Lessons in Grumbling and Grumpy Double Speak.

For ZuviosGemini,

Have some squishy Stint lovin' to make everything better.

The rest of you can enjoy it too, I guess. So enjoy your Stint too.


"No, no, not like that. You have to move your elbow. Hold it like that, and you'll lose a chunk of your arm." Clint tugged at Steve's elbow, bringing it down and closer to his body, smacking him in the shoulder when the man automatically moved it back as soon as his hand moved.

Steve had the decency to look embarrassed, adjusting his elbow again at Clint's poking. The archer was still frowning, however, and for the life of him, Steve couldn't think of what he was doing wrong. He had his feet how Clint had showed him, and the Hawk had corrected his shoulders, and his hands, and his elbows, and how he sighted down the arrow. With Steve's Super Soldier serum, this actually shouldn't be hard. He threw the shield on instinct, after all.

But something was still getting on Clint's nerves. With a sigh, Steve let his arms fall, lowering the bow and letting the tension off the string as he folded the arrow into his palm. He gave Clint a look, one of those ones with no words because seriously? Seriously? He'd seen it employed by teenagers against their parents, but it worked well on everyone.

Clint rolled his eyes, but dropped his arms from their tight cross, reaching out to grab Steve's bicep, and give it a light shake. "These are the problem!" he huffed, releasing him to cross his arms again, glaring at Steve like he'd personally insulted him. The taller man laughed softly, placing the bow and arrow with care on the weapons stand, and moved to wrap his arms around Clint, drawing the smaller archer to his chest with another soft chuckle. He could see the flush creeping up his neck, so he ducked his head, pressing a fond kiss to the redness.

"I thought you liked my arms." And although Clint's back was to him, he could still see his cheek twitch in a suppressed smile. Gotcha. Instead of calling him on it, Steve pressed a kiss into his husband's hair, nuzzling it in a way he knew irritated Clint because the man never admitted he liked it. But that was alright, because Steve could read him, and it was his job to find the things he liked and do them simply because Clint liked them. So he pretended not to notice how the sharpshooter melted just a little bit, the short puff of a cut-off contented sigh sounding loud and clear in Steve's ears.

"I do," Clint grumbled, uncrossing his arms to tangle his fingers with Steve's. Steve hummed into Clint's skin, smiling as the other man continued in that same irritated tone. "They get in the way of the shot. You'll never hit the target, not with your stupidly large arms." He sniffed as if offended, but Steve pegged it closer to disappointment. He stroked his hands up and own Clint's arms, resting his chin on his shoulder, smiling slightly as he circled his fingers around Clint's arm. They didn't touch- he wasn't that small, after all- but Steve grinned like they did.

"It's alright. You couldn't throw my shield, either. Guess we won't be switching weapons mid-battle, huh?" That got an honest snort of laughter, and with it, Steve knew he had him. He kissed his clothed shoulder, resting his face against Clint's neck.

"No," and there was definitely a smile in his voice now. "I guess we're not." He turned is head just enough to eye Steve with one grey eye, amusement lurking in them like warm weather. His lips twitched again. "But I had the range booked for two solid hours. What are we going to do now, hmm?" and that was definitely what Steve thought it was. He fought back a grin, giving his smaller spouse a small squeeze, rocking them side to side slowly, and lifted his head til his chin rested on top of Clint's, rolling his eyes up toward the ceiling as if in thought.

"Hmmm. I don't know, how about we braid each others hair?" a snort, and he looked down as if serious, arching both brows. The archer made a noise of disgust, but he was laughing, so Steve continued. "Or we could read Cosmo, and do the little tests on the inside, and gush about boys we like? Hmm, how about that?" And he was smiling this time, And Clint's eyes were crinkled at the corners, his nose wrinkled as he pulled a face- but he was smiling, laughing, and Steve leaned in to kiss that smiling, laughing mouth.

