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Behind Blue Eyes

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It took Bucky a while to notice.

To be fair, he had a lot on his plate. Even so simple a thing as his name had proved to be a monumental effort. He clung to the name of Bucky, even though he wasn’t him, even though he had no memory of being him, because it was a lifeline, a reminder that he’d been a person before and he could be again.

But it was hard, because with the name came the weight of Steve Roger’s expectations and, while Bucky couldn’t remember much more than vague images, he could feel the connection between them and he so deeply didn’t want to disappoint the man who’d helped him knock his head free of HYDRA.

It was why he was even here, in the tower, instead of Wakanda which was, for all intents and purposes, safer all around.

And he’d liked it there, too.

Princess Shuri had been the one to get rid of his trigger words, Hydra would be hard pressed to reach him there anyway, and it was peaceful in a way that Avengers Tower wasn’t.

And, most importantly, if he had a bad day, the Wakandans had the kind of tech that could hold him back and keep him from hurting himself and others.

He’d have stayed, in that hut, surrounded by goats and laughing children, and far from the hustle and bustle of even Wakanda’s cities.

He’d have stayed there, where there were no reminders of war or the horrors he’d done other than the scars on his body and soul…

He’d have stayed, except for Steve’s begging face filled with the words he wanted to say but didn’t. Except for the wave of loneliness that swamped Bucky day in and day out despite the friendliness of the Wakandans.

And so, he’d finally caved.

At least he knew the tower was filled with people who could contain him. Maybe not as easily as the Wakandan’s could have, but it could be done.

Steve had come for him happily, dragged him back to the tower and introduced him to literally everybody he hadn’t met yet.

Which was almost everybody except for Sam Wilson and Natasha.

But the loneliness hadn’t eased. Instead, it seemed to magnify, like he’d gotten closer to the source. Which didn’t make any sense, cause, wasn’t he the source?

He thought, at first, that it must be because it took him a long time to settle in, to feel safe enough to settle in, to trust the others, to trust himself. But eventually, as he eased into life at the tower, Bucky came to the conclusion that it was something else.

He just couldn’t put his fingers on what.


Watching the others when he was (somewhat) more relaxed in his own skin made a difference in the types of observations he made.

And that was when he noticed it.

It had been on the periphery of Bucky’s attention before, but it had never registered as significant because it hadn’t affected him in any way that mattered.

At first, he thought he’d imagined it. So, he continued to observe for a few days.

The Avengers, as a whole, were a rather touchy-feely group. It made sense. The kind of life and death situations they found themselves in on a regular basis, the kind of trust they had to have in each other to work together like this, the kinds of life experiences only a handful of people – mostly in this tower, though not limited to – could relate to…

Yeah, it made sense.

Even Tony, with his ‘nobody hands me anything’ policy relaxed it in the Avengers common room around his teammates (and Pepper, of course).

The Avengers were free with their casual touches to backs and arms and shoulders as they passed one another, or passed things to one another. Hugs were rarer, but when done, they weren’t skimped in any way. (Bucky was almost certain Thor had cracked a rib that first time, but super soldier serum – knock off or not – had kicked in and any damage Thor might have accidentally done was gone before the night was over).

There were absentminded cheek kisses, affectionate head ruffles and occasionally some good old-fashioned roughhousing. (That had taken some getting used to, Bucky would have to admit).

Movie nights inevitably landed various Avengers into cuddle piles. There never seemed to be a pattern of who sprawled with who, but that it would happen was a guarantee. At first, Bucky had thought there was something going on (if you caught his drift) but, even if there were some Avengers that were together, he’d learned that the cuddle piles had nothing to do with that. They just… were. Like a kitten pile (or a puppy pile if Thor was involved).

This was usually okay with Bucky anyway, because he tended to shy away from touch, especially in the beginning, though he was getting better with it now. So for him, movie nights had started against the wall, slowly moved closer to a chair dragged over from the dining table, then moved on to something a little comfier (a recliner) before finally graduating to sharing a couch with (usually) Steve.

Steve would sit on one end and he would sit on the other, and at first, that was enough. Then he noticed that Steve would slump down into the couch and stretch his legs out. Sometime, he’d tuck his toes under a body in the pile – didn’t seem to matter who – and other times, the pile would shift back far enough that one of the others – again, didn’t seem to matter who – would curl an arm around Steve’s ankle or even use his legs as a pillow.

