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Baby Please Come Home

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It's in the early evening hours when they arrive at their destination, the Bus slowly lowering down into a snow-clad valley.

"Seatbelts," Phil says gently, buckling himself in next to Ward.

"Does this seem kind of wrong to anyone else?" Skye asks.

"What, taking time off in the middle of an assignment?" Jemma’s eyebrows raise slightly. "It's not like it'll be long, it's just for three hours, and this is not even an urgent mission."

"No, no," Skye clarifies, "I'm all for playing hooky, it's just--scheduling Christmas?"

"We're not scheduling Christmas," Jemma argues. "We're just--we're taking time to celebrate it."

"And this is the perfect backdrop for it, too!" Fitz shoots in. "Snow, wooded areas, it's beautiful."

"Like a postcard," Jemma agrees with a happy sigh.

As if on cue, the Bus touches down, and Melinda's voice comes over the intercom. "All right, kids. We're here. Enjoy your reprieve. Wheels up in three hours, exactly."

Jemma bounces to her feet. "I've got the tree."

"I've got presents." Skye nudges Ward. "Come on, you get to help me carry them."

"It's my lucky day," Ward says dryly, and Phil doesn't even bother attempting to restrain his grin.

"Skies are clear, forecast is good. We'll have no problems being on time," Melinda says when she arrives from the cockpit.

Phil nods his thanks as she sits down next to him, excitement already stirring in the pit of his stomach. "Wonderful. If you'd be so kind as to lower the ramp?"

Melinda rolls her eyes. "Already done." She leans back in her seat and crosses her legs. "Please. What do you take me for?"

"The ramp?" Ward asks from Skye's bunk, where she's loading him up with presents until he resembles a pack mule. "Are we going somewhere, sir?"

"Just taking on a visitor," Phil says, straightening his jacket and tie.

Skye freezes. "A visitor?"

Phil shrugs. "It's temporary, not to worry."

"Coulson, we're in the middle of nowhere," Skye says just as Jemma and Fitz return with a fake disassembled Christmas tree. "How can we have a visitor?"

"A visitor?" Fitz asks, picking up on the conversation. "We're having a visitor?"

"Sir," Ward protests. "I think if we're bringing people aboard the Bus, we should all be notified--"

"It's not like they can just stroll up and knock on our door," Skye says over Ward.

"--anyone posing a threat to this team, unless they're a SHIELD agent, and I for one--"

"I thought it would be just us for Christmas?" Jemma sounds oddly put off as she starts assembling the tree.

"I think it should be," Skye argues, "I think we've been through some stuff and I think it'd be nice to just, you know, have Christmas with the people we--um," she hesitates, "people that we--you know, that we care about."

"Oh, Phil cares plenty about me," a voice comes from the doorway, and everyone turns to look at once.

Phil's grin grows, and he has to restrain himself from running across the entire common area like a lovestruck teenager.

"Hey there." Clint’s leaning against the door frame, casually as you please. He's bundled up in a thick, puffy winter coat and a hat, there's a huge boxy backpack hanging off one of his shoulders, and his cheeks are red. "Merry Christmas."

Phil's unable to move. He wants to (boy, does he want to), but his feet are rooted to the spot, and all he can do is look

"Hi," he says back to Clint. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Melinda smile at him. He can't bring himself to care all that much; he's well aware of how breathy he sounds, but Clint's here, and he's willing to suffer a lot of indignities for that fact.

"Is that--?" Skye asks, gaping.

"Agent Barton?" Ward asks with a frown.

"--Hawkeye!" Fitz blurts out with a surprising amount of adoration in his voice. Phil's clearly not the only one who's surprised, because everyone turns to look at Fitz as he fumbles. "Oh man, oh wow, oh wow, Hawkeye is here, Hawkeye is on our bus!"

Clint puts down his backpack and pulls off his hat. "Hey, how ya doin'."

"Mr. Hawkeye--Agent Barton, sir, uh, oh wow," Fitz babbles, dropping pieces of Christmas tree as he moves closer. "I just, I've seen your work, I've heard of your work, of course, legendary, even before the whole, even before the battle of New York--" Clint's eyes barely flicker to the side; Phil's very proud of how far he's come. "--if I could just, if you could just, if you wouldn't mind, I would love to run some tests," Fitz says. "For science."

