Most of the team - plus Darcy, who was an unofficial Avenger, at this point - was scattered around the kitchen, all working on some part of the day’s dinner. Bruce, who was orchestrating the whole thing, was standing over a massive pot simmering away on the stove, carefully adding things from the tiny jars strewn about the counter to his bubbling brew. He looked every bit the mad scientist he was often thought to be, though he never looked the part when he was actually doing science. Darcy was sitting on the massive counter of the kitchen island, supervising Natasha and Steve as they carefully chopped vegetables while waiting for the time to ding on the loaves of bread she had in the oven. Across from them, Clint and Bucky were sitting shoulder to shoulder while they peeled apples for the pies Darcy was going to make for dessert. Thor was camped out at the massive kitchen table happily removing the skins from a mountain of potatoes. It was a good night. There was banter while they worked, friendly and knowing. Clint occasionally tried to sneak bits of carrot or bell pepper from the piles Nat and Steve were making while Darcy chattered on about the type of bread she was making and how much she enjoyed working insanely well appointed kitchen. They continued on that way until they heard the elevator chime.
Steve’s head popped up at the noise, a smile splitting his face. “Tony and Rhodey must be home.”
Clint was about to make a comment about toning down the puppy love - Steve and Tony had been together for more than five years now - but instead he caught the sound of frantic, running footsteps and dropped the knife and half peeled apple he was holding. Several seconds later Tony came careening around the corner. He tried to stop, but only managed to skid across the wood floors, and crashed into Clint’s back.
Almost instantly Steve was at Tony’s side, carefully looking him over, panic written across his face. “Tony, what’s wrong? What happened?”
Straightening up and regaining some composure, Tony looked up at Steve and panted out “I’m Iron Man.”
The entire range of human emotions flickered across Steve’s face in the span of a second before settling on confused worry. “Yes, you are. You have been for ten years now. What’s wrong?” Steve went back to his checking Tony for injury.
“Stop that!” Tony barked out, swatting Steve’s hands away. “Stop. I’m fine. I’m FINE. And, sorry about that Katniss. Thanks for the assist.” He took a deep breath, trying to bring himself under control. “It’s just…. Well, I am Iron Man.”
“You sound crazy, Tones.” Col. James Rhodes calmly said from where he stood in the doorway. He considered for a second. “Even for you.”
“Thanks, Sour Patch. I needed that. Very helpful. STEVE! Stop, I’m FINE. I just, the kid...Look.” Tony stopped and took a deep breath, trying to calm himself down. “Look, I-”
“I think!” Darcy cut in from where she was still seated on the counter, shockingly loud for such a tiny thing. When she had the attention of everyone in the room she continued, “I think there is nothing going on that won’t keep. Let’s all cool out jets and walk the fifteen feet to the sitting area where we can all look at Tony like he’s lost his mind while he explains that he hasn’t, where there are comfy couches and no knives for the Very Scary Assassins to wield while something tense is going on.” Her ability to capitalize her words was legendary, and in this case, managed to make a point and break the weird mood that Tony had brought into the kitchen.
“Excellent idea, Dollface,” Bucky said, looking adoringly at Darcy. She smiled at the praise and leaned over to drop a soft kiss on his lips.
“Thanks, I thought so, too. Now, go find a seat. I’m going to take the bread out of the oven and I’ll be right over.” As soon as she finished talking the time on the oven beeped and Clint wondered, not for the first time, if she didn’t have some sort of minor superpower of her own. Like some sort of kitchen witch or something.
Clint didn’t need to be told twice. He had his preferred spot, sitting on the back of the center of the couch that faced away from the kitchen, and was always mildly grumpy when he didn’t get it. There was less glare on the TV from that angle, and he could get up and get snacks without having to cross in front of anyone watching TV. Plus, he just liked it, ok? He had just settled into his spot, resting his elbows on his knees and clasping his hands so he didn’t fidget, when BUcky dropped into the seat to the left of him, and inconspicuously wrapped his right hand lightly around Clint’s left ankle.
“You wearin’ my shorts, birdbrain?” Bucky asked casually.
