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{Fic} Secretly They're Saviors | MCU | gen

Title: Secretly They're Saviors (Also on AO3)
Author: enmuse
Fandom: MCU
Characters: Tony Stark, Clint Barton, Natasha Romanov
Gen story, background implied Tony/Pepper
Rating: All
Words: ~2900
Summary: It's not long before Tony receives his first house guests at Stark Tower. They're not who he would have anticipated.
Notes: While this stands alone, it also works as a prequel to Bravado. It establishes Clint's presence at Stark Tower and shows the origin of Clint and Tony bonding.

Oh, unlike the other stories in this series, this is written in past tense.
- * -

"Sir, Agent Clint Barton is here."

Interesting. Tony stopped what he was doing and flipped up his welding mask. He glanced down at his work and determined he could easily pick up his project at a later time. "Let him up to the penthouse, JARVIS."

"Right away, Sir."

Tony took off his mask and gloves. He waved Dummy away as the robot rolled towards him eagerly offering a half-full mug of abandoned coffee. "No, that belongs in the sink." He ignored the melancholy beep as Dummy halted in his tracks and turned towards the sink on the far side of the lab. Tony exited and took the stairs two at a time to get into the recently re-paned suite that overlooked his Iron Man landing pad.

He poured himself a drink and less than a minute later the elevator opened to admit Barton. The agent's eyes flickered around the room, probably noting not only all the details of damages and repairs, but also the nooks where things (and people) could be hidden. Tony held up an empty glass and arched an eyebrow in silent question.

"Whatever you're having, Stark," Barton answered as he crossed the still cracked floor. He slung the large duffle he carried off his back and dropped it on the ground in front of the bar. He leaned an elbow on the countertop and looked over to see what Tony was pouring. "You really do get the best," he said with a low whistle. He accepted the tumbler of whiskey and knocked back a good swallow. He grinned, all teeth, when Tony made no comment.

"What can I do for you, Agent Barton?"

The archer snorted inelegantly and quickly finished the rest of his glass. He rapped it on the counter for a refill. "Let's leave the 'agent' off for now. Look, Stark, let's avoid any bullshit chit-chat. Higher-ups benched me and I'm not about to hang around where there's eyes and ears on me every second of every day. I won't put up with that shit, but I can't just buck 'em off. You've got more room here than you can possibly know what to do with—"

"Hey, I can do plenty," Tony interrupted.

Barton waved him off. "And you have the balls and the means to keep S.H.I.E.L.D. out of here. I want in. Give me a storage closet for all I care, but give me some space."

Tony took a bit to mull over the information as he finished his drink. Barton definitely sounded desperate, not really a good look for the guy. Tony could imagine the sort of hell S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Security Council could try to pull with an agent who had been compromised by an alien being.

"What about Fury? Isn't he supposed to be 'Directing' or something?"

Barton had made good progress on his second glass already. He shrugged roughly. "Fury would have my back, but he's got other battles to fight. Larger organization to consider."

"And this would be why I don't play with others," Tony responded with a smirk.

"Could've fooled me," Barton muttered with a wry grin into his glass. "You'll play with the right people. When it suits you."

Tony snorted derisively and collected their empty glasses in one hand; he carried the bottle with his other and came around the bar, walking towards the couch. Clint followed.

"My terms," Tony said, both in response and as an opening to the conditions of Clint's moving in – because he really couldn't leave the guy with his ass hanging out and S.H.I.E.L.D. breathing down his neck. "One, 'shop windows are dark, don't go knocking. As a whole, steer clear of the workshop, I don't like grabby hands. Two, only chick flicks allowed on the DVR are Pepper's and even those are okay to 'accidentally' delete. Three, give me whatever crap tech you have from S.H.I.E.L.D. so I can get rid of it and upgrade the essentials. Four, no taking off with any of my vehicles before my say-so – anything you get up to is coming back on me, I know from experience." Tony poured new drinks when Barton joined him by the couch. "And fifth—" Tony handed over one of the tumblers "—you teach me some moves to surprise Romanov."

