Clint choked on his own blood. He was hiding, alone, in the catacombs under what was left of Avengers HQ. He was hoping—vaguely, desperately—that an Avenger would find him before the weird space dog things showed back up to finish the job. Before they came back to take the Gauntlet from him.
He wouldn’t be able to stop them.
He wasn’t going to last long and he knew it. He was so injured that he was delusional, clearly. He could have sworn he’d heard Nat’s voice just a second ago. But he couldn’t have.
Because Nat was dead.
Because she’d sacrificed herself for him more effectively than he’d been able to sacrifice himself for her. He struggled not to sob. He was much too perforated for sobbing; it would only kill him faster and he needed—he needed—
“I’m so sorry, Clint,” Nat repeated more forcefully this time. She knelt in front of him, looking just like he’d last seen her, only glowing faintly orange around the edges. “I’m sorry my selfishness hurt you. I just couldn’t watch you die, Clint.” She laid a hand over his as he clutched the Gauntlet to his chest. “I still can’t,” and her glow intensified.
“Ah, hell, kid.” Bucky Barnes knelt inside of Nat—no, he knelt through her like he couldn’t even see her.
Like she wasn’t really there.
Barnes stared at him for a moment before he clapped him on the shoulder. “You rest, alright? I’ll take care of this.” He reached for the Gauntlet and Clint felt the weight of it shift.
And everything went orange.
He woke with the familiar but foreign sensations of sex riding his body. The good kind of tired, scratches on his shoulders. A thoroughly wet crotch-el region and a spent condom on his cock.
A spent condom?
He chuckled to himself. He hadn’t used a condom in, what, almost fifteen years? Hadn’t had sex in at least five when Hulk had managed the Avengers’ Snap. He’d been too busy murdering his way across six continents because those assholes did not deserve to live while his kids—he didn’t want to think about it.
At least Nat had sent him to a good memory when he died, he chuckled to himself again. A nice dream. He could feel the sheets at his back and smell the Danube through the open window. Ah, Budapest. 2009. Before everything went to shit.
“What has you so amused, my little pigeon?” Natasha purred in Russian in his ear. Her hungry hands roved his body, claiming every inch of him like no other lover ever had, before or after her.
“I’m not a fucking pigeon,” he muttered right back to her.
She hummed and threw a leg over. That was new, he opened his eyes to get a good look at her as she settled on top of him. She had her murder face on. She used a handle made of his hair to pull his head back and forced her arm up against his windpipe.
“Who are you?” She snarled. “And how did you replace Clint Baron?”
“I am Clint Barton.”
“Clint Barton does not speak Russian,” she argued. Which was not strictly accurate, he’d started learning it after he’d brought her in but hadn’t revealed his progress to her until…2010? 2011? It was almost amusing that Dream!Nat didn’t know. Probably that verisimilitude that Nat was always so fond of. “And your scars are wrong.”
“That’s because you sent me back in time, you asshole.”
“What?” she demanded.
“2023, you and me. We time-traveled to 2014 and went to a planet called Vormir to get the Soul Stone, remember that? We had almost no intelligence other than the fact that two had gone to get it the previous time and only one had come back but we’re stone cold bad asses, right? We thought we could take it and come back together when even the Mad Titan and his Favorite Daughter failed.
“We were wrong.”
Nat’s grip on his hair loosened as she stared at him in horrified fear. “What?” she repeated.
“Like you don’t fucking know,” he sat up, forcing her retreat back onto his thighs. He was so furious he had to physically sit on his own hands or he was going to do something he’d regret. And he had enough regrets. But why wouldn’t she stop faking? “We got the Stones. The Avengers got the Stones, Stark made a Gauntlet. We put it all together, Hulk Snapped everybody back. I get a call from my wife for the first time in five fucking years and I didn’t even get to answer the phone before everything went to shit. Again.”
He looked down and, yup, there they are, the cuts the spacedogs had left on his body. They looked old and healed. A little blurry on his left because that dog had dug down into his ribs more, trying to get to his heart. On the right, they just emphasized his ribs like a fucking Hollywood prosthetic rather than the painful burning, drowning death they had promised him.
“You gave me hope when I told you not to.”
“Clint,” Nat’s hands were in his hair again but gently this time, comforting. “It is the year 2009. 2023 is fourteen years away. The Avengers are an idea known only to Deputy Director Fury and a select few others. The only Stark worth knowing is an alcoholic that fucks more than he sleeps.”
“Hey, don’t be an asshole to Tony,” he glared at her. “He’s a good guy.”
“You don’t know Tony Stark, Clint, you’ve never met him.”
He frowned up at her. She was saying…more than she was saying. “We’re in Budapest.”
“No, we’re really in Budapest? This isn’t a…dream? I’m alive? This is 2009.”
“Yes, this is 2009. I don’t know what you Saw but yes.”
“And if I look out the south window in the kitchen, I’ll see Brock Rumlow—that Hydra bastard—staking-out our apartment despite the fact that this is supposed to be a SHIELD-free vacation. A show of trust—of SHIELD, in you.”
She blinked. It was the closest 2009!Natasha could have gotten to wide, startled eyes outside of a con.
He sighed. It had taken her years to realize that just because he didn’t say anything, didn’t mean he didn’t see anything. He’d forgotten how annoying it had been back when she had always just assumed she was better at the spy game than he was.
“You—Other You sent me back in time,” he realized. He let himself crash back onto the mattress under the weight of that realization. 2023!Natasha had done it and made him keep his scars so he’d know he hadn’t gone crazy or shrug it all off as some wild dream or something. “What the fuck, Natasha,” he said to a woman that was not actually in the room.
2009!Natasha was kind enough to pull of his condom, tie it, and drop it on the floor before she curled up on his chest in an effort to comfort him.
“What’s this?” she ran her hand over the scar low on his right side.
“Took fire from a Hydra cannon. Novi Grad, Sokovia, 2015.”
“Went through a plate glass window during the Chitauri Invasion. New York City, USA, 2012.”
He smirked. “Budapest, Hungary, 2009. Brock Rumlow got ambushed by some bully boys and we jumped in to help him. There were a lot of bully boys.”
She picked her head up off his chest. “Was it staged? To draw us out?”
“I don’t know,” he huffed. “We never got a good answer out of him but he won our trust anyway,” which was crazy, looking back on it.
“We should flip the tables on him,” he told her. “Observe him, figure out what the fuck he thinks he’s doing.”
“Whether it is for SHIELD or for Hydra?”
“Your wife?” she asked softly.
“I’ve already lost her once. Twice, I guess. And I haven’t even met her yet,” he blew out a breath. “I can’t do that again.”
Nat put her head back down on his chest and was quiet for a while.
When his tears started, so did her humming.
Bucky shook his head. He was on all fours on a metal grate-covered floor. His eyes were blurry and he couldn’t make them focus. That, combined with the burning cold in his blood screamed cryo-stasis to him—but how had he gotten into cryostasis?
Unless it was all a dream.
He should have known it was all a dream, living in Wakanda, not having to fear the Words. A dream that his life could mean something. A dream that he and his skills could make a difference.
A dream that something like him could save the world.
He looked down at himself, taking stock, making sure they hadn’t taken any more parts from him while he was dreaming.
…His arm was wrong.
It was a dark silver metal, not shining silver metal. Gold details. Hydra would never waste gold on him. Only Wakanda would not see putting gold on a weapon as a waste. And his stump, the plating Hydra had used to connect his arm was gone, replaced with a simple port for interchanging arms.
The scars that had been revealed under Hydra’s plating were still transformed into tribal sun patterns, something one of the Elders of the Border Tribe had done for him.
So, it wasn’t a dream.
If he had the princess’s arm, then she had freed him from the Words…so how was he back in Hydra’s hands?
Time travel, he almost cursed at himself. The princess and that Strange guy had discussed theories of time travel in the Orange Place, inside the Soul Stone…and he’d held the Gauntlet. Could he have…could he have time travelled himself? Without a snap? On the suggestion of a memory?
Did that make him incredibly weak? Or stronger than he’d ever imagined? And where was the Gauntlet now?
A deep voice started reading The Words. A very familiar voice, Karpov.
Bucky knew better than to respond at this point. If he responded to the words before the first wipe, it would trigger a Level Two wipe. He wasn’t sure even Shuri’s handiwork could survive a Level Two wipe.
Level One, however, he thought bitterly as two goons picked him up and dumped him in The Chair. Level One was old hat. Practically an old, familiar friend.
He let them shove the bit between his teeth and took several deep breaths as the mask descended over his face. He could take this and he would. Then, he’d bust out, kill them all, and save the world.
One way or another.
Clint wiped the steam off of the bathroom mirror and stared at himself. He was younger, looked younger than he could remember looking and standing there, alone except for his reflection, he gave himself permission to think about his kids. It was weakness but…
Cooper was alive. Laura might even still be with Coop’s biological father at this point.
But Clint wasn’t going to take a break a few missions after this vacation because he knew how Nat worked now and she wasn’t going to break his heart again. He wasn’t going to go to that bar in Iowa again because he wasn’t going to have time for it while taking down Hydra. He wasn’t going to get drunk and knock Laura up again because he couldn’t afford such an indulgence. He would probably never go there again so Lila would never be born.
Or maybe she would.
Maybe Laura would get back with…Jack? Jake. Yeah, Jake. Maybe she’d get back with Jake and they’d have a Lila. Not his Lila, but a Lila. Maybe Jake wouldn’t be gone as much as Clint had been. Maybe they’d be happier. Maybe their lives would be more stable without him there, ruining it all with his superhero addiction.
Maybe he didn’t want to think about it.
“Hey, Nat,” he left the bathroom and she was there, exactly where he’d left her, carefully ignoring him in that way that screamed her concern for him. She might be named for a spider but she was a fucking cat through and though.
She focused on him as he moved into her space.
“Think you can fuck me?”
She considered that. “I did not bring the harness. But…we have options. Get on the bed, on your hands and knees.”
He dropped his towel and did as ordered. There were only two people he’d ever enjoyed taking orders from in this way, probably because he’d stopped adding names to his list after he’d married the third one. So, the fact that Nat was willing to be the boss of him now was a relief.
“Up,” she ordered and he felt some of the tension in his shoulders flee. “Further up, grab the headboard. And do not let go.”
She scratched her nails down his back in a lazy patternless sting and he shivered as he got hard. It was practically a Pavlovian response. Nat’s nails plus his back equaled an erection. Every. Time.
She kept it up as she slid up the bed and in between his legs. It was starting to hurt but he liked it.
She smacked his ass as she got comfortable behind him. She smacked him again on the other side when he groaned in pleasure. She started alternating sides and strengths of her open-handed spankings until he dropped his head in submission.
He tried not to hold his breath as her slim fingers slid down his cleft and spread him wide. Surely, she wasn’t going to…was she?
She was, and only his death grip on the brass pipettes of the headboard kept him in position as she swiped her tongue over his hole. Then she did it again.
He hadn’t been eaten out in longer than he could remember. Oh, he thought he remembered Nat doing to him just a few days ago but the memories from his time in Budapest were so distant he couldn’t be sure. Laura had never done it for him, that he was sure of.
He pushed all thought of The Life That Would Not Be aside and was rewarded with the sound of the lube opening.
“I’ve never wanted to be a man,” Natasha said as a slim finger took the place of her tongue in his ass. “But you make me wish I had a cock. You feel so good around my fingers.” She alternated between smacking his ass and tagging his prostate. He let himself fall apart.
“Clint,” she called his attention an eternity later. When she’d draped herself over his back, he had no clue. “Clint,” she called again.
He obeyed with a shout.
Bucky huffed and puffed as the mask retracted from his face but he forced himself to still as soon as he could. Moment of truth time, had it all been a dream or not.
“Желание. Ржавый. Семнадцать. Рассвет. Печь. Девять. Добросердечный. Возвращение на Родину. Один. Товарный вагон.”
The Words didn’t work, he thought elated. He said what they expected anyway because he didn’t even have to think about, he knew his part. He said it because if he didn’t, they’d probably kill him. He said it because he needed them to take him out of this damn bunker, preferably armed to the teeth, but it was his choice to actually say it.
“Ready to comply,” rolled off his tongue in fluent Russian.
“Asset, your mission is the retrieval of Black Widow Natasha Romanov—alive. You will be under the command of this man.” SHIELDra agent Brock Rumlow stepped up to Karpov’s side. “You will not risk death or extensive damage of yourself and you will return to this location upon completion of the mission. Understood?”
“Understood,” he confirmed.
Karpov turned to Rumlow. “He’s yours.”
“Stand,” Rumlow ordered.
He complied and took the two steps he was allowed to clear his body from contact with The Chair. This asshole just looked him over the entire time, all greed with a dash of lust and something vicious Bucky didn’t want to identify at all.
Rumlow looked over Bucky’s shoulder. “Clean it up, suit it up.”
Bucky forced himself to stand there passively as hands that weren’t his own stripped him. Getting the hose treatment in fucking Siberia was not fun but it gave him the opportunity to listen.
“Agent Rumlow,” a voice he hadn’t even remotely missed called his new handler over. Alexander Peirce was standing on the observation level, leaning on the metal railing that separated it from the about the pit The Chair inhabited. Rumlow sauntered over to Hydra’s commander-n-chief. “You understand your mission?”
“Retrieve Natasha Romanov alive for integration into the Winter Soldier Program,” Rumlow nodded. “The Widow will survive the training?”
“Her control words were implanted as a child,” Peirce confirmed. “Combined with the chair, she’ll be more reliable than any Winter Soldier that came before her.”
“Very good, sir.”
“It is.” Peirce pulled a bottle of pills out of his pocket and passed them to Rumlow. “You have eleven days. You’re expected in London in two weeks. It is imperative that former Director Carter begin showing the symptoms of dementia soon and we don’t have the time to get another Agent close enough to dose her.”
“Her work with the Security Council must be put to an end and discredited. It is vital for the survival of Hydra. By far more important than capturing a rogue Black Widow at this time but she is about to be practically alone and will never be more vulnerable, so the attempt must be made.”
Rumlow looked confused by this sentiment but nodded anyway. “I understand, sir.”
“We’ve hired mercenaries to augment your team.” Peirce handed Rumlow something. “This is how you will contact them. I’ve made a Quinjet available to your use. Sitwell is covering the paperwork angle, make sure you have it in London on time so you don’t blow his cover.”
“You know where you’re going?”
One tech clicked the button on the holster of his nine mil into place while another placed his favorite mini-Uzi on his back harness and the third approached Peirce and Rumlow with a clipboard. “The Asset is ready, sirs.”
At Peirce’s nod, Rumlow took the clipboard from the tech and stepped down into the pit to inspect him. It was insulting, being inspected like a horse for purchase or a field stripped rifle and Bucky promised himself in that moment that he was going to shoot Brock Rumlow in the face at the first opportunity. Rumlow checked straps all across his body for fit, pulled knives to check the sharpness. He replaced two knives, insisted on a new mask being provided, and had his ammo allotment increased by half so it wasn’t all bad.
Bucky hated it anyway.
Rumlow touched the arm and ordered Bucky to flex and move the various pieces. Not one of them noticed his arm was wrong.
The arm Shuri had made him didn’t have the exhaust ports Hydra’s arm had required, the pseudo-musculature wasn’t articulated the same, and the goddamn colors were wrong but no one noticed any of it. He wasn’t sure what to make of it but he sure as hell wasn’t going to say anything as Rumlow signed the clipboard; checking him out like a gun from an armory.
Pierce left first and Bucky was made to stand just outside the bunker doors until his Quinjet was well and truly gone.
He was the first one into the second Quinjet and got them into the air on Rumlow’s orders.
Budapest. Rumlow would die in Budapest.
Natasha leaned over him with a gentle smile, her hand didn’t stop stroking his face, “Back with me?”
“Orange juice,” she ordered him then helped him sit up to sip it.
He sighed and stretched and took the cup. He didn’t really need aftercare, they hadn’t done anything particularly challenging, but he was okay with letting her pamper him a bit so he didn’t complain.
“The plan?” she asked when he handed her back his empty cup.
“Rumlow would consider you the bigger threat so you’ll stay here. He’ll stay with you and we won’t lose track of him.”
“I’ll slip out the back, hit our stashes for surveillance equipment and weapons.” He should only have to hit three, maybe four secured drops for cameras, bugs, and guns. Four stops, he decided. Unless he was very much mistaken, he had the first-generation prototype of Stark’s Bluetooth-enabled bow and multi-head quiver in one of them. It would be his first stop. That damn thing had gotten him through an alien invasion and a fuckload besides, he definitely wanted it for going head to head with Hydra.