"Uh." Clint looks a little weirded out and glances at Phil for reassurance. "I'm just here to celebrate Christmas, really."

"But you have perfect aim!" Fitz exclaims. "I would love to get some data on that because if that could be recreated somehow, if I could build a, a scope or a weapon that could--"

And that's just enough. It's been almost six months since Phil last had his arms around Clint, and Phil's done with waiting.

"Fitz, be quiet," Phil says, grateful when Fitz's mouth immediately snaps shut. Striding over to Clint, Phil kisses him firmly on the lips. He loves the way something unfolds within him, a tension in his chest that finally uncoils. Clint's lips are cold and a little dry, and it's the best thing Phil's felt in months. Breaking the kiss, Phil gathers him up in a hug, ignoring the stunned silence from behind him. Clint's body is hard and warm against Phil's, and Clint's hands come up, almost on reflex, to settle against the small of Phil's back.

"Hi," Phil says softly.

"Heh, hey Phil," Clint says quietly against Phil's neck. "Miss me?"

"You wish," Phil says, which means Yes and Of course and I always miss you.

Behind them, Skye stage-whispers to someone, probably Ward, "Uh, Coulson's dating an Avenger. Did anyone else know Coulson's dating an Avenger? Is this like, common knowledge?"

Ignoring her, Phil turns to Melinda. "Don't let them break anything," he says happily.

Melinda just snorts in response and salutes Clint with two fingers. "Barton."

"Cavalry," Clint replies, cheeky as ever, and her salute goes from two to one finger. Jemma's eyes widen.

"See you all in three hours." Phil takes Clint's hand and leads him towards the stairs.

"Is this--is this a booty call?" Skye asks. Ward seems to choke on air.

"Not a word," Phil warns Clint before he can respond.

Still, Clint's snickers the entire way upstairs.


"How was your trip?" Phil asks after closing the door behind them. Clint’s already throwing his coat into a corner.

"Cold," Clint answers dryly. He grabs hold of Phil's lapels and pulls him in for a kiss, deeper this time. "Mmm." He slips Phil some tongue, which Phil doesn't mind in the slightest. He lets Clint's tongue in, opens his mouth and welcomes it, and strokes against it with his own, hands clutching at Clint's waist. The chill from outside is still clinging to Clint's skin, and Phil's already looking forward to warming him up. When they finally break apart for air, they're breathing heavily. Clint's grip on Phil's jacket has gotten slack.

"So. Your team seems nice," Clint says.

Phil gets a finger into the space between Clint's sweater and snow pants, digging to find skin. "Shut up about my team."

"I figured you'd told them about us." Clint loosens the knot of Phil's tie. "But I didn't realize there would be PDAs."

Phil feels vaguely embarrassed, but he refuses to feel shame. "It was a kiss." He shrugs.

"I know," Clint says cheekily. "Just didn't figure you for the type. I like the new you."

Phil smiles, thinking about his new lease on life and all the promises he'd made to himself. He considers his choices, and doesn't regret a single one. "I like the new me, too," he confesses, and kisses Clint.

"So how long have we got?" Clint nips at Phil's bottom lip.

"Three hours," Phil says, already pulling at the bottom of Clint’s sweater. "Unless you want to come with us to Makassar?"

"Indonesia, huh?" Clint muses, trailing kisses down Phil's cheek to his jaw and neck. "Could be fun."

"It certainly was, last time we were there," Phil agrees, fighting to keep his eyes open as Clint licks up the side of his neck.

Clint groans in frustration. "Man, I want to, you know I want to, but I really can't. Fury's gonna have my fuckin' hide once he finds out about this little excursion, even."

It's exactly the answer Phil had expected, but he still can't help the little stab of disappointment he feels. He loves his team, but he misses his--Clint.

"Let's not waste the time we've got then, yes?"

Clint seems reluctant to pull away, even just to get the sweater over his head, and Phil pushes more firmly at his chest. "Stop it. Don't wanna," he mumbles into Phil's skin.

