There�s No Such Thing as a Perfect Fit (But Damn Those Clothes Look Good on You)

by elfin
(title by carmenamatorium)


Clint�s back is pressed hard against the wall and Stark�s arm is cutting off his air. Isn�t this how he knew it would go? How Tasha even warned him it would go if he insisted on doing exactly what he did? 

But Tony dragged his feet breaking up with Pepper. And Phil was dead - Phil Coulson, who spent a year playing playing hard to get, blaming his work or Fury or some bullshit that constantly felt like a brick wall built between them until there was no brick wall. There was nothing.

Bruce had always been so enticing, so intriguing. First time he laid eyes on the guy he was travelling through South America, living rough, keeping away from everyone and everything. Fury assigned him to watch, to keep his distance, and for once he did as he was told, reported into Coulson twice a week as ordered and jerked off under cold showers each morning to vague thoughts of the both of them. Then he was reassigned from babysitting a man who had the potential to become a monster to babysitting so-called superheroes. He watched over Captain America, which was hell because Coulson kept creeping into the Cap�s room at night to watch him and talked about nothing else whenever Clint checked in. Then Cap woke up and Clint was moved from New York to Malibu to keep an eye on Stark, to monitor his test flights and his sex life, making sure he didn�t do anything stupid. When he did, Clint called in Fury who replaced him with Tasha and he was reassigned again, protecting a hammer from whatever Gods and men tried to take it.  Only this time he found himself working directly under Coulson and still the damned wall held firm no matter what he tried. He hung around, watching and waiting, day in, day out. He asked him out for beers, for burgers, for dinner. He even bought him flowers which was a mistake because when Coulson found them on his desk he picked them up and dumped them in the trash without so much as a smirk. It was pointless he decided and, by the time Thor showed up to reclaim his mallet, Clint had all but given up. 

Then something happened, something that made him believe there was a glimmer of hope. He and Coulson were assigned to the NASA research facility where SHIELD was experimenting on the Tesseract. For a couple of weeks, Clint guarded and spied on the scientists while Coulson paced. They spoke to one another over walkie-talkies, their conversations getting gradually longer while at the same time the professional content of them became less and less. It was during one of the later informal chats that Clint finally suggested they go on a date, an actual date. And Coulson said, �I don�t think that�s a good idea, Agent Barton.� After that their conversations were short again and not so sweet. The glimmer was gone. Clint stopped hoping. He started to wonder if Coulson was actually the same with all the agents he ran, that he � Clint � wasn�t all that special after all and this was just how Coulson was, the human being that he is. Only he�d pushed it too far, Coulson had realised now how his humour and informalities were being taken, ie. the wrong way, and was pulling back, keeping it as professional as he should have been keeping it all along.

Then Loki happened, and it was too late to fix things.

Next time Clint saw Bruce Banner he was dressed in someone else�s clothing riding a motorbike into a disaster zone. He still looked small, vulnerable, but there was something else too, something new. There was a confidence about him, something still young but growing quickly and when he turned and turned, he was breathtaking. Clint appreciated that because he also felt small and vulnerable after what Loki did to him, mind-fucking him, destroying his sense of self and replacing it with something so alien, so hostile, that he remembered pointlessly trying to claw his way out of his own head the whole time Loki had him prisoner. If not for Tash trying to bash in a metal railing with his skull, he thinks he would still be doing it, or dead. When he remembered who he was, they were saying that Loki killed Coulson and all Clint could think about was removing Loki�s eyes from his head.

At the shawarma place Tony insisted they go to after the battle he was more or less out of it, they all were. He hurt from the battle and from Phil�s death. He felt like he might shatter at any time, too brittle, too fragile. There wasn�t much conversation between them although it wasn�t an uncomfortable silence even if he missed most of the underlying nuances. Bruce engaged him in quiet conversation on the way back to the helicarrier while Tony went back to the tower to meet with Pepper who had flown back in to see him. When they reached the flight deck and Banner said goodnight, Tasha hung back, took one look at him and shook her head, warned him off his intentions that were apparently obvious at least to her.

