Being adopted by Clint Barton was a little like being beaten to death with a throw pillow.
“Go with it,” the Widow had said, “he’s missing Kate.”
Bucky had no idea who Kate was - although he knew, by now, that she was ‘perfect’ and 'smart’ and 'the actual Hawkeye’ - but he was questioning her judgement wherever she was. He wasn’t sure why someone would leave this.
Sleeping on Clint’s couch brought with it first dibs on the newspaper in the morning. Brought coffee, black as sin, in a star-covered mug that had showed up in Clint’s cupboard without a word. Brought a dog, heavy and happy and musty-smelling, weighing down his feet or his lap as he sat in the evenings, always obedient to where Clint told it to go.
“Hey Katie-Kate,” Clint told his phone, a little grin wrinkling the band aid on his cheek, “you are beautiful and perfect as ever and I love you,” and then he listened as Kate talked like the grin was his resting expression. Bucky tried not to let his look linger too long, but eventually he had to go take Lucky for a walk, just for the sake of plausible denial.
Clint brought him pierogi and beer and a pretty freakin’ stone he’d found when he took Lucky for walks. He bought some kinda kids’ de-tangling shampoo and left it conspicuously in the shower. Clint lifted Bucky’s feet when he was sprawled out watching a movie on the couch, manoeuvred himself carefully under, put them on his lap, then started to idly massaging them as things exploded on screen.
he’s missing Kate Bucky told himself, determined, but the compliments were seriously the last straw.
“Such a nice young man,” Mrs Lei said, cornering Clint when he had the front door half open, “he helped me up with my groceries, so considerate!”
Bucky didn’t move from the couch; she’d already talked his ear off once today, and now he knew the names of all her grandchildren.
“Oh yeah,” Clint said, “Bucky’s basically perfection in human form,” all casual.
“And so handsome!” Mrs Lei added, and Clint laughed.
“Hot like the surface of the sun,” he agreed, tone matter of fact like it was the truth. “He should be in a gallery someplace.”
“You hold onto this one,” she told him, and when Clint walked through the door his cheeks were still pink.
“I’m not Kate,” Bucky said, and Clint whirled around and grabbed at his chest like a startled maiden aunt, which in other circumstances would be hilarious.
“This is true,” Clint said, once he’d recovered. “You’re Bucky. You remember, we’ve been over this.”
Bucky pushed himself to his feet, paced away from Clint and back towards him, one hand pushed into his hair.
“I’m not your girlfriend, Clint,” he ground out. “You can’t say things like - ”
Clint’s face was screwed up into an expression of blended disgust and horror.
“Kate is a shining perfect girl child who could kick my ass six ways to Sunday and also legitimately be my daughter,” Clint said. “Why the hell would I be dating her?”
“But -” Bucky said. “Natasha said you were missing her, that that was why you were being so nice to -”
Clint turned to start unpacking his groceries, tossing a bag of spinach - which he hated - towards the refrigerator.
“You,” Clint said after a second, “could also kick my ass six ways to Sunday. Plus the whole hot as hell, stubbed perfection, heart of gold thing. Why the hell would you be dating me?”
Bucky took the packet of noodles out of Clint’s hand and tossed them onto the counter behind him. Stepping in close and watching the blue of Clint’s eyes darken was the best kind of ego trip.
“Pretty much because you’re beautiful and perfect,” Bucky said, thoughtful, and ducked in to press his mouth to Clint’s while his eyes were still startled and wide.
(For the moment, the rest could remain implied.)