Wilson Fiske stormed into his plush Manhattan office, his large bulk making the glasses on the bar vibrate in time to his angry stomps. His white suit was pristine except for the growing circles under his arms, the sweat that rolled down his bald head reflecting his frustration. The massive desk was littered with papers and files mingled with empty white take-out cartons and coffee cups; he swept his beefy hands over it, casting a rain of sheets across the floor.
"Goddamn it all to hell," his voice rolled out, loud and raspy.
"Whoa, whoa, big guy!" the leather chair spun around, and the man inside waved his lollipop in the Kingpin's direction. "Chill out. Stress is bad for your heart … assuming you have one."
He wore jeans and a plaid shirt, his brown hair slicked back, a wide smile on his face. The green canvas jacket covered his slim figure, a study in contrasts with the large-sized Fiske. Dusty boots propped up on the desk as he slid down in the chair.
"Who the hell are you?" Fiske demanded. "And why shouldn't I kill you right now?" He produced a .22 caliber handgun from his pocket and aimed at the intruder.
"Well, now, you can shoot me if you want, but then you won't have an answer to your problem will you, Jabba?" He grinned. "Seems you need a distraction, and I'm just the person to do it. For the right price, of course."
Fiske didn't lower the weapon. "I'll ask one more time. Who are you?"
"Sort of have a lot of names, Sidney, but you can call me Gabe." He dropped his feet, spun around again, and suddenly was standing right next to Fiske. With a snap of his fingers, he made the gun disappear, a twinkie appearing in its place. "Now, shall we get down to brass tacks? You need to keep a certain group of superheroes busy for … what? … seven days? … so you can bring that brand new, shiny satellite online, the one that you're going to use for your dastardly plan." He raised his eyebrows and chuckled. "Not an original idea, mind you – Dr. Evil and all – but hey, an oldie-but-goodie just might work. This time. Maybe."
"How the hell do you know …." Fiske began, but Gabe snapped his fingers again, and the twinkie shoved itself in Fiske's mouth, effectively silencing him.
"Hey, enjoy it. Might be the last one on Earth now, for all I know." Gabe moved with nervous energy, pacing around the room, picking up M&Ms from a bowl on the desk and tossing them into his mouth. "I can guarantee that those chuckleheads won't know their ass from a hole in a ground for the time you need; you'll not hear a peep from the henhouse. Easy peasy."
Fiske spit the cake out into the trash can and looked skeptically at the man. "How much?" His son had told him he knew the right guy for this job, and this was exactly the type of person Richard would send. The boy was a major screw-up. But if this guy could do what he said, Fiske could see his plan to fruition, earning him back the respect he'd lost after the Las Vegas fiasco.
"Depends. Do you want them out of the way or out of the way? 'Cause those are different sliding scales, DeNiro." Hands never stilled, rolling the lollipop stick back and forth as he talked.
"Just out of the way. I want them to watch me win. Especially that damn spider punk." Fiske's smile was feral at the thought of the red-suited, smart-mouthed menace getting his comeuppance.
"Okay, let's see, one elaborate trap for how many? Six primaries, plus the hangers-ons and the elusive webslinger. I'll give you the Dr. Evil discount, and we're having a special on containment and storage this week …" a calculator appeared in his hand. He added some numbers and passed it over to Fiske who saw the total and nodded eagerly at what he thought of as money well spent. "Good. Now, just one more thing. A little contract I need you to sign …"
Clint tried to focus on the vibration of the muscles that held the string pulled back, the touch of the fletching brushing along his cheek, the tension of the wood. With a sigh, he let the arrow fly and immediately notched another even before the first one hit the target square in the center. But his head kept replaying the argument, fixating on the details.
"I don't care about the damn chair, okay?" Clint said.
"Then what is it? What's wrong?" Bruce was doing a heroic job of maintaining his temper, clenching his fists and breathing evenly.
It wasn't like they never had disagreements – any couple did, and hell, Steve and Tony had slamming out of sliding doors down to an art form – but they'd both said things in the heat of the moment that he knew they didn't mean. A stupid chair, that was all it was; they had agreed to take their time furnishing the new space – the one Tony designed for them while they were in the South Seas. They'd come back to find a whole floor reconfigured for the three of them, the Hulk's room with a big balcony and floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors (extra tall ceilings to accommodate his size), two more bedrooms, a big living space with the giant TV, Hulk's bacon painting, a few more original artworks that Clint vaguely remembered one of them mentioning they liked, and a kitchen all their own. It was so Tony to rush ahead without asking, not to mention the way Tony dealt with stress was to build things; neither of them could work up more than a basic annoyance at him for assuming they were just going to move in together. They'd both been thinking it before the trauma of cloned Bruce's death, so that wasn't the issue.
"It's not the money. I don't give a shit what Tony wants to spend it on," Clint argued. "I don't know what it is, okay?"
