This chapter is for KattyRosie, since she has stress and I love her. ❤
Natasha may be the best in the world at getting information, but there were some details that Clint just didn’t want to share. Some that were just too precious. And nothing Tasha could do to him would pry those details from his lips.
Clint had been spending nearly every single day at Tony’s house. He hadn’t been scheduled for any missions that had taken him out of the general vicinity, so every day that he could, as soon as he got out of work, he would head straight to Tony’s. The days and nights he couldn’t be with Tony, they talked on the phone. Generally it was just texting, so that Clint could keep a low profile from whatever surveillance job he was on, but it was still nice to be in contact. More than nice. Every day, he was falling for Tony more and more, and somehow, it didn’t scare him. For the first time in a long time, Clint felt as though opening up to someone, letting his emotions take control, was okay. And this was Tony. If there was anyone he could trust with his feelings ….it was Tony. That would probably seem strange to anyone else. The Tony Stark most people knew was loud and sarcastic, always joking, never serious, not at all the type of person anyone would trust with such strong emotions. Yet right from the beginning, Tony had let Clint in and showed him another side…..the real side. Clint thought he was among what was probably the very few who knew the real Tony Stark. He felt incredibly privileged, and he knew that he could trust Tony with his feelings……with his heart.
The thought sent a little flutter through him and he shook his head. Sappy. But it was true. Still, he dreaded to imagine the kind of look Tasha would have given him had she been privy to his thoughts. Tasha….
Tasha had left on a mission almost immediately after that infamous meeting. Clint flushed as he thought of that day, Coulson’s reaction when he caught the two men kissing on the table. Tasha……Tasha had seemed more amused than anything, almost smug for some reason. Still, in a way, Clint was glad she had left just after the meeting. Normally he and Nat talked about everything, but his relationship with Tony was still so fresh, so new. It was precious to him, and he wanted to cradle it close, to shield it from the inevitable heavy judgments he knew would fall upon it……Tasha’s included.
Still, he would have to discuss it with her sooner or later…..more likely sooner. She was due to return today. He had plans with Tony that afternoon, but it was likely that Nat would reach the office before Clint got off duty, and there wasn’t a chance she would let him escape without getting every dirty detail.
….well…..every detail she could manage to squeeze out of him. Natasha may be the best in the world at getting information, but there were some details that Clint just didn’t want to share. Some that were just too precious. And nothing Tasha could do to him would pry those details from his lips.
Without even realizing it, almost an hour had gone by. That tended to happen when Clint’s thoughts strayed to Tony. On the other hand, when Clint was actually talking to Tony, texting while at work, it took at least twice as long to finish his work. Tony could be extremely distracting. But right now, the thoughts had managed to distract Clint just enough to make the time speed by. He was down to the last few sentences of his report. Maybe he would escape before Natasha arrived.
A sudden hand on his shoulder stopped that train of thought. “Hey, Barton.” That silky voice could only belong to one person.
That trim figure came into view, all smooth lines and dangerous curves. She spun a chair around and straddled it, sitting right next to Clint. As expected from Natasha, she got right to the point. “So…..Stark.”
“Mm?” Clint remained focused on his computer screen. Just because he had to have this talk with Natasha didn’t mean he had to make it easy for her.
Even without looking at Tasha, Clint could sense her emotion, could somehow feel her rolling her eyes at him. “Be difficult all you want, Clint, we’re having this discussion whether you like it or not.”
“Fine.” Only a few more sentences. Then I can escape. “What do you want to know.” His voice was terse.
“We went to the gala.”
“I know that part. Why did you go, that’s the first question.”
“I don’t know. We’ve been talking for a while…..texting.”
Again, he could sense Tasha’s emotions, the surprise radiating from her. “Really?” He didn’t answer aloud, simply nodded. “What’s ‘a while’? How long? How much?”
Clint had to stop and think about it. He had never really noticed when it started, or how often they spoke, but now that he really took the time to think about it…. “……every day, I guess.”
Tasha still looked surprised, but a tiny smile quirked the corners of her lips. It was small enough that no one else would notice it, but Clint had known her long enough, and well enough, that he knew every single bit of her personality, every tiny thing. “Okay. Go on. The gala?”
