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It's Not the Fall

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The press of Clint’s lips shocks him thoroughly. So much so that Clint gets in a few good passes on his slack mouth before Phil pulls away. “Wait,” he says, “wait, hold on.”

Clint stops, but his smile remains and he doesn’t step back out of Phil’s personal space.

Phil is actually speechless for a few humbling seconds before he gets his flapping mouth around the words. “This was a date?”

The subdued happiness on Clint’s face is already sliding away and it makes Phil’s heart ache a little, which is a bit strange but nothing new.

“I just—” Phil doesn’t actually know how to explain it. He’s not offended; actually he’s pretty flattered by the idea that Clint would want to date him and it definitely was a date now that he looks back on it, not an attempt at a one night stand. If he’s honest with himself, Phil is fairly confident that Clint likes him too much to risk their working relationship on a single night of sex, so he must— Oh. Wow.

Clint is pulling away and Phil can’t let that happen, he knows if this is handled wrong something will break irrevocably and he can’t stand the idea of that happening, especially to Clint, with Clint and— oh. Oh. He reaches out, grabs onto Clint’s hand and tugs him gently, so he has the choice of leaving if he needs it. Clint stays, but looks guarded.

“I haven’t— I didn’t realize—” Clint’s face is getting blanker and blanker and the time Phil has to fix this is quickly running out. “Stop whatever it is you’re thinking,” he says, trying to buy time. “I’m pretty sure that’s not what’s happening here, okay? Just give me a minute. Actually,” Phil finishes unlocking his door and lets them both into his apartment, “let’s make some coffee.”

Clint follows him in and shucks off his jacket only after Phil takes his off. They both chose leather jackets, but of completely different styles. Phil’s is shaped like a suit jacket, Clint’s more like a stylized bomber jacket, updated for the modern era. It looks good on him. Phil blinks, realizing that’s not the first time he’s thought that. A picture is forming in his head and he’s not sure he’s comfortable with it.

Phil takes a few seconds to set the coffee machine brewing, just in case this turns into a long conversation. They’ve both been a little free with the alcohol tonight, feeling comfortable doing so, and the happy buzz that had accompanied them to the door is still lurking in the background.

“I think,” Phil starts, sitting down on the couch next to Clint, “this is my fault and I didn’t realize I was doing it.”

Clint’s face darkens and his entire body goes tight like he’s fighting his flight instincts and Phil winces.

“No,” Phil says, “I’m doing this terribly. I’m sorry, I’ve never had to tell my date that I’m not gay before. At least, I didn’t think I was?”

“Oh,” Clint says, looking shocked, “but I thought— I mean there were—”

“Yeah,” Phil says, running a hand through his hair, “I think there were and I didn’t realize I was doing it, so for that, I’m sorry.”

Clint stares at him, but the hardness is gone, replaced with bewilderment. Phil can relate. “So. What now?” Clint asks.

Phil can see Clint thinking it, that Phil is getting ready to sincerely apologize, explain that his friendship means a lot to him and that he’s fine with forgetting about it and moving on. Only. Phil is looking back at the last few months and he can spot it now that he’s looking for it. The small smile Clint’s presence brings out, the extra effort Phil puts in to make sure Clint’s needs are taken care of. The occasional expenditure of energy getting him something just because watching Clint smile makes his day better. He can see it and it feels precious and special and he just doesn’t want to throw all of that away, which is no doubt what would happen if he and Clint call it a no-fault accident and move on.

“I’d like to kiss you,” is what Phil says instead of all that other stuff, “knowing it’s coming this time, that is.”

Clint blinks at him, a little shock showing through on his face. “Why?”

“Because,” Phil says carefully, “I did do all those things you’re thinking of. I gave you all the right signals and I had fun doing it and you responded to them and asked me out. And I had fun. It was a really lovely date and I think maybe all of that means something.”

“Okay,” Clint says, and drops his hand so that it’s laying across the back of the couch, in direct counterpoint to Phil’s which is already there. Clint’s fingers rest on top of Phil’s, and it’s only natural for Phil to spread them so that Clint’s can thread into his and end up with them palm to palm, holding tight. “But you have to participate this time.” Clint is already leaning closer as he says it.

