Tony spun the numbers again, viewing them from a different direction. No matter how many times he tried to make it work, something was wrong, as if the center was missing. Theoretically, he understood exactly how to make the Tesseract open a portal to the right place and time, but the simulations kept falling short. He wanted to curse, but didn't want to wake the others who probably weren't really asleep anyway, mostly just dozing, because that's what spy/undercover/secret assassin types did, slept with one eye open. They knew when he'd gotten up and settled in the chair with his tablet, and he'd bet they knew exactly what he was doing as he worked through the wee hours of the morning.
Reality was, he didn't know what he thought or felt right now. Yeah, he could objectively see what he needed to do – fairly simple really – but there were those damn emotions and entanglements that made things so much more complicated. Why had Clint resisted? Why had he been resisting for so long now? Tony had practically thrown himself at Clint, done everything but strip naked and bend over the table, handing Clint an industrial sized bottle of lube as he did. Yeah, that probably wouldn't have worked either. At first, he'd thought it was because Clint was hetero. Just because he'd tap anyone who caught his interest – it was more than gender that attracted Tony - didn't mean he didn't respect other people's choices. He'd still flirt, of course, he just wouldn't expect any response. But then he'd stumbled out of his lab at some ungodly early morning of the hour and caught the goodbye hotness between Clint and that guy he was seeing … what the hell was his name? Robert, Richard, Roland, something with an R … going at it heavy in the hallway by the elevator while they thought everyone else was asleep. Just the memory of that made Tony's libido wake up; Clint in sweatpants, no shirt, bare feet, his tongue in the other guy's mouth …
Okay, thinking like that wasn't going to solve the problem of how to get them back home. He needed to focus and not get distracted by the half-naked male bodies on the bed, all of whom had Clint's ass and those dips in his back that just begged for someone to lick them. Actually, there were differences – yes, Tony had noticed during last night's activities, thank you very much – some scars missing, new ones in other places, Brandt was a little softer, Cross harder, leaner. Different backgrounds left different marks on their personalities; Brandt more of an intellectual, less of a smartass; Cross more of a loner, quieter all around. They weren't Clint, not matter how much they looked like him, and if anything proved it, that kiss - scorching hot, blood straight to his dick, mind blowing – made it clear just how much Tony wanted Clint as opposed to the others. Hey, they were hot and he enjoyed it, but whatever was happening with Clint? Whole 'nother ballgame, as they say.
They'd never talked about, never brought it up, and Clint would probably have never acted on it at all if they hadn't fell through this rabbit hole – and even then he'd been pulled into it reluctantly. But this had been building since the first time Clint - wounded body, haunted eyes, deep in mourning for the supposedly dead Phil – had wandered into the common room and taken up residence in Tony's favorite spot on the couch, throwing popcorn at him when Tony insisted he move. They'd fallen into a friendship, something different from any other relationship Tony had in his life, a kinship of fucked-up psyches and equal parts smartassery and daredevilness. Tony had Pepper, who kept him in line, told him what to do, was his conscience and mother and motivator and best friend all rolled into one; he'd thought he loved her once, but she set him straight and had a great relationship of her own now even if she still nagged Tony about everything. Then there was Rhodey, best friend, combatant, a different kind of moral compass. Rhodey was the good guy Tony could occasionally corrupt, who would keep him pointed in the right direction, remind him of what a hero really was – a man who gave all for his country. Plus Rhodey knew secrets that no one else … no one … knew.
Clint, however, never told Tony not to do something, never demanded he attend a meeting or stop playing games or quit drinking or get some sleep or deal with the world like a grown up. Oh, Clint had his looks down cold … Tony particularly liked the 'you are the world's biggest fucking asshole' one that Clint kept in reserve for times Tony was really going around the bend … but, mostly, Clint was an equal, just as likely to need reining in as Tony himself. And Tony loved that about the two of them; they seemed to reach some sort of equilibrium with the craziness when they were together that made them work.
So, of course, Tony had to go fuck it all up by wanting to get into Clint's pants, picturing him naked almost all the time (he especially enjoyed doing that during those damn long debriefings after fights. Made them almost worth it. Still he'd rather be actually doing something about the massive boner the thoughts gave him instead of casually trying to stroke himself under the table). He wanted Clint to fuck him, ride him hard and make him come until he couldn't think straight. And he wanted to see Clint on his knees, sucking him in, and Clint on his bed, spread out naked in front of him and underneath him, his hands all over Tony's ….