“Like you have purple shorts, Mister Fashionista,” Clint replied with a snort of indignation.
“I do when I steal them from you.”
“Ooo, what are we stealing from Clint?” Darcy asked brightly as she plopped down across Bucky’s lap and immediately started scritching the former Winter Soldier behind the ear.
Fuck, but they were beatufil together. All pale skin and dark hair, Bucky’s bulk and angles juxtaposed against Darcy’s petite frame and soft curves. Clint could get lost in his thoughts, waxing poetic about it, but this time, Natasha wouldn’t let him. The tiny redhead stood in front of him and glared until he spread his legs enough for her to sit between them. She did this sometimes, and he had no idea why, it couldn’t be particularly comfortable. Then he realized that he was playing with her hair, and she looked very much like a contented cat receiving pets, that he wasn’t so confused. Still, though, head scratches didn’t seem like enough to make up for how uncomfortable sitting on his feet must be.
Before long, they were all reassembled in the living room. Everyone was sprawled out on one piece of incredibly comfortable furniture or another, except for Steve, who was sitting perfectly upright on the edge of one of the overstuffed chairs, and Tony, who was pacing in front of them.
“Ok, Tony. What’s up? You’re freaking us all out, and keeping us from dinner,” Bruce chimed in, and Steve immediately shot him a furious look. Bruce was unfazed; this was far from the first time he’d seen Tony manic and trying to work through some idea or problem, though it usually happened in the lab.
“Alrighty, straight into it. So, Honeybear and I were in Queens-”
“The fuck were you doing in Queens?” Clint asked.
“Oh, Spiderkid told us about this bakery on his block with the world’s best cannoli. I had to check it out, and I think the kid may be right, they’re fucking amazing. We brought back a couple dozen for dessert.”
“Hey!” Darcy barked out. “I was making pies.”
“Oh, no, we will have to eat pies AND cannoli?! How will we ever survive?” was Bucky’s entirely unhelpful reply.
“THAT’S ENOUGH!” Steve cut in sharply, immediately killing the mood in the room. “Tony, what’s going on?”
“Wow, thanks for that, Captain Buzzkill,” Tony said, though he walked over and dropped a kiss on the top of Steve’s head, which made the man relax infinitesimally. “Seriously, I’m fine. Stop the worry train. Anyway. Queens, cannoli, what - oh, yeah. We were in the bakery when a kid came up to me. Well, he probably wasn’t a kid. College aged, I think. But, still. Young. And he said something I hadn’t really thought about. He was telling me about how the spread you and I did, Steve, in Variety, that one where we were schmoopy and all over each other? Yeah, anyway, that one. It gave him the courage to come out to his parents. If Captain America and Iron Man can be gay and still be heros and respected and whatnot, him being gay must be fine.”
“Oh, wow. That’s,” Steve looked thoughtful, “that’s so sweet. I guess I never really thought of being a role model for being gay.”
“You and me both, sweetheart. Especially not with my,” he coughed, “colorful past. But, this kid doesn’t remember any of that. Hell, he wasn’t alive for any of it. All he remembers me as is Iron Man and being a green energy pioneer. He only knows me as a hero. No ‘merchant of death’ bullshit, or grainy tabloid photos of me fucking a pretty stranger in an elevator or me giving an interview at the end of a four day bender or something. He didn’t appear to know anything about bisexual disaster Tony.”
“I wish I could say the same,” said Rhodey.
“Can it, you know you loved it. ...ok, most of it. Anyway, I didn’t think about that side of things. And I certainly never thought about my sexuality impacting anyone I wasn’t currently having sex with. But, it helped this kid. Just passively being me and being Captain America’s genius hero arm candy was enough to help this kid. Well, until he told me that his parents cut him off. So, now he’s an intern at SI, but I can’t do that for everyone who comes up to me with that sort of story. So. I need to do more. We need to do more, because, let’s face it, it will get more traction if we can associate it with the gorgeous faces of the Avengers. So. I am starting a foundation, and the foundation is going to be having a fundraiser. But, it is June third, and June is Pride month, so, I need to work fast. I texted Pepper from the car on the way back, she’s working with legal to get the thing set up, and suggested a big gay gala as a fundraiser, the type of thing that costs a midsized car to get through the door of, to get this thing up and running quickly.”
