It is Jane who bears the news about Loki's death. She calls from London while waiting for Thor to get back. Clint has been put on medical leave for a few days from a concussion incurred earlier that week, and the others are out handling a minor Doombot issue. Well, Phil is coordinating the clean-up team for Greenwich, and Tony's at a shareholder's meeting that Pepper almost drugged him and dragged him to, but the rest of them are swatting at 'bots.
As such, Jane gets Clint when she calls. He takes one look at her expression and says, "Hey. You need me to—I can misappropriate a Quinjet."
Jane looks as though she's considering it for a second. Then she shakes her head. "Are the others around?"
Clint winces. "Sorry, just me."
"Can you or JARVIS relay the message? So I don't have to do this twice?"
"Jane," Clint says, frowning. "What's—"
She bites her lip but then cuts him off, starting with the warehouse and floating trucks and winding her way somewhat erratically toward Greenwich where she shrugs and says, "Eric's idea worked and…and then he went home. Thor did. He had to, um— His dad didn't really like me."
Clint can only imagine what Odin would think if he really knew. A quiet sort of anger burns in his chest, because maybe Clint is just a street-kid nobody, but Jane's a doctor and genius and perfect. And even if she wasn't, Thor's family should love her because Thor does. Should love all of them. Clint knows all about "should."
"Yeah," is all Clint says. He knows he doesn't really get the family thing, but he gets enough to know it matters to Thor. "Come home. Both of you."
Jane, who never promises anything she can't be sure of, says, "I'll call. When he—we'll call."
Clint hangs up and waits for the sharp rush of relief and triumph he feels he deserves at Loki's death. It's muted, though, mixed up with worry and grief for Thor and the ache of Barney's absence beneath everything. He asks JARVIS if Phil is still at the office. When JARVIS confirms that he is, Clint decides he's had more than enough medical leave.
Clint doesn't knock on Phil's door, just lets himself in and sits on the couch while Phil continues doing whatever he was doing when Clint walked in. As far as Clint can tell, he's on the phone with one of the British field offices. Phil has the look on his face that he gets when he's pretty sure someone's being a dick just to be a dick. He tries to smile at Clint, but Clint just waves a hand.
Clint loses a little bit of time letting Phil's voice wash over him. He hears the click of the call being terminated and says, "Loki's dead."
He blinks. "There was a lot more lead up to that in my head."
Phil considers him for a long moment. "Have you talked to Thor?"
Clint shakes his head. "Jane called. She, I dunno, there's problems with Odin, I guess and she…" needs a hug. Clint fucking hates distance.
After a moment, Phil asks, "How many have you come up with?"
Clint tilts his head and Phil elaborates: "Ways you're not helping the situation."
Clint glares. "Thanks for adding one."
Phil gives him a rueful look, then comes to sit next to him on the couch. Clint stays still for all of a nanosecond before breaking and leaning into him. "I'm. It's that I'm kind of glad? About Loki."
"No kidding, Clint. Me too. And believe me when I say Natasha, Pepper, Steve, Tony and Bruce aren't going to be crying over it either."
Clint takes a breath. "Phil, if someone told me Barney had died today, after everything, I'd still feel the loss."
"Which is why we're all going to do what we can for Thor."
"And what is that, exactly?" Clint grouches. None of them are easy when it comes to bad things happening, but Clint, Bruce, Tony, Steve and Natasha really only need to see that all of them are healthy and safe to start calming down. Thor, Jane, Phil and Pepper are all reassured by that, but it doesn't have the same healing measure always that it does for the others. Clint personally faults this on all of them being semi-stable and functional adults.
Phil puts his phone to his ear. Clint hears when it is answered. Phil asks, "Out of the meeting?"
Clint can just hear Pepper say, "Finally. Do we have any word—"
"Jane got hold of Clint. They're both physically in good condition, but Loki's dead and Clint thinks Thor's probably going to need some…creature comforts."
There's a long moment where Clint doesn't hear anything except the rise and fall of voices: Pepper talking to Tony. She comes back on and says, "Tony's gonna call Jane, see what she thinks would be good. Thor liked the Montana cabin, he's thinking maybe they can spend some time out there."
The idea of them being alone makes Clint edgy, but he's self-aware enough to know that's about his own issues. Phil runs his fingers over Clint's spine. "Make sure to see if they want us. We probably can't all go, but I'm sure we can work out a rotation."
