A/N: Sorry it took me so long to get this out here. I hadn't intended on a sequel, but I had this cute fluffy one-shot planned, and then I started a Sam/Natasha arc that grew plot, and so then a full sequel was born. It's longer and Dean has more issues (shocking, I know), but Sam and Cas feature more in this story and of course, the Avengers.
Sorry for the wait, but I hope you enjoy!
PS This is a sequel to So An Archer and a Hunter Walk into a Bar
As it turns out, preventing the apocalypse and stopping a hostile alien takeover was the easy part of Dean's week. The after party was fun—good booze, good company—and Dean finally managed to get laid.
That, of course, is when things start going downhill. Dean loves Clint, and he's thoroughly enjoyed their relationship, amusing texts, occasional phone calls, and he'd definitely enjoyed the sex, but he's never been one for commitment or settling. He's stopped thinking about the future, because he doesn't know if he has a future. Trying to stop the apocalypse kind of narrows your life focus into the here and now.
Which is why Dean is completely caught off guard when Tony Stark leans over the breakfast island and says, "Hey, so when are you moving in?"
And Dean's mouth drops, and Sam chokes on his coffee, and Dean's hitting the panic, eject, retreat button so fast he almost falls off his chair.
"Excuse me, what?" he finally manages to say, and he's glad that it's just him, Sam, and Tony in the kitchen.
Tony laughs. "When are you moving in? I mean, there's plenty of space, and your boyfriend lives here, and now that you're technically SHIELD consultants, you probably want to live nearby."
Dean hadn't thought it possible for his mind to short circuit even more, but apparently it could, because now he's just gaping, and Sam has to pick up his end of the conversation.
"We're SHIELD consultants?" Sam's incredulous and disbelieving, but he can manage words which is better than Dean's doing at this point. "Isn't the FBI freaking out about that? They think we're dead. They want us in jail if we're not dead."
Tony waves a hand. "Taken care of. That's why you were made consultants. You're never going to be able to teach small children or win citizen of the year, but the FBI won't prosecute you unless SHIELD withdraws their support." The first bit of a frown works its way onto Tony's face. "Is this news to you?"
Dean's mind is spinning too fast. Tony Stark has just offered them a place to stay in his tower, apparently they're employed by SHIELD, that's a job and a home and permanence, and Dean's not ready for that. It would be like moving in with his boyfriend and settling down and staying put, and Dean jumps to his feet.
"Thanks for the offer, but we've got to go." Dean grabs Sam's arm. "You know, evil to vanquish and all that. Come on, Sam."
"Wait, what?" Sam's feet stumble along as Dean drags him out of the room. "We just averted the apocalypse!"
"That doesn't mean all the bad things have suddenly vanished." Dean pauses outside of Clint's room and takes a deep breath. "No, you're right. I'm dragging you off without a thought. You can stay here if you want. I'm going to go kill things."
Sam rolls his eyes. "Quit being so melodramatic. I'm not going to abandon you to get yourself killed doing something stupid. But you do realize that you're running away, right?"
"We stopped by to say hi, we're moving on. I'm not running away, I'm living."
Right, Sam says, and he doesn't believe Dean for a second. "Well, let me go track down Cas, because he was our ride here. Uh, you want to meet us in the living room once you're ready?"
Dean looks at Sam like he's speaking a different language. "What? What do you mean once I'm ready?"
Sam takes a deep 'why is my brother an idiot' breath. "You're not going to disappear without telling Clint you're leaving. You might not have the balls to stay and try an actual relationship, but don't be a complete dick."
Dean glares at Sam before storming into the room and slamming the door. It makes Dean feel better for all of a moment, before he's leaning back against the door wondering how he'd managed to get completely blindsided by this.
He'd been wanting to see more of Clint, but wanting to actually see the person you're dating every once in awhile and moving in with them are two completely different steps, and Dean is ready for the first, but he's definitely not ready for the second. And now Clint's employer is trying to tie Dean down by offering him protection from the FBI and maybe even a job? Dean doesn't need help, and he doesn't need charity. He and Sam have managed just fine on their own.
"You're in a mood," Clint says, coming out of the bathroom. He has one towel slung low across his hips, and he's rubbing another through his hair, trying to dry it. "What's going on?"
Now that Dean's standing in front of Clint, he's not sure he can say I'm terrified of commitment, and I know I'm going to screw this up somehow so I'm saving us a bunch of time by leaving.
"Hunting," Dean says and he braces himself for the disappointment or the hurt on Clint's face.
It never comes.
"Okay." Clint rubs the towel through his hair one last time and tosses it into the laundry basket. "How long?"
Dean shrugs. "Not sure yet."
"Okay." Clint drops the towel around his waist and pulls on a pair of briefs. "You'll call and text, right?"
"Uh, yeah," Dean says, and he's pretty sure he's missing part of this conversation, because Clint doesn't seem angry or upset, he seems accepting. He seems perfectly okay like he was expecting this.