Clint shifted uncomfortably. “….well……we were talking the day before……he was being his usual whiny self.” The memory brought a small smile to his face, something that didn’t go unnoticed by Natasha. “He wanted company. I said I’d come over the next day, bring ‘dinner and a movie’, aka pizza and a rental. But I decided to take him to the gala.” He prayed Tasha wouldn’t ask him what made him decide that; he still didn’t know himself why. He had just thought it would make Tony happy, and that feeling was still way too touchy-feely to talk about with anyone….even Natasha.
“…..and?” she prompted.
“…..and we went to the gala. And drank a lot. And he flirted a lot. And I realized that it wasn’t just flirting, that he’s actually interested in me. And…..” Here Clint broke off and looked away, flushing.
Clint stared at his hands in his lap. “……..he told me he loved me.”
The air of surprise in the room was palpable. Clint’s face was burning….not so much with embarrassment at telling Tasha, but with memories of that moment. Sitting with Tony in the rafters, the look on the man’s face, his own cheeks flushed as he bared his soul to Clint with those three words, so simple in sound but so deep in meaning. I love you.
Tasha didn’t interrupt his thoughts, didn’t prompt him, so there were several moments of silence before Clint remembered where he was…that he wasn’t there at the gala, that he was sitting at SHIELD, his best friend beside him, patiently waiting for the rest of the story. He cleared his throat.
“Uh….and then we went home and…uh….”
“Yeah, you can skip the details, Barton.” Tasha was grinning. “I saw the hickies, and the making out. I know the two of you made sweet, sweet love.”
Clint flushed scarlet. “Shut up.”
Tasha’s grin grew. “Why Clint Barton, are you blushing?”
“Shut the fuck up.”
“We talk about sex all the time; you NEVER blush.”
“Natasha, I’m serious. Shut the fuck up.”
“Oooh, using full names, huh?”
“You used mine first.”
“Good point.” She took pity on him and stopped teasing, and after several minutes Clint’s blush faded. “So….all in all, a good night, huh?”
Clint nodded. “Yeah…..an amazing night.”
Natasha smiled. “That’s great.”
“Yeah.” A companionable silence fell between them, but Clint’s mind was racing. Their conversation had brought the memories flooding back, each little detail of the night so clear and distinct in his mind…..one moment in particular. Tony’s hand brushing his cheek, fingers trailing through the hair at the nape of his neck, those soft lips brushing his own moments before speaking those three little words….
“He told me he loved me,” Clint said again.
“…I’m guessing you didn’t say it back.”
Clint felt that same wave of guilt he’d felt at the gala. He shook his head. “No.”
There was a pause, but it wasn’t judgmental. Clint knew Natasha well enough to know that she was simply taking a moment to think things through. “But….you do care for him. I mean, this wasn’t just a lay. I’ve only talked to you about it for about ten minutes and I can already see that.”
Clint nodded slowly. “Yeah.” She was right. He had already known the night of the gala that he felt something for Tony. As the night progressed, he had slowly realized that there was something there, that it had been there since the two had met, lying beneath the surface, waiting for a chance to make itself known. He still wasn’t sure exactly what it was, but it was something. It was there. And he liked it. He liked that when Tony was near, he got silly little goosebumps up and down his arms. He loved the way Tony’s smirk made him shiver. He even loved that stupid fluttery feeling he got whenever Tony said “I love you”.
Clint became aware of Natasha watching him, and realized she had said something.. “….what?”
“I asked if you two are a couple. A real couple.”
The question sent a weird feeling through Clint. Were they a couple? He knew he hadn’t dated anyone since the gala. Tony…..he didn’t think Tony had. Tony was in love with him. Tony wouldn’t date anyone else. Right? The mere thought sent a hot spike of jealousy stabbing through Clint’s chest. He didn’t want anyone else with Tony. Not ever. Tony was his. But did Tony know that? Know that Clint wanted that? He shoved back his chair with a screech, rising to his feet.
“I have to go.”
“Totally okay. More than okay.” In fact, if it hadn’t been for this talk with Natasha, Clint would probably never have thought to even ask Tony the couple question. He leaned down and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Thanks, Nat.”
She smiled up at him. “Go get him, tiger.”