"You got it figured out yet?" Clint asked, and Tony literally jumped, dragging his mind away from that precipice and covering his bulge with his tablet.
"Almost. It should be right; I don't know why it isn't working."
The others were stirring, and Tony glanced at the time.
"It's because Clint isn't the center of it," Aaron said. "You're assuming he is. And he's not."
Will nodded his agreement; Clint looked puzzled. "You're too close to see it," Will said to him. "In every universe, here we are … look-a-likes, but not really you. The only variable that has stayed the same in each of the three …"
"… was Tony Stark," Aaron finished. "Always a Tony. Same name, same place."
"Damn," Tony breathed. They were right. He'd missed it, too wrapped up in thinking that Clint, because of his exposure, would be the key. No … "it's both of us. Me meeting you or someone like you, someone who will be this universe's you. Will at the party. Aaron in the lab. My hand on your wrist when you touched the Tesseract in the lab. God, it's the two of us." He dropped immediately back into the equation, making the changes, and everything clicked into place; it was simple, he saw. He could send Will back, get Clint and himself home, and be sure that Will's Manhattan wasn't a flattened pancake.
"Tony can you …" Clint started to ask, but Tony waved him away; he didn't need the distraction right now. The answers were cascading into his head, playing out the possibilities to their ends, calculating the odds. Data came in from Jarvis, he sent some texts and, finally, sat back and cracked his knuckles.
"Got it." He tossed the jump drive at Aaron. "This is for you. Made a few modifications; three doses and all enhancements should be permanent. Doesn't solve the fact that Stark Industries is already working on the next generation, though. You'll need help to deal with that." He stood and pulled his shirt on. "We need to get Will, you and me within touching distance; I've already uploaded the program."
"Let me guess. Parallel universes?" The Tony of this universe was standing in the doorway, leaning against the jam. Everyone turned to look at him; his hair was a little longer, his ratty t-shirt didn't cover an arc reactor, but he still looked exactly like Tony.
"How the hell could you know that?" Aaron demanded. Other Tony surveyed Aaron from head to toe, a slow smile spreading across his face.
"Let's see, the three of you bear a passing semblance and a duplicate me sent me some very interesting pictures of what was going on in my safe room. It's the only logical answer," he said as he stepped inside and smirked at them.
"Oh, god, yes, he's a Tony," Clint groused. "You sent him pictures?"
"Didn't have any video," Tony shrugged. He did what he needed to get himself here; he knew he couldn't resist a paradox with sex involved. "So," he turned to Other Tony. "How much do you know about the Tesseract and what Howard's up to with Treadstone and Outcome?"
"Nothing, of course. I'm just a billionaire playboy. What would I know about creating super soldiers, the hunt for Steve Rogers, and phenomenal power in an itty bitty living space?" His eyes swept over Clint and Aaron and Will, calculating and challenging. "Which one's yours?"
"Hey," Clint protested. "I don't belong to anyone."
The two Tonys nodded in unison. "That one, I take it?" Other Tony asked.
"He's a pain in the ass, but it's a mighty fine ass, I must say," Tony answered with a look thrown in Clint's direction. "So, you're more interesting in pissing Howard off? 'Cause I can give you plenty of ammunition for that." Tony tucked the tablet in the pocket of his jacket as he finished getting ready. "It's almost show time, folks. Howard said 7:30 a.m. sharp in his lab."
"And you believed him?" Other Tony asked; he made no move to leave his spot. "News flash. Howard lies."
"Well, duh," Tony shot back and had a weird moment of deja vu – he was snarking with himself. Oh well, he talked to himself all the time anyway. "Aaron, I need you to go with this Tony and run interference with Howard. He's expecting me to show up anyway, and he won't be happy if you appear with a new boy toy to show off."
"Yes, you do know him, don't you?" Other Tony straightened and walked over to Aaron. "Fine ass indeed. You'll do. And then we'll talk about how to throw a wrench into daddy's little 'build a better soldier' program. I think you'll like that."
