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I alternate treading water and deadman’s float

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“Look, all I’m saying is that we don’t know much about each other,” Stark grouses at the next ‘team dinner.’ How he got everyone here is a mystery to Clint. He let Natasha drag him, but only because he’s tired of people he’s known for years flinching when they see him.

(And, honestly, he could’ve brought down the damn thing anytime. It’d’ve been fucking easy. The fact that it took alien mind-control to make him do it should mean something.)

“You’ve hacked all our files,” Natasha says mildly.

“Well, yeah.” Stark doesn’t even sound ashamed. Of course he’s not.

“So, you wanna play Truth or Dare?” Banner asks. He looks completely unruffled. “Or Never Have I Ever?”

Clint snorts. Rogers glances from him to Stark’s shit-eating grin, but before he can say something, Thor drains his beer and slams the bottle down. “What are these games?” he demands.

Stark’s grin widens before he explains. Natasha rolls her eyes, but Thor seems excited and Rogers is willing.

Truth or dare with superheroes (geniuses and science experiments and a monster and a god and a self-destructing drunk and the Black Widow) who saved the world. What could go wrong?

“Truth or dare, Brucie?” Stark asks Banner, pushing another glass of lemonade towards him.

Banner grins at him, wrapping his fingers loosely around the glass. “Truth, I think,” he murmurs.

Stark pouts at him for a moment, but Banner just raises a brow. Stark makes a show of coming up with a question, and finally asks, “Do you like red or purple more?”

Banner blinks at him, then glances around at the rest of them, like he’s verifying what he heard. “Purple,” he answers, taking a sip of his lemonade. “Thor, truth or dare?”

“I shall do a dare,” Thor announces, shoulders back and chest puffed up.

Stark perked up. “Ooh, pick me!” he begs Banner. “I know what to make him do!”

Banner ignores him, head tilted, studying Thor. He looks over at Stark for a long moment, considering something, and then he says, “I dare you to create and use a facebook account.”

“What is this facebook account?” Thor asks while Stark facepalms.

“Don’t worry,” Natasha says. “Stark’ll be glad to help.”

The game pauses while Stark grabs one of his StarkPads and gives Thor a crash-course on the internet and social networking. Thor picks it up surprisingly quickly – or not, Clint realizes, remembering who the guy’s brother is.

Rogers watches avidly. Clint figures he’ll have one of his own soon enough.

“Now I choose someone for a truth or dare?” Thor asks. Banner nods and Thor beams at Rogers. “Captain! Truth or dare?”

Rogers smiles and firmly says, “Truth.”

Stark scoffs and mutters, “No one’s playing right.”

“Tell us about the first time you lay with a woman!” Thor says.

“… never mind,” Stark corrects himself.

Rogers opens his mouth, closes it, hesitates, then admits, “I’ve never been with a woman.” He holds his head high, braced for something – Stark’s reaction, Clint figures, glancing over.

And, yep, he has an unholy grin on his face, but before he says anything, Banner nudges him, shaking his head.

Stark pouts again, but says, “Well, we’ll have to fix that, won’t we, Cap? Your turn.”

Rogers glances at Natasha, then Clint. “Agent Ro-Natasha,” he says, “truth or dare?”

“Dare,” she replies, with a raised eyebrow.

Rogers thinks for a few moments, eyes on Natasha’s face, before saying, “I dare you to show us the most successful move you have.”

Natasha raises her other eyebrow, giving Clint a quick look. He nods.

Rogers probably has no idea what he just asked, but Stark does, if his delighted expression is anything to by.

Clint doesn’t move as Natasha stands, slinks over to him, slides into his lap, and straddles him. Rogers is probably blushing, but Clint keeps his gaze on Natasha. She’s smirking, of course, even as she leans in to nip at his lips. She’s still the best he ever had. (He wonders what Phil – Coulson – would have tasted like, had he ever worked up the guts to make a move.)

Clint checks back in as Natasha rolls off him. None of their ‘team’ say anything as she goes back to her chair and sprawls all over it.

“Clint,” she says. “Truth or dare?”


“What’s the trickiest shot you’ve ever made?”

She’s going easy on him. He must be more out of it than he thought. Or she’s honestly curious. Most likely, some combination of the two. He takes the time to consider all the shots he’s made in the past year. Then he goes back further, all the way to the circus, before disregarding them all.

He focuses on Natasha and answers, “I once used a piece of tape and a toothpick to set off a fire-alarm fifty-three feet away. I was eight.”

It’s not a lie. There’s more to the story, of course, but everyone looks so impressed, he doesn’t want to spoil it.

He turns to Stark, knowing Stark’ll pick dare, and he doesn’t feel like coming up with something both clever and embarrassing. He’s tired.

“Stark, truth or dare?”

“Dare,” Stark says challengingly. It almost makes Clint want to meet the challenge.

Almost. “I dare you to strip and give Nat a lap dance.”

Stark actually freezes for a moment, panic on his face, before he smoothes it away and leers at Natasha.

She sits there stoically while they all know she could kill them, and Stark strips and gives the worst lap dance Clint has ever seen.

He does smile, though. It’s actually real, and he knows that’ll take some of the bite out of her revenge.

The game ends after Stark pulls his clothes back on. Stark and Banner head upstairs to their rooms (singular? shared? Clint isn’t sure yet), and Thor just heads back to the kitchen for more food. He must be staying at Stark’s tower, then. Rogers accompanies them downstairs before waving and walking away. He has an apartment somewhere, Clint knows. (Phil had known the address and coordinates, Clint bets. No – Coulson had known. He was never Phil, not to Clint. Clint hadn’t earned it.)

“Wanna go back?” Natasha asks.

“No,” he says.

She nods and tucks herself under his arm so they can wander invisibly, just another couple out for a twilight stroll, as the city heals.

Another mask, another lie, in a lifetime full of them. A team of the greatest people in the world, and Clint Barton on it. With geniuses and science experiments and a monster and a god and a self-destructing drunk and Tasha.

What could possibly go wrong?

(He should tell someone about the dreams, and the voice, and the promises.)

Nat giggles, and he presses a kiss to her hair, and it’s all an act, their walk through the city they helped save.

(In a few hours, Clint will be alone in a bed in a barren room on the floating fortress he nearly brought down. He’ll be dreaming of a captive god giving him orders – and he’ll wake up quietly, almost ready to obey.

He’ll know he should tell someone.

He won’t.)