“Deal,” Phil murmurs, meeting Clint halfway. This kiss is softer, more fragile and infinitely gentle. Maybe the first one was too, but without Phil’s participation it had floundered. Phil doesn’t let his second chance go. He tilts his head and lets their lips press and then move ever so slightly. Phil’s eyes close at the sweetness of it, the absolutely perfect feeling of Clint’s lips against his. They separate, but don’t go very far. Clint’s eyes clearly say ‘well?’ and Phil can’t do anything but lean in again for a second careful kiss.

Two becomes five, five becomes ten, and then Clint is climbing carefully into Phil’s lap, cupping his face and looking down at him like he is the most precious thing in the world. It’s a heady feeling. Phil has dated within the agency before, so having someone extremely athletic, with excellent muscle tone, next to his body isn’t something new. But Clint’s body is still just different enough that it feels like a new journey of understanding for Phil’s body which has just sat up and decided on some brand new priorities.

Clint is nothing more than liquid grace. His entire body doesn’t move, it flows and as it’s perched on top of Phil, his grace seems entirely centered on holding Phil close but not too close. He’s aware of an undercurrent of ‘don’t scare the straight guy’ and it irritates him even as he appreciates it. Kissing Clint is pretty amazing. Getting his hands on his back, feeling the musculature is surreal but pretty hot and the lack of soft breasts has stopped being distracting long minutes ago. Still, he’s been half hard in his jeans for a while and his skin is buzzing with awareness, but if he’s honest, he’s not sure he’s ready to find out how well this is working for Clint just yet.

Eventually, around the time Phil’s lips feel swollen and oversensitive, the kiss eases off slowly and Phil is glad to see the worst of the distrust and fear have melted away from Clint’s face. “Well?” Clint asks.

“I’m pretty sure I wasn’t leading you on?” Phil says because that’s about as sure as he is right now. Clint is in his lap and it’s a pretty wonderful feeling but still, Clint is in his lap and nothing like that was ever in his life plan. At all. So he’s not willing to commit to more just yet.

Clint goes a little guarded. “Just—” he swallows, “don’t come in to work on Monday a two beer queer. Okay?”

It takes a few seconds for Phil to unpack Clint’s plea. “I’d like to try dating you,” he says carefully. “I can’t promise more than that, but I can promise I won’t change my mind before we give this a try, okay?”

“Okay.” Clint nods, leaning in to give Phil a careful kiss, sucking on his bottom lip as he pulls away. “I can deal with that.”

“Thank you,” Phil says, because honestly, he’s kind of asking a lot of Clint here. This isn’t your normal beginning relationship traumas, this is more of a ‘please stand back, the bomb might explode’ sort of beginning. Which makes a whole lot of sense with Clint being involved in it. “I’ll try not to keep you in suspense for too long.”

Clint’s face melts. “Oh baby no, don’t push yourself. This is more than I thought I’d ever get before I asked you out.”

Phil blinks at being called baby and finds Clint’s blush when he realizes what he did delightful. “I’d call you adorable, but it’d just go to your head,” he says, pulling Clint in for another handful of careful kisses.

“Who me?” Clint says, smirking. He slides off Phil’s lap and sighs. “I should get back to my place.”

Phil looks at his watch and winces. “Look, if we hadn’t had an epic misunderstanding, either I’d have sent you home hours ago with a first date kiss or dragged you inside and had my wicked way with you and then let you pass out after. Either way, you wouldn’t be stuck making it back to Brooklyn after all the trains have switched to their night schedule. On a weekend.”

Clint makes a face. “The F train does terrible things on the weekend.”

“Yes.” Phil nods. “Yes, it really does. I nearly opened an active case file for it once.”

Clint’s laugh is low and easy and something in his posture relaxes just a bit more.

“The couch is pretty comfortable,” Phil says, Clint’s relaxation making it easy. “Stay here, at least until the train gets back onto the daytime schedule.”

“You sure?” Clint asks and some of his vulnerability shines through his bravado. His hands fidget where they rest against his legs. “I don’t want you to feel like I’m pushing.”