"All right, then." Clint smiles as he tugs his jeans on. "You going to kiss me before you go or just disappear?"
Dean outright gapes at that, and Clint laughs at him before taking pity. "I'm not angry with you. We talked about this. You have your thing, I have mine. As long as you stop by and see me every once in awhile, I'm not going to be angry with you."
And Dean absolutely doesn't know what to do with that, so he grabs Clint's belt loops and tugs until Clint is pressed up against them, and they're kissing, and the warm slide of Clint's mouth against Dean's is almost enough for Dean to reconsider leaving, but he's not some kept boy, and he's not going to accept a job and a place to live even if it means getting to see his incredible boyfriend every day.
"Okay," Dean says pulling back, and he's only slightly out of breath. "I'll keep you updated. And," Dean pauses, swallows his words then forces himself to grit them out. "thank you."
Clint smiles and leans in for one last kiss. "I've been traveling all my life. This is the first permanent base I've had that I intend to live in for months at a time. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to handle it."
Dean nods and walks out the door before he does something stupid like promise to stay. He finds Sam and Cas in the living room, and they both are staring at Dean like they're trying to see into his head.
"Let's see if Bobby has anything for us," Dean says.
When they reach Bobby's he doesn't seem surprised to see them. He just looks up from his newspaper says, "Well, that lasted a day longer than I thought it would," and points to a list of suspicious activity he's compiled.
"You'd think stopping the apocalypse would've put a dampener on the evil," Sam says, looking down the list. "Our work is never going to be done, is it?"
Dean claps Sam on the shoulder in a 'isn't our life awesome' gesture, but then his fingers curl into Sam's shoulder, digging into his skin, and then Dean's off and running to the bathroom. They can hear him puking a moment later.
"He's hungover?" Bobby asks looking vaguely disapproving.
"Nah, motion sickness from the Angel Express." Sam jerks his thumb towards Cas. "He'll be fine in a few hours, and once he's back in the Impala he'll be more than fine. So, what looks like the biggest threat?"
They spend the night at Bobby's, because Dean's still feeling sick and because they want to check up on Bobby, and Sam gets to fuss over him which amuses Dean and pisses off (but secretly amuses) Bobby, and Sam makes them all breakfast in the morning before they head out.
"No way," Sam says as Dean goes to put a Metallica cassette in. "It's too early for this shit."
Dean slaps Sam's hand away, harder than necessary. "You did not just refer to Metallica as 'this shit', and I'm not going to listen to Taylor Swift for three hours."
Sam pouts as he flops back into his seat. "I don't listen to Taylor Swift."
"I have a cassette," Cas volunteers, passing it forward from the backseat.
Surprised that Cas knows anything about music, Dean reaches back to take it, and then throws it out the window as soon as he sees the title. "We're not listening to Dean Martin."
Cas holds out another. "Frank Sinatra?"
Dean groans and starts hitting his head against the steering wheel, and they almost swerve off the road. "We are not listening to anything your new lover boy might have danced to back in the dark ages."
"Dean," Cas says and he manages to sound long suffering and patient and disappointed all in one syllable. "Steve is not a boy, and he did not grow up in the dark ages, but if you would like to listen to music from that period—"
Dean drowns out whatever Cas was going to say by turning the radio on full volume. Old Time Rock & Roll starts pouring out of the speakers, and Dean drives in silence for the next half hour until Sam starts fidgeting, because he's hungry again. Dean wonders why the hell he thought a road trip would be a good idea.
They drive up towards North Dakota and stop for the night at a shitty motel that brings back fond memories.
"We should go to the bar," Dean says as they're tucking weapons away in case they're surprised at some point during the night. "Hustle some pool, scare up some cash. We're going to need it."
"We could've accepted the money SHIELD offered us," Sam says, apparently pissy, because they're not staying at a Best Western or a Hilton or eating at a five-star restaurant.
"We're not charity cases," Dean says, stripping out of his worn driving t-shirt and into something a little tighter and a little cleaner. "You coming to the bar or what?"
Sam sighs. "Yeah, yeah. And we're not charity cases. In case you didn't notice, we helped them stop an alien invasion. I think it's perfectly acceptable to take money from them as a thank you."
"You also think it's perfectly acceptable to wear paisley shirts so your opinion doesn't count."
Sam refuses to let the barb get to him. "You have weird hang-ups, you know that?"
Dean shrugs and grabs his wallet and the keys to the Impala. "I saw a shady looking bar a couple miles out. It'll be perfect. Cas, you coming with us?"
Cas shakes his head. "I will be returning to the tower, but I will have my communication device if you need to contact me, and if you are desperate you can always pray, and I will come to you immediately."
"Cell phone," Dean says. "It's called a cell phone."
"Have fun," Sam says, giving Cas a smile even though he's a little jealous that one of them gets to spend the night in a nice bed with good company.
"You want to go with him?" Dean asks. "I could just drive around until I find something and then Cas could spirit you both here to fight."
