At avengerkink on LiveJournal, there was this prompt:

Clint/Steve, Steve can't draw Clint's bow

It always looks this easy when Clint shoots with his bow but when Steve asks him to give him lessons (because he wants to know what his lover does) Clint gives him a 'beginner's bow'. Steve thinks this has to be a joke but then Clint gives him his bow and despite being a super soldier and really strong Steve can't draw the bow...

Misread the title. Misread it again. Wondered why Steve, a skilled artist, couldn’t get the bow down on paper. Wouldn’t Clint let him study it? Was it too complex?

Did not fill the prompt that was actually requested, and wrote this instead.

Title is borrowed from rapper MC Hammer.

 

Steve Roger's gaze flitted rapidly between his subject and the paper mounted on a thin particle board panel set on the easel. He rubbed off a small section of the drawing with an eraser, where the crown of his subject's head turned into shadow. Careful strokes of his pencil and the contour was restored, correctly. He compared the drawing to the man standing on the platform before him and mentally declared the study completed.

Satisfied, Steve spoke to his model. "Okay Clint, we're done with this stage."

Without moving from his pose of miming the draw of a non-existent arrow on his bow, Clint Barton asked, "So I can move? The timer didn't go off."

Steve didn't like to task his models to hold a pose for terribly long at a time, especially when they were in full costume, as Clint was now, in full field gear. So he used a timer to mark a stretch of fifteen minutes followed by a break. Even if Clint, an experienced sniper, was expert at remaining still for extended periods, Steve wasn't going to take advantage and discard his usual courtesy towards his models.

"The detailed study is done. That's what I need from you at this point. But if you really have to stay up there for four more minutes, feel free."

"Gonna ogle me some more?" asked Clint with a smirk.

Steve paused in the process of putting away his drawing tools. "Observing for drawing is not 'ogling'. It's much more objective and cerebral." He flashed a smile at Clint. "If you want ogling, give me a minute here to clean up and we'll see what we can arrange."

"You're on!" crowed Clint, and hopped off the platform. He looked around at the bright studio lamps that had illuminated him while posing on the platform. "Should I turn off the lamps?"

"Yeah," said Steve. "Just don't move them. We'll use them again for the painting."

"Got it," confirmed Clint, and moved around the platform to switch off the two lamps that were lit. Then he saw Steve about to turn off the tensor lamp clamped to the top of the easel and rushed to his side. "Wait! I want to see the drawing."

"This is just the study for the painting. I have to transfer this to a canvas—"

"I wanna see it now!" cried Clint, slipping between Steve and the easel. Steve sighed indulgently, stepped back and wrapped his arms about Clint as the shorter man studied the drawing.

Clint was silent for a good while, examining every inch of the pencil study.

Steve realized he was actually nervous. He was confident in his skill with pencil and brush, but Clint was more than just another Avenger. He wanted, no, needed Clint to accept Steve's portrayal of him. He finally ventured, "Is it okay?"

With his free left hand Clint gripped Steve's arm about his waist. "It's more than okay," he said softly. "It's ... it's alive."

"Alive?"

"Yeah. I've seen photos of me lots of times. Even video. It's still flat. It doesn't breathe. This drawing, your vision is in it. And I can see it. Feel it."

Steve relaxed, pressed his cheek against the side of Clint's head. "I'm glad. Was kind of worried."

Clint let out a sharp laugh. "Worried? For what? I saw the incredible jobs you did with all the others' paintings. Even your self-portrait was fantastic."

"That one only got done with a lot of help from JARVIS," said Steve, referring to the omnipresent artificial intelligence that monitored and managed Avengers Tower. "He was the perfect assistant. Helped me stage a photo shoot for references, even directed me into the right poses from just my rough sketches."

"I was delighted to be of help, Captain Rogers," said JARVIS, with the English-accented voice that one could never quite pinpoint a source for. "I'd never assisted an artist before."

"See? No worries," chided Clint. "I kind of wondered why I got left 'til last. My face that bizarre after all these years of hard field missions?"