"Will, Clint, you're with me. We'll be on level 82 with the real Tesseract. We won't have much time before the alarms go off, but all we need to do is touch it."
"Wait, last time we did that we ended up here. What's to say we'll go back to the right universes?" Clint asked.
"Attraction," Other Tony supplied. Clint started to protest, but Other Tony kept talking over him. "Each universe will have minute differences at the sub-atomic level; things from the same universe should seek out each other when put in close proximity, like magnets. If the settings are right, the cube should pull you back into your own worlds."
"So," Will said, "I jump back just in time to get blown up?"
"Nope. My calculations suggest that the amount of power needed to transfer us to this universe would have drained enough from the self-destruct to not set off the chain reaction. The room might be blown to bits from the backlash … along with Raza and his men, we can only hope … but New York should be safe. And I think you'll end up back in the ballroom again; that's where the pull will be strongest. When you get there, find your Tony and warn him about Obadiah and the kidnapping plot. You may find him to be helpful, and I'm sure you won't have to seduce him for information … unless you really want to, of course." Tony gave Will a bold wink.
"Obadiah up to his tricks there too?" Other Tony asked. "He's tried twice to kidnap me, to get me out of the way or discredit me. Howard's too blinded by their history to see it."
"Yeah, well, in a strange way, he made me the man I am today." Tony tapped the arc reactor, a shared secret with Clint. Though he rarely talked about his time in captivity, Clint had read his file and knew just how close Tony had come to dying in those caves. "Almost succeeded, but failed spectacularly in the end. He got what was coming to him."
They were ready to go. He stopped to wish Aaron luck and to pat himself on the back, literally. God, he hoped this worked. He knew the math was right on, but, well, he wasn't 100% sure of the exact outcome. Still, if the theory about attraction was right, then surely he and Clint would end up somewhere together.
The world took its sweet time to quit spinning this trip through the looking glass; Clint staggered back into the edge of a work table, knocking some tools off onto the floor. Tony was nowhere in sight, just the same as he'd been every time they'd shifted. It had all been laughably easy; Other Tony and Aaron had obviously done a perfect job of keeping Howard busy until the very last second when the alarm had blared just as he and Will were about to touch the cube.
"Damn it, I'm beginning to hate that," Clint complained. The room certainly looked familiar; Dummy was whirring, and a robotic arm was reaching to pick up the items and put them back. There was Tony's half-eaten pastrami sandwich he ordered from the deli earlier. Maybe …. Just maybe.
"Jarvis?" Clint asked. "Who am I and where is Tony?"
To anyone else that would be a strange question, but the A.I. answered without hesitation. "According to my sensors, you are Clinton Francis Barton, aka Hawkeye. Master Stark is currently in transit via the elevator on his way here."
"Everyone else?" Clint asked, still feeling shaky.
"Captain Rogers is in the game room playing Medal of Honor with Thor. Agent Romanov is currently at SHIELD headquarters attending a briefing. Dr. Banner is in his lab where he has been working since early this morning. Ms. Potts has sent three reminders that Mr. Stark has a meeting in Los Angeles next week and needs to read the updated files she sent." The last was addressed to Tony who was strolling in the door.
"Ah, yes, home again, home again, jiggity jig. Seems nothing has changed. How long were we gone Jarvis?" Tony slapped Clint on the back, and his fingers lingered for a few seconds, a warm trail as they slid down Clint's arm.
"Aside from your change in location, my sensors register no time lapse, sir. I did, however pick up two spikes of energy from the Tesseract, the second stronger than the first."
"Let's run a data comparison with the previous uses of the Tesseract …." Tony started.
"Fucking son-of-a-bitch." Clint slammed his fist into Tony's jaw, snapping his head back. "Not even a 'sorry, Clint' or and 'I'm an asshole, Clint,' just right back into it without even thinking about what could have happened?"
Rubbing his face, Tony shot back. "Sorry, Clint. I'm an asshole, Clint. Want to talk about it, Clint?"
"God damn it, Tony. You are a piece of work, you know that?" Clint tucked his hands in his pockets so he wouldn't punch the idiot again.
"Been told that before. And that I'm a damn good kisser, but you'd know about that now, wouldn't you?" Tony leaned back against the work bench, obviously taking great pleasure in poking at Clint.
