by elfin

It's another steaming hot day in paradise and for whatever reason it seems no one has anything better to do than lounge around on the top of Stark tower and expose themselves to the blazing sunshine and the city's excited media.

Clint's wearing nothing but shorts, riding low on his sharp hips as he saunters back and forth fetching drinks and finally spreads himself over one of the loungers, sipping a brightly coloured cocktail through an even brighter straw, Wayfarers shielding his eyes from the sun, muscles rippling, utterly relaxed.

Tasha's in a navy blue bikini that leaves little to the imagination and should be distracting everyone up here with a dick but although they all looked up and swallowed as she settled herself on a lounger and oiled herself up, once she went still and started to worship the sun, they lost interest. It's safer that way. Just because she's mostly nude doesn't make her any less dangerous.

Steve is sitting on one of the sun chairs, bare-chested with beige khakis, sunglasses protecting his eyes and one of Clint's cocktails in his hand. He looks relaxed which is unusual, and he's spending downtime with the team, also unusual. But no one questions it.

Tony's the worst offender. Living up to his name, he's stark naked, perfect ass mooning the news choppers that keep flying overhead, head resting on his folded arms. Every now and again he'll look up and Phil will catch him looking in Bruce's direction.

Bruce is wearing a loose black T-shirt that might be ten years old or might be brand new and one of Tony's. He's wearing loose, dark green cut-offs that stop just below his knees. There's more of Phil on show than there is of Bruce and Phil's still in uniform; white shirt, black trousers. His shirt sleeves and pant legs are rolled up, collar open, and he too is holding one of Clint's cocktails although one sip means he's probably not fit to drive.

He's caught Bruce surreptitiously glancing at Tony's ass a couple of times but then again it's right there. It's difficult not to look, just like it's difficult not to look at Tasha even though she's doing it for purely selfish reasons while Tony's doing it to get a rise out of everyone and his backside on the evening news. But it's not Bruce, not Tony, not Tasha that Phil's having problems with. It's Clint. Sure, he's seen it all before, in showers and medical bays, but it's different when he's happy and healthy and breathing and just lounging in the sunshine. He's gorgeous.

It feels like fate's playing one hell of a cruel game. He takes a longer drink of the bright orange cocktail through the neon green straw and decides he can get a cab home or crash in one of Tony's many apartments. It isn't like anyone's going to notice if he leaves or stays.

It's too hot out here and it's not just the sun. He slips inside and pads across the cool slate floor.

'You know he's completely into you, right?'

Phil turns. Bruce is standing just inside the sliding glass doors, sipping his drink, one hand in a pocket, looking more at home than Phil can remember and he's comfortable here, he realises, settled. That's all down to Tony and it'll be a while before he calls the guy an asshole again, at least when he isn't in the room. Then he processes what Bruce said and can't understand it.

'Sorry, what?'

'Just because I can't have, doesn't mean I can't see.'

He doesn't know what Bruce is talking about and says so. Bruce doesn't elaborate, he just smiles and shrugs and goes back out onto the deck with the other superheroes.


The next day it rains, a deluge, a downpour which floods pavements and shuts down kiosks on the sidewalk. Clint gets soaked grabbing a coffee before he hits the subway, but the time he reaches SHIELD HQ he's dripping wet, rain falling from the tip of his nose, his eyelashes, the sleeves and hem of his jacket. He squelches to the locker room and types his PIN into the keypad next to his locker. Reaching inside, he pulls out clean clothes and a dry pair of sneakers and he's got the door half-closed before he notices the folded paper tacked to the inside of it.  Frowning, he drops his sneakers and pulls the paper free, unfolding it to read Phil's inelegant scrawl.

I think I've been blind. If I'm seeing right now, can I take you to dinner? 8pm, Sparks.

He smiles to himself and folds the paper, stripping off his wet clothes and taking a quick shower to warm up before towelling off and dressing. He needs to ask Coulson - Phil - what changed his mind, what made him ask after months of side-stepping the issue and each other. He needs to know if there's someone he should be thanking. And he needs to decide on which after-shave to wear, which is Tony fucking Stark rubbing off on him. Then again, Sparks isn't cheap, so maybe the billionaire ass is rubbing off on them all.


Tony watches as Bruce opens the fridge door and surveys the contents. This alone is a small victory. The others made themselves at home at the first invitation, Bruce left three times before Tony was able to convince him that his fortune earned him enough interest that he could buy a small island every day and not spend it all. So he was certain he was able to feed his friends, no matter how much they and their alter-egos ate.

'I heard you the other day,' he says, and Bruce turns, startled, almost slamming his fingers in the door of the fridge as if he's been caught stealing, 'When you were enlightening Agent Coulson about Legolas and his completely inappropriate feelings for him.'

Bruce shrugs. 'I just got sick of watching them dance around one another.'

'You're not the only one. I'm surprised there wasn't a puddle of drool around Coulson's feet the way Clint was barely dressed.'

Bruce's eyebrows rise until Tony's sure they're going to lift off from his forehead. 'You can talk. Your ass made headline news!'

Tony grins. 'It's a great ass. But I didn't want to talk about my ass, well - not in so many words.' He pauses. 'I wanted to say, you can have anything.' He makes sure Bruce knows he's serious. 'You can have whatever you want. Don't think I can't see.'

Bruce stares at him, pulls a face and turns back to open the fridge. Tony waits while he pulls out a small bottle of mineral water, resists the urge to shout at him to take whatever he wants and not to have a guilt trip over it. Then realises that's exactly what he needs to say.

'Do you want me?'

Timing's everything of course, and he asks just as Bruce has taken a swig of cold water, making sure he stays far enough back to escape the resulting spray but close enough to catch him when Bruce inevitably runs....!

Tony sticks out an arm, effectively blocking his escape.

Bruce is breathing hard. 'Don't.'

Tony leans in, whispering, 'why?' into his ear before backing off but still not letting him leave. Of course, if he wants to get out there's nothing Tony can do to stop him. He's playing a hunch, a hint from Coulson after his romantic dinner date with Clint, thanks apparently to Doctor Banner. He thinks he owe�s Bruce one and Tony�s sure he�s right.

'I can't, Tony. And you don't really want -'

'Don't tell me what I really want. You may not see the attraction but then you don't like yourself on your best days. Let me tell you, on your worst days you're incredible, more than the sum of the rest of us. And on your best days - every day - you shine so brightly you make me feel like a dying star.'

Bruce stops pushing against his arm and he feels like doing a victory dance. 'We can't. I... can't.'

'And don't try feeding me that bullshit. You won't even try because you're scared of losing everything you've managed to claw back. And I know you've no reason to believe me when I say you won't, but I'm asking you to trust me.'

For a long time they stand there, until Tony sighs and lets his arm drop. Then Bruce turns his head and looks at him as if he's trying to read his mind through his eyes. He takes two deep breaths then smiles, and Tony almost laughs with joy.

'So... dinner? Sparks? Eight o'clock?'