34. Meeting at a Masquerade Ball AU, ClintCoulson
Clint’s never going to understand rich people, even if—technically—he’s one of them now. How the hell is dropping hundreds of thousands of dollars on renting out some psuedo-castle-cum-museum and bedecking it in all the finery surrounding him for a benefit supposed to help out a charity? Couldn’t they just take all the money they put into planning the event and actually donate it? Instead, they spent it on fancy invitations to all the local socialites and some frou-frou catering company. (Clint has yet to venture past the rotating trays of champagne; the hors d’oeuvres are super small and super weird-looking.)
The theme of the evening—is this a fucking prom or what?—is a masquerade ball, and while the mask requirement makes it easy and not all suspicious to keep his face hidden from everyone, the eye holes are cut too precisely, limiting his peripheral vision as he carefully winds his way back through the corridors to the ballroom. His gait is purposefully staggered, the flute in his hand long ago emptied into a potted plant, and the padded case holding the recently-pilfered gemstones bumps his hip lightly as his stumbling jostles the weight in his pocket.
He slips back into the ballroom without notice and starts making his way slowly across the dance floor, gracefully falling in step behind twirling couples so as to avoid the security guards lurking around the edges of the room.
His progress is halted abruptly by a masked man stepping in front of him and smiling hesitantly. “May I have this dance?” he asks hopefully, offering a hand to Clint.
Clint’s eyes make a quick sweep of the man—older than Clint with a receding hairline, very well dressed in a custom-tailored suit, only his mouth and eyes are visible under the mask, but his smile is adorably shy and his eyes are catching the light of the twinkling fairy lights strung throughout the room in an enchanting way.
Clint grins and takes his hand, stepping in close to wrap his other arm around the man’s waist and taking the lead as the orchestra—a legit orchestra because rich people—transitions into a smooth waltz. The man’s eyes narrow mischievously and he grips Clint’s hip in kind, waiting until they pivot to step forward and take command.
They move each other around the dance floor, neither content to follow, and steadily push their bodies flush together long past the line of decency for this sort of venue. The subtle slide of their thighs pressing together and then smoothly apart as move in time, the faint scritch scritch of the fabric of their suits meeting in the middle, the ballroom lights bouncing off of the man’s eyes and into Clint’s then back again like a decadent hall of mirrors—the whole surreal experience is doing interesting things to Clint’s libido.
His partner’s countenance has been slipping into something intense this whole time, so Clint is jolted out of the heated moment when his smirk shifts into a sheepish smile. He leans his head forward, his lips ghosting across the shell of Clint’s ear, and suddenly they’re pressed together from cheek to toes. “So, uh, is that a phone in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”
Clint clamps his teeth around his bottom lip to hold in a snorting laugh. Rich, handsome, and a dorky sense of humor. If only Clint were on the grift for someone to bed tonight. Unfortunately, his mystery man’s comment only serves to remind him of what he actually is carrying in his pocket, and it’s not the sort of thing he’s willing to get caught with because he was distracted by a helping hand down his pants. That’s not to say he isn’t sorely tempted, though. And he’s not in a terrible rush to vacate the premises, as that always draws unwanted attention.
Except that his waffling is interrupted by the shriek of an alarm that’s jarringly cutoff mid-wail, and the guards within his line of sight all bring a hand to their earbuds, listening intently.
Clint winces as the guards start shuffling around into a new formation centered around the exits. “That’s my cue,” he whispers regretfully, backing away slowly and letting his hand linger in the other man’s for as long as possible. He takes the first few steps backward, drinking in his fill to fuel his fantasies with later, but soon he has to turn away with a wistful smile, melding into the curious but clueless crowd.
He makes his exit via an upstairs window overlooking a vine-wrapped trellis and easily avoids the rallying security forces to slip out of the back of the estate onto an access road, walking confidently between the shadows.
Clint picks his pace up to a swift jog as soon as he clears the yard, and he doesn’t slow until he’s a good half a mile away. He readjusts to a brisk walk and rolls his shoulders to ease the lingering tension held there, absently patting his ruffled suit jacket back into place. His steps stutter to a quick halt then, and he’s not sure whether to be pissed or impressed.
His pockets are empty.