Phil reaches out and takes the nearest nervously twitching hand into his own, soothing out the tension with careful but firm strokes of his thumb. It’s not anything he hasn’t done before, when massaging out ligaments and tight muscles on missions with terrible conditions. It’s more intimate in this particular situation, but Phil doesn’t feel strange or awkward. “You’re not pushing, if you take the train now it’ll take more than two hours and a taxi at this time of night would be nearly $50.” He turns his head to look Clint in the eye, bringing Clint’s fingers to his lips and kissing them carefully before handing Clint back his hand. “You’re not pushing me,” he repeats, “I’m inviting you.” He smiles lightly. “Please, stay?”

Clint relents and Phil goes to find him a pillow and a blanket. When he returns to the living room, Clint is standing next to the couch, stretching. His arms are fully extended, shoulders pushed back and down, aligning his spine perfectly and pulling his t-shirt up enough to reveal a hint of flat stomach. Phil’s eyes run down the line of Clint’s body automatically, his mouth going dry at the, in his opinion, objectively beautiful image and perfect lack of body consciousness. His eyes stop with a suddenness that’s startling at Clint’s lap. Standing in the stretch like that highlights the half erection hidden under soft denim.

It’s an image that doesn’t automatically repulse Phil, which was one of his main worries about this whole thing. He’s never felt especially attracted by the stray penises that’ve come his way in the casual manner a number of professions have in their changing rooms. Phil has gone through several of them in his life. It seems like it would be a deal breaker, so it’s a bit of a relief, to feel this level of intense curiousity about Clint’s body, especially the parts he needs to be intimately comfortable with eventually.

“Looked your fill yet?” Clint asks, amusement written into his entire face. He pushes the stretch into a perfect bend that has his jeans going tight around the ass, and Phil is only human and has to swallow back a noise. It’s a really nice ass.

“Maybe,” Phil rasps, throwing the pillow and blanket at Clint’s displayed assets.

Clint chuckles playfully, not the least bit upset at Phil’s voyeuristic moment. It’s possible he understands where it came from, or at the very least understands that Phil’s enraptured stare is a good sign. He grabs his sleeping accessories before unbending and tosses them on the couch. “I should tell you,” Clint says sheepishly, “it was that week you watched me in the range, when I had the wound on my ribs but they needed me out as soon as possible, so I practiced without a shirt.” He waits for Phil to nod an affirmative that he remembers the incident before he goes on. “There was a look in your eye, at least, I thought there was. That’s what made me think I’d get a yes when I asked you out.”

Phil can feel the flush coming to his face. He remembers that week, how fascinated with the artistry he’d been, how absolutely stunningly the play of muscle under skin had struck him, how he’d never quite realized how much of a full body exercise drawing back the bow was. At the time, he’d thought it was just some stark appreciation for athleticism, but now he can see in his memories, how his eyes had traced the lines of Clint’s body a little too closely. “Wait.” Phil frowns, rolling back Clint’s words. “But that wasn’t when you first thought about dating me, was it?” As soon as he says it, Phil knows he should have put the question away for later. It’s too soon and the night still a little too charged with doubt and fear, to address that topic.

Clint’s look away is answer enough.

“No,” Phil forces himself to say, “we shouldn’t talk about it tonight.” The look Clint sends him touches Phil all the way down to his toes.

Clint bids him a quiet good night and Phil turns to his bedroom before he can almost screw this up again. There’s some blessed relief in that their final bathroom visits are so well timed they don’t even run into each other, but as Phil settles down into bed, wearing only thin pants, he realizes he’s lucky they never had any of the brewed coffee. He’s wired enough as it is. Part of the problem is that the simmering arousal never truly dissipated, he only managed to distract himself from it for a brief time. Now, in his dark and quiet bedroom, with the subtle sounds of Clint moving around just outside his door, it’s hard to quiet his mind.

Or his erection. Jesus.

As he replays the day’s events, starting with Clint appearing at his door looking casual but more put together than he usually tries for on his time off, all the way to those kisses on the couch, where Phil’s senses had been filled with Clint, happily drowning in him, his hand wanders. He doesn’t actually mean to masturbate, at least, not at first, but he’s so keyed up about all of this and he’s practically being eaten alive by worry that he’ll somehow hurt Clint in an unforgivable way that he just needs to know if his body will follow through where his brain is already going.