It wasn’t like they were taking on the Winter Soldier or anything, but still.
“You’ll shower before you leave,” she ordered. “And wear a jacket over your hoodie. And a cap.”
Clint rolled his eyes. “Okay, Nat.”
She huffed but didn’t say anything about his lip. Boundaries were still a thing they were working on and that was their agreed upon back off signal.
Still, he showered a second time; he had been covered in his own cum. And he wore a hat, hoodie, and jacket, but it was cold outside.
It took him longer than he expected to get the stuff because he was followed from their apartment. Not by Rumlow, no, he stayed with Nat like Clint expected. He was followed by a German asshole that Clint recognized. SHIELD knew he was trouble but INTERPOL hadn’t figured him out yet. He hadn’t been in the other Budapest Clint had lived through. Not that he could recall, anyway.
Still, guy wasn’t dumb, and he disappeared himself when Clint stopped for lunch at a hangout that was popular with the Hungarian boys in blue.
He proceeded with more than his usual caution after that. He kept it cool but cleaned out the stashes wholesale rather than sorting through his loot and taking only what he needed. Too many questionable people were looking at him too hard, he couldn’t guarantee the security of their lockers and had no interest in setting himself up to get trapped in a future return trip.
He returned to their apartment with somewhere around a hundred thousand in cash, two forged passports for each of them, and more computer equipment than he had ever wanted to use in his life. In addition to what he actually went out for.
Nat raised an eyebrow at him when he came in through the bedroom window at full dark.
“I was tailed,” he said in answer to her silent question.
She nodded. “Should we call Fury?”
“No,” he snapped and she blinked.
“No,” he repeated gently. “Fury is…he has ideas about how things should go and they…aren’t good for the future. That definitely weren’t good in the future I lived.”
She squinted at him.
“He’s being mentored by Hydra’s Number One. Has been for over ten years. He wasn’t Hydra but…that says a lot, doesn’t it?”
She conceded that with a nod. “We can’t do this ourselves. Take on both SHIELD and Hydra? That’s more than us.”
“We’re going to go to Director Carter.” She should still be alive right? And probably still in her right mind. “Once we figure out what Rumlow’s up to and get some proof that Hydra’s still around.”
“Shit, he is alive, isn’t he?” Clint dropped the bags he was carrying. He hadn’t thought about Coulson in…god, ten years?
“He died in your other life?”
“About three years from now.” Clint had to sit down. It wasn’t his fault, not really. Plenty of SHIELD deaths had been his fault around that same time so he didn’t take that guilt for himself. It still blended in around the edges though.
“The future was fucked up beyond anything,” he told her as much as he told himself. “We’re going to fix it before Life even buys the lube.”
Natasha nodded firmly. “Rumlow, evidence, Carter.”
“Rumlow, evidence, Carter,” he agreed.
They started their official Observation of Rumlow the next morning.
They went out, looking like the happy couple out to do tourist things and promptly disappeared into the crowds. They made their separate ways back to their designated observation post in time to see Rumlow cursing, realizing he lost them.
He called his team—four guys, all SHIELD—and set them to searching.
It was hard to sit through, but they got it all on camcorder and voice recorder as those assholes Hail Hydra’d each other and split up. Rumlow stayed at their home base so Clint stayed on him with the Camcorder while Nat took the camera and voice recorder and followed Rollins, Rumlow’s second even in another life.
It didn’t take long for guys to start showing up. Like, a lot of guys. Some he could remember pulling the trigger on the last time around, some he didn’t. Some looked like local bully boys, some were clearly mercenaries.
Clint watched them all gather in ones and twos until Nat sat down beside him and offered him a box of ration bars.
The future STRIKE team had returned about ten minutes earlier so he didn’t bother with surprise when Nat dropped into the seat beside him. He just tossed her a pair of ration bars and they took turns with the binoculars as the other ate.
There were a lot of guys down there so they had to be prepared for anything.
“Trouble,” Nat announced as she passed him back the binoculars.
Clint took them and swept the area for whatever could have alarmed her. Rumlow was talking, clearly giving orders but… “Fuck, Winter Soldier spotted.”
Nat hummed her agreement and rolled off their little crate bench to start suiting up. Whatever was about to go down, she’d need to be able to do more than the civilian clothes she was currently rocking would survive.
He looked a little closer at Hydra’s prize asset. There was something…wrong about him. Not that Clint had seen him much but, “Correction, that’s Bucky Barnes, not the Winter Soldier.”
“What?” Nat demanded.
“His arm’s the wrong color,” he explained to her and didn’t fight as she snatched the binoculars back to look for herself. “Wakanda made him a new arm after they fixed his brain.” Then he realized, “That’s why Other You made me keep my scars, so he could keep his upgrades.”
“So, we have an ally down there.”
“I don’t remember him being at the other Budapest though,” he objected.
Nat just shrugged and gave the equipment back to him more politely than she’d taken it. “Perhaps he was never ordered in. Perhaps we never gave him the opportunity to reveal himself.”
He didn’t like the sound of any of that. Budapest had been intense the first time around. If Barnes’s assignment had been to kill one or both of them, there had been plenty of openings for him to do so. That he hadn’t likely meant Hydra didn’t want them dead and Clint didn’t like that. He didn’t like that at all.
“He has to be here for you, right?”
She stopped strapping on weapons and looked at him.
“I’m of no value to them. They can’t reprogram me; I couldn’t survive the chair. All they could do is kill me.”
After a moment, she shrugged. If he didn’t know her as well as he did, he wouldn’t know she was scared. As it was, he knew she was terrified.
An explosion rattled the window and gun shots started ringing out down below; they both turned back to the window to find out what the fuck happened.
Barnes was taking on all fifty fucking guys with AKs, the lunatic.
“The roof,” he ordered Nat even as he grabbed his bow and quiver and threw them over his jacket. He dialed up the right arrowhead as they ran up the stairs. The second they cleared the door, he took two shots, one at the little access building they’d just left and one at the building Barnes had ducked into for cover. A tap on his bow and the line pulled taut between both anchor points.
Needing no instruction, Nat threw her shock batons over the wire and rode them down to back Barnes up.
“We’re going to Location Three,” Agent Asshole instructed his group of unwashed bodies as he stepped out of the building. “Group Alpha is going to ambush me. Groups Bravo and Charlie will join the fight in ten-minute intervals. The targets think I am their ally, they’ll come to my rescue and break their cover.
“Group Delta, you’re responsible for killing the male target,” Rumlow said to the men Bucky knew would eventually become the core of his STRIKE team under Director Fury.
Bucky weighed his options. Fifty-five men, all armed but only with pistols and knives except for Group Delta.
“The Asset is responsible for capturing the female target,” Rumlow gestured back at him without bothering to look. “Do not get in its way. Do not try to assist it. It is programmed kill anyone that interferes with its mission and it will succeed.”
All of the automatic rifles Hydra was supplying to these sacrificial little lambs were in crates off to one side. Behind him. A few of the new guys were inspecting the riffles they’d already claimed.
“Group Echo and Foxtrot, you’re backup. If Alpha through Charlie go down too fast, you jump in.”
Bucky already had his weapons strapped on though. They’d even given him one of the Lambs’ rifles as a bonus.
“Remember these are highly trained assassins and yeah there’s only two of them but we cannot underestimate them at all if we want to succeed.”
And, he fought a smirk even under the mask, Rumlow had grenades.
Five grenades, to be exact. They were all right there, on the belt right in front of him. Right within reach.
Faster than anyone could react, he slung his rifle over his shoulder and grabbed Rumlow, pulling him in. He snapped the asshole’s neck and used him as a shield as he pulled one of his grenades and lobbed it at the STRIKE team.
Some of the mercs ran. More opened fire on him so he dragged Agent Dead Weight back into the warehouse and pulled another grenade. This one he threw at the weapons cache so the mercs couldn’t take any more of them if they made it past him later. Apparently. the ammo was being kept in a separate area, since nothing shot him in the ass.
The hail of fire was intense, until suddenly it wasn’t. There was shouting and confusion and shots kept coming but they weren’t all coming at him.
He ducked out to take a look only to see Natasha Romanov riding Rollins shoulders to the ground with her shock batons pressed on either side of his heart. An explosion rocked the alley closer to the street while an arrow made its home in the eye of the guy trying to shoot at Nat’s back. The arrow’s shaft bloomed on impact and tiny, blue-glowing darts shot out in all directions. Each dart turned a man in Nat’s vicinity into a wobbling mess and she moved on to the next target.
Bucky followed the arrows path up to the roof next door and saw Clint Barton looking like the son of Robin Hood and a lumberjack, his flannel shirt flapping heroically in the breeze.
Bucky threw down Agent Dead Weight, pulled his rifle off of his shoulder, and broke cover.
The last of the opposition fell in moments and it was just him and Natasha staring at each other across a lot full of bodies. He glanced up at the roof and Hawkeye was gone. Two soft explosions of air sounded and a wire fell from above. Natasha immediately moved to collect it so he assumed it was evidence they were not willing to leave behind.
Nat had just finished bundling the wire when Clint emerged from the other building carrying two loaded duffle bags. “We need to get out of here.”
Natasha took a bag and started stuffing the wire into it. Clint pulled off his outer jacket and tossed it at Bucky with a pair of gloves. He was more than a little thrown at their acceptance of him into their unit but he took the clothes regardless.
No way they’d make a clean get away with his metal arm standing out there like a beacon.
“I have a Quinjet,” he told them. They both looked up at him in surprise. “They had a Quinjet. Now, it’s mine.”
Natasha nodded. “We need to clean out our place and disappear.”
“What was the mission?” Barton asked.
“Retrieve the Widow,” Bucky shot her a look that was almost an apology. She nodded, accepting it anyway. “Alive, for reprogramming.”
“Where were you supposed to take her?”
Barton nodded like he wasn’t surprised which Bucky…didn’t get. Unless, “You came back too?”
“Yeah,” Barton nodded. “Pretty sure Future Nat was trying to save my life. I mean, that’s what she said before,” and he waved vaguely around them.
Fuck, that made so much more sense than what he’d come up with, he pulled the archer in and kissed his damn head. Fuck, he hadn’t lost his mind in the Orange Place. Thank fucking Thor.
“Uh, okay,” Clint sounded very confused as he settled in under Bucky’s left arm. Nat snorted and cuddled up on Clint’s other side. She threw out a patently fake laugh and turned the three of them toward a side alley to get them away from the scene of the crime unnoticed. “Hey, Nat, think we can find the evidence we need in Siberia?”
She huffed at him like he was such a trial. “Yeah, Clint. I think we can find the evidence we need in Siberia.”
Bucky chuckled at them both.
“Wait!” he said before they could get very far. “Stay right there,” he ordered as he marched back into the entrance of the warehouse, pulled Rumlow’s weapon and shot him in the face. Then, for good measure, he riffled through the guys pockets until he found the pills Hydra intended to destroy Carter’s mind with. Clint wanted evidence, after all.
When we went back to his companions, they were looking at him like he was crazy. He just shrugged and threw his arm back across Clint’s shoulder. “I made myself a promise. And I kept it.”
“Tell us about Siberia,” Nat ordered as she stowed the last of their crap in Barnes’s Quinjet. “What level of resistance should we expect?”
Barnes was silent as he activated stealth mode and took off. Once the autopilot was engaged, he turned to them. “Minimal personnel is SOP. When I woke up, Peirce was there with his bodyguards, but they left when he did. Rumlow and his team were there, but we’ve killed all of them. Karpov, a medical doctor, a computer tech, a cryo tech, six armed guards should be all that’s left.”
“Ten people,” Clint concluded. “Three apiece and you two can take turns cutting on Karpov while we question him.”
“Five apiece,” Barnes countered. “They expect me to return with the Widow. I can’t exactly sneak you in—we’re going to be on the tundra, there will be no place for you to hide.”
“So, Rumlow altered the mission,” Nat shrugged when Barnes looked at her. “He’s not alive for them to question and no one questions the Winter Soldier because no one explains anything to the Winter Soldier.”
Barnes huffed but didn’t argue. Then he frowned. “Why do I smell blood?”
Both enhanced assholes turned to look at them. Clint just shrugged, “verisimilitude?”
Bucky left the Quinjet with the Widow faking unconsciousness under his right arm and Clint draped over his left shoulder. He and Nat had figured the shoulder position would be more comfortable for Clint. They hadn’t consulted Clint on it because they both knew he’d bitch about being babied but he had been grazed by a bullet on his chest. On his left pectoral, just above his heart, to be specific.
If his shooting stance had been any different the shot would have been in his heart, Bucky kept his huff strictly internal. No matter what else, Clint was getting a bulletproof vest before they went any further in this half-ass plan.
Even if Bucky had to pull the vest off of a Hydra corpse himself.
He made it to the bunker and all the way to the Chair Room before he was stopped and questioned. He didn’t know why that surprised him. Of course, they’d pulled back into the most secure room within the installation to await his arrival. It only made sense. They had a total of ten people on hand to keep the location secure and three of those people were useless as far as defense was concerned.
“What is this?” Karpov demanded as soon as he saw him. “You were to retrieve one.”
“Orders,” he answered in Russian as softly as he could. Karpov was the only handler that had ever wanted words from the Winter Soldier—but he’d never wanted very many.
Karpov’s eyes narrowed. “Where is Rumlow? Where is your handler?”
“Fuck,” Karpov said with feeling. Then he turned to the waiting scientists, “Chekov, look over the spare.”
Two guards approached Bucky to take Clint from him because asking him to set his burden down would be treating him something like an actual person. No, he was nothing more than a wagon to these people and Clint was a crate. They had to remove the crate from the wagon manually or it would never move on its own.
He dropped Natasha.
She rolled onto her ass and shot Widow’s Bites at both guards then took the pistol from his thigh holster. Clint rolled off of Bucky’s shoulder and landed in a crouch with Bucky’s Uzi already in hand and spitting death.
It was all over before he got the rifle that he had slung over his shoulder up and pointed.
“Sit,” he ordered Clint, pointing towards the tech pit.
Clint balked. “I’m not sitting there.”
Bucky huffed and walked over to a rolling chair that was hidden by a console from Clint’s point of view. He dragged it out to where Clint could see it and raised an eyebrow.
“Oh,” Clint’s eyes darted to The Chair—which, to be fair, was also in the tech pit—before he eased himself up to standing and hobbled more than walked to the offered chair.
“Nat, you remember where the arms cabinet is?”
“Karpov should have the keys.”
She nodded and went to loot the dead man. It didn’t take her long to get the keys and gather the materials for making explosive charges. And she took the materials directly to Clint for him to work on. Clearly, she was still riding the Clint-management train with him.
Bucky ignored the bitchface Hawkeye leveled at them both and got to work trying to recover files from Hydra’s mainframe.
Honestly, Peirce was such a narcissist Bucky wouldn’t be surprised if he had a step-by-step manifesto of his plan to take over the world. Including a full, detailed list of everyone that was serving his glory or whatever the fuck he wanted to call it.
Clint sighed as he was given a task and pointedly ignored. Barnes had already started working on electronic retrieval. Clint had no idea what kind of resources he might have to contain the data but Barnes had spent an extended period in Wakanda. At this point, he could probably do things with computers that even Tony Stark could only dream of this far in the past.
Clint made enough charges to blow up the entire bunker, by his reckoning. Then he kept going for all the supplies he had.
You never knew when an explosive charge would come in handy and he fully intended to plant three on that fucking Chair. Just the threat of it was infuriating, he couldn’t imagine what even being around it made Barnes feel after having been its victim for decades.
He watched Natasha squat on the stairs not far from him with a box of files to go through.
“I’ve been thinking.”
“I didn’t smell anything burning,” Nat objected absently.
“Har har,” he glared at her and she gave him a small smile in return. “We could probably use a better view of Fury, Peirce, and the upper levels of SHIELD, you know, before we start taking potshots at them.”
“What did you have in mind?”
“Coulson should be in Bangladesh.” Right? He thought he remembered that Coulson had been sent on a recruitment thing while they were on vacation. “Right?” He checked with Nat. “He’s on a mission to recruit Narada, yeah? The hacker?”
“Right,” Nat agreed. She and Barnes exchanged a look, gave each other identical shrugs and got back to their self-assigned tasks.
Great, now there were two Silent but Deadly Assholes in his life. He hadn’t meant to start a collection but, apparently, he’d gotten one.
He’s going to blame 2023!Natasha.
“I found records,” current Natasha announced. “Including Peirce’s project file about Fury.”
