|At the End of the Line
Author: Mindswander PM
Follow up to If You Only Asked and Endlessly. A timeline is always in motion. Each decision, no matter how small, altering its fragile state. Places change, people too, although sometimes for the worse, and yet everything continues without pause. If Steve had known, could have predicted the future somehow, maybe, he thinks, maybe he could have stopped it.Rated: Fiction T - English - Hurt/Comfort/Angst - Thor & Captain America/Steve R. - Chapters: 15 - Words: 23,432 - Reviews: 67 - Favs: 39 - Follows: 61 - Updated: 04-29-13 - Published: 06-18-12 - id: 8232109
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's note: Wow it's taken me a while, but I'm back again and in Australia! It's a bit chilly here, but it's nice so far.
Anyway, sorry this chapter is a bit short, but from now on I imagine they'll be shorter just because it's easier to get the story done this way; I'll be able to update more often.
So...yeah, enjoy! I think this chapter puts an interesting spin on things.
Disclaimer: I don't own The Avengers.
Tony hates the pinched expression on Steve's face. It's the first snowfall of the season and it's early…again. Halloween isn't even here yet, but even now, almost a year removed from Thor leaving and sometimes Steve just isn't himself.
There's hardly any snow really, just a few inches, but its good packing snow and Tony scoops some into a ball before aiming and throwing it at Steve where it lands with a wet plop on his neck. Steve scowls as he turns to Tony.
"Oh I'm sorry princess. Too cold for you?"
Steve's face twitches before he bends down and makes his own snowball to launch it at Tony, maybe a little too hard, but it's on now. Frustrated growls and tinkling laughs fill the air as they battle it out.
Unsurprisingly, Natasha takes them all out one by one until they're begging for mercy from her cold snowball fury; she's impossible to hit and has insane accuracy.
"Give up?" Her voice is pure glee as Tony squirms under her while she stuffs small chunks of snow into the front of his shirt.
"Yes, you she-devil!" Natasha smiles triumphantly, stuffing in one last bit of snow before getting up. Tony growls at her as she smiles down on him and Bruce comes over to help Tony up, brushing the snow off his back once he's standing. The whole group is scowling at the grinning red head.
"You're all such sore sports. I know if Thor was here he would have put up a better fight than you all," she says finally. Tony is amazed at how casual she sounds when forming the name on her lips. That word had fast become poison, taking out Steve then Clint then Natasha and finally Tony and Bruce as the sadness or irritation slid from person to person, infecting the whole group and ruining whatever fun or peace they had been having.
It is just better if they never mention him at all.
But it is too late now and Tony is frustrated that all his good work has been in vain as he watches Steve all but check out taking a frowning Clint with him.
"Let's just go back, huh?" Bruce asks quietly. Natasha nods as Clint and Steve start walking in tandem, the other three trailing behind them.
Tony is glowering at the back of Natasha's head when Bruce grabs his hand and gives it a firm squeeze catching his attention. When his eyes land on his face, Tony exhales slowly. Bruce's face is pulled into a sad smile and Tony knows Bruce saw what he tried to do…and Tony is surprised. He's somehow always surprised at just how well Bruce understands him even when he doesn't always understand himself.
Tony smiles back halfheartedly and doesn't let go of the hand in his grip as they walk home.
Clint is lost.
He's been watching Steve since the moment Thor left and though he hides it better now, Clint doesn't think it seems that Steve feels any better. He only seems more lonely and crushed every time his mask slips and Clint is pissed at Thor for it.
How could he just leave Steve here like this, with no words or contact for almost a year? If he really loved him so much (he never heard them say it to each other but Clint didn't have to hear it to know) then how could he do this? It didn't sit right with him.
Out on the balcony, facing the thing he seems to hate most, Steve shifts as a gust of bitter wind slants the snowflakes fluttering in the air. Clint scrubs a hand over his face.
Not right at all.
Standing from where he is perched on the back of Thor's couch (he was startled at how long it took him to realize Steve stayed here and practically never ventured to his own floor anymore), he goes to slide the balcony door open and pops his head out into the chilled air. "Steve, get back in here. We don't need Captain American catching a cold."
"You know I won't," he answers but Clint is pleased when he does what is asked of him anyway.
Clint wanders into the kitchen area trailed by Steve and they work around each other in a familiar rhythm. It's almost effortless, but it took months to get this rapport which started not even a day after Steve's breakdown. They had come to spend more time with each other when Clint would always seem to appear the moment Steve felt he needed company (Clint could always see the subtle confusion in his eyes when this happened), but he accepted it and one time became ten times until they came to be as they are.
Set up with hot chocolate and popcorn, the silent duo head to the couch where Steve plops down and Clint pops in a movie before settling next to Steve.
The movie is good and Clint is enjoying himself in a distant fashion, but he can't quiet pay attention as he would like when upon first glance in his direction, Steve is clearly not really watching. His face is pulled in concentration on Thor no doubt and Clint grimaces. This is absolutely everything he did not want.
Turning his body fully toward Steve, the man turns his eyes to him too as Clint stares at him. Long moments drag by and the movie continues on without their notice until he doesn't know what possesses him, but suddenly his lips are on Steve's hot and insistent.
In the moments that it takes for Clint to come back to himself, he realizes Steve is not kissing him too and opens his eyes to find blue eyes looking back at him. He pulls away.
"Clint…" Steve says tone soft. The ways his name hangs in the air makes his heart twist and wishes, in vain, he did not have one at all.
"Steve…" he puts a hand on his face with gentleness he wasn't even aware he was capable of, "Steve," he whispers and leans forward again just brushing their lips together.
Though he doesn't exactly respond he doesn't push him away so Clint, encouraged, climbs into Steve's lap and suddenly Steve is there with him too, kissing back hard and demanding. Clint feels the tears on his cheeks as he wraps his arms around his neck and kisses him back harder, all tongue and teeth. Clint accepts it, accepts that this won't be gentle and just takes and takes and takes, absorbing everything Steve will let him until he feels nothing at all.
When they're done Steve's lips are red and bruised and guilt is edging in from the corner of his eyes and Clint hates himself just as much as Thor.
Clint shakes his head and attempts to get up, but Steve's hands hold him in place. He pushes his face into Clint's chest.
His words are muffled, but Clint can hear the clear lines of guilt weaving through his voice and it's heartbreaking and he knows it's wrong, that really he should say no, but he can't. The desperation and pleading hold him there as much as Steve's grip does so he stays, slumping forward onto his chest. He digs his fingers into Steve's shoulders as he clings, afraid and knowing, that he will bolt if given the chance. He doesn't do this.
He really doesn't do this.
And yet he shudders and stays when Steve buries his face in the side of his neck and exhales, the hands at his hips holding on just shy of too tight.
Author's note: Ah I don't know what I think I'm doing, but yeah some of you are quite good at picking up my hints. :D
Let me know what you think!