"Have to, if you're planning on getting naked anytime soon," Phil says.

"Your team is hanging mistletoe at the bottom of the stairs."

Phil makes a face. "How do you even know these things?"

"I'm Hawkeye; I know," Clint answers cryptically, before finally moving far enough away Phil can pull his sweater over his head.

Phil has always liked undressing Clint. It's a little slow sometimes, certainly less effective than just having Clint undress himself (something he's able to do in just about two seconds flat, no matter how many layers he's starting in--Phil's speaking from experience), but Phil likes it when he gets to do it. He likes pulling cloth aside to reveal Clint's skin and his scars and his muscles. He likes pushing up Clint's t-shirt, and how his fingertips trace firm abs and the coarse hair of a modest happy trail as he goes. He likes the way Clint's hips sway with the pull of his belt sliding out of his belt loops. He especially likes the way Clint grins, wider and wider with each article of clothing he loses, unashamed and flirty.

"You know, this would go faster if you'd just let me," Clint says casually, barechested and far too smug about it.

Phil's response is to sink to his knees, and pull Clint’s pants and underwear off in a single motion. Clint's cock bobs, directly in front of Phil's face, already hard. Phil licks his lips.

"Or, you know," Clint amends, "this is good, too. This is good."

"I've missed you," Phil says happily to Clint's dick, and doesn't care how lame it makes him.

"I've missed you too," Clint says. Phil doesn't bother correcting him. The assumption isn't really inaccurate.

Leaning forward, Phil licks a long, wet stripe up the underside of Clint's dick. Its weight is comfortable on his tongue. Clint's breath hitches. "You're not even," he breathes out, and doesn't complete his sentence because the rest of it disappears in a moan.

Phil doesn't bother responding. He already knows what Clint was going to say anyway, and there will be time for him to undress later. Right now, all he wants is to get his mouth on Clint's dick.

"Jesus, God." Clint sighs as Phil puts his mouth over the head and sucks carefully, flicking his tongue over the slit to taste the fluid there. "This is--actually, this is--with you still in your suit, it's--"

Humming, Phil grips the base of Clint's cock with one hand. He gives it a few experimental strokes before settling into a rhythm, bobbing his head to take Clint deeper. Clint stumbles a little, legs caught in the pants that are still around his ankles, stuck there since his heavy snow boots are still on his feet. Phil pulls off just long enough to let Clint do a hilarious little shuffle and settle on the couch, naked butt hitting the fabric with a soft thump.

"If you get ass marks on my couch, you're getting the cleaning bill in the mail," Phil warns, shuffling after Clint to settle between his legs.

"Weren't you doing something?" Clint says with a raised eyebrow.

"Not if you're gonna continue that," Phil warns gently, but they both know it's an empty threat.

Clint grips himself with one hand, pointing his cock in Phil's direction. Phil really should leave him hanging for a little--he should--but he can't. He gets his mouth around Clint's dick again, and practically salivates, because he loves this, truly he does. He loves the way Clint twitches in his mouth, loves running his tongue along the ridge of Clint's cockhead, and loves the faintly salty taste of Clint's precome.

He moves his head the way he knows Clint likes, and draws another half-stifled moan from him. His own cock is hard in his pants, and when Clint reaches down again to press his fingers gently against Phil's hollowed cheek, Phil groans around the cock in his mouth and has to unbuckle his belt to get a hand around himself.

"Come on, come on," Clint mumbles, seemingly to himself, hoarse and hushed. His lips pull back to expose his teeth as he squeezes his eyes shut. His fingers ghost up Phil’s jawline until they settle in his hair.

Clint's head drops back against the couch and he's panting openly now, hips twitching a little, like he wants to thrust up into Phil's mouth. It's tempting, letting him; they've done it before and Phil knows what he can take. However, it also tends to end things rather quickly, and Phil wants something else for now.

Rubbing his tongue against the underside a few extra times for good measure, Phil pulls off Clint's cock and doesn't even bother wiping away the strand of precome that follows his lips.

"Aww, what?" Clint complains, but then his face clears as Phil stands up to grab the lube out of one of his desk drawers. "Nevermind, I didn't say anything."