So his hand wanders along with his mind and as he strokes himself lightly through the thin fabric of his pants, in his mind Clint is back in his lap, holding him so carefully while kissing him until Phil is breathless. In his fantasy, Clint is making noises, bitten-off half moans dragged out of him by Phil’s mouth and hands. With a sharp turn, Phil realizes the fantasy is about how much Clint might want him and that seems— unfair but it also seems to be really working for him. He can feel the damp patch on the fabric and his hips are doing little half rolls, trying to seek out more pressure, more friction.

Well, he’s in it now, so he eases his waistband over his cock, swallowing a whimper of relief as it’s no longer confined. The fantasy changes a little. Phil doesn’t want to accidentally create a fetish out of Clint’s desires, which, now that he thinks about it, must be so very big because no sane person takes this sort of emotional risk without there being something large feeding it. Instead he tries to imagine further, about what Clint might do next. He thinks of and then dismisses a few ideas quickly. Either they’re not feasible with two men or it’s not something he’s ready to think about, let alone imagine how it feels.

The word ‘blow job’ sears through his mind and the hand lightly stroking himself tightens and he has to bite his lip to stop the sounds. The idea of watching Clint slide off his place on Phil’s lap and onto his knees, reaching up to undo Phil’s buttons, nosing into his lap and mouthing over the thin cotton of his briefs is intoxicating and his hand speeds up. He doesn’t realize exactly how keyed up he is until he gets about as far as sinking into Clint’s hot, wet mouth and it’s all over but a few sharp hip thrusts into his tight fist. He takes a long time to stop shaking with the intensity before he dares reach for the tissues, afraid he’ll knock something over and Clint will burst in.

Eventually he cleans up and the heavy-limbed feeling of post orgasmic haze overcomes his lingering worries about this whole thing. Still, as he sinks down into sleep, he knows that a single successful experiment does not a relationship make.

*****

In the morning, he stumbles out of his bedroom bare chested and eyes mostly closed, following his nose to the smell of freshly brewing coffee. He makes it all the way to sipping at his cup blissfully before the quiet chuckles permeate his brain. Phil shuffles around to see Clint whose face is all wide smiles and easy going. Phil does catch a quick once over from Clint whose eyes darken as they look. He flushes when he realizes how little he’s wearing but doesn’t move to cover up. There’s at least a good half cup of coffee left.

“How come you’re not like this on missions?” Clint asks. He’s relaxing easily on the couch, looking mussed but fully dressed. Except for his feet. Which are bare. For some reason, it seems unbearably intimate to Phil.

Phil forces himself to lean back onto the counter in a relaxed pose. “Well, for one thing, when we’re on missions I’m on duty.”

Clint smiles. “Well this look suits you.”

The blush he’s been ruthlessly shoving down bursts forth all over his skin and Phil spends the first few heated seconds staring down into his coffee cup. When he looks back up Clint has stood up from his sprawled position and stopped a few feet from him.

“Phil?” Clint asks quietly, his eyes more serious than before, “Everything still okay in the cold light of day?”

Phil smiles softly. “Everything is fine.” He puts his coffee cup down on the counter and shuffles closer. “No sudden urges to participate in cliche uber-masculine practices.”

Clint laughs in that low voice that does something tingly and wonderful to Phil’s spine. “Normally,” Clint says casually, moving even closer, until they can’t be more than a few molecules from touching, “I’d wait for you to get your bathroom rituals out of the way, but the coffee should do it and you look—” He cuts himself off, eyes roving over Phil’s skin hungrily. “You look pretty amazing standing there mostly asleep and relaxed.”

“Hmm?” Phil asks, half curious about what exactly Clint sees in him and half curious about how this eventual kiss will pan out.

“You’re,” Clint hesitates while finally closing that last bit of distance, “so relaxed, almost soft focused.” He bumps their noses together playfully. “It feels like you trust me.” Their noses bump again, followed by a quick brush of lips, “letting me see you like this.”

“I do,” Phil says, taking in another brush of lips, a little shocked at how easy a morning routine with Clint is. “Trust you, that is.” He leans in for more, but Clint is suddenly far away. He opens his eyes from the half-lidded, drowsy thing they were doing and looks at Clint who seems stiff and uncomfortable all of a sudden, he also seems very far away for the entire 18 inches or so that separate them. “What?”