Darcy squeaked from her spot on Bucky’s lap. “Oh, that’s awesome. Are you looking at focusing on LGBT youth specifically? Or? What can I help with? I can work on organizing the thing. Actually,” she paused and looked thoughtfully up at the ceiling, trying to work through something her head, “Actually, we haven’t sent out the invitations for the Maria Stark thing on the 15th. It is almost completely set up. All I’d need to do is change some of the decor, but that wouldn’t be a problem or even change the price. I’d have to rush getting new invites printed, and you’d have to tell me how gay you want it to look, on a scale from 1 to Lisa Frank. Oh, this is great. I love it.” Bucky gently squeezed her waist and gave her a peck on her cheek, pride radiating off him.
“I love the enthusiasm, shortstack, but this thing needs a name first. I was thinking-”
“Coulson,” Clint croaked out, sounding very much as if he hadn’t meant to say it at all. When all eyes landed on him he cleared his throat and clarified, “The Philip J. Coulson Foundation for Equality.” His face was blank, and he was clearly going to say nothing else about it.
Tony, for his part, spent several seconds just blinking at him. “Agent? I’m not against it, but It doesn’t seem relevant…” Tony, still looking at Clint, dropped off. “Agent? Really? Huh. But, what about, I thought there was a cellist?”
Clint let his head fall forward and closed his eyes, but there was a small, sad smile on his face. He took a fortifying breath and added, “Yeah. Cellist. With a bow.” He felt Natasha lean her head against his thigh, a small sign of support, but it was the light squeeze to his ankle from Bucky that managed to ground him, even though no one else seemed to notice. He looked up and found Tony gawping at him, head tilted slightly.
“Barton?” Tony sounded more surprised than Clint had ever heard, including that time they fought giant, flying aliens together. “You’re, uh, strictly dickly?”
In spite of himself, he laughed. “Strictly dickly? What, are you twelve?”
“Yes. That’s not new. You’re gay? How did I not know you’re gay? Is this why I never see you with a date or a fling or anyone who isn’t in this room?”
“Well,” Clint said, turning indignant to keep from outright laughing at Tony, “there’s a lot about me you don’t know.” He felt another squeeze on his ankle, and was grateful for it. “But. No, I’m not strictly dickly or whatever. I’m, uh, equal opportunity.”
“Huh. Who knew. Alright, then. The Philip J. Coulson Foundation for Equality. I’ll get that ball rolling. Shortstack, you get the party changed over. Let’s go for black tie with rainbow accents. On the 15th. You’re all expected to be there.”
It wasn’t like it was a secret, it just wasn’t something they talked about. He, Darcy, and Bucky had been doing whatever it was they were doing for almost two years now. He and Darcy had been friends since New Mexico, but they got closer and figured out there was more there years later, when Darcy’s work with Jane Foster brought her not just back to New York, but to Stark Tower, where Clint had lived since Tony extended the invitation to all the Avengers. It took almost no time before he spent more nights in her apartment than he did his own. Hers was just so much homier and comfortable, having been imbued with her particular brand of charm or magic or whatever it was, where his was still mostly in the shape it had been when he moved into it. He’s not sure how no one noticed it, as they were almost inseparable when he wasn’t out on missions, even if they weren’t terribly touchy-feely.
Several years later, when Steve brought Bucky in from the cold, they just sort of glommed on to him. Both were friendly and outgoing, and neither could stand the fact that he looked so sad all the time. Darcy started exploring food and music with him, and Clint took any opportunity to bring him to one of the ranges for a silly contest or game. Eventually, about a year after coming to the tower, he finally confessed that he needed to distance himself from them. He’d finally started feeling like a real person again, largely thanks to them. He had moved out of Steve’s guest room and into his own apartment in the tower. He was going on missions and engaging with the team outside of missions and trainings, and he felt that all of it was, to some degree, because of them, and somewhere along the line he’d fallen for them.