Chuckling, Phil throws the lube at Clint, who catches it easily. Phil's breath hitches and he freezes in the process of undressing himself as Clint kicks his ankles free of the snow pants and the boots and then braces his feet up on the edge of the couch. Lubing two of his own fingers, Clint twists and reaches down between his legs and immediately slides them both into himself, and Phil's dick pulses.

"Any time you wanna get naked and join the proceedings," Clint murmurs, eyes heavy-lidded and blank.

That jolts Phil out of his trance, and he manages to get the rest of his clothes off in record time, not caring in the slightest that they land in a heap on the floor. Clint's eyes zero in on the erection bobbing between his legs, and his mouth falls open. "Fuck, Phil." Clint sounds out of breath and hungry.

Phil gets his own fingers lubed up. His eyes stay on Clint as he pushes his way back between his spread legs and slides a finger in alongside Clint's. He expects to go slow, he expects resistance, but Clint's asshole is warm, loose and stretched already. "Did you--?"

"I may or may not have done some prep work before I started the trek up," Clint says, smirking, and then panting as he pulls his fingers free to let Phil take over. "Almost got a buttplug. Would be nice to have you just slide right in. I think you'd like that too, wouldn't you?"

Phil's brain goes temporarily offline at that image and he has to gasp for air. "Would I--yes, I, Clint, yes."

"Too bad," Clint gasps, "it sadly wasn't conducive to hiking in this environment, and I figured my safety probably should go before our kinks."

"Always," Phil says, even though the thought of Clint, opening himself up, wanting to be ready for Phil's cock, makes him feel downright dizzy with want. Leaning down to kiss Clint, Phil searches for Clint's prostate, three fingers deep in his ass. When Clint twitches and gasps into his mouth, Phil hums, satisfied.

"Stop being a smug bastard," Clint says, hips gyrating a little. "Get in me, already."

Chuckling, Phil pushes off Clint's body just enough to lube himself up. Even that takes more effort than he likes. Now that Clint's here, now that Clint's underneath him, naked and willing, Phil's suddenly feeling the months they've been apart with every fiber of his being, and something knits tight inside of him. Shaking it off, he nudges Clint's legs. "Come on," he says, "can't get in you like this."

Obliging, Clint lets Phil manhandle him as he pleases, until Clint's ass is hanging off the edge of the couch, and Phil's kneeling upright between his knees. Clint's upper back is the only part of his body still resting on the seat of the couch. It's got to be an awkward position, but he doesn't seem to mind, abs tightening as he pulls both legs up, bracing his feet against Phil's shoulders and spreading himself wide. Phil kisses one of Clint's ankles, then places the tip of his cock at Clint's entrance, pushing gently, but not quite breaching his body.

"Come on," Clint whines. "Don't do this, Phil, please!"

Phil smiles. "What if I like watching you squirm?"

"What if I remind you that we're on the clock here?" Clint asks. Phil wants to roll his eyes, but instead he responds by shifting his hips forward, sliding in. Clint's jaw goes slack, eyes fluttering shut for a moment. "God," Clint pants. "God, fuck, yeah!"

Phil licks along Clint's lips, traces his tongue over his bottom teeth, breath hitching as he bottoms out. Once he's seated firmly in Clint's body, he pulls Clint's legs down so they can wrap around his waist, and a rumbling groan emerges from somewhere deep in Clint's chest.

"You can make noise." Phil smiles against Clint's skin. "The room isn't quite soundproof, but damn near."

It's like pulling the trigger on a start pistol. "God, Phil!" Clint moans, loudly, and swivels his hips again, clenching his ass tightly around Phil's cock to make them both groan in satisfaction.

Phil's always loved watching Clint let go during sex. His eyes widen and his pupils dilate, and he looks free. It makes Phil feel warm and fond. Withdrawing a little, Phil thrusts back in, hard, and Clint keens, arms coming out to brace himself against the back and side of the couch.

"Yes," Clint pants, "yes, yes, come on, fuck me, fuck me," and how can Phil say no to that?