"See you at home," Phil tells her. He hangs up and turns to Clint. "You need to go shoot things."
Natasha and Steve come and collect Clint from the range later that day. They both look unscathed from the day's events. Steve has to get Clint out of his shooting gear, the muscles in his hands are so stiff. Natasha scolds him for letting himself shoot too long, but she does it gently, as if it's more routine than actual disappointment.
"Did it help?" Steve asks.
Clint lets himself settle back into his own skin for the first time in hours. He's maybe a tad exhausted. "Yeah, little bit."
"Good," Steve says. "C'mon, we've got visiting scheduling to work out."
Clint finds his second wind.
The schedule is made up so that at no time will there be nobody watching over SHIELD or SI or the Avengers. Like all their schedules, it gets completely fucked within a day.
Tony, who's supposed to be toward the end of the week because he's dealing with a bit of an R&D coup d'état, gets sent first because Pepper ends up needing to stay over some last minute merger negotiations. Bruce is supposed to go first, along with Natasha and Pepper. They switch out Pepper for Tony, and Bruce stays to help Pepper understand the R&D thing. So it ends up being Natasha and Tony first.
Steve has some charity thing he's been promised to for forever he has to take care of before he can leave. He's the one who herds Pepper and Bruce away, because by the time they've dealt with everything, they need it. Which means that instead of Phil going with Bruce, as planned, it ends up being Clint and him for the final visit.
Clint tells Phil, "I can stay here. If you're worried—"
Phil tilts his head. "Every time I think we've hit the end of family things you don't comprehend, you find a new one."
"Um," Clint says.
"Partners go on vacation together, Clint. Even if they're both very important people. It's something they make time for and that is their right." After a pause, "And if Tony and Pepper can do it, really, anyone can."
Everything seems so plain and evident when Phil says it, Clint feels stupid for not having known it the moment before. "Oh."
Phil leans into him—other than the pilot, they are the only two on the jet—and says, "Glad I could be your first."
The Montana property is a working ranch, with a farmhouse used partly as an office for the business, but mostly as a vacation home for Tony. Natasha once asked if he'd been drunk when he'd decided Montana was the perfect get away, and he'd stilled in the way that meant she'd unintentionally hit a spot, then smiled and said, "Smashed."
The lie was obvious, so Clint got JARVIS to tell him later that the ranch went back three generations in Maria's family. She sold it upon her parents' death, but Tony re-purchased it as soon as he came into control of his own finances.
Clint loves the Montana house. Nothing but cattle and horses for a solid twenty miles, the house is old and sturdy, and Tony replaced the windows a few years back, so with a fire and some heat it stays deliciously warm when cold outside. Thor also loves it, although Clint suspects his fondness has more to do with not being gawked at. Clint can hide in a crowd; Thor, not so much.
Clint has been more than a little worried that Thor won't actually want him there, that he's just too…Thor to let the others come and not Clint, maybe Phil. They are both two of the worst reminders of Loki's crimes, after all. But neither Clint nor Phil even makes it to the house door before being engulfed by a Thor-hug. Clint thinks Thor hugs are awesome, but also, a lot like puppy kisses: lots of enthusiasm, not necessarily much technique.
Jane pulls them inside, taking her time with a warm kiss of welcome. She presses her forehead to Clint's and says, "Hey, so, thanks."
She puts a finger to his lips. "This was exactly what we needed."
"Phil called Pepper," Clint explains.
"Because you talked to Phil," Jane insists.
"Do you really plan to engage in a battle of wits with Jane?" Thor asks, sounding genuinely flabbergasted.
The guy has a point. "'Course not. Jane's always right."
Jane grins. "Darn tootin'."
Dinner is a team effort, as is cleaning it up. When that is done, Phil settles on the couch, Jane curling up against him, but Clint is a little too restless to settle just yet. Thor wraps a hand around the back of his neck, a grounding touch, and says, "Let us walk."
Montana reminds Clint of the best parts of the circus, the nights when he could sneak away, find targets he didn't have to hit, breathe easily, dig his feet into the earth and pretend there was somewhere he could call home. The two of them make their way along the northern fence of the ranch, neither of them feeling the need to say anything.
After a bit, Thor stops. Clint goes on for a few feet before his brain catches up to what has happened. He turns to look at Thor, who tells him, "Erik was very glad, hearing of my brother's demise."
Clint rubs a hand over his face, but then sets his shoulders and tells Thor, "Erik's not your family."