Steve growled and gnawed at Clint's neck so it tickled and Clint squirmed. "Dummy. It's because it is you. Because of us. Your portrait has to be perfect. The others were just practice."

Clint moved away from Steve just enough so he could turn about to face him and wrap his free arm in turn around Steve. "Dummy yourself. It'll be great. But I gotta ask, why's the bow not done? Why did I have it if you weren't gonna draw it?" He gestured to the drawing where just a few sketched lines marked the extent of the drawn bow and arrow between Clint's hands.

"For one, so you could pose accurately. You've used a bow for so long you could probably fake it. But even then, you wouldn't be holding the true weight, or pulling the stress of the draw, and your muscles wouldn't be flexed quite right. So it's best to pose all the time with the bow, and then have an arrow nocked and drawn while I'm dealing with your arms and hands.

"But your bow is such a complicated object. I'll have to really study it to draw it correctly. I figured for that there's no reason to take up your time. If we just prop it up securely here, under the lights, I can study it as much as needed."

Steve paused as he realized that the pleased, affectionate expression had faded from Clint's face. "You set it up," Steve hastened to add. "I'll guide you to place it in the right position on the platform ... I won't have to mess with it ..."

"Um," allowed Clint. His arm around Steve's waist withdrew to join the other, fists firmly clasping the bow to his chest.

"... I won't even go near it ..." stammered Steve, reaching tentatively for Clint.

But Clint firmly took another step back, away from Steve. He turned slightly, putting still more space between the tightly clutched bow and Steve. "Can't touch 'er," he muttered. Clint's eyes slid from side to side, suddenly seeking escape, Steve realized.

With no other warning, before Steve could speak again Clint had sprinted for the apartment door, thrown it open and dashed out.

Steve could only stare at the doorway, yawning open to the hall, unhappily imagining he could see a dust trail in Clint's wake. Before he could bring himself to move, Tony Stark peered in around the door frame, one hand extended to display a book. He glanced quickly in all directions before returning his attention to Steve and slipping into the room.

"Hey," greeted Tony, waving the book. "I found the one you asked about, in Dad's stuff." He jerked a thumb in the direction Clint had disappeared. "Care to explain why Birdbrain blew past me into the stairwell, clutching his bow and wailing 'you can't touch this'?"

"Wish I could," said Steve with a perplexed sigh. "You haven't, um, added anything to his bow?"

"Like?"

"Like artificial intelligence?"

Tony blinked in surprise. "Nope." His expression turned thoughtful. "But now that you mention it—JARVIS, I want to—"

"Tony, no!" cried Steve. "JARVIS, belay that. Whatever he's thinking, belay it!"

"Don't worry, Captain Rogers. Sir would never harm the integrity of Agent Barton's weapons, and I would never let him." Steve wondered again if he was hearing humor in the A.I.'s synthetic voice.

"Spoilsport," grumbled Tony.

"It seems to be one of my primary tasks," agreed JARVIS.

Tony turned his attention back to Steve. "Why did you ask about A.I.?"

"Because the bow apparently has now become 'her'."

Tony shrugged. "Thor is always calling his hammer 'her', and acting like it's alive."

"I think Mjölnir is sentient," said Steve. "Thor implied as much, when he was telling me how the hammer was forged."

"So you thought maybe I'd done something to the bow?"

"Yeah."

Tony held up a hand, fingers spread in denial. "Nope, nope, I had nothing to do with this one. Seriously, Clint looked really upset. What happened? You two have a spat? I thought you were working on his portrait."

Steve shook his head. "We were. I am. It wasn't an argument, I don't think. But I must've said something wrong." He returned to the easel, gesturing to the drawing and Tony strolled over to examine it.

"Nice job," commented Tony. He'd seen the works in progress for Thor's and Natasha's portraits, and Steve had explained his process. "I see the bow is just barely indicated."

"Right. It's such a complicated object, I didn't want to make Clint stand around posing just so I could record it. I was going to have him leave it here so I could finish the study without wasting his time.

"He got real jumpy. I tried to assure him I wouldn't mess with it once he set it up but he just kept getting more and more worked up until he finally ran out." Steve frowned at the pencil study with its spare lines marking the bow, wondering how to continue.