Eventually, Bucky had even managed to slide closer to Steve on the couch, till at least their legs were touching and that felt… that had felt great.

He hadn’t realized how much he’d missed touch until he had it.

Just like that, he became addicted to getting touches where he could. Sometimes, when he did, there were flashes of something, emotions he didn’t think were his own and he’d pull away and frown and the other – whoever it happened to be – would give him space.

He’d shy away from them all for a few hours, sometimes a day or two, but the craving would become too much and he’d go looking. Maybe Nat would let him brush her hair? Or maybe he could help Bruce cook?

It was only when he started purposely seeking out touch that he noticed that there was one Avenger who never joined in the cuddle piles, that everyone seemed to avoid touching whenever possible.

Clint Barton.

With this revelation, Bucky started watching the archer much more closely, trying to figure it out. The guy was handsome enough, pleasant, a bit of a disaster with a compulsion to help others and always had a smile for Bucky when he saw him.

Unless it was before coffee, then all bets were off on that.

All in all, he seemed a decent guy and he appeared to have the absolute trust of his teammates, so what was going on?

On the next movie night, Bucky watched as the usual pileup of Avengers commenced, pillows and blankets being acquired – and watched as Clint didn’t even attempt to join in, but instead, perched atop a bookshelf with a grin and the toss of a “Well, you know me, I see better from a distance.”

But for a split second, Bucky thought he saw it. A fleeting glance of longing and sadness on Clint’s face.

What was keeping him from joining the others? Did he have a Tony thing that not even being around teammates could get around? Was this a new development? Had something happened that Clint was getting over? Sort of like Bucky? Or was there something else going on?

Could he ask Steve? Would Steve know? Or Nat. Natasha probably knew. Clint and Nat were partners, the best of friends, family even. Like how Steve insisted he and Bucky were. But no, would that be an invasion of privacy?

Bucky found himself more engrossed with the archer than the movie and so it was that only he noticed when Clint quietly slipped off the bookcase and out of the room.

More observation only showed more of the same.

Nobody touched Clint. And always, so quick Bucky thought he imagined it, there were flashes of longing or hurt or sadness – or even all three.

But whatever it was he saw, those feelings lingered long after the expression on Clint’s face had moved on.


Identifying that something was going on kept Bucky occupied, distracted from the loneliness he was feeling so swamped by. Sometimes it was better. When everyone was together and laughing, when the sense of camaraderie was high, when the team had just won a battle and there’d been no casualties.

And sometimes, especially in the dead of night, it was an overwhelming thing, and even the mystery of one Clint Barton couldn’t distract.

Because then Bucky would think about how Clint must feel the same crushing loneliness, and how he didn’t deserve that feeling.

He’d listened to the other Avengers talk about Clint. They were all filled with admiration and praises. He might be plain old human, but he had a good heart, an easy laugh and a determination that rivaled Steve’s.

And Bucky wasn’t sure, but he thought Clint might actually be a better marksman than he was. Had been. Did he even want to be, anymore?

So this isolation didn’t make sense.

He continued to think about it, to turn it over in his head, peering at it from this angle and that, but Bucky was no closer to an answer.

With a sigh, he shoved back the blankets on his bed and stood, wiping a hand over his face. He was exhausted after almost a week of no sleep, as the anniversary of his fall echoed through his head with every day it loomed a little closer.

For some reason, some misbegotten soul had decided to do a special on WW2 and Captain America and the Howling Commandos. He’d been blindsided by it on a newsstand a week ago, then commercials on the TV until Bucky had asked JARVIS to filter them out, but now the pernicious advertisements for the special kept popping up in his emails and on his phone.

The closer it got, the more morose Steve looked, which had Tony hugging him from behind and rubbing Steve’s arms. The closer it got, the more nightmares Bucky had of the fall, despite his lack of other memories. Some things, it seemed, didn’t go away as much as you wanted them to and so he dreamt. He dreamt of cold and pain and an aching loneliness so deep it made Bucky shake.

Shoving to his feet, he pulled his oversized hoody on and tucked his hands into the pockets and headed to the common area. He needed something warm, something soothing and there was no way he was falling back asleep tonight.

Not when the nightmares had left him so chilled to the bone.