“Project file?” Clint asked and fuck. He’d never suspected Fury, like so many others, had been made into what he was by Hydra. He’d figured the guy was just cold and hard. He’d been through more than enough to justify it, after all.
“Peirce has him listed as a cohort, which is someone that can be trusted with Hydra’s plans and methods but not their true goals. They are never to be considered a member of Hydra. It indicates here he was predisposed toward Hydra’s path. Seems Peirce saw him as a personal project and resource.”
Barnes frowned. “How long?”
“All the way back to when Fury was still a Marine. This indicates that they met during a security incident at an embassy,” Nat answered.
“I wonder what he did to make them go at him so hard in the other timeline.” Clint shot the question at Barnes with a look. “Why would they send you after him?”
“Wouldn’t have taken much,” Barnes shrugged. “Kick in the traces a few times or at the wrong time, threaten the wrong person, make them think he could or would expose them.”
“Which he did, in the end,” Clint reminded him. “Expose them, at least.”
“Not in a way that was actually productive. Especially when set beside the number of people releasing SHIELD’s files to the world got killed,” Barnes countered.
Clint tipped his head, conceding the point.
“I also found their plans for former-Director Carter,” she held up a folder illustratively before slapping it down into what Clint figured was their ‘keepers’ box.
She picked up two more to show them. “There are two Winter Soldier files. One that’s probably real.” That file was as thick as Clint’s thigh. The other one was the thin-ass file he’d seen in Cap’s possession in the other timeline. “The second is little more than a list of thaws and refreezes by date. It’s inconclusive but highly suggestive. It implies the Winter Soldier assassinated JFK—which he did—and Howard and Maria Stark—which he didn’t.”
“What?” Barnes demanded. “Yes, I did.”
“No, you didn’t.”
“I remember it, I’ve seen the video.”
“I was there,” Natasha asserted. “The first time they showed you Howard Stark’s photo, you refused the mission and had to be wiped again. The second time they showed you his photo, you got it into your head that it was a protection mission and started taking out anyone that got in your way. You killed thirty Hydra agents in the defense of Howard Stark before I killed you in defense of Colonel Karpov.
“I ran while they worked to revive you because one of the scientists let things drop that told me I was next to join the Winter Soldier program and I was not interested.”
Barnes looked flummoxed and Nat rolled her eyes. Clint wasn’t sure if he should be proud that she would do such a thing or horrified that she’d allowed Hydra’s lies to destroy the Avengers in the other timeline. He knew, for a fact, that Cap had gotten the…the propaganda folder from her.
Just, seriously? What the fuck, Nat.
“According to the larger file, you were placed back in stasis as soon as you were once again breathing and they’d gotten the bullets out. Notes from the head scientist implied that you healed better physically while on ice, but it took you a while to recover from the thawings. That was why it was so important to wipe you before got your feet under you after a thaw. Otherwise, you were ‘intractable and extremely dangerous’.”
Barnes just stared at Nat; his mouth was hanging open a bit.
“A note from another one of the head scientists at the time of the Stark Assassination. ‘It is preferable to render the Asset into cryostasis with a significant level of injury. This focuses the enhanced healing properties of the Super Soldier Serum away from the physical brain and produces a more malleable Asset upon removal from storage.’”
“So, who killed them? The Starks?” Clint asked. “And why make a video that made it look like the Winter Soldier did it?”
Nat referred to the thicker folder. “Josef did the assassination. A final test to earn his spot in the Winter Soldier program. There’s nothing here about the video.”
“Another way to torture him?” Clint guessed. “Make him doubt his own mind that much more? Twist the knife one more time just because they could? All of the above? It’s fucking Hydra, so probably all of the above.”
“We’ll still need to tell Stark ASAP,” Barnes decided. “Before someone drops that video on him again.”
“You’re assuming he’s going to become Iron Man again,” Clint pointed out. “Honestly, it would be best if we could keep him out of the Ten Ring’s hands.”
“You think the Ten Rings made Iron Man?” Barnes raised a single eyebrow at him, the Doubty McDoubterson.
“I mean, that incident—”
Barnes shook his head. “Tony Stark has always been Iron Man, just like Steve Rogers was always Captain America. They’ve always been heroes and I know some heroes. Stark’s just…trapped in expectations and his father’s legacy. All the Ten Rings incident did was break his tolerance of the cage he’d living in.”
“He’s an alcoholic and womanizer,” Natasha objected.
“Depression takes many forms.”
Natasha frowned and turned to Clint. He knew he had always been her barometer for the rest of humanity but she hadn’t looked to him in that way in a long time. He wondered—idly, since it didn’t really matter anymore—when she’d stopped looking to him for that. And why and how Fury had moved into that role for her.
Clint shrugged. “Everyone responds to captivity differently but captivity never lasts. It’s not a natural state for humans, you know that as well as I do.”
“How did Stark end up in the hands of the Ten Rings last time?” she asked.
“Obadiah Stane,” Clint wrinkled his nose in distaste. “He betrayed his own godson, set him up to be murdered about three months from now.”
“That deal has already been struck, then,” Nat tipped her head in consideration. “Perhaps Coulson’s hacker recruit could find it and reveal it to the FBI? The United States government is highly invested in keeping Stark on their side and on task. Stane could be labeled a threat to national security.”
“They’d make him disappear,” Clint agreed.
“How did they get ahold of him last time?” Barnes asked.
“He was doing a weapons demo in the sandbox, Afghanistan. His convoy got ambushed. It was supposed to be his murder but when they realized who Stane had hired them to kill, they kept him alive and started extorting Stane for more weapons.”
“So, we keep him out of the Middle East? That won’t be hard.”
“Except of course now that you’ve jinxed it,” he gave Barnes the stink eye.
Barnes rolled his eyes. “You know where they kept him?”
“Yeah, I was on the ground looking for him when he got himself out. Had a pretty good view of his first Rocketeer impression.”
“Then, if I did jinx it, we know exactly where to go to get him back.”
“I don’t think it works that way.” Clint just shook his head at Barnes. Clearly, he was not taking jinxes seriously enough. He’d learn though.
“How long are we secure here?”
Barnes and Nat both stopped what they were doing to think about it.
“SHIELD has to know Rumlow is dead by now, which means Peirce knows,” Barnes offered.
“And they have to know we were involved,” was Nat’s verdict. “Not many people use arrows in modern combat and they knew we were going to be in Budapest.”
“With Coulson on a mission, who would they assign to investigate the fight?”
“Sitwell,” Clint said instinctively. How many times had Sitwell been Coulson’s back up over the years? “And he’s Hydra. Does he know where this bunker is?”
“Only the Heads know the exact location,” Barnes shook his head. “And me. It was a security measure”
“Not like you could betray the location when you were all programmed or whatever.” Clint huffed. “Is there any communication gear here? Or does this place depend on remaining off the grid?
“Off the grid,” Nat and Barnes said together.
“How long before they’ll come looking, then?”
Barnes gave Nat a clear after you gesture.
She huffed. “Three days. That’s enough time for the Soldier to get here from Budapest under most circumstances and for them to put him back into cryo. Karpov would never leave the bunker without the Soldier being in cryo, unless he was leaving with the Soldier.”
“Agreed.” Barnes nodded once.
Nat stared at Clint for a moment before she stood. “We should figure out sleeping arrangements.”
“Sleeping in a Quinjet is not ideal,” Clint frowned.
“It would be warmer in here,” Barnes offered. “The building is old but secure. I don’t think there’s much in the way of bedding, but we can share body heat.”
“Share body heat?” Clint smirked at Nat.
She just narrowed her eyes at him. “I’m going to take this one to the Infirmary and see what I can do with him. This is the most secure room in the facility, correct?”
Barnes looked between the two of them before slowly nodding. “It is.”
“See what bedding you can pull together, one pallet big enough for all of us, and lock everything down. We’ll sleep in here tonight.”
The infirmary was just down the hall and fairly well stocked. Clint allowed Nat to get him alone for whatever it was she wanted to say to him. She kept it to herself as she stripped him out of his layers and the bandages he had been subjected to on the flight over.
“You could do worse, you know.”
“Worse?” he asked.
He shook his head. “What are you even talking about?”
“You need someone. Someone that can…” She sighed. “He won’t die on you.”
“Except he did? Not on me per se—but the same thing that killed my wife, killed him. The exact same thing.”
“We’re not going to let that happen this time,” she countered and he snorted. “Just. Think about it. You’ll never have more in common with anyone else now. You’re the only two survivors of a future that will never happen.”
“Okay, let’s say you’re right. What about our current situation makes you think either one of us wants something serious? We have to save the world, destroy Hydra, make sure trillions of people don’t lose their lives for no fucking reason. What about that says that either of us has the time for a romantic relationship?”
“Fine,” she frowned at him. “But be willing to let whatever can happen, happen.”
“I mean, I got lube in my bag?”
“That’s something.” She huffed at him. “Let’s go.”
“Wait,” he grabbed her wrist and she stopped. “You know I’m not in love with you, right? I mean, yeah, at this point in the original timeline I was but I know better now. You don’t have sex for romantic reasons, or even for physical gratification. One and done is just the job. Repeat offenders are part of the mentor/mentee relationship.” Clint told her. “We are both mentor and mentee to each other at various times, in different situations. Different skills. That’s the reason you sleep with me. I know that.”
Natasha blinked at him, a sure sign she was shocked to the bone. “You really have time travelled.”
“Just maybe,” he agreed. “Now, as your mentor, you need sleep.”
She rolled her eyes—she was getting quite good at that—and led him back to the Chair Room.
It was a surprise to get back to the Chair Room and see their personal bags beside the bed Barnes had put together.
He’d actually done a pretty good job in the bed department. It looked like he’d gathered four twin-ish sized mattresses and stacked them two deep. The bottom layer was perpendicular to the top one, increasing the nest’s stability. The entire thing was covered in the sleeping bags Clint had been forced to clear out of their stores in Budapest over a layer of survival blankets so it would at least be warm.
“Barnes,” Nat called and he looked up. “Are we ready?”
Barnes stood and Clint wandered over to grab the water bottle from the top of his pack. “The Quinjet is parked in the secure hangar in the upper levels, it’s security is active. I set the traps on the higher levels and put my own in the stairwells.”
“Good. Do you want to fuck Clint?”
Clint spat his water.
“What?” Barnes asked faintly.
“Clint? Do you want to fuck him? He’s using sex to get over the extensive losses he’s suffered—”
“Nat!” he objected.
She, of course, ignored him. “I see no reason to be selfish about it when you have the equipment to meet his need that I currently do not.”
“Clint?” Barnes asked him softly.
Clint shrugged, refusing to feel guilty about it. “Momma always said the best way to get over a man was to get under a new one. I’ve found it works for women, too.”
Barnes laughed, bright and…relieved, Clint thought. “Maybe it’ll work for both of us.”
He held out his hand. Clint wasn’t sure the gesture was appropriate for just sex but he took it anyway and let…Bucky pull him in. He was several inches shorter than the Smolder Soldier but that was the way he liked it with men.
Bucky lowered his face to Clint’s neck and took in the scent of him. Blood, sweat, coffee with a hint of cinnamon. All good things, warm things, living things. He bit the base of the archer’s neck and Clint groaned. He slid both hands down Clint’s firm back to grip his ass. It was a good handful, firm and warm, and Clint didn’t seem to care that he was using both hands.
“Now don’t forget about me,” Nat ordered.
Clint laughed and stepped back from him. “On the bed,” he suggested and immediately dropped his BDU pants.
He was wearing no underwear and Bucky’s mouth went dry.
It was…inspiring. The very thought of his cum dripping out of Clint’s hole. Especially once he put his pants back on and they stained. Anyone would know exactly what they did, it might not even take a second look.
Bucky got hard at the mere thought of it and started to strip.
Nat was already naked, sitting on the bed with her back to the wall. Clint crawled right up the bed to her and all but fell face first into her cunt. This had to be what she had wanted though because she just gripped his hair and gave a happy little sigh.
Bucky stripped and watched her give herself to the pleasure of his mouth. Clearly, they were long time lovers because it didn’t take Clint long at all to get her all kinds of worked up.
Clint wiggled his ass and Bucky had to laugh. The time for watching was over.
“Lube?” He asked.
“Top of Clint’s bag,” Natasha gasped and used a handful of Clint’s hair to get him where she wanted him. “Leather pouch.”
Bucky turned to the bag to get the requested pouch. It looked like his father’s old shaving kit, which amused him more than it ever should have. He unzipped the top flap and found a more-than-travel-sized lube along with some things he’d never used before that were stashed in a side pocket. “Condoms?”
He shrugged. He didn’t see the point. Neither of them could catch anything and it’s not like Nat could get pregnant but…he supposed it was like good trigger discipline. A good thing to practice that could save the lives around you one day.
And it couldn’t hurt either of them to blend with the rest of humanity in this particular, harmless way.
Bucky dropped the condoms and lube beside Clint’s knee as he settled in behind him. He ran his hands over the archer’s ass feeling a little greedy that it was all his, at least for now.
When he looked up, Natasha was watching him through heavily lidded eyes. “Kiss his back,” she suggested. “Use your teeth.”
That was the kind of order he could live with, so Bucky folded himself over Clint. He kissed his neck, just below his hairline. He lingered for a minute, letting Clint get used to having him in such a vulnerable space. When Clint did relax, he bit down and Clint groaned which set off a round of pleased noises from Natasha.
He worked his way down his back, dragging his mouth and tongue and teeth across skin as the mood took him. When he made it back to Clint’s ass, he rolled his eyes up to see Nat grinning a challenge at him.
Bucky bit Clint’s right ass cheek and the archer reared up with a shout. Then he lost his balance and Bucky had to catch him.
He settled back with Clint more or less in his lap.
“Christ,” Clint panted. “Don’t do that, I’ll come way before I’m ready.”
“Like you wouldn’t want him to fuck you anyway,” Nat taunted. “Like you wouldn’t want him to use your hole until you’re a crying, overstimulated mess.”
Clint glared at her. On the effectiveness scale, it was somewhere between pre-Serum Steve and a wet kitten. “Normie Pride means I can’t be the first one to go off in a super soldier sandwich, alright?”
“We didn’t bring any cock rings,” she pointed out reasonably.
Rather than take offense, Clint just laughed. “You’re such an asshole.”
He watched Nat file that away for later consideration and got the feeling that this was one of the things she got out of her partnership with Clint. She made him deadlier, a more effective fighter. He decoded humanity for her without being offended when she got it wrong. He gave her the tools she needed for human interaction beyond manipulation, while she made him a better spy and killer.
“Alright.” Clint took a deep breath. He turned his head and landed a lightning quick kiss on Bucky’s mouth. “Get me ready, yeah? I want to come on your cock.”
Bucky…had no idea what to call what that made him feel so he just nodded and helped Clint back down onto his elbows and knees.
Clint groaned and dropped his head onto Natasha’s stomach when Bucky teased a slick finger against his hole. Penetrating Clint, even with just a finger, felt awesome. Bucky loved it and he wanted more of it, so he worked a second finger in. Clint took him beautifully and he didn’t tense at all when Bucky rested his metal hand on his ass.
He wondered if that would ever stop being a surprise, someone accepting his artificial appendage. Because Clint showed no fear of it, no matter how dangerous they both knew it to be.
“Get in me,” Natasha ordered as Bucky worked a third finger inside.
He paused and helped Clint pull her down where she needed to be. Clint’s right hand paired with his left hand, their work was easy and natural.
Clint clenched around Bucky’s fingers as Nat put a condom on him and he slid inside her.
“You good?” Bucky asked, he really didn’t want to wait any longer.
“Yeah,” Clint grinned over his shoulder at him, “do it. Give me your cock.”
He copied the motions he’d watched Natasha go through for himself and was sliding inside of Clint almost soon enough to please them both.
He held onto Clint’s hips and moved him for all three of them.
Bucky had always preferred men. In fact, he’d only slept with a woman once of his own free will but she had taught him well and he’d fucked Steve as often as they could both manage it during the war because of Steve’s dedication to…something about the patriarchy and gender roles. Whatever, the point was, he was confident he could make this good for Nat and Clint both. Even at the same time.
It was a confidence that served him well as Nat’s eyes flew wide and her back arched the moment Clint caught one of her nipples in his mouth. Clint tightened around him as he, too, came and Bucky allowed himself to follow them both over.
When he checked in with them, Nat was relaxed and pleased. She smiled at him. “Good job.”
