Bucky found himself sitting with Clint about a month after he and Steve finally told the whole team that they were dating. Like Bucky had expected, Clint had just laughed at him and pushed his shoulder, responding that, yeah, he'd known what was going to happen before it had. Bucky's friendship with Clint had been cemented a little more firmly after that. Firmly enough that he felt comfortable sitting alone on the couch with just Clint, watching terrible movies and eating pizza. It was the first time he'd felt normal with someone that wasn't Steve. He was happy.
After Clint had finished his third piece of grease and pepperoni and cheese, he wiped his fingers off on his jeans and glanced at Bucky from the corner of his eye. Bucky had finished eating before he had, stopping after only two pieces. They had something playing on the TV-- Clint wasn't sure what it was, but he had the thought that it might have been 'Dude, Where's My Car' and he was glad that neither of them had been paying full attention to it. Talk about stupid movies.
"Where's Steve?" Clint finally asked, reaching for the beer he had sitting on the table. Not using a coaster-- Tony would probably throw a fit about it. The thought made Clint smirk. He loved pissing Tony off.
"In Tony's lab, working on something for the shield, I think. I can't be in there for too long without wanting to punch Tony in the face, so I figured I'd come talk to you instead," Bucky explained with a sheepish smile, and Clint laughed. He could accept that as a reason.
"Alright, that makes sense. I'm flattered that you want to gift me with your presence."
"Well, I figure you needed something good in your boring day," Bucky shot back, and they both laughed. Clint was glad to hear it from Bucky. The soldier didn't laugh that much.
He hadn't expected the out-of-the-blue friendship anymore than Bucky had, he was sure. He was glad for it. It was a welcome distraction. It was probably good for Bucky, too, so Bucky was actually friends with someone other than Steve. They got along fairly well. Bucky helped Clint with his fighting. Clint helped Bucky learn sign language. They had similar tastes in music and movies, and they were both sarcastic. Clint enjoyed the newfound friendship, and was glad that Bucky was willing to overlook his obvious setbacks as far as conversation went. But he had his hearing aids in right then, so Bucky's slowly-getting-better sign language wouldn't be needed.
"Actually," Bucky began, and then hesitated again. He glanced up to make sure that Clint was watching him, and then slowly started to sign. Some of it was a little flawed, but Clint managed to make out something along the lines of, 'can I ask you a personal question?' He didn't know why Bucky felt the need to sign that instead of just ask, but his curiosity had spiked a little. Now he wanted to know.
"Sounds dangerous. Ask away," Clint responded with a vague motion of his hand, taking a long drink from his beer.
He ended up being extremely grateful that Bucky waited until he'd swallowed the liquid in his mouth before he asked his question.
"Can you tell me about the boy you met in Sokovia?"
Clint's heart dropped. He'd only talked to one person about any of this, and that was Wanda, and that was /different/. He didn't like thinking about it. Didn't like feeling it. Honestly, it was pathetic. He'd barely known the guy. But he /knew/ what he felt. He'd felt the same for Natasha when they first met, before he realized Natasha would never love him like that. It was love, he'd loved the young man, had fallen in love so hard and fast, it left him dizzy and spinning. And then it had been pulled away so quickly that he was sure whatever was left of his heart remained in the ruins of Sokovia, miles and miles away. So he didn't want to talk about this, didn't even want to think about it.
"Why do you want to know?" Clint hedged carefully, focusing his eyes on the images on the high-def TV in front of them. He ran his thumb along the rim of the beer can to give himself some sort of distraction from the way he suddenly felt anxious and ready to run.
"You know everything about me and Steve. You don't have to tell me... I guess I was just curious. I forgot what it felt like to feel curious about anyone but myself," Bucky explained bluntly, and Clint laughed humorlessly. Now that Bucky was getting his own memories back, it only made sense that he'd want to know more about everyone else, too.
"I... I can tell you, but I need something a lot stronger than this." Clint tilted his beer can to prove a point, pushing himself up from the couch. He shuffled off into the kitchen to dig through the cabinets until he found the hard liquor that Tony kept stored in the back of one of the cupboards. He poured himself a glass and downed it in one go before pouring himself another. It burned and it hit pretty damn quick, but he didn't mind. He probably needed it, honestly. Returning to the living room, he dropped back onto the couch with both the bottle and the glass in his hand. "What did you want to know?"