Barton smirked. "Nothing's going to surprise her."

"Then tell me embarrassing stories."

Barton gave him a flat look. "I don't have a death wish, Stark."

Tony narrowed his eyes in thought. "A couple moves to slip away from her?"

With a quirk of his lips, Barton said, "That I might be able to do. Give you a couple extra seconds to breathe."

"Hmm. Good enough to start with," Tony decided. He held up his glass. "Welcome to the club house. Clint."

Barton clinked their glasses together and said, "'Club house,' Tony?"

After taking a generous swallow of alcohol, Tony sat down on the couch and picked up a tablet from the coffee table. A couple taps and holographic projections of the blueprints he had been working on intermittently for weeks appeared mid-air. He pulled up Barton's apartment and made the image larger so he could point out the details. "I've been a bit busy on repairs so I guess that means you'll be getting more say in the design before I build. Let me know your priorities and I'll move it to the top of the list."

Clint sat down next to Tony with a blank expression on his face. Gaze fixed on the blueprints, Barton asked, "How long have you had these?"

Tony shrugged, affecting a casual air. "Genius, here. Brain doesn't stop."

Barton's eyes narrowed slightly as he sent a sidelong glance at Tony. "This is pretty weird behavior for a so-called loner, Stark."

"What happened to 'Tony?' I'm hurt," Tony said, providing an exaggerated pout.

"Never mind, I'm just going to take a look at this and— What is that?" Barton set aside his drink to manipulate the floor design with two hands. He managed to switch the view to a miniature 3D model but then tilted it at a weird angle that threatened to break all laws of physics. Tony inhaled his next mouthful of alcohol. Amidst coughing and chuckling, he managed to set the design to rights. Barton thumped his shoulder a couple times and made a face in apology.

Still coughing, though it was easing, Tony waved at the floor plan well outside the reach of the sensors. "Okay hotshot, watch and learn before you wipe out everything."

"I still want to know what that is," Clint said, lifting a finger in the general direction.

Tony smirked. "What, you don't want a personal Jacuzzi?"

"What made you think I would?" Barton asked, straight-faced.

"Hey, you don't like it, I can take it out," Tony said breezily.

"Nah, leave it. But add a closet with better storage, not all for clothes. Christ, how many clothes am I supposed to own to fill that?" Barton stared incredulously at the dimensions noted for the closet space.

Tony laughed and enlarged the diagram. "Take out what you don't want. Easy enough to customize the organizational structure later. Look, use this menu here to bring up possible inclusions. The basic structures to make things, y'know, structurally sound aren't going to move, everything else is yours to choose."

"Stark..." Barton said after a few minutes of playing around.

"Hmm?" Tony asked, glancing up from the calculations he had been jotting down on his phone screen.

"Are those monkey bars?" Clint asked skeptically.

Tony squinted at the design as he tried to remember when that had happened. "Uh... I guess so." He wasn't sure that would fly, but Barton abruptly laughed and moved his focus onto another area of the room. Tony ducked his head, going back to his calculations with a smile on his face.

After a while Barton asked, "So if this isn't in place yet, where can I crash?"

"What, you're saying I can't just give you a blanket and some pillows so that you go make a nest somewhere?"

Barton leveled him with a look. "Not buying it. Besides, I can make your life a living hell – until Natasha turns up and kills you."

"You're expecting her to show? What am I in for, a love nest?"

"You wish," Barton snorted.

Tony raised an eyebrow, curious, but didn't press his luck on the matter. Instead tucked away his phone. "There's some guest rooms ready several floors down. Mostly for temp stays for employees here a couple days or more. Pepper insisted on it. How 'bout I point you in the right direction and you dump your stuff wherever. I have work to do and JARVIS can keep you occupied. And in line."