He sets a punishing pace almost right off the bat that has Clint's eyes screwing shut and sweat forming on Phil's forehead. Clint's fingers scramble for purchase on the couch, struggling to keep him in place as he slowly slides down with the force of each thrust Phil makes. He makes growling and groaning noises, fighting for breath.

It shouldn't come as a surprise; the position’s awkward as hell and every muscle Clint's got has been locked in place because of it--but they both still gasp when Clint does slide off the couch, slipping off Phil's dick and head hitting the floor with a muted thump.

"Fuck," Phil pants, just feeling his orgasm building and abruptly slipping away with the loss of Clint.

But Clint just says, "Come on, come on," and is on Phil before he can really think. Phil finds himself pushed to the ground and then Clint's on top of him, cock grasped firmly in hand so he can sink down on it.

"Good," Phil sighs. He can get deeper like this, and he wants to snap his hips upwards, except Clint's got his full weight on him, and is in complete control at the moment.

"I made you cuss." Clint grins, panting, before bracing his knees on either side of Phil's body and beginning to move on his cock.

"Mhm." Phil doesn’t care about his language use, as pressure and heat building in his balls again. He closes his eyes and grips Clint's hips, chasing the sensation.

The floor is carpeted but still unforgiving under his back; Phil doesn't care, as long as they can keep doing this. Clint’s nearly frantic above him, and Phil can feel himself rush towards that edge, wanting to tumble over it, but at the same time wanting to wait for Clint.

"Clint," he pants, getting a hand around his hard cock bouncing between them. Clint groans again, loudly, leaking all over Phil's hand when he starts stroking.

"Yes, come on, come on," Clint gasps, "I'm, Phil, I wanna come, I'm--"

Clint's orgasm takes Phil by surprise, and it seems to do the same to Clint. Gasping, hips stuttering as all his weight bears down on Phil, Clint twitches once before spurting onto Phil's stomach and chest. His head falls back and it's a striking image; Phil feels like all the breath has left his lungs and he has to focus just to remember to keep stroking, soothing Clint through it, until he stops coming. Clint slumps forward and leans a hand heavily in the mess on Phil's chest.

"God," Clint croaks. He sounds absolutely wrecked as he blinks the fog from his eyes. "Didn't see that one coming."

"Pun intended?" Phil smiles, shifting his hips upwards in a bid to get more friction on his own cock even as he continues stroking the last jitters out of Clint. All it does is make Clint groan and shudder above him, fingers curling in the sparse hair on Phil's chest.

"You're not funny," Clint says, then gasps when Phil thrusts upwards as best he can, going deep. "Oh!" he lets out, almost as if just then remembering that Phil was still there, still hard in his body.

"Yeah," Phil agrees. "Oh."

Laughing, Clint leans down and kisses him, slowly, wetly, not caring about the mess between them. "Don't worry," Clint says, tracing Phil's lips with his tongue and then trailing down to his cheek. "I got you."

Like always.

It's a relief when Clint moves, not as fast or brutally as before, but fast enough that the spark reignites in Phil's groin almost immediately. Wrapping his arms around Clint, Phil meets him thrust for thrust, cock twitching in Clint's ass. The smell of fresh air and winter has started to fade properly from Clint now, replaced by scents of sweat and sex, and Phil runs his fingers up along the bumps of Clint's spine until they hit his hair, damp with sweat at the nape of his neck.

"I missed you," Phil finally says to Clint, out loud, because he's gone enough he doesn't care anymore, the pleasant tingle in his crotch making him strong enough to voice his thoughts out loud.

Clint's asshole clenches around Phil's cock again and he groans, low in Phil's ear. He slams down, taking Phil deep.

Phil's breathless. His orgasm slams through him, and his fingers clutch at Clint's skin, squeezing as pleasure runs its course through his body. Above him, Clint has stilled, letting him finish spurting into his ass. When the tremors humming underneath Phil's skin start to subside, Clint pushes up a little to look down at his face.

"Will you smack me if I tell you Merry Christmas right now?" he asks with a grin that's part exhaustion, part mischief.

"Of course not," Phil responds, too fucked out and happy to banter.