�Don�t,� she�d said. �Tony�s laid claim to him, Clint. He�s ending it with Pepper tonight. He�ll be impossible if you do anything stupid before he has a chance to mark his territory, you know what he�s like.�

But Clint wasn�t in the mood for indulging over-paid consultants even if Stark did save their collective asses, and Bruce was... he was irresistible. So while Tony was busy telling his girlfriend and business partner that one part of their relationship was over, Clint went about seducing his new-found obsession. It was a low thing to do but he needed someone, something; touch without commitment, sex without strings, and he thought Bruce might just be in need of the same thing. They�d each been through their own personal hell thanks to Loki, provoked into doing stuff against their will that they may or may not have otherwise done of their own accord. He hoped they could share something that didn�t require words or thinking or even emotion.

Turns out he was right. All it took was a suggestion and Bruce was asking him in to his quarters. He was different to what Clint was expecting, the shy vulnerability vanished to be replaced by a certainty he didn�t think the guy capable of, not in his human form. He was perfect, exactly what Clint was looking for: commanding but not bossy, inventive and adventurous, generous and responsive. Tony was a lucky bastard.

Speaking of Tony... he really isn�t happy. Because while Clint�s absolutely certain it took both he and Bruce to fondue, as Steve apparently refers to it, he�s the one Tony�s going to blame because in the arrogant playboy billionaire genius� eyes, Doctor Banner can do no wrong. Clint�s sure Tony hasn�t had him yet, doesn�t realise he�s not the innocent, wilting flower he maybe thinks or hopes he is, someplace in his fantasies. Saying that probably isn�t going to help his situation and while he can take Tony without any trouble he doesn�t want to burn any potential bridges. His night with Bruce should have been a one-off but now Clint can�t look him in the eyes without remembering what he was like when he was unleashed. And his cock... fuck, just the memory makes Clint�s mouth water. Bruce filled a hole, figuratively and literally, and the only way he�s going to get his hands, mouth and particularly his ass on that thing again is by not pissing Stark off any more than he already is.

�Touch him again and you�re a dead man,� Tony�s hissing and Clint lets it play out, lets Tony have this because he needs him to get all this alpha male bullshit out of the way before he�ll listen to reason. Or maybe it�ll sound like insanity. Still, might as well give him something spectacular to be mad about.

�He�s a grown up,� Clint says quietly, voice hoarse and strained, Tony�s arm still cutting into his windpipe. �He can make his own decisions.�

�You really want to have that argument?� No, he probably doesn�t. He keeps his mouth firmly shut this time and something dark flits over Tony�s face that just for a second makes Clint think he might actually try to follow up on his threat, but it passes and he backs off. �You used him.�

�I needed him. You two want to play house, go ahead. But I�m telling you he�s more than you think.�

�You don�t know him, Barton!�

�I know him more intimately than you do, Stark.� Why the hell won�t his mouth shut the fuck up? Something about Tony drives him insane, makes his mouth disobey his brain. He was the same with Coulson until he leant the hard way not to be.

Immediately he�s up against the damn wall again and all this physical stuff is getting him hard.

�Put him down, Stark.� Why is Tasha always saving his neck? At this moment, he doesn�t really want to be saved. �He was just looking for sex, he didn�t mean anything by it.�

�Bruce deserves better than a quick fuck.�

Clint�s mouth out-wits his brain again. �For the record, he got more than a quick fuck. And it was his choice, I didn�t coerce him.�

�Didn�t coerce him? You�re the expert, Barton. You coerce without trying, without thinking.� He considers taking that as a compliment. He�s half-certain that�s how Tony means it.  