The Avengers Tower was more than large enough to give each Avenger their own floor, but nearly every Avenger had, apparently, vetoed the idea. So instead, Tony had created a two floor block of very large apartments surrounding an open ceiling common room that spanned both floors.

Tony, of course, had his own floor, above the Avengers area, but he had his own accessway to and from so that he could still be part of the team.

Bruce, Sam, Wanda and Steve were on the second level, while Thor, when he was there, shared the first level with Nat, Clint, Bucky and Pietro. There were more rooms and, Bucky suspected, more levels just waiting to be filled. Tony had no shortage of space.

Even still, Steve had argued that Bucky should stay with him and at first, Bucky had agreed. But Steve’s constant hovering and hopeful looks meant that Bucky – as much as he liked the guy – needed some space. He’d finally swallowed his pride and asked Tony for his own rooms and hadn’t regretted it one bit.

This meant that there was a hall separating the common room from the apartments, leaving it an island in the center of the floor. Bucky’s own room was at the far end of the hall, the furthest he could go. The two closest to him were Thor’s room, usually empty, then Clint’s. Past Clint was Nat and past her was Pietro.

The hallways were usually fairly silent – Tony did an excellent job of soundproofing which, considering who he was housing, was probably a good idea since nightmares probably weren’t only a Bucky problem. Considering all the things the team had seen and fought over the years, Bucky was quite, quite certain that everyone had them.

Which was why he was surprised to hear the strum of a guitar. Not just because it was 2 in the morning, but because he shouldn’t be hearing it.

Not even with super soldier hearing.

And it wasn’t just a guitar.

- No one knows what it’s like –

There was a low, rumbling voice singing along – none of my pain and woe - and Bucky found he couldn’t tear himself away. He stared ahead blankly, realizing it had to be Clint, since he was by Clint’s room.

Clint had a nice voice and Bucky stayed to listen, something in him unwilling to walk away but -

But my dre-ee-eams they aren’t as empty –

But the longer he listened, - and if I swallow anything evil - the more the words struck an all too familiar chord within Bucky and that overwhelming feeling of loneliness that had driven him from his room seemed to get impossibly stronger, making his knees buckle.

- To be the bad man, to be the sad man -

His hand shot out to clutch at the wall as the words rang out, clear and strong – Behind blue eyes - how was nobody else hearing this? The song was echoing through his head, drowning out anything else he might have heard, any thought he might have had.

The voice changed, no more words, just a hum now and the strumming faltered and faded off and Bucky was breathing hard as he realized he was on his knees, his left fist gone right into the wall.

Jesus. What the hell? Why the fuck had a simple song affected him like this?

“Bucky?” Clint’s voice, now directly in front of him instead of singing – fuck, he hadn’t even known Clint could sing. What other talents did the archer hide? “You okay, bro?”

He looked up at Clint with wide eyes. Clint was crouched in front of him, hand reaching out but not touching – still, not touching, why, why, why? – and Bucky wobbled. He took a deep breath, glanced left and tried to gently extricate his hand from the wall.

“Hey, you know where you are?” Clint asked cautiously.

Bucky snorted. “Yeah,” he croaked. “’Vengers Tower.”

“Can you tell me what happened?”

And god help him, Bucky hesitated. “Had a nightmare. Was just going to the kitchen and… might have lost my balance on the way there. Tried to compensate but…” he shrugged and forced his fingers to unclench. He was able to pull his hand free from the wall without doing further damage and he shook it out.

Clint was giving him a skeptical look, but let it drop. Like he knew a thing or two about not wanting to talk about shit. He stood up and without thinking Bucky held his hand out to be helped to his feet. He still felt a little shaky and –

And his hand hung there while Clint looked down at it in shock and swallowed.

Bucky blinked, started to pull his hand back. “Oh, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have presumed – “ After all, Bucky still didn’t know what was going on with Clint. Maybe he didn’t want people touching him. Maybe it was a war inside him, need and want battling within.

Bucky knew a little about that.

A strange look flashed through Clint’s eyes, then his jaw set in determination and he reached for Bucky’s hand – the metal one – and grasped it, hauling him to his feet with surprising strength. His fingers lingered after, but his body was tense as he waited… for what?

“Thanks,” Bucky rasped.

Clint blinked at him in surprise. “Um, sure, bro.”

They stood in the hallway staring at each other a little longer before Bucky couldn’t stand the silence any more (him, who used to go to great lengths to be alone in the quiet).

