A Trickster's Guide To Wooing A Hawk
Day One: Fatal Attraction II: Electric Boogaloo
' - you're not hopeless or helpless/ and I hate to sound cold/ but you don't know what love is/ you just do as you're told/ I can see-'
Clint groaned, slapping at the clock radio until The White Stripes went away. In the muddled haze between sleep and waking, where the concept of linear time was somewhat askew and you could almost comprehend the time-space continuum as seen by Time Lords (which was very unfair, as it coincided with a marked inability to write down your perceptions intelligibly), he tried to work out why he'd set his alarm at all. He always got up at six so he could get to the training rooms before Steve or Thor, since their sparring bouts were usually noisy and tended to leave gaping holes in things, and he preferred the echoing silence of an empty arena to wake up in.
He didn't need his alarm for that, though, since his internal clock tended to wake him up just minutes before six, whether he liked it or not. The only times he ever needed his alarm were-
Nausea rolled through him as he moved to sit up, followed by blinding pain behind his eyes and a suspicious ache between his shoulder blades that he imagined was radiating from the perfect imprint of Black Widow's boot.
Right. Drunken party the night before. Hence the alarm. Clint wasn't exactly ancient, but neither was he young enough to hop out of bed after a night of inebriated brawling with gods, heroes, and Natasha as though nothing had happened.
Hunching over, Clint breathed through his nose, trying to swallow against the bile that rose in his throat and grimacing at the sticky, wooly feel of his tongue against the roof of his mouth. Through the pounding heat of his migraine, he marveled that he'd been able to set his alarm at all - he hadn't woken up this bad off since he was a lightweight kid.
"I set it for you," a soft voice murmured from the corner.
"Urghlmphhhrm," he mumbled, not even phased by the shady outline of Natasha perched on the corner of his desk, flipping through a five-year-old Newsweek idly. It wasn't the first time she'd slipped into his room to make him suffer for drunken antics the night before, and it wouldn't be the last.
He wished she'd at least wait until he'd put on pants, though.
"Don't you 'urglumphhrm' me, Clint Barton," she retorted, tossing the magazine aside. It hit the desktop with a slap that resounded agonizingly in the archer's tormented skull. "I told you the jaegerbombs were a bad idea, but no, you just couldn't resist trying to keep up with Stark. He's a professional partier, Clint, what the hell were you thinking going up against him?"
Groaning manfully, Clint fumbled at his bedside drawer and managed to scoop out the bottle of aspirin. "He dared me," he rasped, dry-swallowing two and trying not to blow chunks at the same time.
He could feel his best friend rolling her eyes from across the room. "I swear to God, Clint, sometimes I think you're all sixteen."
"I'm not the one who kicked a drunk man in the back, 'Tasha," he replied sullenly, sliding off the bed to sit on the floor. Leaning sideways against the bedside table, he ignored the feeling of the drawer knob pressing into his temple and groped behind himself blindly until his fingers closed around a rumpled pair of jeans under the bed. Tugging them on laboriously, he swore as his stomach roiled violently and he lost his balance, nearly faceplanting on the floor as he tried to pull the pants up over his ass without moving anything but his arms.
"You were trying to taser people while hanging upside-down from a ceiling fan, Clint. If I hadn't taken you down, you would have fallen on your own and taken the fan with you. That, and Bruce really wasn't appreciating you trying to electrocute his balls."
"Oh, God," Clint whimpered, his migraine doubling. "Remind me again why we were drinking?"
"Forgotten what day it is already," she snorted, throwing a mostly-clean shirt she'd found hanging on his desk lamp in his face.
Realization dawned, and Clint whimpered again. "Fucking Valentine's Day."
"Your favorite day of all," she remarked snidely, hopping to her feet and brushing her hands together as though she'd just completed a dirty task. "You really don't like conversation hearts, do you?"
"Chalk shit," he griped. "They always give me fucking conversation hearts."
They made their way down the stairs to the kitchen, squabbling along the way. "Well, there was the rookie two years ago, the one who gave you homemade chocolates. She was nice."
"They were laced with booze."
"They were supposed to be, they were chocolate liquors."
"I still say she was trying to seduce me."
Snorting, the lady assassin tossed her flame-colored curls and rolled her eyes again. "Right, because every woman wants in your grungy jeans."
"The ones that give me spiked candy almost certainly do, 'Tash."
"Who's spiking who's candy," a curious voice piped up behind them.