�Put him down, Tony.� Tony drops him faster than a one-night stand and steps back. Clint can�t help the shit-eating grin as Bruce Banner stares at them both. �He asked, I accepted. Get over it.�


Bruce closes the gap between he and Tony and Clint�s grin slips away in the face of the chemistry that�s been bubbling away between them apparently from the first moment they met. �You only have to ask, same way he did.�


They disappear for days. Cap says he�s seen them for snack breaks but Clint hasn�t seen any evidence that they�re even still alive until late one night when Tony wanders out into the living area stark bullock naked and seems surprised that Clint�s even there.

�Don�t you have a home to go to?� For a moment he can�t think of a smart answer and Tony stops, his expression changing. �Huh.�


�You�re waiting for an invitation.� He has no answer to that. �Maybe later? I mean... sorry. This is all kinda new.... I�ve never considered myself possessive or proprietary or any of that bunny-boiler shit, not with lovers. But Bruce, he�s kinda special, different. I think... hell, I think I might be in love. And believe me, I know how teenage girl that sounds.�

Clint finally takes pity on him and holds up his hands in defeat. �You win, Tony.�

Stark looks like he�s going to spew more words but he just nods and smiles, turns back towards the elevator and stops. �You were right, about him being more than I thought. Sorry.�

Clint watches the elevator door slide close. Sorry I won, sorry you lost. But ultimately, Bruce isn�t the prize he�s been playing for.


Tony catches him before he leaves for SHIELD the next morning.

�Hey, Legolas. Stay. There�s a suite free two floors down. It�s yours. At least until Phil�s fit enough for you to start stalking him again.�

Wait. �What?�

Tony�s face falls and this time he looks honestly sorry, slowly approaching him, closing the gap between them this time without malice but with surprising empathy. �Fury didn�t tell you?�

�Didn�t tell me what?�

�He�s alive. Clint, Phil�s alive.�


This thing with Bruce really has turned Stark into a romantic. The moment he has Nick Fury in his sights on the bridge of the helicarrier, he�s off, laying into him with the rage of a scorned lover as if he�s been the one to be denied the knowledge of his heart�s survival. Maybe he�s imagined how it would feel if Bruce had been the one presumed dead. Maybe he�s just relieved to have the competition effectively removed. Clint doesn�t care either way. He�d planned to wade in too but Tony is a force of nature and really doesn�t need him adding barely restrained rage to the barrage.

Fury�s all �let�s just calm the fuck down�, he has apologies which don�t mean much and explanations that Clint doesn�t hear, but eventually they�re standing in a small room in the medical bay surrounded by ventilators and monitors all of which are switched off. Phil�s sitting up in bed watching cartoons on an iPad and sucking on slices of orange. He doesn�t look sorry, just looks surprised at the obviously distraught expression Clint just can�t hide.

�I didn�t realise Director Fury was telling people yet,� is all he says and before Clint can say any of the hundreds of things that crowd without warning into his mind, Tony�s stepping forward and yelling the same way he did at Fury only slightly quieter because there are medical personnel outside the room and Phil�s not fully recovered yet.

Phil looks genuinely shocked. Tony reveals some stuff Clint never really meant anyone to hear, let alone Coulson. He doesn�t even know how Tony knows, he just does and he gives away some secrets Clint�s been keeping for years. Although apparently he hasn�t. At some point he stops staring at Tony and starts staring at Clint and after a while Tony realises this and shuts up and leaves them to talk only Clint can�t talk. He stands in the corner for an age not saying anything, not answering any of Coulson�s questions about when it started, why he didn�t say anything. Clint turns away, towards the door and reaches for the handle but something inside of him snaps suddenly and he turns back.

