"Alright, Legolas, let's see if you can make this shot," Tony said, keying in a seemingly impossible scenario in the practice room's computer. "I've got 10-1 that you can't, not after that last round of tequila shots."
Clint waved him off, bow ready. "I'm drunk, not shit-faced. Even if I were, I could make this shot blind-folded."
"Alright then," Tony nodded to Natasha. "I thought you might say that." With a sleeping mask in hand, Natasha smiled at Clint, then offered it to Bruce, letting him step up behind Clint and slide the mask over the archer's eyes.
"You're having entirely too much fun with this, aren't you?" Bruce asked, his fingers brushing Clint's temples as he settled the mask.
"Don't worry, doc. I always hit what I'm aiming for," he replied with a wink. "Time to settle this."
"Aye, I believe he will hit the mark, even after more of that marvelous clear liquid of the worm! I wager he will hit three targets and take one more drink!" Thor boomed out, the group's previous argument forgotten to the lure of drinking and gaming.
"We could just let Coulson pick next week instead," Steve began, but Tony quelled him with a look.
"Got a bet there, Cap?" Tony prodded. "Or you just going to be all logical and ruin our fun?"
"6 hits and 2 shots." Steve grinned back.
"Hell, I could use a new pair of Blahniks to replace the ones I lost in San Paolo … which was your fault, Stark. 9 and 3." Tasha tossed her bet into the ring.
"That just leaves you, Bruce. You in?" Raising an eyebrow, Tony waited for an answer.
"12 and 4," Bruce replied. "A shot every 3 arrows. And move the target between each one." He absently touched Clint's arm before he moved away.
"Are we ready or are we just going to stand here talking?" Clint demanded. "I'm getting sober, people."
Bruce had been as good as his word, keeping everything exactly the same as before the kiss . . . and Clint was beginning to get good and annoyed. Stupid, he knew, since he was the one who asked for time, but ever since he became aware of Bruce's interest, he couldn't stop himself from dwelling on the possibilities, usually at the worst possible time. He thought about it during team practice exercises, during those damn interminable debriefings, and definitely when Bruce sauntered into the shared kitchen with that purple shirt and wrinkled khakis talking science with Tony, so deep into it that he didn't even notice he poured coffee instead of his usual tea, making Clint wonder if the man did everything with the same intensity.
Movie nights were terrible. Tony would inevitably pick a movie to further his quest to get into Steve's uniform – like nobody else noticed his major hard-on for the man – and Clint would hang his leg over the edge of his comfy chair, arms dangling off the other side, trying to ignore the way Bruce's lanky body draped at angles, how his hand burrowed in the bowl of garlic cheddar popcorn. Long fingers on the man, good for manipulating a keyboard and tiny instruments in the lab and more than capable of other, more interesting uses that Clint fantasized about. By then, damn it all, Clint would lose the plot of the stupid romantic comedy with the TV actress in her big Hollywood breakout role, and Tasha would be looking at him expectantly to make a snarky comment about the hackneyed dialogue. And he'd have to shift uncomfortably to hide his half-aroused state from all-too alert eyes, glad that Bruce seemed to not notice, too interested in the flick.
About the only time he didn't think about it was in battle; the other guy could more than handle himself and Clint could focus on the task at hand. But everywhere else, images would pop up in his mind, and Clint was getting damn tired of it all. The last straw was when Clint slept through part of a mission briefing because he had been thinking of buying tickets to the Kurosawa retrospective at The Gramercy to lure Bruce out of the lab and ply him with wine at a little bistro just down the street; the fantasy of where things went from there kept him awake and aroused late into the night .
That's when he decided escalation was the only answer.
Clint cleared his mind, settled the mask more securely on his face and listened for the whir and click of the automated system. Three arrows, a shot of very fine tequila (Tony stocked only the best), and repeat four more times for a total of 15 bullseyes and 5 shots. He even kept his blindfold on when he drank, toasting towards the window where he knew they were watching.
"Thank you for playing," Clint said in his best carney voice when they came back in. "Better luck next time." Tony stared at the arrows, each dead center in the target, then took a shot of liquor himself.
"Fine," Stark admitted defeat. "We'll watch the movie Coulson left. What was it? Some black and white artistic flick?"
"It Happened One Night," Bruce supplied. "A classic romantic comedy."
"Why didn't you say so before?" Steve exclaimed. "That's a great movie. Clark Gable and Coulette Colbert. I love that one!" Tony's face brightened as he followed Steve and Thor out of the room, Steve explaining the importance of the film as they went. Natasha and Bruce were last, and she touched Bruce lightly on the shoulder as she passed, letting the door shut behind her, leaving Bruce in the room.
Clint tossed off the mask and closed the distance between the two of them, gently pushing Bruce against the wall, hands on either side, leaning in. "They fall for it every time," he laughed. "Stark just can't believe anyone can out drink him. Well, aside from Thor who is a sieve when it comes to alcohol."
"I think you qualify as more than drunk now," Bruce reminded Clint. "Maybe you should …"
Clint cut him short with a kiss, slow and deliberate brush of lips against lips. His hand slid out further, bringing body in contact with body, but keeping the kiss easy and light. "You distract me, doc," Clint said, breaking the kiss to look at Bruce. "Don't deny that was part of the plan."
Bruce smiled at him. "I don't really have much of a plan, other than wait and see. But I will admit I've noticed you like my hands." He curved one hand around the nape of Clint's neck; he trailed the other thumb down Clint's jawline and across his bottom lip. "All you have to do is ask, you know." Tugging Clint forward, Bruce kissed him, more demanding and intense, fingers caressing his neck, sending threads of heat running down Clint's spine. When Bruce's tongue brushed against his lips, Clint parted them, drawing in breath and allowing access, giving in to the feelings he had been imagining. Bruce tasted like apples – those appletinis he drank to satisfy the big guy's sweet tooth – and he was slow and thorough, focused on claiming every inch of Clint's lips and mouth.
"God, Bruce," Clint murmured when the kiss finally ended. "You're going to drive me crazy, you know that?"
"Slow and steady wins the race," Bruce laughed, pushing Clint back.
"As long as we're moving forward." Clint faltered slightly, the last of the Tequila seeming to catch up with him. Bruce caught his arm, and Clint reeled him in, stealing another quick kiss. "You damn well better share the popcorn."
"And miss a chance to watch you lick your fingers?" With that parting shot, Bruce headed to the movie room, Clint close behind.
Clint had to give it to the man. For someone who didn't usually talk, Bruce sure seemed to manage to get the last word a lot. Clint would have to change that. It was a new game with new rules and new opportunities for distractions. And the torturous damage that strangled his chest gave a little, lessened, as the Hawk settled on his course.