Clint was a puddle of happy archer but he managed to reinforce his partner’s sentiment with three weak pats on Bucky’s arm
He and Nat rolled their eyes at each other and got everyone cleaned up. Bucky pulled Clint under the sleeping bags and—since he didn’t object about his treatment—proceeded to use Clint as a teddy bear. Nat wormed her way in so that she was curled against Clint’s chest, half hidden under his bulk.
It was a good start to a new life.
Clint woke up at the flash of a small light. He opened his eyes to see Natasha checking the time on her watch. She was using his body to hide the light from…Bucky Barnes, if the metal arm under his head meant anything at all.
She grinned and slowly, silently slid from the bed. She carefully placed the lube in his hand and winked.
Once she was gone, he took stock of his situation. He was nude. He could tell that Bucky Barnes was nude behind him. He was getting the full teddy bear treatment from the man that had fucked him—and how—the previous night.
The sex would probably only be better without a third person involved.
Decision made. Clint wiggled backwards with intent. It didn’t take long at all for Bucky’s flesh hand to settle on his hip and squeeze promisingly.
“You are up to no good,” a sleep-rough voice said right into his ear.
He laughed when Bucky bit said ear. “But it’s so fun!”
Bucky ground his cock forward against Clint’s ass with a hum of consideration, “I don’t have a condom.”
“I don’t care,” Clint admitted. “That’s Nat’s damage. Open me with your cock.”
Bucky’s breath hitched and his grip got tight enough to bruise Clint’s hip. That sounded like a big yes to him so Clint held the lube up where Bucky would eventually see it.
“Thank Christ.” Bucky snatched the bottle from his grip and the sound of it snapping open made Clint shiver in anticipation. Bucky gave his hole a swipe of slick fingers followed quickly by the firm press of his cock’s fat head.
“Fuck,” he groaned as Bucky settled fully inside him. “That’s perfect.
“Think you can hold me down?”
Bucky just snorted and rolled them off their sides onto their stomachs with Clint on bottom. He slid his legs between Clint’s and pushed them open and forced Clint’s hips into an angle that prevented him from getting any significant leverage. Then he reared up and planted his hands on Clint’s shoulders, forcing Clint to support their combined weight on his elbows.
Clint could move, he was sure, but he’d have to injure one or both of them to manage it. And Bucky could stop him fairly easily no matter what he tried. He was well and truly caught.
It was amazing.
It got better when Bucky moved. He fucked him deep and true. If they’d had any emotional connection at all, Clint would be tempted to call it making love more than fucking but they didn’t, so he just relaxed into it and let the Soldier ride his ass for all it was worth.
“Fuck, I’m going to cum.”
Clint felt that in his bones. “Yeah, come in me.”
“Yeah? You want me to fill you up? Make you smell like me? Mark you as mine? You’re going to smell fucked out all day.”
Clint came with a shudder and Bucky copied him with a curse.
Eventually, Bucky rolled them back on their sides but he didn’t pull out. Clint couldn’t say he was opposed to keeping his cock warm for later use but he also knew they’d have to leave soon.
“So, what’s the plan?”
Clint frowned over his shoulder, “Plan?”
“For saving the world. Hydra is a problem sure but they’re not our only one. We have to stop Thanos from getting those Stones, right?”
“Yeah,” Clint scratched at his own chest. “When we get Coulson or Carter on board, they can handle Hydra but Thanos?” Clint thought it over for a few minutes. “The Stone thing was a big play. With the Gauntlet? He had to get a bunch of people out of the way to do it.”
“I don’t know. Odin, probably. He was ‘protector of the nine realms’ or whatever. Probably Hela, too. Heard about her from Thor, she sounded like a total badass. You know, if you could get her on task on your side. She would have ripped Thanos in half before she let him fuck with Asgard. For her own sake, mostly, but still.
“I don’t know who else.”
“Maybe that’s the answer then,” Bucky offered. “We kill Thanos before Odin dies. He won’t have the Stones yet; he might not even know where to look.”
Clint could see that. “And the Reality Stone will still be where Odin’s papa hid it so he won’t be able to arm the Gauntlet even if he suddenly did learn where they currently are and decided to move up his timeline. Assuming Odin didn’t do his damn job and put a stop to that shit before he got very far.”
“So, it’ll work?”
“Maybe?” Clint shuffled his way onto his back without leaving Bucky’s warmth to buy himself time to think. Sergeant MetalArm was practically his own furnace so he had no interest in leaving his arms while still naked in the ass end of Siberia, but serious conversations required eye contact and focus. “We’re assassins, all three of us, so that plays to our strengths but how do you kill a Titan? A lot of people put a lot of hurt on him and he didn’t get a scratch last time around. He also survived using the Infinity Stones which fucked Hulk up like whoa. We need more info about his species. We also need to get off planet and find him—too many people could die if we tried to lure him here to do it. I’ve flown a spaceship and I got a look at a bunch of different schematics during mission prep but I’m not sure I could build one.”
“Who could build one?”
“On Earth? Tony Stark? Maybe Bruce Banner? I’m not sure if that’s in his wheelhouse though.”
Bucky was quiet for a minute. “Could SHIELD have any information on spaceships? We know aliens have crashed here before. Containing that shit is within their actual mandate.”
“Maybe.” Clint considered it. “Do you or Nat have the skills for hacking SHIELD at that level? Cause I don’t.”
“With the right equipment and an inside person, I could do it. Pretty sure Stark’s the only one that could afford the equipment to bust his way in there, to be honest. Or Wakanda but they suffered enough last time.”
“I got some idea for an inside person,” Clint admitted. “Can you build or program whatever equipment you need for the job?”
“Okay, so that’s a second possible schematic source. Hopefully a better one than my memory. Building it might be complicated but I got some funding SHIELD doesn’t know about.”
“We can steal Hydra’s money,” Bucky offered. “Pretty sure they keep their financial data here. It’s their major stronghold.”
Clint smirked at that. “Using Hydra’s money to save the world has a certain…something to it.”
“Doesn’t it though?”
“Alright, we’ll get Coulson, take him to Carter, and they’ll handle Hydra—”
“You’re sure this Coulson fella is up to all that? Didn’t he die really early last time around?”
“Oh, yeah, he can handle it. I think large parts of that nonsense would have fallen apart if he’d been around to stick his foot in it. He looks all unassuming but when he finds out he’s been working with Nazi’s for over a decade? He’s going to take a shocking amount of joy in burning all of that shit to the ground.”
“We’ll need to take the files with Hydra’s plans for Carter with us,” Bucky decided. “Give her an idea what to be on guard against.”
“Pretty sure Nat’s already on that but we can check.”
“We’ll need a base of operations for the hacking and probably a different one for the building. Drop sites for deliveries. Maybe more people to speed up construction.”
“How long do we have for that?”
“Odin died in late 2017/early 2018 so that’s our point of no return.
“The first Stone Thanos got was the Mind Stone. He sent it to Earth with Loki in 2012. Not sure how it got there but it was in Loki’s scepter so he had it before that. He acquired it from some sort of space dragon or something but I don’t know when. It wasn’t relevant to my mission and we decided to go for the three-for-one deal in New York rather than splitting the team further.”
“It might be a better idea to guard the dragon and lure Thanos out than run around trying to find him,” Bucky offered. “Wherever he is, his army is probably with him.”
“Yeah,” Clint agreed. “Fighting our way through a couple million space dogs is not something any of us will survive.”
“No, probably not.”
The door clanked pointedly open, Nat have them an irritated look from the doorway, “Are you two not done yet?”
Clint laughed and rolled out of the bed. “We’ll never be done. Sex that good is not something you give up.”
Nat just huffed. “There’s no food here and we didn’t have dinner.”
“They would have brought rations for the mission crew,” Bucky objected. “Protein mixes for me.”
“Edible food,” Nat corrected.
“Breakfast in Bangladesh?” Clint offered before they could get into it.
“Of course,” she scowled. “But we have to take care of this place first. I’ve packed all the relevant files in the Quinjet.”
“All of them?” Bucky asked as he pulled on his pants.
“Winter Soldier Program, Black Widow Program. Their parent Red Room Program. A list of proposed projects, everything they have on SHIELD, everything they have on their own assets. We have no storage left for our things but we have the bulk of their physical files.”
“We’ll get some cord and secure our stuff to a chair.” Clint said as he finished his clean up and pulled on yesterday’s pants. “Maybe we’ll get lucky and they’ll have some cargo netting.”
“I need to check the search bot I deployed in the database,” Bucky announced.
“We’ll set the charges,” Nat looked at Clint.
He nodded. “Half an hour and we’re gone.”
The first thing Clint did after takeoff was permanently disable the Quinjet’s locator. He maybe wasn’t the most technically proficient of their little team but he was a modern man…and he’d gotten Bruce to teach him what Hulk had done to hide the Quinjet from Natasha before he’d fucked off to Sakaar.
“Hey, you wanna watch this?” Bucky called from the pilot’s seat.
Clint walked forward with a frown. “Watch what?”
“The destruction of hell,” Bucky huffed and hit a button on the console.
The bunker erupted.
“Impressive.” And then, because he definitely hadn’t made that many charges and they hadn’t even used them all. “Did we have some Hydra special in there or…?”
“There was generator one level down from the Chair Room. A little tweaking combined with our charges and…” Nat gestured out the view port.
“At least we can be sure no one survived that,” Bucky offered.
Clint snorted. “Please. I put a charge on each one of the Defective Soldiers. Three on the fucking Chair.”
Bucky just gave him a big, beautiful smile.
“Oh my god, how can you eat that?” Clint asked in disgust as he pushed his bowl away.
Barnes just kept right on slurping. “Taste is irrelevant.”
“Will you stop it?” Clint pointed at him viciously, trying to divert the urge to poke Bucky in the chest. “You are not their toy soldier anymore. Taste is completely relevant.”
Bucky swallowed his mouth full and licked his lips several times as he stared at Clint. Then, tentatively, he looked up. When the server appeared, he asked, “Got any hot sauce?”
Nat came back with the server and frowned. “What’s taking so long?”
“Lessons in humanity,” Clint huffed. She just raised an eyebrow at him and he pushed the second plate he got at her. She’d eaten before taking off but he knew she needed more than a baseline woman, being enhanced and all. “You find him?”
“Yes. Coulson is with his target. He’s earned enough trust to be allowed within the target’s domicile.”
Clint rolled his eyes. “Phil’s great at earning people’s trust. He’s even better at deserving it.
“You know what phone he has with him?”
Natasha just shook her head.
“Alright, show me the location and I’ll go first.” Clint shot Bucky the stink eye when he made a noise of objection. “I’m the least threatening of us three. I’m the least likely to ruin Phil’s mission.”
Both former Russian Spies made unhappy noises but neither of them had a better idea so they went with it. Natasha gave him explicit directions to the house. He repeated them back to her, forward and backwards just to prove he was listening the entire time.
He didn’t even make a face when Bucky insisted that he take his nine mil with him.
Okay, not much of one.
He didn’t like shooting guns with his hearing aids. He could do it but— In the future, Tony had made him some aids that compensated for changes in sound level so much faster than the one SHIELD made him. It was almost better than getting his hearing back. Guns weren’t a problem for him with the StarkEars but they could be with the SHIELD models he was currently rocking.
Phil answered when he knocked on the target’s door. The look Phil gave him was so exasperated Clint had to grin. Fuck, he’d missed the hilariousness of Phil’s not-actual-disappointment.
“This had better be good, Agent Barton.” Phil stepped back and let him into the house.
“I mean, Hydra?”
Someone choked and Coulson closed the door with a little more force than necessary. “Care to explain that, Agent?” Phil asked in a much too soft tone of voice.
“Um, Nat and I were on vacation.”
“Yes, in Budapest. You were supposed to leave your bow at home.”
Clint blinked, uh….
“There was a shootout involving an archer,” the woman lingering in the tiny house’s kitchen interjected. “It was on the news.”
…which answered his questions about Phil’s prescience.
“Orders went out this morning to all agents to retrieve you dead or alive,” Coulson added. “Straight from Director Peirce.”
“Okay, so, Rumlow was following us around for some reason? So, we—you know—returned the favor. And he had a ton of mercs and a prisoner and they were saying hail Hydra so we, you know…” Clint scratched the back of his head, a little nervous as Phil just pinched the bridge of his nose. “We backtracked to the base they were keeping the prisoner at and got all their data.”
“And you came straight here to give it to me,” Phil glared but it wasn’t at Clint. Not really.
Phil tipped his head in a yeah, fair gesture. “The prisoner? Do they need medical?”
“No, they’re fine. He’s with Natasha. But you’re going to lose your mind when you see who it is.”
“Bring them here.”
Clint walked through the house and opened the back door. Within two minutes, first Nat then Bucky slipped into the house without a sound.
Phil sat down abruptly. “Sergeant Barnes?”
Bucky swallowed like he was nervous. “I prefer Bucky. Please.”
“Hydra experimented on you,” Phil guessed.
“Hydra, Leviathan, Red Room, then Hydra again, yeah.”
“He’s had a rough ride,” Clint stepped forward to shift Phil’s focus. “He’s been their Winter Soldier for something like fifty years.”
“You’ve been killing people for Hydra? For fifty years?” Phil looked at Bucky, horror showing in the tightening of the skin around his eyes.
“It not like I wanted to do it. There’s…words.”
“Mind control,” Clint tried to pull attention again. He was a little more successful. “They had a chair they used to wipe his mind. Suppress his memories. Then they would use the words to make him obey.”
“We have their files on the project they subjected him to,” Natasha added.
Phil nodded. “I’ll need them. We need to talk to Fury—”
“No.” All three members of Team Assassin spoke up together.
“Why don’t you want to bring in Fury? He’s close to the director. If anyone can do anything about this, it’s the director.”
“Alexander Peirce was my official handler,” Bucky said softly. Phil’s mouth fell open.
“Who is Alexander Peirce?” The male target asked, finally leaving the tiny dining area and the mountain of computer gear he had arranged in there.
“The current director of SHIELD,” Clint told him.
“So, SHIELD as a whole has been compromised.” The man nodded solemnly. “What are we going to do about it?”
“We?” Natasha asked. “You aren’t SHIELD.”
“Neither is he,” Hacker Dude, Narada was his handle, jerked his chin toward Bucky. “But he’s obviously with you.”
“We don’t have to be SHIELD. Hydra is an everyone problem,” Hacker’s Girlfriend agreed.
That was fair so Clint left them to their planning. He’d always been more of a point and shoot kind of guy than an intricate plans kind of guy. Nat and Bucky both knew the general direction he thought this should go and they were more than enough to represent his interests.
Besides, he’d always seen more clearly from a distance.
He poked the blinds of the front window so he could look out them without standing directly in front of the window and giving himself away. He had spaceship plans to remember.
He could actually recall three different options.
One was too small. They would need places to sleep and eat. He’d prefer to prepare his own food than subsist on ration bars and he was going to make sure Bucky did the same to discourage the Asset mindset that had been forced on him for far too long already.
The next plans he could remember were too big. It needed a five-man crew, minimum. Three of which needed fairly advanced technical knowledge to keep the thing running. It was fast as hell and armed to the teeth which was why they’d considered it for their mission in the other future but when they’d divided the team for simultaneous action—which had been stupid. They had been time traveling anyway so the entire saving time argument for splitting the team had been pointless—that idea had died.
The last one was too slow. It would take them months to get out of the Milky Way with it, forget about making it to the Andromeda Galaxy, but it was sturdy. Reliable. Un-fuck-with-able.
Maybe they could blend the three?
He was started trying to sort the best bits of all of them into a single model—a theoretical model, of course. He was a mathematician, not an engineer—when movement outside drew his focus.
A veritable convoy— No it was an actual convoy of real talk, 100% serious, Army trucks. They just ran down the road in front of the tiny house like they actually belonged there. Further out, in the small river thing he could see from the window a tactical boat full of armed assholes zoomed by.
“We got a problem,” he announced. Bucky joined him at his vantage point while Narada just tore the blinds open to shamelessly look.
“They’re after me,” Bucky and Narada said together. Then they stopped and looked at each other. “They’re after you?”
A familiar sounding roar practically rocked the house and Clint broke for the door. “You’re both wrong.”
Bucky watched Clint book it out of the house with no small amount of horror. He knew that roar, from videos, mostly, but he still knew it. Clint was running out of their shelter—empty handed—to save the Hulk…who had never even met him at this point in time.
This was going to end horribly.
He trucked along after Clint with Nat at his side, both of them had their firearms at the ready. There were soldiers everywhere. Most of them were very good little boys, on task and focused or staying at attention like they were on a parade ground under their General’s watchful eye, so the shouts of alarm were rather minimal.