Barton made a show of settling more firmly into the couch. "I think I like it here just fine. Whenever I get tired I'll have your guy point me in the right direction."

Tony stood up as he finished off the last of his drink. "Fine. You do realize that 'my guy' is an artificial intelligence who's always watching you – always – right?"

Clint glanced up at him sharply. "Wait, what?"

Tony smirked. "JARVIS?"

Possibly sounding long-suffering, JARVIS replied, "Yes, sir. Agent Barton, please let me know when you wish to be shown to your temporary room."

Clint blinked and looked up at the ceiling, a thoughtful frown on his face. After a few moments he said, "Yeah. Okay then." He poked at the designs still hovering in the air. "Tony, there better not be any cameras, audio pick-ups, or other surveillance equipment in my area. Not even your ever-present computer dude will save you when I go and kill you in the middle of the night."

"Duly noted," Tony answered with a smirk. "Tell JARVIS if you need anything. Play nice, boys!" He called on his way back to the lab.

- - -

Natasha showed up one day several weeks later, calmly sitting at the kitchen table polishing a knife as the radio played something instrumental and jazzy quietly in the background. Tony paused in the doorway, not having expected anyone to be in his kitchen at 5:00 AM. Clint slept well past the time the sun had made its appearance; Pepper rarely lingered in the kitchen unless Tony was in there with her. Frankly, Tony rarely spent much time in there, preferring to grab food or drink and wandering off elsewhere. On this particular morning, however, he needed to make up for missing several meals and to get the workshop coffee supplies restocked.

Romanov flicked a brief glance at him in the doorway and gave a short hum of acknowledgement. Tony straightened and resumed his initial movement, making a beeline for the fridge to forage. His stomach grumbled very quietly but he had the suspicion it would get noisy soon if he didn't do something.

"You have enough in there for a half dozen omelets," Natasha informed him. Tony looked at her over his shoulder but she only had eyes for her throwing knives. Knives, plural, because suddenly there was a second one on the table.

"Thanks...?" Tony hazarded as a response.

"It's rude to focus only on yourself when making a meal in the presence of company."

Tony snorted at that as he took out the egg carton. "Real subtle hint, there, Romanov." He poked around and started pulling out other supplies. "Since you seem to know what's in here, what the hell do you want in yours?"

She didn't answer right away, which made Tony glance over again. She had looked up and tilted her head a little, gaze fixed on him contemplatively.

"Well?" he prompted. He leered, "Or do you want to put something different on the menu?"

Natasha rolled her eyes. "Go screw yourself, Stark. I'd like egg whites, chopped mushrooms, chives, sprinkle of shredded cheddar, and peppers."

Tony turned to the cupboards.

He was well on his way to making preparations when Natasha spoke again. "Not going to ask how I got in?"

"Would you tell me?" Tony asked.

"No." Natasha tucked her knives away and turned off the radio.

"Then I won't ask. Will quizzing JARVIS do any good?" he followed up, glancing over to check her reaction.

With a small, satisfied smile, she said, "Doubtful. But you're welcome to try."

"Guess I have some upgrading to do." Tony muttered.

Natasha leaned back in her chair, kicking her legs up and crossing her ankles at the edge of the table. Tony took a moment to appreciate the long, leanly muscled length of her legs. She arched an eyebrow at him but refrained from commenting.

Tony turned back to breakfast preparations and said, "You know, you could help out."

"And miss this opportunity to see Tony Stark so domestic? No, I'm good right here." Natasha replied, sounding smug. "Clint's likely to come in soon, better make him something."

Tony started juggling egg yolks to separate the whites. "Was that where you came from?" he prompted, injecting a suggestive tone.

Natasha laughed lightly. "Clint has an excellent sense of when there's free food nearby," she said, not answering the question; Tony knew not to read into that, she was just the type to leave him guessing.