"Definitely like the new you better," Clint sighs happily, snuggling down against Phil's chest. His come is smeared and drying between them, but Phil doesn't want to move for anything less than a life threatening situation. Come in his chest hair doesn't even ping his priority meter for moving.

They stay like that for a while, until Clint's weight is starting to make it difficult to breathe, and the floor is mercilessly reminding Phil about his age.

"I hate to break it to you," he murmurs to Clint, "but I think we have to move."

"Kay." Clint mumbles sleepily back. They both make vague noises of discomfort when he climbs off Phil and Phil's soft cock slips fully free of his body. "Got a bed in this place?" Clint asks, before stumbling a little as he gingerly pulls on an ass cheek. "Or a towel?"

Phil does have a towel, and after handing it off, he gestures for Clint to move aside. "Here," he says, and then converts the couch to a bed.

Clint blinks, and a corner of his mouth quirks up.

"Don't," Phil warns, stopping the mocking comment before it can be voiced. "Would you rather have me sleep downstairs, in one of the pods?"

Clint considers this for a moment, before shrugging. "Fair point," he says, twisting so he can clean up while Phil finishes getting the bed set up. When Phil straightens again, Clint says, "Catch," and throws him the towel back before flopping down on the bed with a groan. Scrubbing at the dried come on his chest proves to be mostly moot at this point. After a few moments he gives up and resigns himself to having to sneak through the plane to the shower later on. For now, he joins Clint on the bed, wrapping around him and pushing his face into his nape.

"Merry Christmas," Clint says, words muffled as he puts his lips against Phil's forearm. It tickles the hair there, and Phil chuckles a little against Clint's neck.

"I got you a present," he says.

Clint sounds asleep already when he responds, "I'll get to it in a minute, okay, I got you one as well... I just need a quick nap, gimme like twenty minutes."

"Not an issue," Phil responds fondly. By his calculations, the trek up to the valley must have taken several hours, and Clint's probably tired. Best to give him some time to gather his strength for the trek down. Phil kisses Clint's skin carefully, then closes his eyes, just for a moment. He'll wake Clint in twenty minutes.


Phil and Clint both jolt awake when there's a knock on the door; it's not quite banging, but certainly not a small, polite knock, either.

"Wheels up five minutes ago, boss," Melinda says. Phil's heart nearly jumps out of his chest, the way it only does when he's torn abruptly from sleep.

"Bzuh?" Clint asks, disoriented. "'m I goin' to Indonesia?"

Frowning, Phil sits up. "No. We're not moving yet. That's our wake-up call, though." Glancing at the still-closed door, Phil sighs. "May gave us five minutes extra. I'm surprised she gave us that long, to be honest."

A matching frown appears on Clint's face as he rubs the sleep out of his eyes and stumbles out of bed. "Aw, Phil," he says, groaning. "We slept the whole fuckin' time? Seriously?"

"It happens," Phil says, going for casual and missing by about a mile if Clint's expression is anything to go by. "Listen, we got to see each other, that's what counts, right?"

Clint smiles cautiously then, and sighs heavily as he starts to look around for his clothes, seemingly accepting of the situation. "I really did get you a present, though." He pulls on his pants. "I think it's in my jacket."

"I got you this," Phil says, reaching over to a shelf and plucking down a small glass vial.

Clint frowns. "The hell is this?"

"Thank you, Phil, I love it, Phil," Phil says, making a face as he finds a t-shirt to slip on.

"I'd have to know what it is, in order to be grateful," Clint argues, peering at the yellow-ish liquid swirling around in there. "Is this pee, sir? 'Cause I'm not gonna thank you if it's pee."

"It's not pee," Phil chuckles with an eyeroll, explaining as they dress. "That's a lab accident. Well, half-accident. FitzSimmons were working on a solvent for a case, and--well, they did a better job than anticipated. It's highly acidic, but only to minerals and metals as far as we can tell. I figured you could take it back to Dr. Banner, see what he can make of it. Maybe get some new arrowheads out of the deal."

Startled, Clint meets Phil's eyes for a moment, before a wide grin spreads across his face. "Aw, Phil, you do love me."