“I promised myself I wouldn’t push you,” Clint says, running a hand through his hair. “This seems— pushy.”

Phil’s heart does something funny in his chest and he can’t not reach out to Clint and tug him back into Phil’s orbit. “Clint, listen to me.” He pauses, waiting for Clint’s nod. “I'm 45 and just agreed to date a guy for the first time in my life, after having spent decades not even thinking about it. Probably,” he corrects. “I admit to possibly scheduling some time to re-examine my subconscious a little bit after last night.” He tugs Clint even closer, until they’d be hugging if their hands weren’t intertwined as they are. “You're 32 and just agreed to date a 45-year-old who was pretty sure he was straight not 12 hours ago.”

He takes a minute to let that sink in, because it’s a little absurd on the cover, but also he wants a second to absorb the feeling of Clint pressing into him. His body all warm and firm, but not too firm, feels damn good up against Phil’s front. Clint’s shirt is soft and thin and the heat from his body seems to come right through to warm Phil’s bare skin. Eventually he leans back enough to kiss Clint’s temple before looking him in the eye. “I think we’re both pretty invested, don’t you?” Clint flushes, looks guiltily away before meeting Phil’s gaze again and nodding. “So there can be some, minor, pushing.”

“Okay,” Clint says seriously, “I just—” He pauses and there’s a deep breath and a firming of resolve. “You were right last night. I’ve wanted this for a while. A long time.” He waits, looking directly at Phil who just looks calmly back. “I didn’t think I was going to get a chance, and now that I have it I don’t want to reach for stuff you’re not ready for because part of me wants to get what I can, while I can.”

Phil’s heart does something funny again, only it’s a less-positive funny. Clint’s expecting to get his heart broken. He was expecting it before finding out about the extra hurdles, and Phil just wants to dig deep inside of Clint and find whatever hurt caused all of that self-doubt and smooth it out, heal it as best he can. There’s a moment that’s shocking when Phil realizes the variety, breadth and depth of emotions he has that are all caught up in Clint and then something slides into place and the whole misunderstanding inches just a bit closer to making a whole lot of sense.

Phil untangles one of his hands and reaches up to touch Clint’s cheek, to cup it lightly and let his thumb brush against the morning stubble. It’s an interesting feeling and the only thing Phil thinks about it is that it might feel nice against his skin. He leans in for a kiss, the one that Clint interrupted a little while ago. Phil makes a concerted effort to put in just a hint of force. Where last night he had been mostly passive, with a hint of curiosity, this morning he actively sucks on Clint’s bottom lip before running his tongue along the seam of Clint’s lips.

Clint opens up under him with a ragged noise, sucking on Phil’s tongue, letting him inside, practically swallowing him whole. The point Phil had been trying to make is quickly lost. Now all he can do is hold on as he and Clint share a shattering kiss, one that completely redefines Phil’s senses and expectations. He’s forced to stop it before they can get carried away, as much as he’s enjoying it. The adrenaline is running a fine line between arousal and fear and he doesn’t want to ruin this by having a panic attack at the wrong time.

“Okay?” Clint asks, his breathing harsh in the quiet that follows. “That was…” his hands are shaking as he holds Phil close.

“Yes.” Phil nods. “Sorry, I just meant to—” He stops, swallowing and leaning into Clint’s hold which has somehow transformed from sensual back to comforting.

“I know,” Clint says. “I appreciate it, too.” He chuckles against Phil’s temple, kissing it softly before gently peeling away. “Though I can’t say you haven’t given me food for thought.”

Phil’s entire front feels cold as Clint finishes pushing away, which is ridiculous considering his back is just as shirtless. “Go out with me tonight?” he blurts out, wanting to somehow start this all over the right way, or keep it going, something like that.

“Sure,” Clint says easily, smile back on his face, only a little dimmer than earlier. He still looks pretty shaken.

Or aroused. Phil admits he’s not had a lot of practice spotting the intricacies of male arousal on anyone but himself. That particular subject is something he’s currently getting a brand new education in.