Laughter bubbled up around the edges like water from an underground stream, clear and bright and beautiful, and Steve had to pull back to kiss each of his eyes, chuckling as he did. His archer had warmed right up, frosty irritation melting away as Steve slowly danced them across the range, turning in a slow, careless circle with his love in his arms, and saying the stupidest things he could think of just to make him laugh. And it worked.

He really loved this side of Clint. It wasn't a side anyone got to see often, with his tanned face open and bright, eyes clear of the past and worries, just so totally in the moment that he let go of all his cares. Laughed like it was going out of style. Let Steve spin him effortlessly around the room to the music in their heads, and just smiled. Enjoyed the moment.

He couldn't say how long it took them to twirl and spin their way to the far wall, or the little empty office, but his sides aches in that slow, good burn, and his face hurt from smiling. Clint was breathless, pink-eared and grinning, resting against his chest as Steve finally came to rest on the edge of the desk, arms still wrapped securely around his Husband. He smiled fondly down at him, laughter fading easily as he did, but that light, warm feeling of contentment stayed. Grey eyes studied him back, and Steve leaned in for a simple kiss, just because he could.

"God, I love you," he told him softly, shaking his head with a small smile as Clint grinned, and leaned up. The archer was always the last one to show affection, to show vulnerability, but his face didn't close as Steve spoke, and his smile remained as open and relaxed. This time Clint kissed him, and took his time, melding their lips together until they fit like two halves of a whole. It felt like ages before they parted, and words flowed easily from the smaller man, all ringing so beautifully true.

"I know. I love you too." And he didn't say it enough, and he knew that. He didn't hold his hand enough in public, and he didn't kiss him enough, and he rarely fell asleep on him while they were watching TV. But Steve knew it wasn't because Clint didn't love him; it wasn't because he was ashamed of him. The archer spent all his days worrying about him. Worrying about Steve being hurt, being used, to get at Clint. He lingered by his bed in the hospital wing when he was injured, and didn't sleep, and ate those shit power bars and kept his bow on him at all times, until Steve was well enough for them to return home, and then he was so careful, so hesitant because all he wanted to do was hold onto Steve, and never let him go, but part of him was so afraid of hurting him. And it was ironic, and sweet, and Steve just loved him more for it. And other people might question it, might wonder about their relationship and if it was okay, but Steve knew they were good. Knew Clint loved him.

And he didn't have to say it, didn't have to hold his hand in public, or kiss him all the time, or fall asleep on him during movie nights to prove that. He knew by the way those beautiful grey eyes were unguarded, the light from his soul shining right through and lighting him up from the inside. He knew, because when Clint woke screaming and thrashing in the night, with tears on his face, he turned into Steve's arms, let the soldier hold him as he shivered, came back to himself from whatever battle, whatever torture his sleep had led him to. He let Steve pet his hair, and kiss his brow, and let himself be vulnerable in front of him. Clint let himself be scared, be terrified, be hurt and afraid, and he let Steve guard him through that, and Steve knew he loved him. In those moments, and these ones, and hundreds of others, Steve knew.

So as he pulled him close, slid a hand under his T-shirt and vest, let his fingers curl against his warm skin, Steve didn't bother wondering. Didn't bother questioning. They had all the time, and all the moments, and this was just one of many they would have. He knew this, as he kissed down Clint's neck, as he slid his free hand down to tug their hips flush, pull his partner up until he rested on Steve's tights. And he did the things that drew that soft exhalation, the little puff of air that was his archer's moan, the secret noise that no one else got to hear. He drew it out, over and over again, coaxing it into a soft noise by dragging his nails carefully down his back, answering Clint with a matching noise of contentment as the archer's nails bit into his neck. He'd have scratches, he always did, and it was alright. Clint would have soft marks on his shoulders, little dark spots sucked into his skin, safely away from prying eyes. Steve was unashamed of the little red scratches on the back of his neck, had long since stopped having to answer where they were from; not that he ever had.

