"Okay but seriously!" Tony grumbled as he followed Clint and Natasha into the team's temporary safe house. "What the fuck happened in Budapest?!"
"Tony." Steve warned. "We talked about this." He stopped to lock the door behind them before propping his shield on the floor against the wall.
Stark ripped off the few pieces of his armor that hadn't been completely destroyed by their latest mission and threw one gauntlet across the room. "I don't care! I need to know. Every time these two morons bring it up, I just..." he growled in frustration. "It just." Tony's anger level increased as he struggled for the words to explain. "I need to know!"
Natasha tapped the tabletop and Clint obediently jumped up to sit on it as Natasha pulled a first aid kit from their supplies. Clint started to pull his shirt over his head and when he winced at the motion Natasha quickly snipped it away and moved to assess the cut on his back.
"Just tell me. I'm gonna find out." He shook his foot when the Iron Man boot refused to release. "I will find out." The boot finally shook free and banged off the wall with a loud clang.
Steve took stock of the meager supplies in their fridge before grabbing the juice and pouring himself a glass. "Leave it be, Tony."
The man spared a glance at Steve before returning his attention to the assassin duo. "What happened in Budapest?"
Natasha had started sewing up the gash on Clint and she looked up from where she was stitching the nasty cut on his shoulder blade. "I don't know what you're talking about, Tony."
Tony stormed across the room and half sat across from the duo. He was too restless to actually sit and he was up and pacing in front of them before his butt had even touched the seat. "You have to tell me."
Steve dragged a hand through his still sweat damp hair and leaned against the counter near where Natasha was working. "Their past is their own, Stark. No one is forcing anyone to share what they don't want to."
A childish whine mixed with a near hulk like roar came from Tony then. "If I have to hear about one more of our assignments being 'just like Budapest all over again,'" he flashed air quotes, "and then hear the damn idiot response about 'remembering Budapest differently' from either one of these two again -"
"I hear Cairo is nice this time of year." Clint's quiet voice was barely audible from where he sat, his eyes still fixed on the carpet below him.
Natasha tsk'd at him as she snipped the thread where she had tied it.
"Ohmygod. Don't you dare." Tony mumbled.
In unison, both Natasha and Tony responded to Clint, "Yeah, but the humidity is awful for my hair."
With a groan, Tony collapsed on the chair. "And then you'll start going on about the Ice cream in Manila and he'll respond about a desire for cheesecake instead." Natasha started looking around for the gauze and Steve leaned over to help her with it. "I've analyzed them all. I've run complex calculations on the distances between the locations, the number of syllables in these clearly rehearsed back and forths. Number of vowels, the time of day in the local city mentioned -"
"Tony." Steve warned again as Natasha peeled off a strip of tape and stuck it across the gauze he was holding for her on Clint's back. "You of all people should understand that some people just don't want to talk about their past demons -"
"ALL THEY DO IS TALK ABOUT IT?!" Tony launched back to his feet and spun into the trio's triage space. "EVERY MISSION. I heard the exchange about Budapest twice today. TWICE! It's driving me mad!"
Clint started giggling, his laughter building until it nearly caused him to fall from the table he was still perched on. "It's just like Budapest alllll over again." He managed in between giggles. Natasha flicked his ear and pushed him off the table and down into the armchair against the opposite wall that Tony had recently vacated.
"You and I remember Budapest very differently." She muttered as she moved to grab him a fresh shirt from the other room.
"What. The. Fuck. Happened. In. Budapest." Tony was barely holding it together and for reasons Steve couldn't fathom this seemed to crack Clint up even further.
"That's not going to be good for your bruised ribs." Natasha scolded as she threw a clean shirt at the archer's head when she returned. Clint waved her off as he struggled to get the shirt on in between the giggles.
"I swear to god if someone doesn't start talking I'm going to build a machine to harvest your memories so I can find out what happened!"
Clint's giggle fit gave way to hiccups and he moaned as the first hiccup evidently caused pain to his already battered ribcage. Steve stepped between Tony and the assassins so that he might distract Tony. "Why don't you go lay down? We've got another couple hours before our pickup arrives and you'll have all the toys to fix your armor back up."