Clint pouted (in a masculine manner) at Tony, who was leaning against the kitchen doorway, looking clean and immaculate and not at all hungover, the bastard. In return, Tony toasted him with his cup of heavenly-scented coffee. Shoving past the billionaire none-too-gently, Clint grabbed his own mug from the shelf and poured a small mound of sugar into it before adding his coffee.
Natasha gagged. "Want to try some coffee with your sugar, Hawk?"
"Not really, thanks."
Leaning against the counter, Clint sipped at the steaming drink and reveled in the feel of being nearly human again. Tony moved to lean beside him while Natasha poked through the freezer for the Eggos.
"So, what's all this about spiked candy?"
"Just Valentine's Day woes," he responded grumpily.
"Clint has bad luck with his admirers," Natasha added. "The kind of bad luck that ends in restraining orders and broken noses."
"Just the one broken nose," Clint corrected, rubbing the bridge of said nose. "Hurt like a bitch, too."
"Really," Tony drawled, looking far too tickled about it. "Didn't think you put yourself in the public eye enough for rabid fangirls, Robin Hood."
"Really, Stark? Robin Hood? That's the best you've got?"
Natasha snorted as Tony smirked, unperturbed. "He doesn't - they're almost always new S.H.I.E.L.D. recruits."
"Don't you guys do any kind of psych evals or anything? I mean, this doesn't exactly make me feel safe in my bed."
"I seem to attract a certain type," Clint explained reluctantly, swirling his coffee. "The type that manages to slip past our hiring process and seem completely normal until they get it into their heads that I'm in desperate need of some hot lovin'."
"Well, you are," Tony replied blandly.
"Come on, if you were wound any tighter your ass-cheeks would meld together into a unibutt."
Clint raised one eyebrow as Natasha choked on her Eggo. "…What does that even mean?"
Waving one hand and setting his mug in the sink, Tony elected not to answer that directly. "You should get out more, Barton. Hit the bars, pick up a nice groupie, hire an escort, kidnap a goat, whatever knocks your socks off. Just trust me on this, before your man-bits shrivel into raisins."
"Taking into account your friendly assessment of the impending doom of my man-bits," Clint said tersely, dumping the rest of his coffee back into the pot and ignoring Natasha's irritated huff at this action, "I still think I'll take my chances."
"Are you sure, because there's a nice petting zoo not too far from here that has a couple of good-looking goats. I could probably swing an evening with a nanny if you-"
"I'm going back to bed," Clint grumbled, ignoring Natasha's newest choking fit. "Wake me up when it's February fifteenth."
"They have sheep, too," Tony called after him. "Keep your options open, right?"
He didn't go to bed, though. Instead, he wound his way to the gym, waving off Steve's concerned 'are you feeling okay?' and grunting hello to Bruce as the other man shuffled past, still half-asleep.
Thor was already in the gym, and was excited to spar. He looked so enthusiastic, Clint didn't have the heart to turn him down, despite still being a big ball of ouch with a tetchy stomach. It wasn't long, however, before Thor noticed that Clint's heart wasn't in the workout.
"My friend, you are not well," Thor boomed, and Clint had to shut his eyes against the wave of pain that blossomed in his head.
"Just a little hungover," he said quietly, rubbing his forehead and moving towards the small archery range that Tony had set up for him. "We mere mortals don't hold our drink as well as you mighty gods."
Thor chuckled and moved to thump Clint on the shoulder. The archer winced. "Worry not, Hawkeye - we will soon have you drinking like an Asgardian!"
'Oh, God, I hope not,' Clint thought and he shouldered a quiver of arrows. He pulled one out in a graceful motion, and was about to position it when he noticed there was a roll of paper tied to the shaft.
Rolling his eyes heavenward, Clint tore it from the arrow and unfurled it.
Your grace and skill are unparalleled. Your existence had pierced me as that of none other has. Will you be mine?
A Secret Admirer'
Groaning, Hawkeye crumpled it and lobbed it over his shoulder. "In my fucking quiver," he muttered, raising his chosen weapon again and firing the arrow with grim accuracy at the bulls-eye. "That's just creepy."
It wasn't the last such note he found, either.
'I have long admired your fierce loyalty to those you love,' he found underneath his water bottle. 'Might I gain a place amongst those lucky souls?'
'You care not that your teammates' abilities surpass your own,' was the wretchedly backhanded compliment he discovered in his medicine cabinet, 'and you are ten times the warrior for it.'