Coulson broke off from their group to talk to said general, shouting orders for the men to stand down as he went.
When they caught up to Clint, he was trying to get to Hulk but was held back by some kind of sonic force that was keeping even the Big Guy at bay.
“Left!” He shouted at Nat.
“Right!” She shouted back.
Together they took a knee, he shot both of the columns of the left. She shot the one she could hit through Clint and Hulk. Hulk grabbed the fourth one and threw it at the circling gunboat. Clint immediately turned, throwing up his arms to make himself the biggest target possible, covering the Hulk.
“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!” Clint shouted as soldiers raised their weapons at him.
Natasha turned her aim on the soldiers, Bucky stood and followed suit. No one was touching their archer. No one.
Hulk made an interrogatory grunt. Clint’s eyes flicked to him and Bucky nodded, he’d watch his back.
Clint turned around and looked up and the Big Guy. How had he forgotten how big Hulk was? It wasn’t like he hadn’t seen the fucked-up thing Bruce had made the two of them in the future. New Goal: He was going to get Bruce to like Hulk. That asshole was not going to murder the big green not-a-kid again. Fuck. That.
“Hey, Big Guy,” he grinned.
Hulk gave him a careful poke.
“I know this looks bad,” Clint admitted. “But Phil will get these a-holes in line, don’t worry about them.”
Hulk gave him another little poke and moved closer.
“Yeah, I’ll help. So will Nat and Buck. We’re here to help you.”
He heard radios squawk behind him and glanced back to see the Army soldiers backing away slowly. Bucky immediately inserted himself between Clint, Hulk and the soldiers. Nat followed a few beats behind. He didn’t think anyone else could see the reluctance in her posture.
Hulk snorted like he smelled something bad and Clint turned back to him. He was watching Nat with cautious eyes so maybe he could smell her caution.
Clint stepped closer to Hulk and Hulk sat down, focused on him like they were going to have a conversation or something.
Clint, quite frankly, had no idea what to say. He looked Hulk over. “Is part of your super powers making sure your pants stay on? Because, seriously, that material should not stretch like that.”
Hulk gave him that wild smile, like that time back when the Chitauri were their biggest concern and Cap had just ordered him to smash.
“Do you have a favorite color?” he asked for a lack of anything else that was safe to discuss.
Hulk reached out and tugged gently on Clint’s pale purple t-shirt. He didn’t even stretch the fabric. Clint was impressed.
Nat back slowly toward them, gun still at the ready and her eyes on what could only be Thaddeus Ross’s hit squad. “I think it’s time for Temptation to disappear,” Nat said softly.
Clint considered that. They were surrounded by trees. Hulk could hide…probably. He’d done it for over a decade in the other timeline, hadn’t he? Clint knew Fury took credit for that in the other timeline, but the truth was SHIELD had been lucky to find Bruce just before the Invasion because a retired agent had called in a suspected sighting. They’d always tried to keep eyes on him—but after Fury had mis-stepped and provided Ross with the sonic things for containment, their success with that had gone way down.
Fuck, that’s what this was, wasn’t it? This was Fury’s fuck-up that had sent Bruce even deeper into hiding and had made Hulk practically feral.
“What do you think, Big Guy? Wanna play hide and seek?”
“Come?” he asked, tipping his head to the side.
“Yeah, I’ll come,” he agreed, ignoring Nat’s glare. “Buck and Nat can find us later.”
“Blue-22?” she asked.
He looked around at the physical features he could see. There were so many rivers in the area Blue-22 wasn’t a good idea. There were bridges over water literally everywhere. “Green-65,” he countered. “Or Brown-15.”
She nodded. “Brown-15.”
He looked in the direction of the mountains. It would take a bit of effort to find a mountain cave high enough to count as a Brown-15 but…he actually had no idea if having Hulk with him would make that job easier or harder. Whatever, he could do it.
Clint reached out and took Hulk’s littlest finger. He couldn’t close his hand around it but he tugged on it anyway and Hulk stood easily.
“Don’t do anything stupid,” Bucky warned him.
He grinned over his shoulder at the super soldier, “Is there anything else to do in a situation like this?”
“Punk,” Bucky sighed as Clint and the fucking Hulk disappeared into the tree line. No supplies, no weapons, no map, just gone. “Fuck.”
“He’s an idiot,” Natasha agreed.
“He’s our idiot.”
“We need to extract Coulson and move on to Phase 2.”
Bucky nodded. Thaddeus Ross had finally stopped screaming about deal breakers and traitors. Probably because Coulson’s cutting remarks about violating human rights, breaking international treaties, and choosing to follow illegal orders were making Ross’s men appropriately nervous.
Not Ross, his men.
At least Ross was enough of a soldier to recognize how dangerous losing his men could be for himself, Bucky thought bitterly.
“Will Hulk fit in the Quinjet?”
Nat gave him a flat, unamused look. “Not with all of us in it.”
He raised an eyebrow at her.
“Weight limits,” she answered his silent question.
He nodded, that was fair. How much could that Big Guy weigh? He’d read somewhere that he had nine times the mass of Bruce Banner but he didn’t know Banner’s base numbers. The three of them, plus the Quinjet’s standard gear, plus Coulson and maybe his hackers, plus the physical files, plus a possible ton of Hulk? Yeah, that would probably put them over the jet’s weight limits.
“Maybe Clint can get him to swap back.” The other option was to take them all to Carter and come back for Clint and Hulk. Bucky was not onboard for that. He didn’t like leaving Clint alone out there, especially not without gear. And there was the distance from Bangladesh to London to consider.
Nat hit his shoulder and jerked her chin toward where Narada was lingering. He nodded and jogged over to the duo while she made for Coulson.
They didn’t know Ross’s exact leanings so it made sense for Bucky not to get in his face. It would surprise exactly no one if that asshole turned out to be Hydra, letting him get a solid bead on The Asset would only hinder their goals.
“Let’s get back inside,” he told them.
Guy-Narada nodded and started back toward their house while Girl-Narada frowned at him, “What’s going to happen now?”
“We have a former colleague that would be the best choice to handle The Problem. We’re going to pack everybody up and head her way.”
“What’s going to happen with us?” she pressed.
“That’s up to you isn’t it? We can get you anywhere in the world without Customs or Immigration. Do you want to stay here or get out? You have to have realized The Problem will come for you. I’m not entirely sure SHIELD coming for you wasn’t their idea in the first place. People that refuse them don’t live very long.”
“And you’ll just get us out of here? No paperwork? No trail? For free.”
“Well,” he considered it. “I…have reason to believe Obadiah Stane is selling Stark weapons under the table. I also have reason to believe, he has set Tony Stark up to get murdered. If you could find proof of that and anonymously drop it on the FBI, I’d consider us even.”
“Would everyone else?” she asked acidically.
Bucky snorted. “My jet, my debt.”
“My boyfriend is good but you think he can, what? Hack Stark Industries? This is not an equitable payment.”
Bucky waited until the front door was closed behind them to face the woman. “Look, we both know you are the star hacker in this relationship and he is your stalking horse because he likes the danger of it. Most of the time you keep your dirty deeds close to the realm of his abilities to keep your cover but you can, in fact, do this. But if you’re afraid,” he shrugged and leaned away from her. He crossed his arms and waited.
“Fuck you,” was her eloquent response and he knew he’d won.
“Is that a no to taking on Hydra?” Boytoy asked.
Bucky shrugged. “A Stark established SHEILD. Who’s to say Stane’s attack on the Stark heir isn’t Hydra-motivated?”
“You’re a terrible man,” Girl-Narada announced.
“It’s called ruthlessness. It’s the same trait that’ll keep me between them and you until the job is done.”
She pointed a finger at him. “If they touch a single hair on his head—”
He waved her off. He’d been the one to kill them in the first timeline. Him first, then her when she’d gone after Hydra the only way she could, which was how he knew about their little arrangement.
Whoever Hydra sent after them this time around would not be on his level.
Getting them into Carter’s household would probably be the safest place for them, if they were serious about taking a stand against Hydra. He wasn’t sure they would. They’d said no to SHIELD’s offer last time which was the equivalent of saying no to Hydra even though no one that wasn’t Hydra had known it at the time.
All the secrets they’d drowned in last time made judging this future by the last future murky as hell.
Bucky had his rifle up and pointed at the door before he registered that Phil Coulson had opened it or that Nat was at his back.
Coulson ignored him with a confidence Bucky felt was wildly misplaced. “We need to move.
“Are you in or out?” Coulson asked the hacker pair.
The two exchanged a long, silent look. In the end, Boytoy nodded. “We’re in.”
Fortunately, the hackers packed light. They brought a pair of mutant, Frankenstein, crazy looking laptops and a single bag of clothes with them.
“Where’s Clint?” Coulson asked once they were all strapped into the jet.
“Brown-15,” Nat answered. “Can the Big Guy fit?”
“Can’t we leave the Big Guy behind?” Guy-Narada asked.
“That depends on the Big Guy,” Coulson answered. Which, fair. As far as Bucky was aware, Steve was the only one that had ever successfully bossed Hulk around and at least half of that was by instructing him to do what he would have wanted to do anyway so Bucky wasn’t sure it counted.
“I’ve never seen a jet like this one,” Girl-Narada admitted.
“It’s a Quinjet,” Natasha answered the almost-question. “Its predecessor, the Quadjet was designed by Howard Stark for SHIELD. Tony Stark improved the design.”
“And gave Hydra the most advanced jet on the planet,” Girl-Narada frowned.
“It’s not like that was intentional. No one knew about their infiltration of SHIELD back when that happened,” Phil objected, which made Bucky feel better about including him.
He flicked a look at Nat and wondered if she maybe shouldn’t be placed on Team Carter. They didn’t need any negativity directed at Tony Stark on Team Space. Not if he was going to help them build a spaceship. And he remembered clearly, her betraying Tony at that German Airport. Yeah, it had been to his and Cap’s advantage, but it could be a sign of some underlying problem. One that might even still—or, as the case may be, already—be there.
She also seemed to have a problem with Hulk. Sure, one encounter with him in a combat situation wasn’t a lot to make such a call on but Bruce Banner was the best Plan B for getting Team Space off planet if they couldn’t talk Stark into it, so that was something to keep an eye on.
He’d mention it to Clint.
If Clint had just picked up a big green puppy like Bucky thought, they could probably do without Natasha on Team Space.
Finding Clint was easy enough, in a rather strange way. He and Nat both seemed to intuitively know Clint’s general area. Bucky would go so far as to say that he knew that Clint was safe and resting even before they found him lounging in the mouth of a cave not actually high enough on the mountain to count as a Brown-15.
He looked exhausted and sore. He had Bruce Banner snuggled against his side, out cold with the remainder of his pants haphazardly knotted around his hips.
Bucky took Banner from him while Nat slotted in under Clint’s arm to help him into the jet.
“Hulk passed out about a mile from the cave,” Clint explained once they had him aboard. “I don’t know if it was a lack of adrenaline or if he just felt safe with me. Carried Banner into the first cave I found.”
“You pull your stitches?” he couldn’t help but ask. Clint didn’t have many stitches, but he’d been grazed in the pectoral yesterday.
Clint grimaced but didn’t answer. That was a yes.
Nat shook her head at him and went to grab the first aid kit. She and Coulson settled in to see to Clint, so he threw a shock blanket over where Banner was laying on the floor and moved to the cockpit.
He though briefly about strapping Banner down for safety. Then he thought about Hulk’s reaction to being tied up in a strange place by people he didn’t know and let the thought go.
Male-Narada sat down next to him in the copilot seat.
He should probably stop differentiating the hacker pair by their genders, so he held out a hand. “We haven’t been introduced, I’m Bucky Barnes.”
“I’m Durai,” Male-Narada returned the favor with a handshake. “She’s Apurva.”
“Something on your mind?” he asked because most people didn’t seek out people like him. Clint did, obviously. He took in both him and Nat, and now Hulk, but Clint was not most people. He was definitely not a civilian. Even if you didn’t include last time around, he hadn’t been a civilian in more than twenty years.
“Just thinking about the Hydra problem. How do you kill something like Hydra?”
“The same way you kill the rest of their species.”
Durai gave him a startled look. Then he laughed. “Cut off the head and burn the stump?”
“Pretty much,” he agreed. “You can’t give them any mercy. That’s how they survived World War II in the first place.”
“What do you mean?”
“When I…” He didn’t want to say died because he’d done that a few times now, so it really wasn’t all that specific. “My last mission as a Howling Commando,” he corrected himself, “was to capture Dr. Arnim Zola. He was the Red Skull’s second in command.”
“And they did,” Durai said more than asked. “You did.”
“Yeah, they did,” he agreed. “They took him in, got the information they needed to take down Red Skull. After the war, he agreed to work for the US government. Ended up in SHIELD.”
“And planted the seeds of Hydra.”
“So, we just kill them? Just like that?”
Bucky could feel for the guy, he really could. He had vague memories of having this same struggle with himself after he got drafted. But, in the end, it had come down to one thing. “Do you want your kids or grandkids to be fighting this fight again in fifty years?”
“Then you do what you have to. And you don’t apologize for it.”
Durai nodded and was quiet for a long time but he didn’t leave, which Bucky found he was okay with. “So, where are we going?”
“London,” Phil Coulson answered as he came to a stop behind them.
Durai huffed. “Is there an inflight movie? Snacks?”
“I can’t think of any we’d manage to finish,” Coulson admitted and Durai sat up a little straighter.
“How long is the flight?” he asked. “From Bangladesh to England?”
“Two hours?” Bucky guessed. “If we want to keep the stealth active and not damage anyone on the ground’s property.”
“We told you it was the most advanced jet in anyone’s service,” Coulson reminded him.
“How is he?” Bucky asked.
“Clint? Stubborn.” Coulson answered and Bucky snorted a laugh. “He agreed to a nap, so he’s curled up next to Banner with a shock blanket of his own. He’s in no shape to infiltrate and we have no idea what we’ll find on the ground at Director Carter’s place, so I’ll go in first. Signal you guys to come in or run.”
“We’ll go in first,” Bucky corrected. “Nat can keep the kids safe and Clint can fly the jet if they have to leave us behind.”
“I’m more likely to recognize Hydra’s goons than any of you,” Bucky reminded him. “Of all of us, I have the most experience with them.”
Coulson clearly didn’t like it, but he nodded. “There’s a property outside of London we’ll use as a base of operations until we’ve secured Director Carter’s participation. I’ll send you the coordinates.”
“Associated with you?” Bucky asked. “Does SHIELD know about it? They’ll look for you there.”
“Associated with my son’s boyfriend,” Coulson corrected. “And it’s not associated with me. As far as SHEILD is concerned, my son is dead.”
Bucky had no idea what to say to that, so he just nodded. “Alright.”
Carter’s place was bigger than he’d expected.
He thought he remembered her having a small townhouse in London proper before she’d been placed in a facility in the other timeline—but maybe that was a decision made after Hydra had started destroying her mind? A smaller place meant a smaller staff. Smaller staff would be much easier for a woman of diminished capacity to manage.
He could land two Quinjets in her current place’s backyard without even disturbing the water features. And there were multiple water features. This was clearly not the home of a woman of fading mentality.
There were no exterior guards which struck Bucky as odd, but they pressed on. He picked their entry point and Coulson followed him without discussion.
“Welcome, Agent Coulson and guest,” a voice that sounded suspiciously like the legendary JARVIS greeted them as soon as they’d closed the window behind them. Bucky closed his eyes rather than curse himself out. Of course, she didn’t have exterior security. Tony fucking Stark was her security. Why would she need additional security? “If you would follow the light strip on your right to the sitting room? Director Carter is waiting for you.”
“Did you know about this?” Bucky asked Coulson under his breath.
“I’ve never been on Director Carter’s protection detail.” Coulson shook his head. “As far as I am aware, there’s supposed to be a SHIELD agent here to interact with her security system. I have no idea what that security system is.”
“It’s Tony Stark’s personal AI, apparently.”
Coulson looked startled by that revelation. “Stark has a functioning AI?”
“Two, I think.”
“That would be something in everyone’s best interest to keep private.” Coulson paused for a moment. “I don’t know that an AI could prepare medicine cups for in advance her, either.”
“We’re talking about Tony Stark,” Bucky reminded him.
Coulson seemed puzzled by the reminder and Bucky let it go. He’d get it sooner or later.