The air gets suddenly tense for a moment, and Phil's face heats up. For a moment, he doesn't know what to say, but then Clint laughs and the tension disappears. "Your ears are red," Clint says, sounding absolutely delighted by this fact.

"Enjoy your acid," Phil says as he finishes dressing.

Clint's struggling into his thick sweater. Once he's got the sweater in place, he picks his puffy coat up from the corner he'd haphazardly thrown it into upon entry, tucks away the little glass vial in an inside pocket, and fishes out something else.

"Here." He ducks in to steal a quick kiss from Phil as he hands off a small, flat card wrapped in plastic. When he pulls back again, Phil's looking down at Captain America's face.

"Okay," Clint says with a shrug, "so I don't actually know any of these things, but the guy told me it was the first edition of the reprint. And I know it's not nearly as valuable as the originals, but I couldn't find any originals, and trust me, I fucking looked."

"The originals are--notoriously hard to find," Phil says, distracted, because Clint got him a Captain America trading card.

"This'll at least get your collection started again," Clint says. "And once it's complete, maybe we'll get Cap to sign 'em for you, huh?"

Phil tries to form words, but there's something stuck in his throat. Swallowing heavily against the lump, Phil puts the card down on his desk. He crosses to where Clint's zipping up his coat and kisses him, deep and hard.

"Whoa," Clint says, when Phil lets him go. He looks vaguely dazed. "Guess you liked it?"

"Thank you, Clint," Phil says sincerely. "I'm sorry. I meant to wake you earlier, but I fell asleep as well."

Clint just smirks at him. "It's okay. I suppose this means I'll just have to come find you again for New Year's."

"I don't know where I'll be for New Year's," Phil responds honestly.

Clint's smile is brilliant when he looks up to meet Phil's eyes. "Phil," Clint laughs. "That's the fun part!"


Phil's barely three steps down the stairs before Clint literally vaults over the railing and lands hard on the main floor of the Bus. Skye and Jemma, who are sitting in the lounge area, startle and Clint gives them a wide grin. He heads past them towards the door, with a vague salute. Rolling his eyes at Clint's antics, Phil asks, "May in the cockpit?"

In response, the Bus's engines fire up.

"Where's Ward and Fitz?"

"Here," Fitz says from the dining area, and Ward gives them a slight nod.

"Everyone behave themselves?" Phil asks, trying not to notice the sly grin Skye is giving him. "Get anything nice?"

"Did you get anything nice?" Skye asks with a leer, and her eyes slowly travel upwards to Phil's hair. It's possible he's got sex hair, he realizes, and resists the urge to smooth it down. Nothing to do now but own it, and he's in dire need of a shower anyway.

"I got a spectrometer!" Jemma says, blessedly saving Phil from having to come up with a response.

"I made it," Fitz interjects, sounding terribly proud.

"I want to hear about what Clint got Phil," says Skye, still leering.

"I really don't," Ward says, closing his eyes and looking like he's about to leave.

"Here," says Clint from the doorway, and then there's the twang of a bowstring before an arrow slams into the pillar by the lounge area, protruding out over the heads of Skye and Jemma.

Phil stares at the arrow, sighs, then blinks, before calmly pinching the bridge of his nose and squeezing his eyes shut.

"Holy shhhh--" Skye says, slowly.

"Please," says Phil, "please tell me that's not a mistletoe arrow."

When he opens his eyes again, Clint's shrugging at him. "Tony made it for me."

"Why would you ever need a mistletoe arrow, though?" Phil asks.

"Why wouldn't I?" Clint says, collapsing his bow. "Besides, you should see all the other trick arrows we're working on."

Phil sets his jaw and wonders if he can utilize his still-in-theory classified resurrection to complicate Tony's life. "Please refrain from shooting any more arrows inside the Bus, Agent Barton."

"Oh, please," Clint scoffs, gesturing to the arrow still above Skye and Jemma's heads. "It's not even a real tip! It's a modified suction cup. Won't even leave a mark. See?"

Looking, Phil sees that the arrow is indeed sticking to the pillar with some form of putty-like substance.

"Well?" Clint asks, and it takes Phil a second to realize he's talking to Skye and Jemma. "Mistletoe, ladies."