Clint has his shoes on before Phil can clear his head enough to finish making plans. He’s waiting by the door by the time Clint finishes finding all of his stuff and putting it back on or into pockets. It’s strange standing barefoot next to a booted Clint. It’s not a situation that has ever come up before and Phil has the strangest sensation of being shorter, even if it’s just barely, than the person pecking him on the lips. That hasn’t happened since childhood.

“Meet up in Penn, by the good coffee shop?” Clint asks, squeezing Phil’s hand companionably. Manhattan is the middle ground from both of their homes and there’s plenty to do inside it, even if it’s all about 30% more expensive.

“Four o’clock,” Phil nods, squeezing back, already making plans. “I’ve got an idea,” he smiles and tugs Clint down, that’s still weird, for a chaste kiss and then rubs their noses together for good measure. It’s important to Phil that while some things might make him feel uncomfortable, that he express the affection he can. For Clint. For himself.

Clint’s face breaks out into a sweet smile, one that Phil isn’t sure has ever been sent in his direction, and he nods firmly to Phil before reaching for the door knob. Phil stays out of direct line of sight of the open door — he’s barely dressed after all, but it’s pretty early on a Saturday so the only people who might be out are the Lebowitzes and the Kleins who walk to and from synagogue together. He firmly resists leaning against the wall and peeking out into the hallway to watch Clint wander away. His fight against his better nature is interrupted by Clint’s swift return where he is caught up into a swift but firm kiss, one of Clint’s arms around his waist, the other cupping his cheek, pulling him close. It’s practically a movie kiss and Phil finds his back bowing back just a bit.

“Sorry,” Clint says breathlessly, when he lets Phil’s lips go. “Just wanted to make sure.”

Phil’s lips are tingly and a little distracting. “Make sure of what?”

Clint ducks his head, pecks him once more, and then lets him go. “Of everything.” He winks saucily and then ducks back out of the apartment leaving Phil breathless, tingling and — damnit — half hard. He’s also smiling so wide his cheeks are starting to cramp a little.

He waits, pressed against the nearest wall, to make sure Clint doesn’t return again. It would be just like him, but he might consider that pushing as well. Phil finally stretches and putters back to the kitchen to both finish his cup of coffee and finish planning the day. Their first date, that they’re both aware is a date. He feels like that should be an important factor.

With nothing else to distract him, he finds himself drifting off into his head, and before he knows it his coffee is stone cold and his cereal a touch too soggy. He’s also still got the residual hormones running through him from Clint’s goodbye. He briefly thinks about using it for a few careful human sexuality experiments as he spies his laptop from across the room, but he thinks maybe that’s a good way to complicate things. He barely knows how to find good heterosexual porn; God knows what he’d find if he went looking for the gay stuff.

Still, his daydreaming has done nothing but make him throb with tension and he has a funny feeling that’s going to be something he’ll need to get used to all over again. Instead he takes a long shower, savoring the feel of his hand wrapped around his cock, imagining Clint pressing close to him, his body trembling with arousal, clutching at Phil tightly. He doesn’t even need to imagine things that haven’t happened this time; he’s got plenty from that unexpected kiss in the kitchen. The spark of something hot and a fiery had been created in that kiss and it is making Phil’s hand feel like absolute heaven as he thrusts into the tight, slick fist it makes.

He braces an arm against the cool tile as his orgasm pools low in his belly and its intensity is a shock — long slow burns involving nothing more than his own personal frustrations haven’t been part of his life for a while, but if he’s going to be seeing Clint, he’ll have to get used to that again as well. He’s still panting by the time the shower finishes washing all the evidence down the drain.

It’s patently obvious that there’s something going on between them, something worth pursuing, worth taking a long and deep look at himself and deciding if this is worth an entire remaking of his self-image. Clint’s softly smiling face flashes behind his eyes and he knows that his instincts have already decided it’s worth a certain amount of personal discomfort. That doesn’t mean he’s convinced he’ll be ready for anything approaching mutual orgasms for a while. Which means he has a couple of cycles of mildly frustrating hours of arousal to look forward to. At least they’ll be capped off by spending some quality time alone, rediscovering the plethora of the ways orgasms can become brighter, hotter and more intense with a protracted and stymied wait to get through before them.