Clint finds himself swearing and flapping a damp dish rag towards the open kitchen window by the time he’d told Natasha he’d have dinner ready.
She’d texted him that she was running late and was on her way, but Clint had gotten sidetracked with wrestling Lucky in the living room and had forgotten about the loaf of bread in the oven. Then the alarm had started beeping incessantly, messing with Clint’s aids and making his head hurt, and--
Yeah, he’d tried to bake bread. He loves Natasha.
Clint had also managed to grill up some not-totally-charred steaks and some wilted asparagus that probably had too much salt, so he’s not too upset about the burnt bread when he throws the entire thing out onto the lawn, pan and all.
Clint almost melts into a puddle of shame when he hears a siren wailing halfheartedly as it winds up the twisting, rural back road and turns down his gravel driveway. He sighs, already blushing, and wipes sweat off his face with his shirt.
Damn neighbors must’ve called the fire department again.
Clint steels himself and slings the dish rag over his shoulder, stepping out of the front door and pasting on his best sheepish smile.
The fire truck’s at least not one of the really big ones--it’s just one of those 4x4’s that’s painted up red with a logo sticker on the side and wired with a siren. Clint feels less bad about taking up time with a truck like this, at least.
Clint leans forward against the chain link fence he has for Lucky to run around in, not bothering to undo the gate latch and hoping like hell they’ll leave soon.
But those thoughts leave Clint’s brain immediately when the guy who hops out of the driver’s seat walks around to the other side of the truck.
Clint’s eyes track helplessly over the red-checked flannel pulled snug over the guy’s chest and biceps, then over the way his thighs fill out those Levi’s really well.
Clint swallows and looks up, which is somehow simultaneously better and worse because the guy’s got the prettiest blue eyes Clint’s ever seen and thick, wavy brown hair floating just above his shoulders that Clint wants to put his hands in yesterday.
The stubble, the fucking eye crinkles, the--
“Hi,” the guy says, and Clint blinks.
“Hi,” Clint repeats, unable to stop staring as the guy stops a few feet away from the fence.
“Everything good here?” the guy asks, eyes darting up to where the kitchen window is open but no smoke is coming out.
“Uh-- yeah, everything’s fine,” Clint says, rubbing the back of his neck. “I was trying to bake bread,” he adds, waving an arm over at the sad pan of burnt bread in the middle of his yard.
The guy’s eyes lock on Clint’s bicep for a prolonged moment-- hell yeah, Barton’s still got it--before his eyes flicker over to meet Clint’s, pretty blush stained high on his cheeks. He finally manages to glance over at the bread and then laughs like it’s been startled out of him.
Clint would normally be wounded, but the sound is so nice that he doesn’t even take it personally.
“Invite me over next time,” the guy says, grinning and fucking winking at Clint. “I can teach you and then you won’t have to throw baked goods out in the yard.”
“Don’t even play,” Clint says, straightening up and grabbing the dish rag off his shoulder, draping it neatly over the fence as nervous energy thrums through his veins. “I’d be all over that shit. Pretty guys like you don’t offer to come over and bake bread very often,” Clint continues before he can think better of it.
The guy just steps forward, leaning his elbows against the top of the fence before extending a hand for Clint to shake.
“Not playing,” he says, half-smirk firmly in place. “I’m Bucky.”
“Clint,” Clint manages over the heartbeat in his throat.
Bucky’s hand is warm and dry and calloused and big and Clint likes it a whole lot.
Clint’s just on the snuggly, warm side of tipsy when he leans back against the brick wall of Steve’s carport to stare up at the ceiling and try to get his stupid heart under control.
Clint and Bucky had been texting on and off for a couple weeks, flirting back and forth and making tentative plans to hang out when Natasha had caught on and realized that she and Bucky had a mutual friend. Clint and Nat teach classes at the YMCA and Nat knew Bucky’s best friend Steve from water aerobics of all places. Nat and Steve got along like a house on fire and the pair of them had set up a cookout so that Clint and Bucky could hang out (and the others could watch because they’re fucking nosy).
Clint has hardly been able to keep his eyes off Bucky all night--he’s wearing a deep purple henley that might look ridiculous on anyone else, but on Bucky, it does things to Clint’s insides. Clint’s been really, really trying not to grab Bucky’s face and kiss him, so he’s mostly been pretending to listen to Sam talk about some bullshit going on at the police station and avoiding eye contact with Bucky.
Clint finally gets a break from Sam’s neverending bitchfest when Natasha asks Sam to run and get more hot dog buns, which is when Clint finds a spot against the wall to watch Bucky and Steve play horseshoes and drink his beer in peace.
Clint’s lost in thought about how only someone like Steve Rogers would have horseshoes set up in his yard when Bucky appears at his elbow.
Clint barely manages not to yelp but does begin to list sideways against the wall.
“Whoa, easy there, sweetheart,” Bucky says, grabbing Clint’s elbow and hauling him back upright.
Clint’s probably more drunk than he’d realized because he just falls forward into Bucky’s arms, hands pressed flat against his chest and cheeks flushing with the sudden proximity to Bucky’s face.