Thor leans against the fence, his face hidden by dusk and the fall of his hair. "Is that the difference? Or is it in your…awareness of the complexity of family?"
Clint considers the question. "Probably both. But the first is more important, I think."
"He used you ill," Thor says quietly.
Clint hugs himself and says, "Not the way he did you. With me it was, well, it wasn't personal. I was there and I was capable and he took what he needed." Clint swallows back at the adrenaline that even the words still cause. "He betrayed you."
"Not—not in the end." Thor's smile is heartbreaking.
"Yeah, well." Clint laughs wryly. "Family is complicated."
Clint falls asleep first and is more than a little surprised that when he wakes, there's light streaming through the window and he's tangled up between Jane and Phil. Jane's fingers are curved into the skin of his stomach and Clint almost can't breathe through the swell of how much he has missed her. Thor has draped his arm over Jane so that his palm settles on Clint's thigh and between the two, it's a good thing Phil is there to hold onto, to anchor himself with.
Clint's learned that sometimes any one or two of the eight of them can crawl into bed without waking him, but not generally. He thinks he should be terrified, but mostly he just feels rested, moreso than he has since Jane managed to disappear in a warehouse that was evidently also the portal to another dimension or something. Clint hadn't really followed a lot of the science, but Thor had been freaked when Heimdall sent the message, so he got that whatever had happened, it was fucked.
He's still considering getting up, making them breakfast, when Thor's hand strokes a little at his thigh, and Thor rumbles, "I have better plans for your restlessness."
"Mm," Jane concurs, pressing a line of kisses down Clint's back. Phil's eyes open lazily and he smiles at whatever it is he sees on Clint's face. Jane pulls him onto his back, then. Clint blinks up at Thor, who's eyeing Clint with the expression he gets when he's not sure what part of a plan to enact first.
Clint says, "Aren't we supposed to be spoiling Thor?"
Thor smiles. It's layered with grief and tension, but less so than the night before, and possibly less so than the day before that. "Do I look to be a man who is not about to get everything he wants?"
Yes, Clint thinks, because there are things they can't fix, because he's not sure he would if he could. Instead, he shakes his head, then nearly jackknifes off the bed when Phil does his ninja-blowjob thing that's actually not very ninja-y, Clint's just been distracted by Thor. In fairness to himself, Thor is very distracting.
Then he gets distracted by the fact that Jane has straddled his face, sitting just high enough so that he has to strain his neck to get to her. He laughs and brings his hands to her hips, which always feel so tiny in his grip and brings her down to where he can suck sweet, breathy noises from her. He works until he feels her give in, and would almost smirk at being the first to draw pleasure from her this morning, but he's too earnestly pleased to mess it up with macho bullshit.
Clint arches up again, though in protest this time at Phil's mouth disappearing. Jane wriggles free only to sink down onto his cock. Clint's eyes roll straight to the back of his head. Someone laughs, maybe more than one of them. He fists the sheets, but each hand is taken, uncurled, pressed to someone else's palm.
Clint manages to look at Jane, her hair mussed, her throat oh-so-long and say, "You're beautiful."
Thor agrees by way of drawing her to him with his free hand, the other still twined with Clint's, and kissing her. Phil rises up to his knees and whispers in Jane's ear and after a second, without being sure how it happens, Clint is on his side, still inside Jane, who has rolled to her side and tucked one of legs over his thighs.
Clint is busy thinking about the logistics of how to suck Thor's cock—which is right there and, um, flawless in that way Thor is—so he groans when Phil works his fingers inside Clint. Phil murmurs, "Easy."
Clint tugs on Thor's hand to get his attention, and says, "C'mere." He's possibly not as articulate as he thinks, because it takes Thor a second to catch on, but then he does, even working on the complicated physics of getting himself to where Clint can take him in. The angle is awkward, so Clint can't take him very deep. Thor cups a hand around the back of Clint's head, but doesn't push. Clint hums when he feels Thor's muscles quiver ever-so-slightly.
Phil slides inside Clint in one long thrust. On the second, he drags his cock just the right way and Clint keens around Thor's cock. Thor mutters, "Yes, yes."
Jane whispers, "C'mon, c'mon."
But Clint wants to wait, wait until he genuinely can't. He slides off Thor to kiss Jane, to say, "No, not—no."