"I knew you were going to be a jackass about this. You've never going to leave it alone are you?" Not that Clint really wanted to go back to pretending there wasn't any heat between them, but Tony wasn't going to let it rest. "Just keep pushing until you get what you want. So cut to the chase and tell me what it is, Tony. You want me to disappear now? 'Cause this is a big ass tower, and I can find other places to hang out."
"BZZZZZT," Tony made a buzzer noise. "Wrong answer, Legolas. Pick another category and remember to phrase your response as the form of a question."
And now Clint was getting even more frustrated; Tony was in one of his manic moods, and there would be no rational talk until he got what he wanted. "What the fuck do you want, Tony? This isn't some romance novel, and I sure as hell am not going to sweep you off your feet and carry you into the sunset. You weigh too damn much."
"Aw, come on Katniss. You know me better than that." Tony wiggled his eyebrows and raked his gaze over Clint's body. "Already seen your face when you come. Going to make me beg for it? Or should I do something that I need punishing for?"
"Fucking hell." Clint hesitated, knowing exactly what Tony wanted to happen, his brain still spinning with reasons why he shouldn't. "You are the most stubborn, fixated, fucked-up guy I've ever known."
"And that's why you like me." He closed the distance between them, stopping just inches from Clint, close enough to scramble Clint's thoughts even more. "Come on, Clint. Do it."
He slammed into Tony's body, propelling him back, rattling the table as he shoved his tongue into Tony's mouth, ground his cock down on Tony's hip. Nothing soft or easy; if Tony wanted it hard, Clint could do that. He bit down on Tony's bottom lip, broke the contact long enough to yank Tony's shirt off and then his own before he leaned down and ran his tongue around the metal curve of the arc reactor; Tony's hips thrust up in immediate response, and Clint sucked a nipple in, ruthlessly nipping at the sensitive nub with his teeth.
"Fine, Tony. Hard and fast, just what you're begging for." He flipped Tony around and pushed him down on the table; hard copy blueprints, tools, and sundry other items were shoved out of the way. Without pause, Clint was dragging down Tony's jeans, fingers dragging along the crack, pressing up along the half-aroused cock, giving the head a little twist that made Tony growl in his throat.
"Bottom left drawer. Save the touching for later, Merida. Fuck now." Leave it to Tony to try to be in control.
"I know how to handle a toppy bottom, thank you very much." There was lube and condoms in the drawer and Clint tried not to think about why Tony kept it in the lab. Hell, he knew Tony had a myriad of lovers. Who was he kidding?
Tony lifted up on his elbows. "I knew you couldn't sit in that chair all night and watch."
"Shut up, Tony." Clint pushed him back down, using his forearm to press him into the table; gel pooled on the small of Tony's back and Clint enjoyed the way Tony jumped at the cold on his bare skin. He dragged his fingers through it, pushing a glob along the swell of Tony's ass and slathering it around his tight hole. "You want it rough? That's what happens when you're a fucking tease who strips down right in front of me and gets fucked by two men you've just met." Clint didn't wait, shoving a finger past the muscle into Tony's heat. "You fucking loved every second of it; you got off just having their hands on your cock, didn't you?"
"Second strike." Tony groaned as Clint thrust in and out, working him open. "I got off on you watching me." Clint added a second finger and he knew Tony had to feel the burn, that they were going too fast, but damn if Tony didn't arch his back and push into Clint's fingers. "Got off on the fact they looked like you."
"Fuck, Tony," Clint's own breathing was getting ragged and his cock was hard and aching, demanding he move quicker. "Made me come by just looking at me. Can still feel your fucking hand on my cock." He jammed a third finger in and hit the right spot in the warm heat; Tony ground out a curse and tried to lift up, but Clint put his whole weight onto Tony's back, knocking the breath out of him as he slammed him back down. "You know this is going to change everything, and you just don't give a damn."