Bucky grins at him and snakes his arms around Clint’s waist. Clint shivers and leans into Bucky’s space, enjoying the contact and warmth.
“Mmmmmmmm,” Clint hums thoughtfully, blinking slowly at Bucky and dragging a hand down to rest on his ribs. “You could just hold me for a while.”
Bucky looks surprised and pleased at the same time. “I could,” he agrees, shuffling them around so that they’ve both got a shoulder leaning against the wall.
Clint’s glad, because this way, he can keep his hands on Bucky and be comfortable.
“You’re really cute,” Clint says conversationally, stroking a hand down Bucky’s side as Bucky blushes.
“Thanks,” Bucky says with a grin.
Clint remembers very little of the rest of the conversation, all drunk and snuggled up as he is, but he does remember whining pathetically when Natasha says it’s time to leave.
Clint feels Bucky laugh against his neck a split second before Bucky hefts him over his shoulders in a fireman’s carry.
Clint does yelp this time, but he only squirms a little as Bucky carries him over and sets him in the passenger seat of Nat’s truck. Bucky takes great care to buckle him in even as Clint pets at his face in thanks.
Natasha rolls down the window as she shifts the truck into gear and Clint blinks sadly up at Bucky, reaching through the window for Bucky’s hand.
Bucky’s face breaks into a gorgeous smile before he grabs Clint’s hand and presses a kiss into his palm.
Clint falls asleep on the way home with his hand pressed over his heart and a smile clinging to his lips.
The town’s having their annual fall festival the next time Clint sees Bucky.
There are fucking pumpkins everywhere but Clint unashamedly loves it. He’s enjoying a spicy coffee thing that Natasha brought him and keeping a sharp eye out for Bucky, who’d promised to stop by the YMCA booth to see Clint before the day got too busy.
It’s only been a couple weeks since the cookout, and Clint has wanted to see Bucky, but between their slam-packed work schedules, they haven’t managed to make it work yet.
Clint almost chokes on his coffee and spills it all over himself, which would be a goddamn tragedy in its own right, when Bucky materializes out of the crowd looking stupidly good in his navy fire department tee that’s tucked into his dark brown chinos.
He looks like a firefighter and he’s wearing a damn belt and Clint--
Clint just can’t handle it. It doesn’t make sense for Bucky to look this good when he’s dressed like a gigantic fucking nerd, but that navy tee stretched across Bucky’s chest just really does it for Clint, apparently.
Clint’s already blushing when Bucky’s eyes catch on his face. Bucky grins, sticking his hands in his pockets and walking a little faster towards him.
Clint swipes a hand over his eyes, trying to gain some semblance of control over the dopey smile that’s overtaken his face, and then Bucky’s right up in his space, still grinning like Clint’s the best thing he’s seen all day.
“Hi,” Bucky says, reaching out to squeeze Clint’s hand. “Missed you.”
Clint’s heart stutters, but he squeezes right back. “Missed you, too.”
Bucky leans in to press a kiss to Clint’s cheek, right there in front of God and everybody, and Clint feels like he’s being lit on fire from the inside out.
Someone call the call the fucking fire department.
“I’ll come find you later, yeah?” Bucky breathes into Clint’s ear, and Clint shivers. “Gotta go help set up.”
Clint nods, biting his tongue and not trusting his mouth to say anything other than an urgent request for Bucky to make out with him right the fuck now.
Clint’s day passes in a haze of clipboards and sign-up sheets and pumpkin spice-flavored treats, and he’s damn near forgotten about Bucky’s promise to come find him when they start packing up in the late afternoon.
Clint’s standing on tiptoe on a metal folding chair, trying like hell to undo the intricate knots Wanda used to tie the banner to the top of their tent, when he feels one of the chair legs sink suddenly into the damp ground.
Clint barely has time to regret his life choices when he feels himself collide with a warm, solid wall of firefighter on his way to the ground.
Bucky’s managed to catch Clint bridal style, and he would be embarrassed, except for the fact that those are Bucky’s arms and he feels all kinds of good pressed up against Clint’s body.
“My hero,” Clint says, pressing a hand to Bucky’s chest. His hand drifts up to cup the sharp line of Bucky’s stubbled jaw as if it has a mind of its own.
Bucky’s eyes crinkle as he hitches Clint up a bit. “For you, sweetheart? Always.”
Bucky kisses him then, the chilly tip of his nose pressed into Clint’s cheek, and Clint can’t think of a damn thing he’d rather be doing than frenching Bucky Barnes.
Clint makes it another two weeks before he wakes up in a bed that isn’t his, beaten and bruised to hell.
Scratch that, this isn’t a bed, it’s a shelf. Clint is on a paper-thin mattress on a goddamn shelf, but he’s feeling weirdly warm and rested--
Clint almost jumps out of his skin when he feels strong fingers tighten around his hip.
Clint’s been on exactly two dates with Bucky, and they’ve both gone swimmingly well, both ending with excessive making out on Bucky’s porch swing.
Clint knows how to play the long game--he’s a gentleman, after all.