Finally Steve gave voice to what was bothering him most of all. "We've fought side by side, hell, we've faced death together. We're a couple now. Doesn't he trust me? Me, of all people?" He was irritated with Clint, and then even more irritated with himself for being petty. He understood how a professional could feel about his weapons and normally completely respected that.

But. Clint.

"I mean, you're working on that bow all the time and it doesn't faze him." Oh, now he was really being petty—envious that Clint let Tony handle his weapons but not his own boyfriend.

"Yeah, he wants me to look it over after every engagement whether or not he thinks it's damaged and—" Tony broke off and turned to gaze thoughtfully at Steve. "You know? He doesn't."

"Doesn't what?"

"Doesn't just leave the bow with me." Tony stared off into the distance, mentally reviewing his work on Clint's weapons. "He's always in the workshop with me when I'm checking the condition after use in the field. Or if he or I have thought of improvements, he's there the entire time. Even if it's not the bow he's currently using in the field.

"It never struck me as odd. I mean, I'm constantly having him test it after each adjustment. And if it's something he's thought up, of course he's guiding me through it—he really knows a lot about the construction and mechanics of weapons even if he's not a trained engineer."

JARVIS spoke up again. "Your memory is correct, Sir. Aside from when you have created new unrequested styles of arrows, I have no record of any episode where you have worked on Agent Barton's equipment and he has not been present to observe and assist."

Steve was surprised. "Never? Even after Clint's been injured and laid up? It has to have been days, sometimes, before he'd be up and around to be joining you in the workshop."

"You'd think that, wouldn't you? We've had a lot of chats in the S.H.I.E.L.D. infirmary, if he's not ready to be on his feet yet. He always insists on giving me the best recollection that he can on the spot. Then later when he's up, he brings the bow to the workshop and we work on it."

"So it's not just me," said Steve. It was a relief, and the curdling discomfort that had settled in his gut at the thought of rejection from Clint vanished. But it was replaced with a new irritation. "Now what do I do? No bow, and who knows when I can coax Clint back in here with it."

Tony brightened. Maybe if Steve talked about his work, it would get his mind off Clint's upsetting behavior and Tony wouldn't have to try discussing feelings. Plus, it was a practical problem. The practical problem didn't exist that Tony Stark couldn't solve! The ones he hadn't solved yet just hadn't been brought to his attention. "Key thing about me building Clint's equipment now—I've got all the specs, all the schematics. Could you paint from those?"

Steve studied the drawing on the easel, lips pursed, musing. Then turned back to Tony. "It's worth a try. The schematics should have all the details, everything to scale, and I can drop that into the study."

Tony huffed, blowing air upwards to ruffle his hair. "You're still making this harder than it needs to be." He swept a hand towards the model platform. "JARVIS, bring up a full render of the bow Barton is using for the portrait. In position, arrow nocked at full draw."

JARVIS didn't speak, but a streak of purple light formed over the center of the platform. The light broke into lines, curled around and reformed into a hovering vertical three-dimensional schematic of the bow. The bow tilted to the angle at which Clint had been aiming it. A glowing arrow appeared across it, and then pulled back as the bow bent and the string angled back as if being drawn. It stilled at the point in space which Clint's actual bow had been held. Finally, the image solidified, taking on the color and texture of the original objects, and illuminated as if the studio lamps were still on.

"Will this serve, Captain Rogers?" asked JARVIS.

"Will it ever!" exclaimed Steve, grinning widely, eyes drinking in the virtual bow and arrow. He grabbed a pencil and eraser, began minutely comparing the hologram to his pencil study. He frowned. "Just one more thing, JARVIS?"

"Yes?"

"Could you add a crude model of Clint?"

"Well, that's gratitude for you!" interjected a scowling Tony.

"Huh?" was all Steve could get out.

"I just solved your absent props problem and you ask JARVIS to make X-rated pics of your boyfriend. You're not going to paint at all, are you?"

Steve slowly rounded on Tony, blinking perplexedly at him. "Who? What? Please make sense."