"God ... Already changed … just do it … want you to … fuck! … quit talking about it … holy hell …" Tony was gasping with each pass of Clint's fingers, and Clint smiled fiercely as he listened to Tony lose his cool, devolving into begging. "Okay … shit … please … fuck, Clint …"
"Did you think of me when Will was inside you?" Clint paused only long enough to roll on a condom, slick it up, then he was pushing his cock, inch by inch, inside of Tony. When Tony jerked his hips and tried to buck him in faster, Clint smacked the curve of Tony's ass, hard enough to leave a vivid red handprint. "I wanted it to be my cock in your mouth instead of Aaron's; I've wanted to bend you over this table so many times, have you in my mouth, up against a wall after a fight."
Tony groaned. "Move, damn it, before I come like a schoolboy from just listening to you. I've got a reputation to maintain."
Clint put his free hand on Tony's hip, gel-covered fingers sliding as they gripped above his hip bone, and he pulled back until just the tip of his cock was inside, keeping the passage open, and then he thrust all the way until he was completely buried, his balls smacking Tony's ass.
"Yes." Tony almost barked his pleasure at the motion. "Do that. Again."
It was easy to comply because it was what Clint wanted to do, what his cock was demanding and that body part was definitely in control right now. No, that wasn't right; Clint's head might be disengaged, the part that worried about repercussions and what would happen tomorrow shut down for the moment, but there were other organs actively involved. His gut was roiled with the rising need that would have to be released soon, and his heart stung with repressed emotion, the fuel that drove him to lose control and pound into Tony. From the sounds Tony was making, Clint was finding his prostate enough to leave Tony incapable of coherent thought; when Tony cursed his name, Clint began to stroke Tony's very erect cock with slick fingers, twisting and sliding in time to his thrusts until Tony arched up and cried out as he came all over the table and Clint's hand.
"Big table on the Helicarrier has a deep edge. Thought about jacking you off, right under Fury's nose, making you come quietly while everyone else looked on." Tony's voice was hoarse and deep, filled with pauses to gulp down breaths and take the punishing pace Clint was setting as he pushed towards his own climax. "Every fucking time you argue with me about movies, I think about shutting you up by fucking your mouth, right there, on the couch."
"Tony." Clint moaned as he thrust one last time and came for what seemed like hours, but was really only a very long minute. He sagged forward, resting his head on Tony's shoulder blade. "Jesus fucking Christ. What you make me do."
"Excuse me, but I think you were a willing participant both times."
God, Tony would argue anything; even with Clint buried hilt deep inside of him, Tony had to be a smartass. With a long-suffering sigh, Clint pulled out and shuffled his weary body over to a trash can; he tugged off the condom and threw it away, taking a paper towel from the dispenser by the sink to clean himself up.
"First important rule of fucking Tony Stark," Tony reached his hand out and Clint passed a towel to him. "No getting weird afterwards. Really good sex is to be savored and enjoyed without getting mental about it."
"Oh, hell no. You do not have rules for fucking you. That's beyond arrogant, even for you, Tony."
"You know what I think?" Tony found his shirt under another table and dragged it on. "I think that we were supposed to be friends in all those universes. Will was already on his way to seduce me. Aaron would have run into his Tony. That's why they so easily fell under my rather bounteous charms. Probably going to end up in bed with their Tonys."
"Are you honestly using the 'we're soul mates in multiple universes' argument here? You?" Clint didn't know what to make of that; sure, it had occurred to him when Aaron and Other Tony had seemed to hit it off so quickly, but he couldn't believe that Tony would even bring it up.
"Hey, I'm hungry. You hungry? I'm thinking sushi. You want to get those spicy Mexican rolls you like so much? I'll get you out of those clothes and we can take our time while I use that very fine ass as a plate." Tony completely changed the subject, and Clint let him. Later. Yeah. Talking later was good. "You might not know it, but I've got this thing about food and bodies."
"Seriously? Your porn is organized by kink on your DVR, Tony. I'm very much aware of what you like." With Tony leading the way, they left the lab and headed for the elevator.
"You've been snooping on my DVR?" Tony asked.
"You said to help myself." Clint knew that Tony had been drunk off his ass when he'd said that, but Clint counted it. "So I did. You missed a few categories though, so I added some of my own." The elevator door opened and Steve was inside, a sweaty towel around his neck from a strenuous workout. He eyed the two of them, hesitating when they both laughed.
"Good night in the lab?" Steve asked.
"Interesting one," Tony said, and Clint had to smother his very sated smile. Interesting, indeed.