Tony whistled as he turned on the stove and started the actual cooking process. He didn't pay attention to the tune until Natasha startled him by singing along quietly and he nearly stumbled on a note. "You're just too good to be true, can't take my eyes off of you. You'd be like heaven to touch, I want to hold you so much. At long last love has arrived, and I thank God I'm alive. You're just too good to be true, can't take my eyes off of you."

"Nat, why are you crooning love songs at Stark?" Barton asked through a yawn as he shuffled into the kitchen. He stretched as he walked, coming near Tony's side to look over the billionaire's shoulder as Tony added the veggies.

"Manage to carry a tune and maybe I'll let you accompany me," Natasha said. "That's mine, Barton. Keep your dirty fingers to yourself and leave my food alone."

For good measure, Tony whapped Clint's hand with the side of his spatula. "You heard the lady, step back. I've already been informed that it's rude manners to leave others waiting even if you're the one starving."

Clint took a couple steps away and leaned against the refrigerator with his arms crossed. He squinted at Tony. "Did she threaten you? Why the hell are you cooking her breakfast? How does she get away with ordering things just by showing up?"

Tony folded and flipped the omelet. "Frankly?" He served the omelet onto a plate and crossed to the table. "She's a hell of a lot more scary than you." He slid the plate across the table. Tony realized he'd forgotten a fork, but before he could even turn around, Natasha's gaze slid behind him and a fork flew past Tony's shoulder and Romanov easily caught it.

"Thanks, Clint."

Tony turned around slowly to face Barton.

Looking rather smug for what must have been considered an ungodly early hour for the archer, Clint said, "I can be pretty scary myself."

Resisting the urge to groan, Tony trudged back to the stove. "What the hell, it's not enough that I let you design your own goddamn apartment, built it, have improved all of your equipment, and let's not forget this is all cost-free – but now I'm expected to make your food? Despite the rumors, I'm actually human and have a lot of shit to do."

Barton refrained from speaking during the rant. He helpfully arranged his preferred ingredients on the counter so Tony would know what to add. When Tony paused, the archer laid a packet of bacon front and center. "I don't know, Stark, you seem awfully comfy in this setting. Do I need to look for a secured hiding place for frilly aprons and well-loved cookbooks?"

"You want to cook your own meal?" Tony returned, hands on hips.

"Carry on," Clint agreed easily. He went back to the fridge and pulled out his V8 Fusion juice, which was clearly labeled as his with multiple patches of wide tape and blocky letters in Sharpie. Apparently he was very serious about his juice, not that either Tony or Pepper (presumably the only other two people who had been using the kitchen) drank the stuff.

"How long are you staying this time, Nat?" Clint asked as the bacon sizzled.

"This time?" Tony muttered, not entirely surprised.

Natasha rolled a shoulder as she considered the men. "That would be telling," she remarked. At Stark's raised eyebrow, she smiled toothily. "Then again, if you let me access the designs for my rooms, I might just stick around to make sure that you don't do anything too strange."

Clint raised his hand like a kid in class (God only knew why he felt compelled to do that) and Tony hid a smirk, anticipating what the archer was about to say. "Just don't get rid of the stripper pole!"

At Natasha's dire glare, Tony defended, "Totally Barton's fault. I may have gotten distracted by some calculations for new power alignments for the tower and left the other floors open while he was playing."

"Install it for him, he'll actually use it," Romanov stated drily before going back to her omelet.

Tony glanced at Barton. "Is she right?"

"No cameras in my rooms. I'm not about to tell." Barton answered, straight-faced.

What had his life become? And how had SHIELD's top assassins ended up as the first long-term residents? Tony focused back on breakfast; his stomach was starting to growl louder and it was time to get going and be able to make his own food.

- * -

Notes: Adapted from a couple scenes written for NaNoWriMo 2012. As I took a peek at that project the other day, I realized this bit worked within my headcanon for the post-Cap series (that wasn't planned to be a series) I started. I don't know why really, but movie Clint and Tony have this epic potential bro'ship, I feel.

Title from a line in Lorde's "Glory and Gore"