The last straw was the page he'd discovered tucked away in the toilet paper roll. 'I find that you plague my thoughts at the most inconvenient of times,' was the oddly appropriate message. 'I can only hope you feel the same.'
Flushing the note, Clint washed up and splashed water on his face. Then he poked his head into the kitchen, informed his bewildered teammates that they weren't allowed to wake him up until tomorrow, and trudged back to his quarters.
Slipping into the cool shadows of his darkened room, Clint closed the door and leaned back against it with a sigh.
"I fucking hate Valentine's Day," he groaned.
Stumbling forward, the chilled floor feeling too real against his bare feet, he let his momentum carry him into the bed, his knees hitting the edge and tumbling him forward into the pillows with a heavy 'flump'.
It wasn't like he was anti-Valentine's Day. Clint was a big believer in romance and love and all the shmoopy crap that went along with it. Heck, at one point, he'd considered it himself - dating and marriage and kids and all of that. Not anymore, of course, because no matter how hard they tried, people like him didn't get that kind of life. Having people close to you like that was just asking for trouble. It wasn't just a weakness, it could get the innocent parties killed. Clint had enemies, a lot of enemies, and he knew that there wasn't a single one that wouldn't use a lover or child against him.
So, no, he appreciated the thought behind Valentine's Day, but it always brought the freaks out of the woodwork for him, and he was too achy and too grumpy and too old to be dealing with it.
He rolled over, and the feel of paper crumpling against his face brought him out of his moping. Rolling back, he swept the crinkled page up off his pillow and lay back, eyes scanning the page curiously.
It was thick paper, good quality, and the writing on it was fluid and elegant, and looked to have been done with a fountain pen. It was nicer, more formal-looking than the previous notes, but the handwriting bore enough of a resemblance that Clint knew they were from the same person.
'My Dear Hawk,
I know that today is a day for courtship and romance, and so I thought it would be the best day upon which to state my intentions to woo you. I confess that I find myself quite enamored, despite my best efforts to avoid such sentimentality. You have slipped past my defenses, and though I should be working to remove you, I find myself wishing you would stay.
Meet me for a meal by The Pool in Central Park at seven o' clock tonight.
A Secret Admirer'
Blinking, Clint turned the paper over, then back again. He flipped it upside-down, sideways, and tilted it backwards to look at it lengthwise. Then, shaking his head, he balled it up and tossed it into the corner. Then, defiantly, he turned on his side and buried his face in his pillow.
He was going to sleep, and when he woke up, the whole psychotic day was going to have passed, and he'd have a whole three-hundred-sixty-four days before he had to deal with it again.
He must have slept soundly, because it felt like mere moments later that he was jerking awake once more.
' - you're not hopeless or helpless/ and I hate to sound cold/ but you don't know what love is/ you just do as-'
Jerking upright, Clint slammed his hand down on the alarm clock and frowned. He had turned that off earlier, hadn't he? So why-
"I set it for you," Natasha said softly, perched on the corner of his desk and flipping through the same Newsweek. "Although, I have to say, for as much as you drank last night, I'm surprised you don't look worse."
Rolling her eyes, Natasha tossed the magazine away. "Well, now I know you haven't escaped the effects of your frat party binge entirely. Remember? Last night? Jaegerbombs and climbing the walls and trying to taser Bruce in the testicles?"
"Uh…no," Clint said gently, wondering when Natasha had lost her mind. And he knew he'd fallen asleep fully clothed, so why was he only in his boxers? "That was the night before, wasn't it? The night before Valentine's Day."
Natasha raised one eyebrow at him. "Oh, Clint, you're not so lucky that you slept through it - today is Valentine's Day."
Snorting, Clint grabbed the shirt she'd lobbed at him easily and pulled it on. "Not funny, 'Tasha," he growled, easing out of bed and rubbing his face roughly with is hands. Then he caught sight of the date on the digital clock face and frowned. That was weird.
It still read Tuesday, February fourteenth.
She must have reset the clock, he told himself. It wasn't like her to pull pranks like this. It wasn't really like her to pull pranks at all, honestly, but that had to be what this was, because otherwise it was…
No, Stark must have…but that couldn't be it. They had been on the same team for nearly a year now, and he still wasn't comfortable enough with the genius for the man to be able to get close enough to reset his alarm clock without waking him.
Some primal instinct at the very core of Clint's being told him that something very bad was happening.
"Should have stayed in bed," he whispered.
Natasha snickered. "Yeah, yeah. Happy Valentine's Day, Clint."