught up, and he's heading to the library to find Steve, who is hopefully done with all his important team leader business and therefore might be up for letting Clint blow him again. He thinks Steve probably isn't going to need a lot of convincing on that one, unless Clint wants to blow him right there in the library. Which, honestly, he might. It's not like those couches haven't seen worse.
And that's when Wanda stops him.
"Clint," she says. "Come here. Put your head down." She's beaming up at him.
He blinks at her. "Why?" he asks, but even as he's asking he's already bending over.
"Because you're too tall and I can't reach," Wanda says, which isn't exactly the explanation he was looking for. "Hold still."
She puts her hands on either side of his head. Her palms are cool, and she smells sort of like roses. And then his vision glows. It reminds him of having his eyes closed and turning his face toward the sun. There's a pleasant warmth there, something good and right and natural. It feels like something he was missing has come back to him, and he didn't even know it was gone.
She steps back and drops her hands. The feeling ebbs away -- but only a bit. It's still there, sort of, in the back of his mind.
Blinking more, Clint shakes his head, but that doesn't make the feeling clear. It's not bad, exactly. It's just new.
"What did you do?"
"Fixed it," Wanda announces, with an impish grin. "Her spell."
Clint puts a hand to his temple and squints, trying to think back. Walking into the mansion, and-- nope, still not there. "I still can't remember," he says. "Sorry."
"Oh, it's not going to work right away. But it will work," Wanda says, confidently. "Morgan's spell had a delayed onset, so this one has to as well. By the morning, you'll be fine. Everything back to normal. You'll remember. You'll keep all your current memories. You'll just get the old ones back."
Clint takes her by the shoulders. He's grinning at her in delight. "Witchy, I could kiss you!"
She smiles. "Thanks, but I think Cap might have something to say about that, don't you think?"
"Oh, I know," Clint says. "I'll just go kiss him instead."
"That sounds like a plan," Wanda says. "Have a good evening." Her smile is more than a little sly, and, yeah, she probably knows exactly what Clint's plans for the evening are, and Clint does not give one single, solitary fuck.
Clint smiles. "Night, Wanda."
When he turns and opens the library door, he finds Steve on the other side, and Steve's already grinning at him. Like he knows. Oh, right. Super-soldier hearing. If Wanda hadn't already told him, he definitely knows now.
"You heard?" Clint asks.
"I heard," Steve says.
And then Steve sweeps him up into his arms in a move that's somewhere between an embrace of pure joy and what feels like an honest attempt to recreate that scene from Gone with the Wind, which is actually kind of fun because Clint is six foot three and has never really gotten to be anyone's Vivien Leigh before.
And, wow, yeah, Steve can definitely still kiss. Clint's going to hold on to this one for as long as Steve will let him.
"I don't get the memories back until tomorrow morning," Clint says, in case Steve somehow missed that part.
"I know." Steve grins at him. "But we've got a whole night. You want to make some more memories while we wait?"
"Yeah," Clint says, smiling back. "I absolutely do."
This time, finally, he knows how he's going to wake up in the morning. And he knows he's going to love it.