“So uh, could we not tell Steve about the…” Bucky gestured at the wall and the hole in it.

Turning, Clint put his hands on his hips and stared at the same hole with pursed lips. He shook his head. “Dunno, I mean, it’s kinda hard to miss. Someone’s gonna ask.”

Bucky stared at Clint, wearing blue sweatpants so loose and long in the leg they pooled around his toes and hung low on his hips and had more than one hole adorning them. The t-shirt was white, with a purple target on it, and tonight, Clint was sporting some bandages across his nose and several around a few of his fingers.

That was also something Bucky had noticed – Clint seemed to have a reckless regard for his own safety and health on a regular basis, and nothing anyone said to him seemed to make a difference.

There was also something new in his attire that Bucky had never seen before – wireless purple headphones? No, they didn’t look right to be headphones. The team all used earwigs for missions, but they were barely visible, normally. Why would Clint be wearing these in the privacy of his own rooms?

The silence went on too long and Clint looked back at him, his expression shuttering off, and all of a sudden, that lonely feeling was back, made more powerful as Bucky finally registered its brief absence.

No, it wasn’t just loneliness… there was more to it now, an undercurrent of… hopelessness? Despair?

Bucky wobbled again at the suddenness of it, the strength of it and his breath caught, his hand reached out blindly for balance –

And Clint grabbed him. “Whoa, whoa, whoa! What’s going on? JARVIS!” he shouted.

“No, I’m fine,” Bucky mumbled “No need to bother JARVIS or wake up Steve.”

“I call bullshit. You nearly fell over twice now.” Clint’s hands held Bucky steady and then one moved up to push his hair out of Bucky’s face, flipping over to rest the back of his hand on Bucky’s head. “Dammit. I don’t know what your baseline temperature is. The gang’s always saying how hot Steve runs, you probably do too.”

“I’m fine,” Bucky insisted.

Clint sighed and backed away and Bucky instantly missed the feel of Clint’s fingers on his skin.

“If you say so,” Clint said doubtfully. He strode over to his door and pulled it shut, then looked over his shoulder to Bucky. “Kitchen, right? Tea or hot cocoa?”

“Not coffee?” Bucky asked, feeling a small smile of amusement tugging at him. He let it happen and watched as Clint laughed a little.

“Well, yeah, for me,” he said. “But most people don’t want coffee in the middle of the night when they should be sleeping.”

Bucky shrugged. “Fair enough.” He found his feet were steady and that overwhelming feeling had gone. It wasn’t far away, though; he could still feel it simmering beneath the surface, but there were other things pushing their way to the top now. Like hope, curiosity and… concern?

He shook his head. Sometimes he thought he was feeling someone else’s feelings, but then with a grimace, he’d remember he could be.

Somewhere in his head there were probably at least three people: the Bucky he was now, the Bucky from before, and the Winter Soldier, caught between.

He shook it off and followed Clint to the kitchen.

Clint moved around the kitchen with a careless grace. Even when he tripped over his pants, he was still fucking graceful and Bucky had no idea how he did it. Soon enough, though, he and Clint were sat side by side at the little island, both with a hot mug cradled in their hands.

For Clint, the usual coffee. For Bucky, he’d actually gone with the cocoa. With marshmallows. He was allowed to indulge and Clint had smiled when Bucky had asked for them, glaring all the while, just daring Clint to say something about it.

He didn’t. But he poured extra marshmallows into Bucky’s drink.

It was… it was nice, and Bucky found himself humming as he sipped his cocoa in the otherwise silent room. Clint sat closer to Bucky than Bucky had ever seen him sit to anyone, except maybe Natasha, and occasionally their elbows would brush together, or their knees knock into each other.

And with every touch, Clint’s body language relaxed.

Clint seemed to want the touch every bit as much as he needed it, leaning in to Bucky of his own accord before catching himself and straightening up. He didn’t jerk away from the brief points of contact but seemed to seek out more of them.

He wanted the touches.

So why was Clint being denied them? And who was doing the denying?

Bucky couldn’t imagine the team doing anything like that to a fellow teammate, least of all, one they respected as much as Clint. And yet, he’d seen it with his own eyes, how they avoided touching Clint, how hands would abort movements if they were too close, how Clint would fluidly move out of the way before an errant wave could touch his bare skin.