�I did say something!� he reminds Coulson. �I asked you out on a date and you said no. I bought you flowers and you threw them in the trash!�

�That was you?! I thought that was Tony!�

That brings him up short. �You thought Tony bought you flowers? Why the hell would Tony buy you flowers?�

�I don�t know. It seemed like that the kind of thing he�d do, to wind me up. Why would you?�

Clint doesn�t have an answer for that, not really. He doesn�t know why he bought them, just that there was a florist outside the subway station close to his apartment where he lived before he moved into Stark�s ridiculous tower and one morning she had nice yellow roses that made him think of Phil. So he bought them and left them in Coulson�s office and the next time he went in there they were in the trash, still in the transparent wrapping.

�I thought you�d... like them.� It�s no answer, not really, and he half-frowns and shrugs at Phil lying in the bed with Spongebob still playing quietly in his lap. �Okay. Well, I�m glad you�re not dead, glad we got to talk.�

�Clint....� He ignores Coulson, turns and gets his hand on the door handle this time. �Agent Barton.�

�It�s okay.� He doesn�t turn around, shakes his head. �I know there�s nothing special about me. I read something into something, something that wasn�t there.� He got the door open.

�You didn�t misread anything. It was there, then you called me on it by asking me out and I backed off. It�s against regulations, you know that.�

�That�s weak.�

�I know. I�m sorry.� Clint still hesitates but no way can he walk away from what�s still just the hint of a possibility. He pushes the door shut and turns, stands on the spot and waits. �We can�t date if we work together.�

He takes a deep breath and wraps his arms around himself. �Did you know how I felt about you before we came bursting in here and Tony opened his big mouth?�

�I thought I did.�

�And you thought I�d be okay thinking you were dead?�

�I thought you were looking for something convenient.�

�You thought you were convenient?! Tony�s convenient! If I wanted a quick fuck I could have gone to him and he would have willingly obliged!  Shit, Phil, Thor would have been easier than you!�

�What about Banner?�

�Banner?� It throws him. �How do you know about that?� Coulson doesn�t answer and somehow he knows it was Fury who told him. Typical. �You were dead. Bruce was there. He�s with Tony now, like a married couple or something. They�re happy, Tony�s actually happy. Bruce was a one-night thing for me. That�s not what I wanted with you. That�s why I asked you out to dinner and not to my apartment. Fury told you, didn�t he? He knows and he knows life would be easier if there was no you and me, but you know what, Phil? Life isn�t meant to be easy. It�s meant to be confusing and messy and complicated, all the things we would be if you�d just give us a chance.�

When Phil just looks at him he gives up, goes for the door again and this time he�s half way through it.



�I prefer tulips.�

Clint breathes out, smiles and nods. �Tulips. Check.�


Tony actually drops his glass. Clint thinks he does it for show, because he can and something or someone who isn�t him will clean up the mess, but still it secretly makes him happy and he thinks he�ll thank Tony at some time - later, in some subtle, so he doesn�t know it�s for taking the piss tonight at the very moment Clint really needs him to.

�You�re wearing a shirt.� He glances down at himself as if to check he really did put on a white dress shirt and black pants. �I hope you shaved because beard rash is not sexy.�

His hand�s at his face before he can stop himself and he knows there�s going to be a smirk on Tony�s features when he glances up. He rolls his eyes. �It�s a date. One date. I�ll be home by two if you want to wait up.�

Tony�s smirk gets even filthier. �I�m busy tonight.�

�You�re busy every night. I don�t know how the hell you two are keeping this up.�

�Good diet, plenty of exercise, plus Bruce has the years of abstinence going for him.�

�But you don�t know the meaning of the word.�

He taps the blue light glowing through the thin material of his t-shirt. �I am a walking Ever-Ready battery bunny.�

Sometimes there�s no talking to him. �I gotta go.�

�Where are you taking him?�

�Four Seasons.� Tony stares. �What? Just because you take your boyfriend to Shawarma Palace and call it a date.�

�I can get you into Masa.�

�Fuck off, Tony.�


Phil sits forward and Clint forces himself to sit very still while a single calloused finger strokes the line of his collar bone just inside the open neck of his shirt. He tips his head back when Phil leans in and just touches his lips to that same place.