Jane bites at the hinge of his jaw, which is unfair, because she knows that's a spot for him. He writhes, but holds on, and her smile is too wide, too happy for him to even scold. Thor is saying something about fair play, so that's enough.
Phil asks, "How long can you wait?"
"Ungh," is what Clint has to say to that.
"Can you wait until I come in you?" he asks.
Clint whimpers, but nods. Phil strokes a hand over Clint's hip. "Can you wait until Thor is in you, filling you up, making you take all of him?"
Clint can barely breathe. Phil says, "I want you to."
And really, when it comes down to it, Clint has never been able to deny Phil something he wanted, not even before he lost him and got him back. He cries, "Phil."
Phil says, "So strong."
Clint feels like he might shake apart, but he can't, he can't, so he takes Thor back into his mouth and tries to focus on little details, instead of feeling everything at once. The texture of Thor on his tongue, the rhythmic brush of Jane's breasts, Phil's fingers digging into his hip. When one detail becomes too much, he finds another one, then another.
Thor pulls away and Clint says, "Hey," but then realizes Phil has gone limp against his back. Oh.
Thor is bigger than Phil, both thicker and longer. Clint's had him a few times, but every time it's intense, like a memory you can't quite hold onto. Clint moves his fingers between himself and Jane, and she says, "Oh, I love you."
For a long time, after it had become apparent that Tony, Natasha and Clint thought declarations of love while having sex were just expressions of appreciation, everyone had been banned from saying it to any of them while so much as kissing. Even now, Jane seems to still for a second, but Clint says, "Love you too, love you too, all of you," and she relaxes into him, lets him do what he wants.
Thor drives in deep, catching right on Clint's prostate and Clint gives in: his body tightens then seems to expand into bliss. When he comes down, Jane has rolled off of him and is cuddling with Phil, the two of them watching sleepily. Thor's thrusts are still even and deep, and now, in the aftermath, intense is too weak a word, but Clint wants him to never stop, to be this close for the rest of their lives.
He grabs Thor's hand and squeezes it. "Thor. I—we've got you."
Thor, who is weirdly quiet during sex, given how loud he is the rest of the time, cries out and comes, his hand holding Clint's tightly, but not too tightly, even then. Clint brings it to his mouth, kissing the knuckles. His gaze meets Jane's and Phil's and he mumbles, "Love you, love you."
Clint sometimes thinks his favorite part is the aftermath, when there's more sleeping and snuggling, a different kind of intimacy that crawls into Clint's bones. Then they take a shower and Clint has to admit that he has a lot of favorite parts.
The Tower is the only place with beds and showers that fit all nine of them, but Tony refitted all of his residences to have accommodations for up to five. When they finally turn the hot water off and have dried each other to their heart's content, Clint sends Tony a text. "Ur a genius."
Tony comes back with, "Is 2day st8 the obvs day?"
Clint laughs and doesn't respond. Instead he makes breakfast, despite it now being well into the noon hour. Nobody seems terribly upset by the spread of breakfast meats, English muffins, cheesy eggs and orange slices. Thor pulls Jane into his lap at some point and feeds her bits of orange. Clint can't look away from her lips. Phil nudges him. "Eat."
They're all hungry, but Clint has grown used to all of their appetites and even with Thor, there's enough. Clint starts to clean up, but Phil and Jane are having none of it and tell Thor to sit on Clint to keep him away. Instead, Thor settles on the couch and holds his hand out to Clint. Clint lets himself be positioned as the little spoon.
Thor says, "Jane and I shall return with you, this evening."
Clint closes his eyes and doesn't think about what he wants. "Tony said to stay as long as you need, and there hasn't been anything super-apocalyptic lately."
"I know," Thor says, carding a hand through Clint's hair in a way that makes Clint very tempted to purr. "But…I refused my birthright to have this family. I want it for every moment I'm allowed."
Neither of them speaks aloud the fact that Tony, Phil, Natasha, Pepper, Clint and Jane will only be a blink within the span of Thor's life, and that none of them really knows about Bruce or Steve. Clint is glad, harshly so, to not be Thor, not have to survive them.
There's another part of that statement, though. Clint opens his eyes and frowns. "You gave up the throne? Asgard?"
Thor looks down at him serenely. "It was not what I wanted."
The simplicity is too much for Clint to process. He takes a few minutes and then decides to stop looking the damn gift horse in the mouth. He attempts to burrow himself deeper against Thor and says, "We should go home, then."
Thor says, "Home, yes. We should."