Because he was accommodating them, Bucky realized. But the big question still remained the same –

Why?

“What are you humming?” Clint asked suddenly.

“I don’t know,” Bucky admitted. “I’ve never heard it before tonight.” But Clint had been singing it, unless Bucky had imagined the whole thing, so Clint would know it. Knowing he could be too quiet, Bucky deliberately hummed louder and Clint’s face went pale.

“You heard that?”

Bucky nodded.

How?”

“Dunno,” Bucky said, shrugging. “I was just trying to figure that out myself and then the words… they… they hit my mind… they felt… familiar, like they -”

“Resonated?” Clint asked softly.

“Yeah,” Bucky said, his breath exhaling roughly. “What is it?”

“Behind Blue Eyes, by the Who,” Clint said, his voice sounded a little choked. “Bucky, you couldn’t have heard me, not even with your super hearing. It’s not that good.”

“I don’t get it either,” Bucky said. “But I did.”

Clint was eyeing him strangely, but didn’t say anything, the silence pressing oddly where it hadn’t been before. Bucky didn’t like that, so he blurted out, “Why were you awake?”

“We all got nightmares, bro,” Clint said with a shrug, like it wasn’t that big of a deal. But his fingers twitched on his mug, and Bucky could feel a hopeless resignation so strong he choked on it, nearly dropping his mug.

Clint once more did that weird little dance with his fingers, where he reached out, pulled back and then reached towards Bucky once more, fingers twitching before finally settling over Bucky’s hand. He stared down at Bucky’s hand and wonder suddenly replaced the negative feelings.

“What’s going on?” Bucky asked hoarsely.

Blinking at Bucky thoughtfully, incredulously, Clint said, “I can’t fuckin’ believe it.” He shook his head, his thumb stroking over Bucky’s skin. Bucky melted a little at the touch, eyes fluttering closed. “There’s no way,” Clint whispered, drawing his hand away.

Bucky’s eyes flew back open. He strangled a whimper but couldn’t help his hand chasing after Clint’s, capturing it and threading their fingers together.

Clint was gaping at him in shock, but giddiness was rolling through Bucky so strongly he couldn’t think. “What’s going on?” he repeated.

“I… I can’t be right…” Clint spluttered. “But I’m thinkin’… soulmate.”

“Huh?” Bucky asked dumbly.

“C’mon, I know you guys had soulmates back in the prehistoric age,” Clint said, rolling his eyes. “You gotta know what they are.”

Bucky narrowed his eyes and tried to glare at Clint but he was smiling too hard to manage it. “’Course we did, punk. But – “ Bucky’s memories struggled, providing no real events, just a certain knowledge that – “neither Stevie nor I had one.”

“What do you mean? Obviously, you do,” Clint pointed out.

“We were… null, I guess,” Bucky shrugged. “Didn’t feel anything outside of ourselves, our touches didn’t… resonate with anyone, either good or bad. Never heard anyone’s music –“

He stumbled, eyes going wide, gaping at Clint.

“I heard your music,” Bucky said.

“When you shouldn’t have been able to,” Clint agreed.

“Is that you I been feelin’? All that loneliness?” Bucky asked softly. “I… I thought it was me.”

Clint shook his head, a stab of something running through Bucky that was definitely not him. “Nope, just broken old me.” There was something bitter in the words and Bucky understood, then, what that stab had been.

“I don’t think you’re all that broken,” Bucky said, squeezing at Clint’s fingers gently, hearing, softly, a hum of music. “Even if you are, so am I.”

Tears gathered in Clint’s eyes and he choked so badly on his words that Bucky couldn’t understand them but the need to give Clint comfort ran through him so strongly, that he was out of his chair and had both arms wrapped around the archer before he’d even realized he’d kicked his chair over in his haste to move.

Feelings – a cacophony of them, both his and Clint’s, a confused tangle that would take Bucky a long time to get used to – swept through him, filled him, accompanied by music, a low, golden song, the heart of Clint.

It was so beautiful, he wanted to cry.

“I can’t –“ Clint breathed into Bucky’s shirt, hands clenching around Bucky’s forearms like a lifeline, fingers flexing as if he couldn’t make up his mind whether to hold on tight or let go entirely.

“Shhh, doll, take your time. I ain’t going anywhere,” Bucky murmured.