Skye gets red in the face while Jemma merely arches an eyebrow at Clint in a don't you wish kind of way. Interestingly, Jemma then turns the eyebrow at Skye, who gets even redder.

"I'll come down with you," Phil says hurriedly, walking to Clint and grabbing his elbow so that he can forcibly push him out of the room.

"Aww," Clint complains. "It was getting good."

"Don't mess with my team, please," Phil says when the door slides shut behind them.

"They started it," Clint points out as they walk down the spiral staircase and towards the ramp. "You're welcome, by the way. The mistletoe they hung is still at the bottom of the stairs."

Something stings in Phil's chest, then, and he sticks his hands in his pockets because he suddenly wants to reach out and grab a hold of Clint and not let go. "I don't care about that," he says, and the words are heavy to get out.

Clint stops at the top of the ramp and turns to Phil, a surprised look on his face. "You don't?"

"I kissed you when you got here, didn't I?" asks Phil, frowning.

Clint shrugs a little and looks awkward as he pulls his backpack on, fiddling with the straps. "I just thought that was because you missed me."

"I did miss you," Phil argues, "but I'm--" He snaps his mouth shut and considers how to go on. Clint just looks at him and waits patiently as he sorts out his thoughts. When he speaks again, he measures each word carefully. "Clint, I died." Clint flinches like he's been slapped, but Phil pushes on. "I died, Clint, and--I don't know exactly... there are still unanswered questions. But for whatever reason I was given a new chance. At everything. And nobody lives forever. Sooner or later, the death will stick."

"Don't--" Clint starts saying, but Phil holds up a hand to silence him, before going to Clint and kissing his cheek gently.

"Sooner or later," Phil repeats, "it'll stick. And I aim not to have any regrets the second time around."

Clint hesitantly meets his eyes, and one of his eyebrows twitches a little, like he wants to frown but is resisting.

"I do love you," Phil says, and his voice is firm and clear. "I love you, Clint."

Something flickers in Clint's eyes; he doesn't cry or laugh or anything, but he does lean in for another kiss, deeper this time, before breathing "I love you too," into Phil's mouth.

They break apart when a warning klaxon blares across the cargo bay, and Phil rolls his eyes. "May hates being late," he explains, even as Clint nips at his bottom lip a final time.

"Like I said," Clint says, "I'll find you for New Year's."

"See that you do," Phil agrees, nodding as Clint pushes away from his body and then runs down the ramp, pulling his hat on as he goes. "Take care."

"Don't I always?" Clint responds, cheekily, and then he disappears, out of Phil's line of sight.

It tugs at something in Phil's chest, staring at Clint's footprints in the snow, but then the ramp starts closing and he shivers in the gust of wind it brings with it, turning to head back upstairs.


The Bus is already airborne by the time he re-enters the main floor, and he tries valiantly to ignore Jemma and Skye making out on the couch. Ward and Fitz seem to have made themselves scarce as well, so he goes to the cockpit and sits down next to Melinda, watching the landscape get smaller and less detailed.

"Good Christmas?" she asks, eyes never leaving her instruments.

"It was very good," Phil confirms and hates that he's already missing Clint. "How about you?"

"Good," Melinda says shortly. Awkward silence descends on the cockpit for a while as they continue rising towards cruising altitude.

"So--do you think we'll have this mission wrapped up by New Year's?" Phil aims for casual.

"Probably," Melinda says. "I'm sure your boyfriend will be able to find us either way."

Phil smiles and thinks about Clint saying I love you, too. "Mind if I keep you company?" He shifts as he tries to find a more comfortable position in the co-pilot's seat, before gesturing to the multitude of buttons in front of them. "Maybe you could show me how a few of these things work?"

"You need a shower," Melinda says without preamble.

"Right," Phil agrees, standing up. "Good talk."

Even though he doesn't see her face, Phil is pretty certain Melinda is snickering at him as he leaves the cockpit. She does tend to do that.

Embarrassment heating his face, he heads towards the showers--but the smile remains. Their ETA to Indonesia is six hours, and it's just under a week until New Year's. Phil's had a great Christmas.