The light strip on their right started blinking which Bucky interpreted as an indication of impatience on behalf of the AI and got a move on. At the end of the lighted path was Carter, looking just like he remembered her—with a little more gray in her hair, and maybe a few wrinkles. Sitting tall in a wingback chair, like a queen on her throne. If front of the fireplace with a gun in hand.
He grinned at her. It was a strange but familiar feeling. A good one. Like he’d just dragged Cap back to camp from whatever nonsense he hadn’t been able to leave well enough alone this time.
She put the safety back on her gun and carefully set it down on her little lamp table.
Then she was up out of her seat and in his face before he could think too much of it. She reached up and cupped his cheek. “You have the face of a dead man.”
“I have my face,” he corrected her. “And I didn’t die. I…walked it off.”
She was quiet for a while, staring at him in a contemplative fashion. “I look forward to that story, Sergeant Barnes.”
“It’s not a good one.” He flexed his left hand where she could see it.
She gave him a sad look. “No, I don’t imagine it is.
“And you, Agent Coulson? I was expecting Agent Rumlow.”
“He won’t be coming, ma’am.”
Carter raised an eyebrow at him.
“Alexander didn’t tell me that.” Carter frowned.
“He’s probably looking for a different Hydra Agent you might accept into your household,” Bucky pulled the bottle of not-her-pills from his pocket. “That or he’s still trying to recover the medicine Hydra made for you from Rumlow’s corpse.”
Carter took the bottle from him and poured several into her hand. “These are not my pills. They certainly look like them but there are no numbers or letters inscribed on either side.”
“Hydra manufactured them,” he explained. “They were going to use them to give you a bad case of dementia.”
Carter took a careful breath. Yeah, she was pissed.
“To discredit me?” she asked. “Because I want to clean up SHIELD?”
“Can you think of a better way to do it? If you did lead a clean-up of SHIELD, you’d find Hydra lurking under the surface pretty much immediately since, you know, Alexander Peirce is the new Red Skull.”
“JARVIS?” Carter called out.
“Yes, Director Carter?” the voice that had greeted them answered.
“Is Tony still in New York?”
“Yes, Director Carter. He had board meetings today and will have stockholder meetings tomorrow.”
“Ask him to meet me for lunch the day after tomorrow. At my place in Washington.”
“Of course, Director.”
“Let him know I’ll have guests. And that he’ll need to leave Pepper Potts behind.”
“Of course, Director.”
“What are you thinking, Peg?” Bucky asked.
She gave him a pained look. “I’m thinking that a Stark helped me build SHIELD, a Stark could help me save it. Even if it’s with nothing more than technological assistance.”
“It’s not like cleaning up SHIELD wouldn’t be in his best interest,” he agreed. “They are definitely a threat to him. They want his weapons. Everyone does. I heard a rumor someone high up in his company might be looking for someone to kill him. It is possible Hydra could be behind that—to keep anyone else from getting his weapons. And even if they’re not, they could end up doing the dirty work—if enough weapons came with it.”
“Do you have a name to go with those coulds and maybes?” Peg asked with narrowed eyes.
“Rumor was Stane.”
“Stane? As in Obadiah Stane, Howard Stark’s business partner? Tony’s COO?” she asked in surprise. “You’re going to have to tell me where you’re getting your information, Sergeant Barnes.”
He shrugged, trying for casual. “Been Hydra’s captive. Slave, basically. Since I fell of the train. I don’t have a lot of memories I can trust, but I know Hydra-ish behavior when I see it. Getting their revenge on the son long after the father that actually offended them was dead is something Hydra would do.”
“It is,” she agreed. “What’s wrong with your memories?”
“I don’t wanna talk about it,” he admitted, exercising his right to choose. He was pretty sure Peg would honor that. “You can read all about the project the subjected me to, they’ll probably give you a better picture of everything. We got the files before we blew their bunker the hell up. After Clint and Natasha rescued me in Budapest.”
“A bunker in Siberia,” she guessed.
“That’s where they kept me,” he confirmed. He tilted his head in question.
“The BBC had news about seismic activity in Russia, the cause was traced back to the collapse of a pre-World War II era military installation.”
Bucky nodded. He didn’t think a collapse explained away how far some of the debris had been scattered but cover stories had never been his concern. He’d always left that nonsense to Peg and Colonel Phillips. So had Steve, for that matter.
“Why would Mr. Stark need to leave Ms. Potts behind?” Coulson asked.
“He does not want her involved with SHIELD at all and I can see how she would find our normal level of intrigue stressful,” she admitted. “I, however, do not appreciate the way she talks to him. As though he were a child and was not, in fact, an adult and successful businessman on his own for several years well before she ever met him.”
Bucky wondered about that. Wondered how a man as intelligent and vibrant Tony Stark had wound up dating—and fuckall knew what else—with a woman that treated him like a child. Was he really so socially isolated that she had seemed like his only option? He could see why Stane would keep Tony socially isolated. It was probably one of the few ways he had to keep him on task. Ensuring no one could put thoughts counter to Stane’s vision in Tony’s head.
He’d check it out for himself but right then and there Bucky decided Team Space was going to fix that one way or another. Tony Stark was getting friends whether he liked it or not.
And, Bucky couldn’t help but grin to himself, he bet he could handle Steve and Tony’s introduction in such a way that Steve would fall all over himself to win Tony’s heart and never let it go. That would kill any plans Stane might have for Stark more thoroughly than anything else he could think of.
“We good to bring in the rest of the team?” he asked. He really wanted to get Clint in a proper bed and maybe an actual visit from a doctor.
Bruce could probably use some time in a decent bed too.
For himself, he wanted a hot shower with soap and actual hair products, not the harsh cleaning agents Hydra had always subjected him to.
“Your team?” Peg asked with some amusement.
“Hawkeye, Black Widow, Hulk, and Narada One and Two.”
“That is…an eclectic list,” she said diplomatically.
“Hawkeye could probably use a doctor,” he said to reiterate the whole bring-them-in thing. “He got a little shot. In Budapest.”
Probably inappropriate laughter bubbled around the edges of her mouth. “As long as it was only a little.
“I will contact Dr. Williamson immediately. What may I advise him in regard to the patient’s condition?”
“He has a graze to his left pectoral,” Coulson spoke up. “Six stitches. Applied by amateurs.”
“Thank you, Agent Coulson.”
“Bring them in,” Peg ordered. “I have five guest bedrooms made up. I hope that’s enough.”
“It will be,” Coulson promised.
“I can park the Quinjet out back?” Bucky decided to check before doing. It was only polite.
“The Quinjet?” she asked, eyebrows high.
“My Quinjet,” he corrected because it was his. He’d taken it from Rumlow—and therefore from Hydra—fair and square. No one was taking it from him.
“Yes, you may park your Quinjet in my yard. In exchange for flying us all to Washington DC the day after tomorrow.”
Since he had been planning to insist on that anyway, he just nodded. “Deal.”
Bucky had just finished washing the shampoo out of his hair when he heard the bathroom door open.
He noted the solid pink form in the mirror through the frosted glass of the stall and relaxed.
There weren’t many people brave enough or stupid enough to ambush him. And there was only one person brave and stupid enough to ambush him naked.
He glanced over his shoulder as Clint slid into the shower behind him.
Callused hands played over his hips before catching a grip on his hipbones. He leaned back and made himself ignore the plasticky sensation of the waterproof dressing against one shoulder blade.
“You’re playing with fire,” he warned the archer as callused fingers danced low on his stomach.
He felt Clint’s grin against his shoulder blade. “It’s great, isn’t it?”
“Right up until you get burned.” He closed his eyes and enjoyed the feel of Clint’s cock against his ass. He hadn’t allowed many people to do that to him, but he thought he might want it from Clint. That, more than anything, told him he’d already been burned. He wasn’t sure what exactly he wanted, but him thinking about taking Clint inside him made it clear he was well outside the terms of the casual thing they had going.
He didn’t want the casual thing to stop, though, so he kept his trap shut as Clint’s hands wandered downward. One hand took his cock while the other cupped his balls. He managed not to embarrass himself while Clint played.
Right up until the head of Clint’s cock nudged the back of his balls and he moaned like a whore.
“There you are, baby,” Clint murmured into his shoulder. His hands joined forces on Bucky’s cock and squeezed. “Doesn’t that feel good?”
“So good,” he agreed as coherently as he could manage.
“Fuck my hands, baby, you know you want to.”
He actually hadn’t known he wanted to, but Clint was absolutely right. Fucking his hands sounded perfect. He braced both of his hands on the wall in front of him and moved his hips the way he knew Clint liked. Clint spooned up behind his back and he got the bonus of feeling Clint’s cock drag along his undercarriage. His cock repeatedly bottomed out against his balls.
He’d never done anything quite like this, but he liked it. A lot.
It could only be better if it was Clint’s ass rather than his hands but then he wouldn’t get Clint’s cock where it was, or his weight against his back.
No, he decided. He didn’t want anything else. This was perfect.
“Come on, baby, come for me.” Clint bit his shoulder and Bucky went off like a shot.
He staggered a turn and pulled Clint against his chest. He kissed Clint. He just— He had to. There was no other choice he could make. Clint was stiff for about half a heartbeat and Bucky was about to pull away when Clint relaxed into it.
He kissed him for everything he was worth, and he didn’t even care when Clint clutched at him with cum covered hands.
Actually, that was his favorite part.
Right up there with the way Clint gasped for breath then Bucky let him up for air.
“Did you need something?” Bucky asked as he casually wrapped his metal hand around Clint’s cock.
Clint shuddered and stared at his cock disappearing over and over again into his Vibranium fist. “Uh,” he tried, and Bucky gave him a squeeze in reward. “Fuck, uh. Fuck. Shopping!”
He gave his wrist a little twist and Clint moaned, all loud and shameless.
“I was going to ask you…if you wanted to take Durai shopping. For computer gear.” And then, so quickly it was practically a single word, “I’m going to need you to stop so I can talk.”
Obediently, Bucky stopped, and Clint groaned in disappointment. Bucky grinned. “Why do I need to take Durai shopping?”
“I don’t know about need, that’s why I came to ask. Figured you might need gear for the hacking stuff we were talking about. You know, for the schematics?”
“Yeah, okay,” that was actually rather thoughtful, so he gave Clint a jerk. It was a bit on the mean side and Clint hissed but he clearly liked it because he followed Bucky’s hand a bit and even fucked it a few times before he stopped himself.
“I set up one of my accounts so you can use it. If you give me the Hydra financials you have, Apurva and I will spend the afternoon making it disappear into accounts for the four of us.”
“The four of us?” he asked.
“Well, mostly us, but they deserve to get paid, too.”
“That they do,” he agreed. “We’ll take the Quinjet, do our shopping in Germany or something.” And then he let go of Clint’s cock and turned like he was going to leave the shower.
Clint made a sound of protest and pushed him back against the wall. “Not before you finished what you started, you won’t.”
Bucky grinned and went down to his knees.
“Oh, fuck,” was Clint’s intelligent response.
“You might want to hang on to something,” he advised his…partner.
“Oh, fuck,” Clint repeated. He sunk one hand in Bucky’s wet hair and gripped the shower door frame with the other.
Satisfied with these arrangements, Bucky finished what he had started.
It was barely five in the morning when Carter ordered all of them onto Bucky’s Quinjet. All of them except the hacker duo, of course.
Carter decided it would be safest for them to remain officially unconnected from the rest of them. She had Phil submit a final report to SHIELD of his recruitment mission that indicated he’d gone to their house for a second visit and they’d vacated in his absence. Then she proceeded to set the duo up in a safehouse she gave no one the details of where she could send them “research requests” and they’d gone.
As far as Clint could tell, they’d gone into the safe house happily. Which was a relief. Not the original plan, but still a relief.
“No plan survives first contact with the enemy,” Bucky had reminded him when he brought it up.
“Carter’s not the enemy,” he’d shot back.
But she was their general, sort of. Bucky was the Sergeant, as he always had been. Clint figured he counted as like a Lieutenant or something, because of his SHIELD experience, mostly, but still…it kinda made sense that the General walked in the room and changed their plans. Smoothed them out, improved them. That was her job, after all.
It was firmly oh-dark-thirty when they crossed the Atlantic and landed the jet in a private, secure hangar in the middle of nowhere Virginia. The hangar turned out to be part of a Stark Industries proving ground. It made sense, there was no way they could park a Quinjet behind Carter’s little DC townhouse but somehow it still surprised Clint.
If he was any sort of party leader, he’d have thought of it but he didn’t fool himself about where his talents laid. He was a solo act that could do team work; he specialized in security—either setting it up or destroying it—and he was a good killer.
Event planning, not his thing.
There were black SUVs waiting for them on the far side of the hangar from the jet’s entrance. The drivers screamed Secret Service to him.
Being able to identify the other team was well within his talents, after all.
“I have a meeting,” Carter informed him almost breezily. She gave him, Bucky, and Bruce all air kisses to their cheeks. “The driver will take you to my home. Be sure to eat breakfast.”
Then she, Coulson, and Nat all climbed into a single SUV and took off.
Clint blinked at Bucky. Bucky, the ass, was nothing less than amused. Well, he supposed, that made it perfectly clear who Team Carter was. He didn’t like it though.
He glanced at Banner who just shrugged and provided no useful opinion.
“Fine,” he huffed and moved to climb in the remaining SUV.
Bucky laughed. “It’s Carter. Everything will be fine.”
He…thought he knew that, but he found it was entirely unhelpful in this particular situation. “You’re an asshole, I hope you know that.”
“I’ll make it up to you with my dick later,” he promised.
Clint just frowned even as Banner huffed a little laugh at them. The worst part was, Barnes was right.
Clint had just finished turning the roast chicken Director Carter’s staff had procured for lunch into chicken salad when Team Carter returned from what he assumed was a meeting with the President.
Carter looked confused to see him doing anything in the kitchen. He could admit he wasn’t really the kind for domestic duty, but he’d had kids, he could adapt.
“A single roast chicken was not going to be enough to feed this group. Not with Bucky and Nat in the group,” he explained to clear up her confusion. He probably should have included Bruce on the list because god knew Bruce was enhanced but, in the future, he’d never eaten more than a regular guy. He’d never eaten more than Tony Stark, to be specific, when they were all together. Upon reflection it seemed somewhat self-harmy but there was nothing he could do about it now.
Other than make sure Bruce never had to think twice about getting food, at least. Hopefully, that would enable him to eat the appropriate number of calories to maintain basic health.
“You’re making it go further,” she realized.
“Yeah. Added celery, green onion, water cress. Mayo and sour cream. Was thinking maybe almonds? You got some nice sliced ones but that might be a step too far.”
Carter considered that. “Building the sandwiches on a grain bread with perhaps some spinach should make it work. And crisps.” She went to one of the few pantries he hadn’t poked his head into and pulled out three large bags of chips.
She pulled down a few large bowls and started opening bags. “Do you know Tony Stark?”
He knew Tony Stark both more and less than he would ever want to admit. “I know what his SHEILD file says.” Carter’s face made her opinion on that perfectly clear. Clint laughed. “I don’t care what Nazi’s have to say about anything, particularly Tony Stark. I’m keeping an open mind.”
“That’s good. Because he’ll be here soon.”
“It seems like the two of you are closer than I expected,” he offered.
“My godson is none of SHIELD’s business.” She said flatly as she started laying different types of bread and rolls on a large cutting board.
“Ah.” She looked at him, but he ignored it. Mostly because what the hell could he say? “We’re going to need help to get this all on the table.”
Somehow it wasn’t a surprise when Bucky showed up in less than a minute to help them out, but Clint very carefully did not poke that bear. They were both adults. If the terms of their agreement had changed, Bucky would let him know.
He was still unaccountably nervous about it so he put his burdens on the dining room table and made his escape. “I’m gonna go grab Banner.”
Bruce, showing the same supernatural food radar as every other enhanced human Clint had ever known, met him about halfway up the steps. Bruce was looking a little shifty to Clint’s experienced eye.
“You okay?” He asked.
“Yeah, yeah,” he rubbed his hands and glanced up the stairs like someone had chased him down but Clint knew no one was up there. He or Bucky would have heard someone making a non-standard entrance and they would have ejected the intruder with prejudice.
On a hunch he said, “Big Guy, give him a break. He’s doing his best.”
Bruce reared back like Clint had slapped him. “What did you—? How? What?”
“There are a lot of theories out there, about you and Hulk. About what he is,” Clint offered.
Bruce frowned. “I did not have a psychotic break during the…thing.”
“No,” Clint agreed. “But you’ve been dealing with terrible things for a very long time. That thing that happened to you just gave your coping method a physical form. A very powerful physical form when you need him, but still.” He shrugged.