"I can't, Steve." Tony shifted the weight between his feet rapidly. "My brain can't stop guessing at what happened to these two in Budapest that could somehow warrant it being brought up in all these different situations! How could aliens, killer robots, a children's soccer game, Thor's grocery shopping - not to mention today's super fun squid whatever that was - as well as my questions remind these two of Budapest!? Why can neither of them remember it the same? How do these things relate? Don't you wanna know?"
Steve started to try again when Clint spoke up once more. "Nothing happened in Budapest." Tony balked, he was ready to challenge him when Clint continued. "We've never even been to Budapest."
Now it was Steve's turn to stare at the duo in shock. "What?"
"We haven't been to Cairo either. Or Manila."
"I've been to" -hiccup - "Manila." Clint protested.
"Okay, Clint's been to Manila. But we as a team have not been to Manila." Clint nodded and allowed Natasha to continue. "Or Bangladesh. Or Guadalajara."
"You're shitting me?" Tony stepped backwards and bumped into the table. "But what about that little cafe in Istanbul? Or that one time in Dar? Or the all those great memories you've got in Mendoza?"
"Never been to any of them. As a team." Natasha amended.
Tony deflated and leaned hard against the table. After a moment of silence that was interrupted only by Clint's loud hiccups, he spoke again. "I don't understand."
"They're code." Clint hiccuped. "Preplanned strategies." -hiccup- "Each designated by various locations and," -hiccup- "agreed to in advance."
It all made sense to Steve, but Tony apparently wouldn't leave it alone. "What do you mean code?"
"He means we haven't been to Budapest to remember it differently. We say that to verify the other is on the same page as our current plan."
"Right now. Clint communicated to me that he wanted to tell you. I agreed with him. There you have it, Budapest."
"That doesn't even make sense."
-Hiccup- "It makes perfect sense." Clint held his side with each hiccup. "We are spies, Tony. We need to communicate covertly." His face contorted painfully as his next hiccup shook his body.
Steve went to the sink and filled a glass of water for him as Tony pushed off the table again to pace the room. "Covertly in front of your team?!"
Natasha shrugged, "You're not the only ones hearing us out there. Besides, old habits die hard."
"They make," -hiccup- "sense this way." Clint moaned as he accepted the glass of water from Steve and downed it. "We agreed to them." -hiccup- "We know them. They work."
"Nothing has happened in any of these places?" Tony seemed distressed at this new information and Steve thought he might collapse. "Not even the mimes in Mozambique?"
Steve raised his eyebrow at Tony, clearly the billionaire had spent way too much time on this. Both assassins reacted violently to the mention of mimes though. They started talking over each other so rapidly that Steve couldn't make everything out. "Oh hell." -hiccup- "Those проклятыемимы were fucking real!" "Don't even go th-" -hiccup- "murder one,” “idiot boxes" "get my hands-"
"Alright." Steve interrupted and Clint hiccupped loudly. "Now that we've sorted that out, let's get some food while we wait for extraction." He thought back on the contents of the fridge, "Why don't some of us run down to the corner and get some take out?" With a pointed look at Tony he made it clear that Stark was being told rather than asked.
"Okay okay." Tony disappeared into the other room to grab a jacket and hat. He tossed a hat to Steve when he returned and they made their way to the door. Clint was holding his breath in an effort to stop the hiccups and Natasha had moved to prepare some coffee while they went for food. Tony halted at the door and turned back to the two before following Steve. "You know, I have a jet… if you guys ever want you should use actually have a shared memory of a place you always talk about. As a uh, thank you for saving my life earlier. Vacation might be good for you." Clint let out his breath and hiccupped in a way that made Steve wince with the archer. Tony's face slowly crept into a grin, "I've got these super annoying friends who keep talking about Budapest...Maybe you guys should check it out?"
Tony pulled the door shut behind them and Steve was pretty sure he heard Clint's hiccup-laughter as he followed Tony down the stairs to the street.