"Don't be stupid." Sam grabs his jacket from the chair he'd tossed it over. "You'd end up getting yourself beat bloody at the bar without me."
"Yeah, cause you're a real help in a fight." Dean gives Cas a little wave and he and Sam head out to play some pool and maybe even some darts, and Dean feels the itch beneath his skin finally start to settle.
Sam pokes at his diner salad, at the limp lettuce leaves and the squishy tomatoes and the discolored cucumbers. He and Dean have never lived in luxury, and Sam doesn't want fancy restaurants with wine lists and people who pull out your chairs for you, but he'd like to eat somewhere where he could actually get a fresh salad and where Dean could get a burger that wouldn't instantly clog his arteries.
Dean grins around a mouthful of burger, juice and grease sliding down his chin. Sam looks back to his salad and finds his appetite gone.
"What's up?" Dean asks, wiping his mouth with his napkin. "You missing the spy again?"
They've only been gone for three days, and Dean's started to feel unsettled again, but for a completely different reason. He thinks it's stupid that he could miss Clint, because it isn't like they'd spent a lot of time together, and how do you miss someone you don't even know? He should feel content, because they're texting and calling which is what they always did. He shouldn't miss the warm press of Clint's palm against his when they fall asleep holding hands or the tug of Clint's smile when Dean's done something to amuse him, and he definitely shouldn't miss waking up to the reassuring presence of someone next to him.
Dean shouldn't miss these things, because he never really had them, and he doesn't want to grow dependent. He doesn't want to crave being with another person, because then he's weak, he's tied down, trapped, and Dean can't live like that.
Dean takes another bite of his burger, the burger he paid for with the money he and Sam got from pool, and grins because it tastes like self-sufficiency and freedom, and that's all he's ever wanted.
Dean's happy world of denial lasts until their first hunt. They're almost out of South Dakota when they stumble upon a nasty spirit and both boys get pretty banged up fighting it. Dean almost crashes the Impala twice on the way back to the motel, because the bones in his right hand are broken and his left hand is cut up and aches, and he's exhausted, because they'd stayed up all night waiting for the spirit to appear and then they actually had to fight it, and it's been a long day.
After the second time they almost drive off the side of the road Cas says, "You're being characteristically stubborn, and I will not deal with it," and he heals the bones in Dean's hand.
Dean frowns, because he doesn't like angel mojo, but his head is a bit clearer, and it's easier to drive so he just grumbles a bit to satisfy his pride.
When they reach the motel, Cas leaves to see soldier boy, and Sam heads into the bathroom to shower. Dean kicks off his boots and collapses in bed, his entire body aching and his left hand throbbing.
He wants to curl up on in a ball and cry because everything hurts, and he wants someone to help him into the shower, because he's disgusting, and he's not sure he can stand on his own two feet, but there's no way he's asking Sam for help. He's the one that takes care of Sam, not the other way around, and Dean suddenly misses Clint more than he has since they left.
Pathetic, Dean thinks, but it doesn't stop him from pulling out his phone. He has to admit, it's much easier to text now that Cas has patched up his hand.
Dean: I miss you
They've been exchanging light hearted texts; Dean's commentary on South Dakota's scenery or Sam's moodiness or how each of the diners they stop at rate in Dean's hierarchy of food. Clint talks about his training or the new agents struggling in the weight room or how rebuilding the city is going.
They haven't said anything heavy like 'I love you' or 'I miss you,' pretty much skirting all emotion, and now Dean's blown that. He's afraid of the fact that he misses Clint. He's afraid that the ache in his chest is going to grow until he has to go back to Manhattan, and Dean doesn't like having to do anything. He wants to go, sure, but he's stronger than his wants, and he can't let his mind or his emotions control him.
If he goes back to SHIELD it's going to be on his own terms. He just has to figure those out.
Clint: I miss you too
No demands, no insistence that Dean comes back, just a simple admission. Dean's doesn't deserve Clint. Clint's too good for him.
Dean: Had to put down the spirit of an Indian chief. It was shitty
Clint: Oglala Lakota?
Dean: How did you know the tribe?
Clint: You were in South Dakota so it was pretty good guess. Was it messy?
Dean: He was powerful. Knocked us around pretty good, and we pissed of a bunch of descendants for digging up their ancestor's bones, but it was that or let an entire town die
Clint: Cas says you didn't want him healing you
Dean: Cas talks too much. Also, he only has so much power at a time. I don't want him to waste it on stupid shit in case we stumble across something major
Clint: Your wellbeing is not stupid shit or a waste.
Dean: I let him fix my hand
Clint: He fixed your hand after you almost crashed. Twice.
Dean: Cas talks too much
Clint: And you're stubborn
Dean: Hey, aren't you the one who is notorious for avoiding medical? You have no room to judge
Clint: You hunt evil for a living. It would be a shame for you to die in such a mundane way as a car crash
Dean: I'll take better care of myself. Promise. Goodnight
Dean flips his phone shut, and he's asleep before Sam gets out of the shower.