Bruce just stared at him in wonder.
Clint got the feeling it wasn’t just Bruce staring at him and he didn’t even know what to do with that. “Lunch is ready,” he said and turned away rather than deal with…that.
He was just about to step off the last stair when Bruce grabbed him and pulled him sharply backwards. He stumbled a bit but didn’t go down as the front door burst open and Tony Stark stepped through like a modern-day Emperor Kuzco.
“What’s shaking?” Tony asked, his best movie star smile was in full effect.
“Lunch,” Clint answered, not bothered by Tony being…well, Tony. This was a different Tony than he had known, though, and it was the work of nothing to note the differences. He was…steadier. No more well rested than future Tony had ever been but the fear that had never left the Tony he’d known’s eyes wasn’t there. The desperation was gone, too.
This Tony hadn’t lost so much. He hadn’t been abandoned and betrayed. He hadn’t faced down Raza and Stane, Vanko and Aldridge. Loki, Ultron, Cap, Thanos. This Tony was by no means innocent but the monsters under the bed hadn’t come out to eat him yet.
Future Tony must have had PTSD coming out his ears, Clint realized, yet again too late to actually do anything about it. Had Tony ever gotten any help? Had he even known or realized that he’d needed help?
Tony Stark dramatically pulled off his sunglasses and blinked at Bruce. “Dr. Banner, I am so glad to meet you. I have been dying to discuss your thoughts on clean energy and I’m a huge fan of the way you lose control and turn into a big green rage monster.”
“Uh, thanks?” Bruce shot him a silent plea for help.
“Everyone’s in the kitchen,” he offered. “Food’s on the table.”
“I love food on the table,” Tony said like he actually meant it. “Lead the way.”
The dining room had quickly become a tense situation for Bucky. Clint had abandoned him ten minutes, thirty-five seconds ago and Peg was breaking the news about Hydra to Stark. He could see speculation in Stark’s eyes whenever he looked at him and they hadn’t even gotten to his parents’ murders yet.
Bucky was not looking forward to it.
Clint ducked out of the kitchen and caught his eye. That was enough to get him up and out of his chair in half a heartbeat.
When he entered the kitchen, Sharon Carter was leaning against the cabinets. Bucky really hoped Clint wasn’t going to sleep with her. He had nothing against her personally but first Stevie, now Clint? What was so fascinating about this dame that they both wanted to fuck her?
“I texted Sharon,” Clint explained. “She agreed to help us with our side project. Did you already make the device?
Relieved, Bucky pulled the device out of his pants pocket. It looked like a USB stick. Probably because it had started life as such, but it was a great deal more dangerous now. “Where you gonna stick it?”
“The back of my own work computer,” she said as she took it. “All of our desktops are concealed. If anyone tracks the breech back to me and crawls down there to find it, I’ll say it was planted. Someone was trying to make Director Carter’s niece look bad.” She gave him wide astonished eyes.
“That’ll work even better once Peg starts kicking things over in SHIELD,” he said with a chuckle. Carter had solid brass balls. No wonder Stevie had liked her.
She grinned. “I’m going to pop in and say hi, then leave. I’m not scheduled on duty until Monday, so I’ll plant it then.” Her ponytail bounced merrily as she left the room. He listened to her greetings to Peg and Stark before he turned back to Clint.
Clint was watching him with some concern.
“Do we need to renegotiate?” Clint asked solemnly.
“Our arrangement. Do we need to renegotiate?”
“Our fucking each other arrangement?” Bucky asked to clarify.
“You looked like you were going to throw up when you saw her and I together.”
Bucky sighed. Figures Hawkeye would live up to his name at the worst time possible. “I was scared the two of you were going to offer me a threesome.”
“You, me, and Cap’s girlfriend?” Clint raised a skeptical eyebrow and glanced at the door to make sure they were still alone. “How scandalous.”
Bucky laughed. It hadn’t been a ridiculous thought, look at what they’d done with Nat.
“I’m not really feeling women at this minute,” Clint offered, and Bucky ignored the floaty feeling in his chest. “I don’t know what I want. Other than to get fucked.”
“Me either,” he agreed. “I don’t know what I want. I mean, I want you—but I don’t know in what way.”
Clint chewed on his bottom lip for a minute. “I don’t think I want monogamy. Not now, anyway.”
“You want to sleep with other people?” Bucky asked, just to be clear.
“Yeah.” Clint shook his head. “Maybe?” He huffed at himself. “I don’t want to give up the option?”
“And you don’t mind if I sleep with other people?” he asked, though he already knew he didn’t want to. He just needed to be sure this went both ways.
Clint nodded. “Go for it.”
“Do I have to report it to you?”
“Do you want me to report my fucks to you?” Clint squinted at him.
“Not particularly.” He…really didn’t like the idea of Clint telling who fucked him. Like they were keeping score or something. Making a hit list, maybe.
Bucky took a deep breath, “And if what I want changes later?”
“Then you come talk to me,” Clint said like that was easy as anything.
“Talk to you?” His voice betrayed his skepticism. He felt it was justified, discussing changes he wanted to the established…status had never gone over well with Stevie.
“Yeah,” Clint drawled. “You know, like we’re adults or something.”
That probably shouldn’t be amusing, right? “And it doesn’t have to have a huge romantic gesture? No heart to heart? Not going to cost me my soul or any of that other romcom shit?”
“See?” Clint shook a finger at him. “Thing about souls is they aren’t really moveable goods. Maximum value, minimum storage requirement but you can’t resell them for fuckall.”
“Souls are a dead currency, is what you’re saying.” Bucky grinned.
Clint nodded sagely. “On this plane of existence.”
“Not really interested in other planes?”
“Fuck no,” Clint scoffed. “I like having a body too much.”
“Same,” Bucky laughed.
“We’re good,” he agreed. “No monogamy, no reporting. Just…” He didn’t have words for what they were. So, he told Clint that because Clint was a modern man that probably would. “I have no words for what we are.”
“Friends with Benefits,” Clint supplied. “We’re Friends with Benefits. Bed Fellows. Fuck Buddies. Bum Chums. Fuckmates—”
“Stop,” Bucky laughed and pulled Clint against him. “You’re an asshole.”
“Just returning the favor,” Clint grinned.
“You’ll make it up to me with your ass later,” he sassed and smacked said ass.
“Do that again and you’ll make it up to me with your cock right now.” Clint gave him a heated look.
“Um,” Bruce knocked on the door frame of the kitchen’s side entrance. “Uh, Ms. Carter. Wants you both in the dining room.”
“Yeah, okay,” Clint agreed easily as he extracted himself from Bucky’s arms.
He pointed at Bucky from three steps away. “Bruce saved you this time, but you won’t be so lucky later.”
Bucky laughed and followed him back into the dining room.
“The last thing I have to tell you, Tony,” Peg was saying as they took their seats. “Is that your parents did not die in a car accident.”
Tony very carefully put down the little champagne flute of orange juice he had been sipping and braced both hands on the table. “Based on everything else you’ve told me, I’m going to assume Hydra did it.”
“That’s correct. More, for some reason, the agent that did it allowed the event to be recorded and made it look as though Sergeant Barnes committed the act.”
Tony very carefully didn’t look at any of them. “And did he?”
“No,” she shook her head. “We have Hydra’s files on the project he was used for as well as an eyewitness that both state his handlers attempted to give him the mission—but even in his mind washed state, he refused. Upon the second attempt to give him the order, he decided they were giving him a protection mission and killed over thirty people in defense of your parents before he was disabled.”
Stark shot him a look; he was red around the eyes. “Thanks for trying.”
Bucky nodded, not sure what else he could do.
Tony was quiet for a bit. “Do you know why? Why they would make it look like Barnes did it when he didn’t? Cause I got nothing.”
“I have some thoughts on that, actually,” Clint offered, and they all turned to him. He shrugged. “You kept up your dad’s Artic Expeditions for Rogers, right? In your dad’s honor or whatever? So, if Bucky had escaped and remembered who he was, it wouldn’t be unreasonable that he might turn to you. For protection, assistance, whatever. Or if the government caught him, you might put your foot in it for Rogers’ and your dad’s sakes.”
“That’s…” Tony frowned. “Not unreasonable. Yeah, I’d probably do it for my dad if nothing else.”
“So, you take him in, help him out—for your father—and then they drop that video on you that makes it look like he murdered your father. What would you do?”
Tony huffed. “I can’t say I wouldn’t kick him out.”
“Which would land him right back in Hydra’s hands.” Clint concluded. “It was a backup plan. One they probably decided on after he refused to kill Howard himself.”
Tony nodded but had nothing else to say on the matter.
“I would ask that you take Sergeant Barnes and Agent Barton with you when you return to California,” Peg marshalled on. “I believe there are several factors in our current situation that could become true threats to you and I cannot think of a better possible team to protect you.”
“And there’s the fact that we need to lay low from Hydra for a while,” Clint offered. “They’re going to want him back and they can prove I was involved in his escape because my preferred weapon is a little…unusual.”
Peg huffed at him.
Clint frowned. “Like you weren’t going to tell him.”
“I was going to establish your security credentials first,” she explained primly.
“We’re the people at least two global organizations would have sent to kill you if they chose to eliminate you,” Clint said baldly. “Which makes us the best choice to keep our stand-ins from succeeding.”
Stark didn’t seem to know what to say to that, which, fair.
“We got a Quinjet, if you got a room,” Bucky offered.
Stark shook his head. “Banner’s with you?”
Bucky and Clint looked to the scientist. Banner tipped his head in answer. “The Big Guy wants to stick with Clint, so, yeah.”
“Two bedrooms,” Bucky corrected himself.
“So, hacking and harboring three fugitives,” Stark turned back to Peg. “Anything else?”
“Obadiah Stane is selling Stark weapons on the black market and a credible threat to you. I have people already looking for proof of his dealings to expedite his lifetime membership at Club Fed.” Stark took that news with a whole-body flinch and Bucky kind of hated how Peg just…threw it out there. “I advise you to avoid him as much as possible and never be alone with him when you can’t.”
“Alright,” Stark agreed. “I’ll keep one of your trio with me. But I want to see the proof before you arrest Obie.”
“I was also going to ask Dr. Banner to analyze these pills,” she pulled out the pill bottle Bucky had given her. “I’ve been told Hydra planned to give them to me and I have a general idea of what they were intended to do. I’m hoping, Dr. Banner, that a scientist as gifted as yourself can verify what they do and perhaps find a cure for that particular illness.”
“Of course.” Banner took the pill bottle and gave it a shake. “I’ll do my best.”
“We need to tell them,” Clint told him softly as they finished tying the tarp covering the Quinjet down on the helipad at Stark’s private mansion.
Bucky frowned. “You mean that we—?”
“Yeah.” Clint nodded.
“If there is a single person on this planet that can figure out that we time-traveled just by living with us, it’s Tony Stark. If there are two that could do it, they are Tony Stark and Bruce Banner.”
“Two, Tony Stark and Princess Shuri,” he countered. “Three, Tony Stark, Princess Shuri, and Bruce Banner.”
Clint waved that off, “I’ll take your word for it. I’ve never met the Princess.” Because he’d refused Cap’s breakout so long ago. Instead, he’d stuck around and made a deal that had kept him tied up on house arrest when everything had gone down. “But there’s also JARVIS to consider. He runs Tony’s life, basically. He’s going to notice your hacking.”
“And we’ll probably need Stark anyway,” Bucky agreed because it had been on his mind all long. He hadn’t expected Peg to just throw them at Stark but it presented them with something of an opportunity. “It’s better to invite him in from go rather than get caught out and forced to include him.
“And talk about a toxic work environment, if we made him think we didn’t want him around while living in his house on his dime.”
Clint winced at that and Bucky chose to ignore it. Nothing they could do about past mistakes now. Nothing other than do better, at least.
“Mr. Stark,” Bucky called out as they left the jet. “We need to have a discussion. All four of us. All five, if you want JARVIS involved. As private as you can make it.”
Stark just raised an eyebrow at him and nodded. “My lab, then.”
He led them into the house and all the way into the basement. The lab set deep within the rocks of the cliff the house was built into with only thin clerestory windows letting in natural light in from up near the very top of the room.
“Lock us down, J,” Stark ordered as he leaned against one of the worktables. All of the others followed his lead. “And listen to this.”
“Of course, Sir. Privacy is assured.”
Bucky looked at Clint who shrugged and focused on the two rather patiently waiting scientists. “Bucky and I are from the future.”
Starks eyebrows shot up. “Got any proof of that?”
Clint thought about it. He wasn’t sure why he hadn’t expected that question. Stark was a scientist, after all.
For a lack of any other proof, he pulled off his shirt to show the extensive scaring he’d managed to keep from everyone but Nat, Bucky, and the doctor Director Carter had brought in to treat him so far. “I got killed in 2023 by an alien species called Chitauri that were serving as the army for the Mad Titan during his third attack on Earth.”
Bucky reached out and fingered Clint’s chest, specifically his left nipple. “I didn’t even notice they tore you up here. I just saw the damage on your ribs.”
“Well, you’ve only really fucked me from behind, so far.”
Bucky nodded and took off his shirt too. “My story’s a little more complicated.”
“Your arm’s Vibranium.” Stark announced, recognizing it immediately.
“I escaped Hydra the first time in the middle of the Hydra/SHIELD Civil War in 2014.
“In 2016, an outsider used me to divide the Avengers by framing me for King T’Chaka’s murder by bomb. The robotic prosthetic Hydra gave me was destroyed in the resultant combat. The Avengers eventually realized I hadn’t done it and I was taken in by Prince T’Challa, sheltered in Wakanda. His little sister Princess Shuri fixed the mental programming Hydra had me under for decades and made me a new arm when they needed me to fight again.
“I died in the Mad Titan’s second attack on Earth in 2018 along with half of all life in the universe. The Avengers brought all of us back just before the Titan’s third attack in 2023.
“I found Clint while he was dying during that battle. The person that sent him back accidentally got me too.”
Silence reigned for several moments and Bucky let it.
“That’s how you know SHIELD is currently compromised by Hydra,” Bruce realized. “Because you were both there when they, what? When they revealed themselves.”
“Well, they were more trying to use SHIELD to kill everyone that would oppose their rule,” Bucky explained. “Including everyone in this room but me. The side effect of that, though, was that they revealed themselves, yes.”
“You told Aunt Peg about Obie?” Tony asked.
Clint took that one. “Yeah. About three months from now, in the other timeline, you were kidnapped while on a weapons demonstration in Afghanistan. Colonel Rhodes was tearing up assholes from Kabul to DC trying to find you. SHIELD had me and a few others on the ground looking for you when you managed to rescue yourself. I had a great view of your flight out, but I was on the wrong side of the mountain to actually help.”
“And that was Obie?”
“He’d paid them to kill you,” Clint confirmed. “But when they realized who the target was and how much he’d underpaid them, they decided to keep you to make you build weapons for them while extorting him for more weapons to finish the job.”
“You made them regret every bit of it,” Bucky added, not feeling the least bit weird about the pride he felt for the other man. He’d kind of become something of Bucky’s idol in the other time. Not just for the totally sci-fi life he’d lived but because of how thoroughly he’d kicked his captors in the face for what they’d done to him. Every time they’d done it to him.
Fighting Stark like he’d had to for Stevie had sucked on so many levels.
“Half the life in the universe?” Banner asked. “The Titan killed half of all life in the universe? How’d that happen?”
“A weapon of alien origin,” Clint answered brusquely. “The less said about it the better.”
“The reason we’re telling you this,” Bucky explained instead, “is because we need to get off planet to kill the Titan and prevent the weapon’s creation. We know where we can get some plans for spaceships and Clint was exposed to several in the future, too, but none of them really meet our needs—”
Stark held up a hand. When he stopped talking, Tony asked, “You want us to design you a spaceship?”
“Just a little one?” Bucky winced.
“Well, I’m in.” Stark stood and turned to Bruce. “You in?”
“What self-respecting nerd wouldn’t want to build a spaceship?” Bruce asked. “What’s the timeline on the plans?”
“Sharon said she couldn’t get our network infiltration device into place until Monday,” Clint explained. “So, day after tomorrow.”
“Maybe a little longer,” Bucky corrected. “Depending on how long it takes me to hack SHIELD.”
“We’ll have to study what you get us,” Bruce told him. “We’re talking about science that’s still theoretical from, you know, the point of view of Earth. We need to learn it and understand it so we can recreate it.”
Clint grinned. “The intergalactic jump system is going to blow your mind.”