"Clint," Bruce sighed, his own frustration evident. "Trust me I do know. You're overthinking things again." They'd had this conversation before; Clint was convinced he was going to mess this thing up.
"Right. That's what I do. Overthink and not talk." He paced, finding it impossible to sit still. "And you calmly handle it and tell me not to worry."
The arrow flew true and he lined up another shot, and then another, the mindless repetition soothing away some of the anger he was feeling. And that was the problem, really. He shouldn't be angry; the last five months had been good ones, nothing major happening – no one trying to kidnap them, take over the world, no aliens popping up. The whole Avengers Initiative thing, Tony incorporating them and separating them from SHIELD, was going well, and Hill had gone to bat for Clint, getting him reinstated on a probationary status as a SHIELD liaison with the Avengers. He and Bruce had been going for close to a year now – a record in the Barton book of dating – and they'd handled some pretty terrible things without breaking. So why was he so on edge?
"Look, maybe you should see if Natasha wants to spar or hit the range or something, get some of that energy out," Bruce suggested. "I've got some simulations running in the lab I can take care of."
"Fine. Go. I can deal on my own," Clint had snapped.
His arms were aching but he ignored them, unaware of how long he'd been at the range; arrows and targets kept appearing, so he just kept shooting.
"You want me to go?" Bruce asked, and Clint was surprised by how much that question hurt. "I will if you do. I mean, it's okay. We agreed. You can go when you want."
"No. I don't mean that. I mean … oh, hell, Bruce I just need some time. Shoot or smash my fist into something. It's not you. It's me." He groaned at that. "Damn that's something I never thought I'd be saying. Look, just give me a bit to work this out, okay?"
Bruce's brow unfurled in relief. "Take all the time you need. I'm not good at this either, so I'll need some sort of sign when you want to talk or not talk or whatever."
"You going to keep going until your arms freeze up?" Tony said from the doorway. Clint shook himself free from his thoughts and lowered his arms, the pain suddenly registering; rolling his shoulders and neck, he stretched his complaining muscles. "Want to go a few rounds or are you going to do the Steve thing and just keep destroying equipment until you fall over?"
"Bruce sent you to check on me?" Clint shook his arms to loosen them as he walked over to the cabinet to unstring his bow and start cleaning his equipment. "Tony Stark, relationship guru. Who'd have thought?"
"Nah, Bruce didn't mention anything. I've got Jarvis set to notify me when any of you are destroying yourselves in the practice rooms," Tony smirked as he leaned against the wall. "But now that you mention it …"
"I am not going to talk to you about my love life, Tony." Clint shook his head at the ludicrous thought of Tony giving him advice. Okay, that was a little hypocritical since Clint had pretty much helped push Tony and Steve together; he was still a little amazed it had worked and that the two hadn't killed each other yet.
"That's okay; I can do it for you." Tony looked him up and down. "You're waiting on the other shoe to drop, for everything to go wrong. You know you're going to fuck it up, so you're thinking maybe you'll just get it over with and do it now rather than later, rip the band aid off. Poke at it, snipe, get angry and defensive until he can't stand it anymore. Not like you're got a thought out plan or anything, just reacting in a time-honored tradition of screwing up your life to avoid the good stuff that you don't think you deserve."
"Are we talking about me or you?" Clint asked, voice heavy with irony; Tony shrugged, giving him the point.
"Let's see … I'm sleeping with Mr. All-American, the poster boy for perfection, and you're banging a big green ball of rage plus the genius doc. We blow the curve for coloring outside the lines. And neither of us is going to win any prizes for the most well-adjusted," Tony grinned. "So I think we can safely say that we might have similar baggage."
Clint thought about it as he was stowing his bow back into storage. Sabotaging himself sounded like something he would do. "It's just … well, it feels like this isn't my life. That someone's going to jump out and tell me I'm on candid camera or something, you know?"
"Every damn day, I check the closet first. There was that one time in Paris when there was film crew hiding in the walk-in shower …" Tony grinned. "Never took you for an existentialist, though. More a YOLO type."
"God, Tony, hipster much?" Clint laughed knowing that was what Tony wanted, to razz him out of his bad mood. "I'm actually more of the Dread Pirate Roberts' school: life is pain … anyone who tells you differently is selling something."
"Ah, but I am not left handed!" Tony waved his hand in Clint's direction. "Okay, if we're going to get any more metrosexual and talk about feeeeeeeelings, I need a drink. Something really old and really expensive. You in?"
"As long as you're buying, I'll drink your liquor anytime." Clint followed as Tony turned to leave.
"So, the chair? Top of the line, ergo dynamic, can hold the Hulk's weight. Thinking about buying the company …." Tony kept talking as they walked down the hallway to the elevator.