So when Clint didn’t show up for their third date, Bucky’d gone looking for him and found him left for dead in an alley by some asshole neighborhood thugs. Clint’s head hurt and his ribs hurt and his heart hurt, but Bucky’d picked him up gently, so gently, and called for Steve to pick them up and bring them to the fire station. Bucky took Clint inside to patch him up and Clint vaguely remembers Sam screeching into the parking lot on two wheels in his cop car, laying on the horn until Steve hopped into the passenger’s seat and Sam peeled off in the same way he arrived.
Clint thinks that there’d be no injustices left in the world if the two of them were left to their own devices.
Bucky must’ve given Clint some of the good meds because the next thing Clint registered was an up-close look at the burn scars lacing down the length of Bucky’s left arm as he carefully removed Clint’s hearing aids, nudging him onto the shelf-bed and snuggling up against his back.
“Thanks,” Clint slurred, craning his neck back for a kiss, and Bucky had looked so vulnerable, so scared in that moment that Clint wanted to hold him forever.
Bucky kissed his bottom lip tenderly and Clint fell asleep wrapped up in Bucky’s warmth.
The rush of memories from last night breaks as Bucky drags his hand, heavy and warm, up Clint’s side as if subconsciously checking for injury.
“You awake?” he rumbles against Clint’s neck, and Clint manages to gingerly roll over so that he’s curled up against Bucky’s chest.
“Thank you,” Clint says again, words coming out muffled between them in a way that barely disguises the thick, pent-up tears making his throat ache.
Bucky just cuddles him closer, pressing a kiss above the neat row of stitches on Clint’s collarbone and rubbing a soothing hand down his back.
Clint heaves in a deep breath and lets the warmth of Bucky’s body lull him back to sleep.
If Clint’s being totally honest, his favorite thing to do lately is make out with Bucky.
It’s been happening with steadily increasing frequency, but they’ve made it to the couch this time, Clint pinning Bucky down with his weight.
Clint likes the feeling of Bucky’s body pressed against his--above or below, horizontal or vertical, he’s not picky--and likes Bucky’s reactions to different ways of being kissed, of being touched.
It feels completely new and like they’ve been doing this for years at the same time.
Clint’s dragging his tongue against the roof of Bucky’s mouth when Bucky laughs against his lips, bubbling up out of his chest like he’s just thought of something funny.
Clint pulls back slowly, letting his teeth drag against Bucky’s plump lower lip as he opens his eyes.
“What’s so funny?” Clint asks, voice coming out rough and scratchy, before ducking his head to press sucking bites against Bucky’s neck.
Bucky sighs, lips twitching up as he tilts his head back to give Clint more room.
“I just remembered--” Bucky breaks off in a rumbly laugh again, and Clint licks up to his ear, teeth closing around Bucky’s earlobe.
Bucky gasps. “Today-- today I thought Steve was gonna punch Tony in the teeth, but then Tony said--” Bucky stops to giggle again. “Tony called him an asshat in front of Chief Fury and Steve just. Steve just kissed him. Full on the face in front of everyone.”
Clint pulls back so he can look at Bucky’s face, lips curling upward. “What the fuck?”
Bucky continues to grin, petting at Clint’s sides absently as he struggles not to laugh. “And you know what Steve said?”
Clint raises his eyebrows, waiting.
“‘Fuck you and your ass, you gorgeous dipshit,’” Bucky finishes, breaking off into giggles.
Clint throws his head back and laughs, deep and loud and long, and then he’s losing his balance and tipping over into the floor, banging his elbow hard on the coffee table on the way down.
Clint grabs at his elbow, clutching it to his chest as he laughs. Bucky sits up and gathers Clint into his arms, helping to haul him back onto the couch and climbing on top of him this time.
Bucky pats at his elbow. “This fine?”
“Yeah,” Clint says, still a little breathless, reaching up to comb his fingers through Bucky’s hair.
Bucky leans down and kisses the hell out of him.
“Clint-- fuck --please, I need--” Bucky’s words are lost in a moan when Clint gets a hand wrapped around his cock.
“Good?” Clint asks, squeezing lightly and making Bucky’s hips rock up into his touch.
“Just like that, baby,” Bucky murmurs, tugging Clint’s head down for a kiss, tongue sweeping into Clint’s mouth as he rolls his hips.
Clint begins moving his hand in long, slow tugs, using his thumb to spread precome from the head of Bucky’s cock to ease the glide.
Bucky breaks the kiss and moans again, panting against Clint’s mouth. “Not gonna last, Clint.”
“‘s fine,” Clint slurs against the corner of Bucky’s mouth, thinking of how just a few minutes before, Bucky had backed him up against the door and sucked him off so fast and hard that his knees shook when his orgasm hit like a truck.
Clint’s cock twitches at the memory and he speeds up his movements, making Bucky arch up against him. Clint reaches around with his other hand to palm at Bucky’s ass and gently presses his fingers against Bucky’s balls before jerking his cock again in slick, hot slides.
Bucky comes all over Clint’s hand with a choked-off sound, arching off the wall and twisting his fingers in Clint’s shirt as Clint slows his speed through the aftershakes.
Clint leans in to kiss Bucky, slow and sweet, and when Bucky blinks up at him, it feels like the beginning of forever.