“Ever since I was born,” Clint pushed on anyway, “Nobody cared to touch me if they didn’t have to – my soul music wasn’t just wrong, but discordant, filled with a pain and hurt so deep that…”

Understanding dawned on Bucky, “It’s why nobody touches you, even your friends, why you go out of your way not to be touched.”

Clint nodded into his shirt. “I learned a long time ago it was just easier to maintain a distance, rather than face rejection. Doing what I do, that was easy. By the time I became an Avenger it was… well established. The others, they’ve respected that.”

Bucky ducked his head down to brush his nose into Clint’s messy hair and just breathe in. This explained so much, especially of the behavior of the others. Of course if Clint made it clear he didn’t want to be touched, they’d respect that, and all the time, he really did.

“Oh sweetheart,” Bucky said, his voice cracking. “I’m so sorry. I can’t even imagine a lifetime like that.”

“You’ve had worse,” Clint said softly.

“It’s not the same,” Bucky said. “And it’s not a contest. And it’s probably my fault.”

“How?”

Bucky leaned back and ran his fingers through Clint’s hair. It was comforting, for both of them, Clint’s eyes fluttering shut as he leaned into the touch. If Bucky had thought he was touch starved, he wasn’t sure he had anything on Clint. Bucky might be older – on paper – but Clint was physically older and hadn’t even had the buffer Bucky’s first 20 odd years had provided.

“Soul music reflects the state of our other halves, so I understand. By the time you were born, I’d have been deep in the Winter Soldier and it would have… changed my soul music,” Bucky admitted. “It was my fault.”

Clint’s head shot up sharply, eyes opening, flashing defiantly.

“No,” he said firmly. “That wasn’t your fault. The Winter Soldier – what they made you into, it wasn’t you. It wasn’t your choice, and it wasn’t your fault. The Soul Music is both a beautiful thing and… a tool, a gauge so that soulmates can help each other. And I knew that. I just didn’t understand mine well enough to help you. I’m sorry, Bucky.”

Bucky shook his head wryly. “It’s no more your fault than it is mine, doll, so forget about it.”

“Easier said than done but… I can try,” Clint said.

They sat that way a while, their drinks going cold, both of them reluctant to let go, but eventually, they stood, still maintaining contact.

Eventually, they headed back towards their apartments and Bucky wound up falling asleep in Clint’s bed, unable to tear himself from Clint’s side, not when being there felt so good, not when Clint’s aching loneliness surged every time they had to part even for the briefest of seconds.

There wasn’t anything sexual about it, either. They lay together in Clint’s bed, fully clothed, curled about one another, a hand on a bare hip, a nose tucked into a neck, still finding places to have flesh on flesh – all while still maintaining their modesty, what little of it either of them had - for the strongest of connections.

Occasionally they hummed pieces of their soul songs to each other and laughing giddily at the feelings that ran through them. Clint, at some point, reluctantly took the purple things off his ears, Bucky only learning then what they were, what they meant, Clint glancing at him apprehensively.

Bucky drew him back into the circle of his arms and smiled at him, Clint relaxing completely at last.

It turned out that even deaf, Soul Music was something you could hear. Probably because it wasn’t heard with the ear, but with something deep inside – the soul, the heart, the mind, Bucky didn’t even know or care. He simply sighed and closed his eyes and basked in the warmth of Clint as he fell asleep to the most beautiful sound he was certain he’d ever heard.

It was the best sleep Bucky could remember since ‘waking up’ in the new century.

 

  Bonus Scene  



No one noticed the hole in the wall the next morning.

They probably would have before the day was out, though, if the Avengers hadn’t suddenly been thrown off kilter when they woke to find Bucky and Clint already awake and moving around the kitchen making enough food to feed an army (or, y’know, a couple of super soldiers and their friends).

That wasn’t the surprise, though.

The surprise was the smile on Clint’s face. The smile that turned into a literal beam of radiant happiness when his gaze fell upon Bucky.

The surprise were the easy touches between the two as they moved around each other like a dance, like they were hearing music no one else heard.

The surprise came when Clint accidentally brushed against another Avenger, brushed against Steve, and didn’t recoil instinctively. When he leaned in and gave Nat a kiss on the cheek. When he slapped Tony on the back.

Clint was interacting with them in ways he never had before, had never allowed himself to do before, and the rest of the team stared in joyous disbelief when he did.

And the next time there was an Avenger pile, it included everybody.