The bed sagged as Bruce sat down on the edge and then slid in, pulling the covers up after he settled on his back. Clint waited until Bruce stopped moving then rolled over, snuggling up against his side, resting his head on Bruce's shoulder. Sliding an arm under Clint, Bruce laid his hand on Clint's back and pulled him closer.
"I'm an ass." Clint kissed the line of Bruce's neck.
"Yeah, but you are a mighty fine ass," Bruce murmured back. "And I happen to be an ass man, so there's that." He paused. "Thought you'd still be drinking with Tony." Both Tony and Clint had drunk texted him some pretty hilarious photos of the two of them along with some NSFW conversations about Steve and Bruce. Bruce had gotten virtually no work done thanks to the running commentary and what it did to his libido.
"Jarvis didn't tell you?" Clint shifted, raised up on an elbow. "He's worse than Edward Cullen. Always thought watching someone sleep was all creepy-like stalkery stuff. Then I moved into a tower with an AI that sees all, knows all." He let his hand trail down Bruce's chest, playing with the dark hair that covered his muscles.
"Twilight references? You're really drunk, aren't you?" Bruce had to smile; drunk Clint was usually pretty damn interested in sex – and also much less likely to be worried about tomorrow or the next day.
"Yep," he dropped his head and licked at one of Bruce's nipples. "Went through at least a couple thousand dollars' worth of scotch. Beat Tony at Halo. Twice. Talked trash. Ate atomic spicy hot wings. Feel better."
Bruce tangled his hands in Clint's hair as that wonderful agile mouth followed down to his belly button. "Good, that's … ahhhh … good," he sighed as Clint's hand slid between the covers and circled his stirring cock, fingertips teasing and stroking, bringing it to attention.
"But then, you saw the pictures, right? Tony was having a field day sending them to you and Steve. We'd still be going strong if Cap hadn't shown up and carried Tony out of the room." Lips descended lower, tongue swept up and over the sensitive head; he paused and looked at Bruce, eyes full of mischief. "Literally. Threw the man over his shoulder and stalked off sporting a massive boner." Tongue swirled again and Bruce's breath hitched at the stab of pleasure. "I have pictures. We own Tony now."
Bruce wanted to reply to that, the use of "we" that tumbled out of Clint's mouth, the way he just assumed they'd be together in whatever plan he had, but Clint opened him lips and took Bruce all the way in, sucking hard as he slipped up then slid back down, and coherent thoughts fled right out of his brain. He could only ride the motion as Clint worked him to the edge until Bruce had to thrust upward into Clint's mouth and spilled down his throat with a groan, just the sounds of their breathing in the night-darkened room.
While Bruce's shudders still shook him, Clint crawled up his body and fell on top of Bruce, his hard cock alongside Bruce's thigh. "Keep the chair. Tony says the Big Guy will like it," Clint said after another minute.
"I already sent it back, but we could order another one." Bruce's hands traced down the curve of Clint's back, over the muscles of his ass, tightening as he rubbed his thigh into Clint's cock. Lifting his head, he caught Clint's mouth in a needy kiss.
"We okay?" It was almost a whisper against Bruce's lips, but he knew what Clint needed to hear. Rolling them over, he trapped Clint beneath him, knee parting Clint's thighs and pressing into him so he could grind against Bruce's skin.
"We're good." He kissed Clint again. "Great. Give me a minute here, and it will be even better than great." Reaching over, he opened the drawer by the bed. "If I remember there were some texts about what you wanted me to do to you."
Clint's groan was heartfelt and sensual. "God, yes. Miracle metabolisms. Got to love 'em." He wiggled for a better position to relieve the ache. "I love you, you know."
Bruce smiled down at the amazing man who had somehow had the bad taste to fall for him. "I love you, too, Clint." And he set about showing Clint just how much.
*need u. help us. B at Tower at 2 a.m. Stark*
Peter Parker checked the screen of his phone one more time. Tony Stark. Us. The Avengers. Asking him for help. He could hardly keep himself from dancing right there on the rooftop where he was waiting until the meeting time; he couldn't keep away, arriving far too early, so here he was watching the darkened windows of Avengers Tower, trying not to be an overly eager beaver who showed up right on time. That would make him a geek, and he didn't want to make a bad first impression. Hell, he hadn't even thought that Stark and the others had noticed him, despite his best efforts to get into Stark's labs or help them out in fights. Nope, the only attention he'd earned for the bruises and pain was that idiot Jamison who screamed banner headlines about him being a criminal. But that all was changing. The Avengers needed him. He checked the time – 2:04 a.m. – and spun a web to swing over to the balcony, landing with hardly a tremor. Finally, he was going to run with the big dogs. If he didn't throw up first.
His spider sense tingled and he whirled to check behind just as a wave of distorted energy passed through him. No time to think, he slid to the ground, fast asleep, as the wave continued through specific parts of the Tower without even Jarvis noticing, leaving behind sleeping figures entwined in beds or sitting on a couch or even slumped in the labs.