They both marked the other. Clint bit his collarbone, as he peeled off Steve's loose button up and white tank; Steve left a dark spot on Clint's ribs, beside his pec. A hard scratch down his spine was matched with an impression of Steve's teeth in the round muscle of Clint's shoulder. Kisses became sharper, more demanding, and yet sloppier. And yet, as he tugged off Clint's shoes, dropping them at the edge of the desk, out of their way, there was still affection, tenderness. The soft pass of lips on Clint's eyes; a cat-like nuzzle, a touch of his face to Steve's. There was the same anticipation, almost a sense of rush, but they never quite rushed. Never really hurried.

He slid his thumbs under the band of Clint's jeans, dragging them down his body in a slow glide. Calloused hands rid him of his jeans, and it was again a slow dance, Clint stepping back, out of his remaining clothing, Steve following, hands still touching, limbs entwined, and it was as easy as breathing. No thought, just simple reaction, knowledge built on time together, hours of shared experience. A less-then-comfortable pile of stacked tumbling mats, backing Clint slowly towards them, and not pausing to think about grabbing the afghan off the back of the chair. He tossed it with one hand, and as Clint wrapped his arms around his neck, and Steve lifted him until the Archer could wrap his legs around his waist; it was a dance. A seamless serious of well worn, comfortable moves, like the way Clint arched his neck as they joined, that same soft exhale drifting free as Steve licked his neck, dragging his teeth carefully over his pulse; Of hands pushing firm against his chest, until he lay back, and the warm skin of his lover, his friend, his spouse and his everything important, laying down on him, the feeling of Clint's fingers in his hair as they fell into a familiar rhythm.

Of dragging his fingers softly down the dip of his spine, and of tracing his scars with a fingertip. Of kissing Clint's face because so many of them had come from before they'd met, before Clint had come to mean so much to him. They'd been inflicted by strangers, in strange cities. And while he knew better to blame himself, to hurt Clint with that silly selfish attitude, he was still sorry. That there hadn't been someone there, then. To press the soft kisses to his old scars, and tell him that he's beautiful, and hold him the way everyone wishes to be held, like he was too valuable for words, and was someone's world. And as his breath shortens, and Steve's own is harsh, and the slow burn is an itch that is made of flame and heat, bright in their stomachs and so very impatient.

He tells him then all the things they don't say. That he is beautiful. What he means, and how he feels, and some of the many reasons why he loves him so much. And Clint's breath will catch, and that pause that Steve knows well, the pause of the last door opening, the little kitchen cabinet that Clint keeps those last few vulnerabilities, for times like theses- when that little door opens, as Clint's rough voice whispers all those things back.

It never lasts long enough. But yet the finish is when his everything important, his archer and husband and teammate and friend will open his mouth, and call his name. Call for Steve, call on him, invoke him, the raw sound of someone coming undone, and its Steve's name he calls. So how could Steve do anything but call back?

And as the air seems to cool, and he drags the blanket over their nude bodies, his Hawk stated and warm, all tangled limbs and sweat-damp skin, he can't help but chuckle. That Clint knows him well enough to know it's nothing, to not worry about it means so much. Steve pressed a kiss to that damp skin above his eyes, running his fingers through his hair in a fond gesture, blue eyes warm and fluid with that warmth, with heat and amusement. With love. For him.

"We went over time," He whispered, like a giggling child sharing a secret. Clint snorts softly, hooking his fingers loosely over Steve's spine to tug him back to where he can reach, and kisses his smile.

"We'll buy her flowers," he assured him softly, amused by it, and the absurd normalcy.

Steve laid down slowly, waiting for Clint to lift his head so the soldier could slide his arm under it, rolling onto his side to curl his other arm around Clint's waist.

"She likes Carnations, right?" Steve's voice, soft and amused still, and Clint opens eyes he hadn't realized he'd closed. A pause, as his warmth soaks into the archer, and Clint pauses to soak it all in, like a lizard on a rock.

"... Yeah. Yeah, Carnations."


Don't feel pressured to review. This is really just for one special friend. Thanks for reading.)