"Everything you're willing to tell me."
That left it fairly open, so Clint just closed his eyes and let himself remember what had happened in Sokovia. He let himself remember Pietro Maximoff, despite whatever pain it caused him. He'd hated the damn kid as much as he'd loved him, and the thought brought a half smile to his face. "Ah... I wish I could say it was love at first sight, but that would be a lie. I wanted to put a fucking arrow in the kid, the pain in my ass. He had more sass than he had any right to have."
"Sounds like your kinda guy," Bucky prompted quietly, nudging Clint with one hand, and Clint smiled faintly.
"I didn't see him at first, not really. He was quick as hell. A speedster. He ran too fast to see. But he had this habit of liking to attack me and then sort of scoffing at me, asking, 'What? You didn't see that coming?' And god, I hated it. He made fun of my age, but I mean, he was like.. thirteen, so it was fair." At the look on Bucky's face, Clint laughed, shaking his head. "He was twenty-two. Wanda's twin brother, actually."
Bucky's face fell as he put the pieces together. "Pietro. That's why you're so protective of her?"
"Part of it, yeah. I mean, when I finally saw him... The kid was beautiful, alright? He had a shitty dye job, his hair was so terribly bleached blonde that it looked fried, but his eyes were electric blue. He had a smile that was bordering on a smirk, cocky and arrogant and sweet and both angelic and devilish at the same time. I don't know how he managed it. And it wasn't just that... It was so much more. Something in me just... knew, I think. That I had to fall in love with him, right then. Because it would cause me bigger heartbreak than I'd ever known. He died trying to save me, you know."
"Steve didn't tell me that part," Bucky answered softly, and Clint shrugged, trying to fight the images in his mind.
He didn't want to picture the way Pietro had looked when he fell. That ghost of a smile still on his face. Those blue eyes electric and giddy with excitement and fear and determination. He didn't want to remember carrying the boy's body away, falling asleep with his arm draped over Pietro's chest as if that would bring him back. He didn't want to. But he saw it all, felt it all, remembered it all as fresh as if it had just happened the day before. Clint took another huge drink from his glass.
"I don't like to think about that part. I like to think about the way I'm sure he'd be if he was here now. Probably still a pain in my ass, you know? He'd talk too much. I'd want to put an arrow in him as much now as I did then. But, I think he'd smile and it'd melt away. It was the way he smiled. Like he knew that he was pissing people off and he enjoyed every second of it and he /still/ somehow seemed so innocent. It was fucking infuriating. And... cuter than I want to admit. He made me laugh. He kept me on my toes. And that was worth how much he made me want to slap him."
"You... Do you think he was your soulmate?"
Clint didn't have a real answer to that. Because he didn't know if he believed in the concept of soulmates. It was too much to hope there was someone out there who's soul was made to be with his. "Soulmate? I don't know. Maybe he was. Maybe he wasn't, it doesn't matter. I fell in love with the kid. Faster and harder than I had any right to fall. It was selfish of me to love him so quickly, so shamelessly. It was only ever going to get someone hurt. And in the end, he died. Threw himself between me and a damn machine gun to save my life. Wish I could ask him why. His life was worth more than mine."
"Well, he probably didn't think so. Which makes me think he probably felt the same way." Clint looked at Bucky in shock, tilting his head for an explanation, to which the soldier just shrugged. "It's like me and Steve. I'd take a bullet for him because I think he's worth more than me. He'd do the same for me, because he thinks exactly the opposite. You don't take a bullet if you don't care-- Pietro cared. And I think you should give the thought of soulmates a little more time. Process it."
"Because it's hopeful. I've died... as far as everyone's concerned. I've died. I don't doubt that Steve's my soulmate. But, to the world? He's died, too. And, somehow... We're together /now/. Sometimes... maybe you have to die for your soul to live. And if he is your soulmate? He'll find his way back to you. No matter what happened."
It was hopeful. Ridiculously so. Clint smiled and clapped Bucky on the shoulder, signifying the end of the conversation. He wanted to believe that, too. He wasn't going to think about it too much, it would be too hopeful and would just hurt him too much. But he did allow himself one errant thought on the subject before he returned to the movie.
'If you're coming back to me, you quick son of a bitch, I sure wish you'd hurry up. Trust you to be late. And you know what, if you come back? That's one thing I'll /never/ see coming."