“Welcome to Team Space,” Bucky said after Clint, Banner and Stark were done snickering.
“We can’t call it Team Space,” Clint looked at him, aghast. “That just gives the whole thing away.”
“Well then, what do you want to call it?”
Clint thought about it, snickered to himself. “Barton, Banner, Barnes. Clearly, we’re the B-Team.”
“Hey!” Stark objected.
“No offense, Stark. You can be an honorary Barton. You know, since you’re the deadliest person in the room.”
“Excuse you!” Bucky objected.
“Dude,” Clint gave him a look that said bitch, please clear as day. “You are not as hard as you think you are. Not dissing your skills or anything but his body count is way higher than yours, with all the weapons he’s made.”
“What puzzles me is you say that like it’s a good thing,” Banner admitted in wonder.
“I am what I am and that’s all that I am,” Clint quoted Popeye the Sailor Man to Bucky’s unending surprise. “And I am an assassin. For the government or whatever, but that’s what it comes down to.
“Stark was totally the deadliest Avenger, when the gloves came off.”
“I was an Avenger?” Stark asked in surprised.
“We all were,” Clint admitted.
Bucky felt like he hadn’t really earned that distinction but he didn’t want to actually argue about it.
“Is that why you stood up for the,” Banner pointed at his head rather than directly mention the Hulk. “Because you knew him?”
“Yes and no,” Clint shrugged. “When I heard him roar, I just responded. Habit, I guess. Because we were teammates. But then I saw Ross and fuck. That man’s been bullying you for years, I couldn’t let him just…keep doing it.”
Clint focused on Bucky. “He was a huge problem in the future. We might need to…take care of that, too.”
“You two are not talking about assassinating a high-ranking Army General in my house,” Tony protested. “Right in front of me? Are you serious?”
“What other options do we have?” Bucky asked because he really wanted to know.
“I’ll ruin him,” Stark said in exasperation. “I’d have already done it for Bruce, if I’d known Ross was the source of his problems. J, start researching Ross. I want to know everything about him. And start building a strategy to make him a non-entity and preferably put him in jail ASAP.”
“Of course, Sir.”
“There’s also the issue of Captain America,” Clint added. “His ship will be uncovered soon. We should head up there and fetch him before SHIELDra gets the chance to fuck him up again.”
“Alright, I’m at max. I need processing time,” Stark announced. “J will show you your rooms and the lab Bruce can use. I’m going to lock myself in this lab for a few hours, so I need you all to get out now. J?”
“Of course, Sir.
“Dr. Banner, Sergeant Barnes, Agent Barton, if you would go to the door and follow the light strip to the left. I will guide you through all of the amenities Sir has placed at your disposal. Will anyone be sharing rooms?”
“Clint and I will be,” Bucky answered immediately.
Clint shot him a look but didn’t argue as the three of them trooped out of Stark’s private lab. He was quiet through the visit to the lab Stark was giving Banner, the study JARVIS wanted Bucky to do his hacking in, the kitchen, dining room, the pool.
On the way up the stairs to the bedroom, their tour guide offered, “If you will provide me sizes and preferences, I will order appropriate clothing for all of you as well as anything else I can to make your stay with Sir more comfortable.”
And Clint finally broke his silence. “Thanks, J.”
“Of course, Agent Barton.
“Dr. Banner, the door on the right will be your room for the duration of your stay. Agent Barton, Sergeant Barnes, the room at the end of this hall is yours.”
Clint nodded and lead the way into the room. Once Bucky had the door closed, he spoke again. “J, privacy protocols.”
The door clicked locked and the AI announced, “Monitoring will resume when door is opened.”
Bucky swallowed hard. He didn’t think he’d fucked up any boundaries. They hadn’t negotiated whether they’d room share or not, but they had been this entire time so…
Clint hooked a finger at him and Bucky walked over. When he was in range, Clint hooked fingers into the belt loops of his combat pants and pulled him in until the bumped against each other. Clint raised his face like he wanted a kiss and Bucky bent down to give it to him but Clint spoke before they made contact. “You haven’t fucked me today.”
Twenty-three hours and forty-five minutes. It had been twenty-three hours and forty-five minutes since he’d gotten Clint off in that shower, if he wanted to be exact but that was approximately a day.
“You are so neglected,” he tutted down at the archer.
“You better fix it,” Clint agreed. “Or I just might wither away.”
“We can’t have that, now can we.” Bucky leaned back a bit and unfastened Clint’s jeans. When they hit Clint’s ankles, he pushed him backward so he fell onto the bed. Clint was still not wearing underwear and Bucky still found it to be the hottest thing he’d ever seen.
He kicked off his own shoes once he had Clint completely bare and crawled up his body.
He nipped at Clint’s hip bone on his way up his body just to make him jump but Clint gave him a little moan as a bonus.
Clint threw his hands up and gripped the other side of the bed, making his arm muscles pop forward in gorgeous definition. Bucky took a moment to just look down at him, he had no idea where he wanted to start.
Well, no, that wasn’t true.
He dropped his mouth down to Clint’s poor, maligned little nipple.
Clint hissed. “Careful.”
Bucky looked up and quirked an eyebrow at him.
“It’s sensitive.” Bucky bit it, just a little. “Very sensitive,” he groaned.
Bucky grinned but backed off. There were extensive scars that needed his tongue’s attention.
“Fuck, Bucky,” Clint groaned under him and tried to push him downward. Eventually, Bucky let him have his way but kept going right past Clint’s cock. Clint huffed in irritation until he used his fingers to spread his ass and lick Clint’s hole.
“Oh, fuck,” Clint praised. “Let me turn over. For this, I need to turn over.”
Bucky sat up and helped him turn over. Then pulled Clint’s ass right up to his face and got to work.
Clearly, Clint loved it. He praised everything little thing Bucky did and begged for more. He only complained when Bucky stopped even though their position had to be destroying his spine.
Eventually, Bucky put him down on his own hands and knees and knelt behind him to finish the job. Clint was coming on his tongue or—no, no or. Clint shouted and came the second Bucky scraped the nails of his right hand down Clint’s thigh.
Maybe it was cheating but he’d take it.
Bucky pulled back and smacked Clint’s ass like he had before, expecting their encounter to be over.
But Clint just groaned and demanded, “More.”
So, Bucky smacked him again, this time with the left hand. Clint groaned as the cold metal hand soothed the area. “Again.”
Bucky alternated sides and hands and strengths until Clint was a trembling mess.
Then clamped his hand at the base of Clint’s cock so he couldn’t come.
“Buck!” he objected.
“You’re such a slut for it,” he said in wonder. “You just want it. All of it you can get, anywhere you can get it.”
“Yes!” Clint hissed. “Come on, Bucky, fuck me. I want you to, please.”
He smacked him again while checked the bedside table. Thankfully, he found lube. You could always trust a Stark to stock a guest suite with lube.
He ground his cloth-covered crotch against Clint’s ass just to see if he could make him whine. He did and it was fucking music. Bucky undid his pants just enough to pull his cock out but not enough for them to fall off. He wanted Clint to feel his pants on his ass every time he slammed home.
“You ready for this?” He asked as he teased his slicked-up self against Clint’s hole.
“Yes, please. Bucky, fuck.”
He pushed his way inside. When he was as far as he could go, he ground against Clint’s ass, making sure he could feel his pants again.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” was Clint’s articulate opinion.
Bucky pulled him back until he was seated in his lap, Clint’s back to his chest. “I bet we could take turns fucking you, me and Stevie,” he panted hotly in Clint’s ear. “Isn’t that right, baby?”
“God, that’s—hot. Yes. God.”
“I bet we could fuck you at the same time and you’d still want more.”
“Yes. Fuck yes, Bucky, please.”
“How did you ever marry a woman,” he wondered idly. “When you’re this cock hungry.”
“Buck,” he whined and this time it was edging close to distress.
“Shh, baby, I’ll take care of you.”
“Fuck, just. Give it to me. Bucky, please. Sir.”
And, just like that, Bucky had no more teasing left in him. He gripped Clint’s hips and rolled his own until they were moving together perfectly.
“Fuck!” Clint reached up with both hands. One settled in Bucky’s hair to grip. The other he stuffed in his mouth.
Bucky hated that, He didn’t want Clint to silence himself ever, so he bit down on his neck where the grip of Clint’s hand had placed his face. Clint immediately pulled his hand out of his mouth with a shout and came all over himself.
“Maybe I’m this cock hungry because I married a woman,” Clint offered.
“Or it could be the five-year dry spell while I was running around Earth murdering everyone.”
Bucky just hummed.
Clint rolled up on one side to look at the guy. He was covered in sweat and his hair was a disaster, but he was breathing normally and he definitely wasn’t flushed or anything “I can get off without shooting my load, you know.”
That got Bucky’s attention. “What?”
“I can get off without shooting my load. You don’t have to squeeze me to keep me from shooting off, which you’ve done a couple times, but it’s not necessary.”
“Yeah?” Bucky tipped his head curiously. “How’d you learn to do that?”
“Laura hated the mess,” he shrugged. “She didn’t let me do it inside her unless we were making a kid. And I hate condoms.”
Bucky decided not to touch that with a ten-foot pole. “So, I could fuck you like you’re a woman?” he said instead. “Get you off again and again until I was done?”
“Yeah,” Clint sucked in his own bottom lip attractively. “Get my cunt all nice and messy.”
“I’m not sure how many times I can do it, though. Most I’ve done is three.”
“Not getting any less hot.” Bucky watched through slitted eyes as Clint flopped back on the bed, satisfied with whatever that was all about. “I have a…probably inappropriate fantasy about that cave.”
Clint turned his head to look at him. “You mean the one you found me dying in?”
“That’s the one,” Bucky agreed and opened his eyes.
“Tell me,” Clint ordered.
“Well, you’re not dying. But you are pinned under a space dog because you won’t let go of the Gauntlet. Bent over where I can see your whole back. Broad shoulders, bubble butt.”
Clint laughed but it turned into a moan when Bucky fisted his swelling cock.
“I pull your pants down just enough for me to get at your hole and I fuck you right then and there, while you clutch the Gauntlet.
“T’Challa finds us because Cap ordered him to find the Gauntlet too. Maybe he takes a ride after I’m done.”
“Maybe he stays focused and takes the Gauntlet, finishes the mission while I finish you. Maybe Sam finds us. Or Cap. How do you think he’d react, finding us fucking on the job? You think he’d call us out on it? Or join in?”
“Goddamn.” He gave Clint a little squeeze and he shuddered. “Bucky!”
“Maybe that robot girl finds us. Bet she could grow a pretty blue dick for you.”
Clint pushed his hand off his cock and rolled them so that he had Bucky pinned. “Okay, seriously, you better be ready to go again or I’m going to kick your ass.”
“Oh, I’m ready to go again.” He flexed his hips so that his dick rubbed across Clint’s hole. “You should put your pants back on. For, what was it? Verisimilitude.”
It was closing in on midnight when Clint finally made it down to the kitchen for food. No one was around. Not Bruce, not Tony. Bucky was still up in their room showering because he’d let Clint go first.
“JARVIS?” he called out as he put the finishing touches on his sandwich.
“Yes, Agent Barton?”
“Has Tony left his lab? Like, at all?”
“No, Agent Barton.”
“If I take him food, will you let me into his lab?”
“Yes, Agent Barton.” After meeting Vision, he was pretty sure he was not imagining the notes of relief in the AI’s voice.
So, Clint built a second sandwich to take down to Tony. Then a third and fourth one for Bucky when he wandered down. For good measure, he prepared some of the tea he found on the cabinets. He remembered Bruce drinking them the last go-round so JARVIS must have gotten all the different kinds for him. He picked the one that wasn’t caffeinated that he thought Tony had liked and tried not to feel like a shitbag because he couldn’t be sure.
“Alright, J, let’s go.”
JARVIS didn’t verbally respond but all of the doors between him and Tony opened themselves as he got to him and closed themselves after he passed so he made the trip unhindered.
“You look a little lost,” he said to announce himself as he entered Tony’s lab.
And Tony did, he looked lost and unhappy with a bottle of beer dangling from two fingers. Tony’s eyebrows gave a little dance of concession. “I feel a little lost.”
“Wanna talk about it?” Clint asked as he set the food he brought down in front of Tony. Then he sat down and started eating his own.
“That bit you said earlier, about me being the deadliest Avenger. About my weapons.”
“That fucked me up,” Tony admitted as he picked up his sandwich and followed suit.
“Sorry, I wasn’t trying to hurt you,” he said honestly.
Stark shrugged and looked away. After an extended silence, he asked, “What do you do?”
Tony nodded as he poked at the chip bowl.
“Whatever the hell I want, within certain bounds.”
“Whatever the hell you want?”
“I wanted to shoot arrows; I shoot arrows. I didn’t want to kill Nat; I didn’t kill Nat.”
“Simple as that?”
“Well, it wasn’t simple at first,” Clint conceded. “But I pushed through, paid my dues, now I’m here. My family’s all dead and I’m single so it’s not like anyone can tell me not to.”
“I’m there, too,” Stark admitted. “No family, single. Well, I got Obie and Pepper. They both think they’re the boss of me.”
“But they’re not,” Clint asserted.
Tony shrugged. “I guess Obie thinks he owns me. That he can just kill me off whenever he wants to. Like the Golden Goose.”
Clint winced. He’d heard a lot of people refer to Tony Stark like that over the years. He had no idea what it meant that Tony was doing it now, too. Other than that, he probably needed therapy.
“If you could do anything,” he asked suddenly. “If you could dive into any technological field with the full weight of your company behind you, what would it be?”
“Communications,” Tony answered without having to even think about it. “Cell phones, I think they’re going somewhere. They might even replace computers someday, who knows. Not sold on the whole virtual computer screen in your eye-glasses thing—I think that’s a little too Star Trek—but it might be worth a shot. And I think tablets could change people’s lives if we did it right.”
“What do you mean?”
“Like, older people or the visually disabled. We could change the screen’s output to help them read again whether the problem is size or colors or whatever. Maybe combine it with other technologies to help them see, period.
“Maybe we could do the same with the aurally disabled.
“Or, I’ve heard people talk about art supplies being expensive, right? So poor kids can’t really explore it much—that door is closed to them—but Steve Rogers grew up poor and my dad always talked about how talented he was. Give a kid like that a tablet with the right capabilities? A hundred bucks and he’s got a lifetime supply of art supplies in his hand.” Tony looked excited, passionate about the idea.
“That could change their entire life,” Clint offered.
“Yeah,” Tony agreed. Then he deflated. “But I’d never get it past Obie and the Board. They’d never let me stop making weapons.”
Ah, jackpot. “So, you don’t wanna make weapons?”
“No,” Tony snorted bitterly.
“Do you have to stop making weapons all at once?”
Tony looked up at him, “What?”
“Is this a binary decision? If you do one, you can’t do the other, kinda thing?”
“No,” Tony drawled, frowning at him.
“Okay, so, stick your foot into cell phones. Convince the Board to indulge you. You’re a genius, you need pampering.”
Tony grinned at him and rolled his eyes.
“You still work on weapons,” Clint continued. “But you slowly start to take less and less weapons contracts from the government. Put out more and more of the tech you actually want to have your name on, say over a decade or two. By the time anyone notices you’re out of the weapons business, other people will have already filled the spaces you left open and it’ll be too late for them to do anything about it. The Board or the government.
“Or you could buy out the Board and do what you want anyway.” Clint shrugged. “But I’d still go for a gradual move out of weapons. Past experience shows that the American government does not take rejection well at all.”
“I’m the majority shareholder,” Tony started slowly, like he was warming up to it. “Theoretically, I could overrule them.”
“Are there buyout clauses for any of the major stockholders? At least the ones that actually work within the company? I can’t see your dad letting people buy into his vision for the future without the ability to kick them out whenever he wanted.”
“You’re brilliant,” Tony said like it was a revelation.
“Yeah, I know. Come on, finish your sandwich and we’ll go work out.”
“What?” Stark squawked.
“Your whole top floor is a gym with a 365-degree view and it was practically covered in dust when I saw it earlier.”
“It was not!” Tony protested.
“Okay, fine, it wasn’t but I can tell you don’t use it at all.”
“Of course, I don’t. Why would I work out?”
“Because it’s great for your depression,” Clint coaxed. “Come on.”
“You’re a terrible person,” Tony declared.
“And I hate you.”
“I’ve heard that before.”
“I don’t care if you’re brilliant, I actually do hate you.”
“Yeah. And if you’re good, I’ll let you play with my bow later. Now, chop chop.”
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