Tony opened the door on the third knock. He looked ridiculously happy to see Clint. He always did. It was the biggest ego-boost possible, having someone look that pleased to see you.
“Hi.” Clint held up a bag. “I brought Chinese.”
Tony laughed. “You read my mind.” It was only then that Clint noticed the grease stains covering Tony’s shirt and jeans. “I’ve been working all day. Chinese sounds just perfect.”
For some reason, those words made Clint feel spectacularly pleased, as though it was he himself who had cooked the meal they were about to indulge in.
“Here….” Tony shut the door behind them. “I’m gonna go change into something clean. You go get comfy.”
Tony vanished down the hallway towards his bedroom. Clint watched him go, stomach flip-flopping with more than just hunger. He knew he had to ask Tony the couple question, that he needed the answer, but he was so nervous about it. Shaking his head, he moved to the living room, beginning to unpack the cartons of food.
Tony joined him moments later. “Wow.” He surveyed the food spread out on the coffee table. “Quite a banquet you’ve got here.”
“Got a little bit of everything.”
“You’re super good at that.”
“I try to be.”
“Hnn.” Tony flopped onto the couch beside Clint, their knees knocking together, thighs brushing. They were always touching like this, barely ever apart. Clint had grown accustomed to Tony’s closeness, come to love it.
Tony dug right into a container of Kung Po chicken. Clint stared into the container of lo mein in his lap, searching for the courage to ask the question he desperately wanted to ask.
“So…..” He tried for nonchalance as he fiddled with his chopsticks. “….we’re a real couple…….right?”
Tony paused, regarding Clint silently for a moment. “I don’t know.” Clint’s heart skipped a beat, terrified, but Tony wasn’t finished yet. “….do you want to be?”
“Yes.” The answer was immediate. So immediate that Clint blushed. But it was clear from the look on Tony’s face that he wasn’t being judged for it. No. Tony looked like he could burst from happiness. Clint found Tony leaning in, hands cupping Clint’s face, and then he was being kissed, soft and deep, pulling away far too soon for Clint’s liking, smiling. Still, Clint found himself having to clarify.
“So we’re official now?” he asked.
Tony smiled, running a hand through Clint’s hair, down his cheek. “As official as you can get.”
Clint returned the smile. “You’re my boyfriend,” he said, his tone extremely pleased. Coulson had called Tony his boyfriend, but neither he nor Tony had ever spoken the words. It felt so good to know for certain what they were.
Tony laughed. “I am. Your very official boyfriend.”
Clint gave Tony another kiss. He had thought his heart would stop pounding once he had his answer, but it was still going a mile a minute. Tony seemed to hear it, for he placed his hand on Clint’s chest, right over the racing heartbeat. “So fast,” he murmured.
Clint nodded. “Was nervous,” he admitted.
Brown eyes flicked their gaze up to Clint. “Why nervous?”
Clint shrugged. “Wasn’t sure what you’d say.”
“….about us being a couple?”
“……Clint….” Tony looked as though he were struggling to hold back, to find the right words. “….you gorgeous, wonderful idiot.”
“Hey!” Clint was indignant.
“No, no you don’t get to talk. How could you ever think I would say no to you? I’m in love with you, you moron!”
Clint looked at Tony, who simply stared back at him. “…….shut up.”
Tony laughed. “No.” He leaned in for another kiss, smile on his face as he murmured “Dork.”
“Are. Now shut up and let me kiss you.”
“What about dinner?”
“Mm…” Tony trailed kisses along Clint’s jawline, nipping his earlobe, eliciting a soft gasp from Clint. “….it can wait.”
And as Tony’s hands trailed over his chest, one slipping beneath his shirt, Clint was very much forced to agree…..some things were more important than dinner.
They ate later that night, reheating the Chinese in the microwave. Tony sat on the counter as they waited, wearing nothing but his boxer briefs and a t-shirt….Clint’s t-shirt. It was slightly too big for him, slipping so one collarbone was exposed, and Clint couldn’t help but be distracted by just how very good he looked in it. The Chinese tasted even better than it had earlier that afternoon, though that might’ve had something to do with the way circumstances had changed since then. And as they ate together in the dim light of evening, Clint could only think again and again that, out of everything he’d ever had in his whole entire life, his boyfriend was definitely the best.