A/N: Completely and totally inspired by elistaire's "How to Balance an Unhappy Equation", which I most sincerely suggest reading. (archiveofourown+dot+org+slash+works+slash+732173 (fill in the words with their appropriate symbols)) This makes sense without it, but the back story helps.
I leave it up to you to fill in all of the purposely ambiguous, nonspecific aspects of this little ficlet however your heart desires.
Tony is surprised that the first time had gone so well. Considering how complicated they were, and how complicated everything else had been, he had expected to have to traverse a long, delicate and awkward obstacle course in order to finally experience the intimacy he had been craving for so long. And yet, surprisingly, their endeavor had gone off with barely a hitch.
Sure, it had taken a little coaxing to get Clint to relax, and Bruce had required a substantial amount of reassurance that all involved were okay with the proceedings, but honestly, he'd had to work harder to get many a woman into bed. And once he'd gotten in the midst of Bruce and Clint, he'd not been able to analyze much else because it just felt so good and it had been so damn long and wow did he feel like a horny teenager again...
But Bruce had remained within the realm of normality in regards to his heart rate, and if Clint's facial expressions and sounds were anything to go by, Tony thought it safe to say they'd all enjoyed themselves. No one had said much afterwards (okay, Tony had made a few choice comments, but they had been completely warranted) and they had quietly fallen asleep.
When Tony wakes up, he's struck by the overbearing amount of heat he's enveloped in. He sighs, stretching out languidly, nearly jumping out of his skin when his arm meets another body. And yet, when he looks over, he can't help but smile at the sight of his lover sleeping soundly in the tangle of sheets. Lovers, he reminds himself, propping himself up to glance over at Clint, sleeping mostly outside of the blankets, stretched underneath Bruce's arm, curled possessively around his torso.
Tony yawns, though he's surprisingly devoid of the exhaustion that seems to be his norm. He is, however, uncomfortably hot - sometimes he swears Bruce can be defined as a self-sustaining space heater. Knowing he'll never get back to sleep so overheated, he thinks, perhaps, that Clint's other side might yield an environment more conducive to rest.
He crawls in beside Clint, smiling a little at the temperature drop. Trying to settle himself, he knocks Clint gently, causing the other man to stir. "Sorry," Tony murmurs, dropping a light kiss to Clint's collarbone. Clint's eyes crack open, and Tony reaches out, to touch, and -
Suddenly, Clint is all motion, deftly and yet nearly frantically rolling over Bruce and off the bed, had grasping a knife tightly, brandishing it towards Tony.
The latter is all instincts, scrambling to his feet as quickly as Clint. Confusion reigns as he regards the archer now ensconced in a defensive stance, practically radiating hostility. "Clint?" he asks, uncertainly, raising his hands in a gesture that he hopes exudes nonaggression.
In the split second it takes this sudden explosion of movement to occur, Bruce stirs, and glances between the two men. Overcome with a tremendous need, a need to protect, he is instantly standing protectively in front of Clint, shielding him as completely as possible, eyes narrowing at the perceived threat.
Tony's eyes widen further as it seems to him that Bruce's skin is a few shades too green for his comfort. "Bruce," he says quickly, "Clint - everything's okay," he adds, struggling for words to resolve the situation.
Bruce breaths heavily fighting through the torrent of confusion and fear and above all the uncontrollable, undeniable need to protect. He stares at Tony, trying to cling to some level of understanding. Tony opens his mouth, to try again, but before he gets the chance, the sound of metal clattering dully against the carpet makes them both jump, followed by a small sound that Tony doesn't even know how to classify.
When Bruce moves enough for Tony to see, Clint has fallen to his knees, face buried in his hands. Bruce reaches out, towards Clint, who responds with a desperate lunge to wrap his arms around Bruce, burying his face in his stomach.
Seeming a little taken aback, Bruce gingerly wraps his arms around Clint, stroking his head gently. Tony thinks Bruce's breathing has evened out, and he can barely hear the faint beep of the watch now.
The look Bruce gives him over top of Clint clearly says What the hell was that? Tony shrugs and shakes his head, equally as baffled. He approaches slowly, cautiously, trying to gauge how much of Clint's fear is of him.
"Clint?" Tony asks, perching on the edge of the bed. "If you don't mind me asking...what the hell was that all about?"
The archer waits a long moment before slowly detangling himself from Bruce and turning to face Tony. His eyes look up, but instead of finding Tony's eyes, they rest lower, fixated on his chest. Tony frowns, looking down, too. The arc reactor flows electric blue back at him. And though the connection is close, like an electric circuit inches from becoming complete, he still falls short of understanding. The reactor had been in full view for most of the night, and Clint hadn't reacted abnormally before...
"The color," Clint finally mutters, so softly that Tony has to lean forward to catch the words. "It's...it's the same...the same as the scepter," Clint's voice dies out on the last few words, and he looks away from Tony, back to the floor.
Tony's mind is still whirling, trying to complete the puzzle, but Bruce's expression darkens in understanding. He reaches out, squeezing Clint's shoulder, and says, in a low voice, "Loki's scepter? Tony's arc reactor is the same color as Loki's scepter?"
Clint nods minutely, and the pieces now fall completely into place for Tony. "Oh," he says. "Oh." He glances around for his t-shirt, grabbing it and slipping it on when he spots it. "You didn't say anything before," he adds.
Bruce edges Clint back towards the bed. At Tony's words, Clint swallows visibly and replies, "It didn't...It doesn't bother me when I'm awake, and my brain is working logically. But...I have...dreams," he finishes.
"They're just dreams," Bruce tells him, stroking his head gently when Clint settles it on his thigh. Clint nods into his leg. "Don't worry," Bruce continues. "Someone'd have to go through us to get to you."
"And a Hulk," Tony adds, easing his way in on Clint's other side. Bruce's eye roll is contrasted by the faint smile that crosses Clint's face.
"I'm sorry," Clint murmurs softly.
Both Tony and Bruce chuckle a little. "Nah. We've all got our demons. Right, Bruce?"
Bruce doesn't deign to answer.
"I do have to know one thing, though, Agent Barton," Tony says. "Where exactly were you hiding that knife?"
Clint only grins, nuzzling into Bruce.