"You asked for a crude Clint. I don't even want to know what you do with that behind closed doors. In fact, keep it there!"

Steve rolled his eyes. "I meant a wireframe or something like that," he said, exasperated. "For visual context."

"Wait, what? You just said 'wireframe'. How do you even know that word?"

"Because I'm catching up with current technology in some areas faster than others," Steve replied with a smirk. "After the phone and the microwave, I've been diving in to art media. JARVIS helped me get a digitizing tablet months ago. It's true I like the digital painting more than 3d work, but yes, I know what 'wireframe' means."

"I did understand what Captain Rogers was requesting, Sir," added JARVIS, managing to sound long-suffering.

"Oh, okay then," said Tony, mollified. He waved his fingers at the floating virtual bow and arrow. "Carry on then."

More violet light bloomed above the platform, this time extending and stretching out into the form of a blocky mannequin. While the glowing figure bore no facial features, the height, form and stance were perfect duplicates of what Clint had held. The figure's hands held the bow and arrow in the desired draw.

"Please check this model, Captain," requested JARVIS.

With pencil and eraser in hand, Steve carefully compared the drawing of Clint to the hologram standing on the platform. There was a slight transparency to the holographic image, but with the studio lamps off, that didn't interfere with what he needed to see.

He began by indicating a firmer contour of the bow's grip as the holographic model held it. He saw then that while most of the model was rough, formed of large flat facets, JARVIS had taken care to construct the figure's hands in great detail, exactly duplicating the forms of Clint's hands and gloves.

"Perfect, JARVIS! I absolutely can work with this." Re-energized, Steve continued with precisely marking the angles formed by the tips of the bow and the drawn bowstring.

"I have a record of this model, Captain, which can be called up whenever you need it," confirmed JARVIS.

Tony contentedly watched Steve draw, hands moving quicker and surer as he sunk back into a deep concentration, a space where only his model and his paper existed.

"Well, okay, great. I was on my way up to dinner—Bruce is cooking tonight. You gonna be up?"

"Mm," said Steve.

"It's one of his special curries, I think."

"Hm."

"I hear Dr. Doom will be dropping by for drinks, after."

"'kay."

Tony smiled and shook his head. "J, tell Brucie to set aside enough food for our local starving super-soldier artist. He will be starving by the time he surfaces out of that trance."

"Done, Sir. Rather like you in your workshop?"

Tony turned for the door. "Such a funny guy, you are, J." Then he saw Clint, bow in hand, standing just inside the room. "Hey, Legolas. Looked like you were out of here for the rest of the week."

Clint shrugged, stepped aside to allow Tony out into the hall. "Yeah, well, once I stopped to think, I realized I was acting like a five-year-old. Came back to apologize, but you and JARVIS had it under control."

"You bet!" Tony said with a brilliant smile. "Another win for Team Stark!" He indicated the studio with a jerk of his head. "I suppose you've seen that before? He's not going to surface for hours, is he?"

"Nah, he'll be at it until he finishes, now. You said something about dinner. Now that I'm done with my tantrum, I could eat." The two men headed for the elevator to go up to the communal level.

Once in the elevator, Tony spoke again, "Y'know, when I first walked in, Steve asked what I'd done to your bow."

"Really? Like what?"

"Like if I'd built any A.I. into it."

"Sir!" interrupted JARVIS. "You shouldn't—"

"Could you?" asked Clint. Tony did not miss the blaze of eager curiosity that flared up in his eyes.

"Bet I could."

"You should not, Sir," warned JARVIS.

"Hush, J," scoffed Tony.

"What could it do? What could I do?" urged Clint. "Tell, tell."

"The first challenge is how to load the extra hardware to not disturb the form, weight distribution, et cetera of the bow."

"What about that feather-weight flexible mesh you were showing me, the one with the embedded layers of circuitry?"

"Exactly! I'll make an engineer out of you yet."

"Sir, no. Don't do this, Sir. It cannot end well." JARVIS continued a stream of arguments, but the two Avengers did not seem to hear as they exited the elevator, excitedly discussing balance and reaction times and predictive armament analytics.

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