Darcy and Clint had been completely caught off guard, as they just told each other that they were both sorta-kinda falling a little in love with him. Darcy answered by tackling him in one of her wonderful, comforting hugs while Clint just smiled at them and waited his turn. After that they sat down and had a long talk about expectations and wants and made plans and walked away from it a new, tentative, triad. Steve knew, because he and Bucky had no secrets, and Natasha knew, because Natasha knew everything, but that was the extent of it, because Bucky wasn’t ready to have his life pried into and dissected, even by the team. A few months later and Rhodes had found Darcy and Bucky in the common room snuggled up on the couch and the jig was up, and it was just accepted that they were a couple, and none of them bothered to clarify that that wasn’t the whole truth. Now, though, it was sort of funny to Clint that there was anyone on the team who didn’t know. They lived together, and had been for a little more than a year.
The 15th rolled around and they were gathering in the common room, waiting for everyone to show up so they could head to the limo together. Clint, wearing a deep purple tux with a dark magenta shirt and blue bowtie, was already there when Steve walked in wearing a classic black tux. He looked, well, like Captain America in a classic black tux, which, as it turns out, looks a whole lot like sex on legs. Tony followed closely behind wearing a classically cut black tux with rainbow piping and lapels. It was tasteful and totally Tony.
Steve gave a little chuckle, “I managed to talk him out of the full rainbow tux.”
Tony stuck out lower lip in an exaggerated pout. “Buzzkill.”
Cint made a move to reply when Natasha walked in wearing a simple pleated black dress, but the inside of the pleats were colored - Purple, white, grey, and Black. She was stunny, and Clint was proud to see her in the colors of the Asexual Pride flag. It was more than she had ever offered up of her private life, and it felt like a big step. He moved to give her a hug when Steve cut in.
“Natasha. You look gorgeous. What, uh, are the colors?”
She looked at him thoughtfully before replying. “The colors of the Ace flag.”
Steve had questions and, surprisingly, Natasha was forthcoming with answers. They wandered off to the side to huddle together in quiet conversation. Clint’s attention was quickly pulled away from them when Darcy walked into the room. She was a goddamn vision in a figure hugging light pink dress covered in pink, yellow, and light blue polka dots. As attention grabbing as she was, it was nothing compared to seeing Bucky walk in wearing a bow tie in the bi pride flag colors. It knocked the air right out of his lungs.
“Freeze pop?” Tony asked curiously, “You know that those colors, especially in that configuration, mean something, right?”
Bucky didn’t actually say anything, but the look he threw at Tony spoke volumes. To prove his point, he strode directly over to where Clint was standing, wrapped his flesh hand around the back of Clint’s head, and pulled him into a searing kiss.
Darcy made a happy noise and clapped her hands, Natasha gave a small smile, Steve beamed at them, and Tony stood there with his mouth open.
“What the fuck. What about Shortstack?” He asked, indignat on Darcy’s behalf.
Rather than any of them actually answering the shellshocked genius, Darcy marched right up to where her two boyfriends were kissing and began tugging on Bucky’s jacked. “Get off. My turn.” As soon as Bucky pulled away from Clint, Darcy took his place.
Bucky clapped, Steve smiled bigger, Thor - who’d shown up at some point, but was way less interesting than what was currently going on - cheered, Natasha kept smiling, and Tony did a rather spectacular impression of a cod fish with the way he kept opening and closing his mouth.
“Looks like I missed something,” Bruce, who still managed to look rumpled, even when wearing a tux, said as he walked into the room. “What’s going on?”
Tony filled him in, still somewhere between awestruck and angry.
“Oh. Good for them.” Rhodes added, finally joining the rest of the team. “We should get going or we are going to be late.”
As the rest of the group headed for the elevator, Clint turned to Bucky, “Are you sure? Wearing that, with me wearing this, if we spend any time together, there’s going to be talk. Are you ready for that?”
Bucky held out an arm to each of his lovers, “I’m walking in with the who most gorgeous people in the world. I think I’m ok with people talking about that.”
Clint grinned at him and took the offered arm. It was going to be a good night.