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Trust & Gentleness

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Evening rolled in and Steve brought in the groceries. Enough for them to be able to spend the weekend inside. Although they were all managing at Clint’s brownstone, Steve had gotten the lay of the land quickly and found the best grocery stores to get each item from. In New York City this was a patchwork affair: Milk from one, fruit from another, and so on. He might have been gone for quite some time, but this hadn’t changed.

He could also get them home in record time if he didn’t exactly go full speed, and settled the groceries carefully for the pace he could go.

“Look at you,” Bucky said affectionately. “How is it these days, anyway, walking and chewing gum at the same time?”

Steve playfully swatted at his hair. “It’s fine.”

“People think they want super powers,” Bucky said, grinning, “When really, all we want is to slow down and be able to find the two-percent, huh?”

“You’re not wrong. So how was your date night?”

Clint yawned from his place on the couch. “It was good. Thanks, Steve, we needed the time.”

Steve nodded. “I hate to sound like a broken record, but I knew you did–we all did. Glad it was good. How are you now?”

“Well… Ro’s got the younger ones and the ones who stay quiet, and she’s tired so I’m…” Clint yawned. “Oof. Getting old for this. I bet you’re not tired, though.”

Rosa primarily regarded Steve as a caring older brother type and didn’t hide from him exactly but didn’t need to be persuaded to give the men time with him. Her time with Bucky earlier was also definitely enough to tucker her out, and there was a bit of back and forth between their energy systems but not enough to knock Clint out completely.

“No, but… I did just brave the masses. Let’s just…see how we feel? How do you feel?”

“When Ro was out, Bucky missed me. Kinda like that? We haven’t seen you all day.”

“Yeah.”

“C’mere?” Clint asked.

Steve joined Clint on the couch. Bucky was on Clint’s other side, and they both leaned in close on either side of him.

Clint reached for Steve’s hand, offering him a questioning look to gain consent before Steve nodded and Clint squeezed his hand.

Steve smiled. “You still seem surprised sometimes, babe.”

“What can I say, I move slow? Or maybe just– I’m much more used to things going bad. And from bad to…just bad.”

“We’ve had enough of that,” Steve said.

One after another they shared a yawn.

“Oof. We’re old men,” Bucky said, his eyes sparkling all the same. “Hey, Steve. Where’s my kiss hello?”

Steve beamed. “Oh, yeah. I can do that.”

Steve and Bucky both leaned forward and squeezed in for a kiss. Clint took an opportunity to get an arm around both of them.

“I could get used to all this,” Steve said. “I’m still getting used to it.”

“Me too.”

“Me three.”

“It’s nice,” Steve said. “Just…nice.”

“If you’d asked me,” Clint said, “If I’d come out the other side of just getting the sh
it kicked out of me all the time into something as good as this…I’d have told you you were full of it.”

“Even Steve?”

“Probably even Steve, yeah. Brains are…weird.”

“You’re safe,” Steve whispered, taking a page from Bucky’s book in the quiet way he regarded Clint when things were serious.

Clint took a deep breath and nodded.

“You okay?” Steve asked.

“Yeah. Yeah, I really am. Glad you’re home. It feels…it feels good. This place…feels better. With you both here.”

Steve and Bucky exchanged a smile.

“I used to just sit in here. Not really doing much unless I really had to be on a mission. But now…it feels like home. It feels like I have my family here. My whole family.”

“And there’s the team,” Steve offered.

Clint nodded. “It was hard to–think about that sometimes, but it’s easier now.”

“Good,” Steve and Bucky responded in unison.

“You’re gonna be okay, Clint. We all are,” Bucky said.

Steve saw Clint’s eyes light up at hearing Bucky say that with the conviction he did.

“Let me get the groceries away,” Steve said. “Don’t wanna lose the milk. Meet you in the room?”

Clint yawned and nodded.

“Hey,” Steve said warningly, “I’ll be fast. Don’t fall asleep right here, okay?”

“Who’s gonna stop me?” Clint asked.

Steve smiled wryly. “Well, try not to.”

But he knew very well that by the time he got back from the kitchen they’d be out cold.

He settled some small blankets around each of them and curled up beside them. He wouldn’t disturb them, but he wouldn’t leave them either.