�Always wanted to do that,� Phil murmurs as he sits back.

Clint grins. �Don�t let me stop you doing it again.�

�You know Shawarma Palace would have been fine.�

�No, it wouldn�t.�

�Next time it will be.�

�Don�t worry about it. I�m living at the tower so I don�t have to pay rent every month.�

�That explains why we came back to my apartment.� Phil strokes his palm over Clint�s shoulder, cupping the curve of his neck. Clint resists the urge to shiver. His fingers apply pressure to Clint�s shoulder blade and he lets himself tip sideways until his shoulder�s resting against Phil�s and Phil�s arm is across his back. �You�re living with Tony Stark and he�s still breathing?�

�I�m living in his building. It�s ninety-two stories high and Bruce Banner�s in it so I don�t see much of him. And... he�s okay if you can get beyond the self-satisfied smugness.�

Phil smiles, slides his thumb under Clint�s chin and pulls his head round until they�re face to face. �Next time you can lose the suit too.�

Clint swallows. �I could... lose the suit right now.�

Phil�s fingertips find their way into Clint�s shirt, slipping the next button down, sending shivers down Clint�s spine. �You have to make me a promise.�


�When we�re in the field, if I give you an order you follow it. No questions. Or at least, no more questions than you usually ask.�

�I promise.�

He looks surprised. �Just like that?�

�If it�s going to get you and me naked together, then yes, just like that.�

Phil shakes his head and smiles. �Isn�t Tony waiting up for you?�

�The only person Tony waits up for is Bruce.� He leans forward, brushes his lips over Phil�s.

�Is Bruce worth waiting up for?� It�s a whisper and Clint decides not to take the bait.

�I�ll tell you some other time.�

When he finally, finally kisses Phil, that is well worth the wait.


�What time do you call this, Legolas?�

Tony�s up and making coffee in just a hideously expensive pair of low-slung jeans. Clint tries not to stare at the blue glow light in his chest but this is perhaps the first time he�s seen it and it�s difficult not to stare.

�Yeah, I er.., I...�

�Stayed over? You can bring boys back to the house you know?�

Clint rolls his eyes and steals a pancake from the stack Tony�s obviously preparing either for Bruce or to take back to the bedroom to Bruce.  There�s a bottle of maple syrup next to the plate.

�Score one on the first date, huh?� Tony slides a mug of fresh coffee under his nose just as he bites into the pancake. This is the only thing Tony can cook and he learnt for Bruce�s sake. Clint wonders what he can learn to cook for Phil. Pie maybe. Phil loves pie but he doesn�t think anyone knows it. Pumpkin�s his favourite, but anything will do if he can�t get pumpkin. �Listen.� He glances up from the pancake and Tony�s standing a foot from him, up in his space. �Bruce says you�re kinda... amazing in bed.  I mean, you�re not me, obviously, but he�s pretty great � phenomenal, actually � and you�re incredibly hot and the three of us together....�

Clint can�t help his smirk.  �We could make the earth move?� It�s tempting, really tempting because Tony�s right; Bruce is incredible in bed. But Clint has what he needs now, he has everything he�s wanted for too long and he�s not about to throw that away.  In the past he hasn�t been one to close doors when they can just as easily be left standing open but this is different, this is Phil and he won�t risk what they�ve found, not for anything. �Tell Bruce... thanks. I owe him.�  He stuffs the rest of what�s going to constitute his breakfast into his mouth (and won�t Phil have something to say about that?) and takes his coffee with him to the elevator. He needs a shower and to change before he heads into SHIELD.

�You�re turning us down?� Tony calls after him, a touch of surprise in his voice.

Clint looks back over his shoulder, grinning. �I�m turning you down, Tony. I�ve already had Bruce.� He winks, and the elevator doors provide perfect comic timing for a quick exit before Stark can start throwing pancakes at him.