For a government spook, Coulson, Philip A. wasn’t a half bad guy. Over the years of being bounced around government agencies and handed off from handler to handler Clint had learned how to get a feel for the people behind the suit. Some handlers weighed the pros and cons of genocide versus assassination by ‘what will get me promoted’, some didn’t want to know anything about Clint’s work, some wanted to know too much about Clint’s work. Clint was an assassin, and a good one, and before ending up on Nick Fury’s spook squad (the name of which changed as often as where funding came from) Clint had been considering finding employment with employers who weren’t so tied to the American dollar.
Not just because of the politics (which sucked) but also because the dollar was really starting to tank.
But Fury’s spook squad fit him. From Coulson to the underlings to Fury himself.
There was just one small, itty bitty problem. Clint would almost call it miniscule except for the fact that it wasn’t. It was in fact a hideously gross large deformity that was firmly attached to his handlers face. It was big, it was hairy, and it looked like it was going nowhere fast. After all it had probably taken Coulson some time to grow and groom that large a caterpillar, Clint just wondered why no one had told Coulson that eventually caterpillars were supposed to evolve into butterflies and that his mustache was doing him no favors at all.
“Mister Barton.” Clint tore his eyes away from the offence to god and man and refocused his gaze on Coulson’s entire face. Coulson’s eyes were narrowed seriously and his mouth was squashed together in an unfortunate line that was half as wide as his mustache. “Were you listening to me?”
“…yes.” Clint said after a brief internal debate about whether he had retained enough of the conversation to pass it off as remembering everything. He was pretty good at listening when not listening, actually, but sometimes he slipped up.
Wrinkles began to furrow Coulson’s forehead. One of these days Coulson’s face was going to freeze that way. “So if I asked you to repeat your mission parameters back to me…”
Ah, that was easy. Clint rattled off the facts of the mission all while ‘not’ staring hard at Coulson’s grotesque furry parasite.
The mustache HAD to go.
The problem with ‘the plan to destroy Coulson’s mustache’ was that Coulson didn’t exactly spend a lot of time with him in the field. That and the ‘way too long a name to even bother pronouncing and it’ll probably change next week’ agency kept Clint hopping one way and Coulson hopping the other and they only met up between missions when Clint had to file a report and Coulson had to make sure his Ts were crossed and his Is were dotted. Clint could see that Coulson was an active agent; it wasn’t something simple like spotting muscles bulging through a suit or a wound showing up on Coulson’s face showing he’d been on active duty. First off, Coulson would never buy a suit that fit him so tightly or so poorly that his muscles were obvious, second he never appeared to get injured on his missions, at least not that Clint could tell.
Coulson did not move like most active field agents did, there was no subtle sense of power or menace, nothing about him that screamed ‘spook’ right off the bat. Clint, being the kind of guy who spotted things, knew Coulson had been in the field by the changes of Coulson’s tan, the subtle shifts to his shoulders, the dirt under his nails or the worn sole of his shoe.
He also knew because he had spent a lot of time flirting with the secretary pool.
“You know, you and I should have a competition.” Clint leaned insolently back in his chair and waited. Coulson looked up slowly from the reports, like the reports were so much more interesting than Clint’s not-so-subtle play for attention and power. “I hear you’re a pretty good shot.”
Coulson raised his eyebrows. “If I could hope to compete with you, Mr. Barton, then we are employing the wrong man.”
“I’m not saying I wouldn’t give myself a handicap or something! My bow and arrows against your gun, c’mon.”
The smile should have tipped Clint off that something was up but he didn’t really realize that until they’d finished destroying all the possible targets at the shooting range his Nair arrow (homemade, patent pending) had somehow been used as an extremely poor incendiary and not for its designated purpose (freeing Coulson’s face from the oppression of that furry tyrant).
Coulson dusted off his soiled and smudged suit. “Same time next week, Barton?”
Near weekly sessions of destruction did a great deal for their relationship as fellow agents but sadly did nothing for Clint’s relationship to Coulson’s mustache. He could almost, almost ignore the thing… if Coulson was not in the room. On long stake-outs where Clint had nothing to do but freeze his assets off while peering down the sights of a sniper rifle Clint liked to imagine what Coulson might look like without the mustache. Decent, probably, normal, definitely. By destroying the mustache Clint would be doing Coulson a favor, he be better able to blend into the populace!
The nair arrow hadn’t worked (and after Clint had gone back and read the instructions he was kind of sure that it wouldn’t have worked in the first place) and repeated exposure to Clint and a variety of explosives and incendiaries (they had to practice blowing stuff up after all) had yet to even singe the tip of Coulson’s lip rug. So clearly the next step had to be something… more aggressive.
Clint took it upon himself to stalk Coulson in order to discover the man’s barber. Then, obviously, he would bribe said barber and the next time Coulson went in for a trim the yeti would get a little lopsided and oops all of it would have to come off!
Fool proof plan, right?
Clint certainly thought so from his vantage point on the roof of the apartment building diagonally across from Coulson’s apartment building. It was a great view, which was a little surprising since you would have thought that a man with a job like Coulson’s would draw the blinds.
“Who’s he calling?” Was it the barber? Clint would be so lucky.
The phone against Clint’s thigh began to vibrate. Heart sinking Clint fished it out with one hand while keeping the binoculars on target with the other. “Barton.”
“Barton.” Well he sounded amused at least. “Would you like to come inside? I would not want you to catch a cold before your next mission.”
Clint hummed under his breath while he considered it. Surveillance at a distance was not always the preferred method; sometimes up close and personal was what did the trick. “Do I have to sleep on the couch? It looks uncomfortable.”
Coulson chuckled and ended the call. Clint packed up.
(Clint stole the barber’s number from Coulson’s rolodex, unfortunately bribery and threats lead to naught.)
“You’re right.” Natasha said at the end of her first month as one of Nick Fury’s special finds. “The mustache has to go.”
Clint groused into his cup of coffee while the two of them watched Coulson on the other side of the field. It was cold, below freezing, and he was huddled over a cup of coffee with a thick pair of gloves on and a hat pulled down over his ears. Natasha was dressed in a fleecy parka but looked utterly unfazed by the way the wind whistled through her skinny jeans. “It’s not a mustache, it’s a wooly mammoth.”
That earned him a quick silver smile from Natasha before she joined him in leaning against the fence. “I’m sure I could slip in a tranquilizer into his coffee… if you could procure the wax.”
It was probably the cold that had him agreeing, the cold and the fact that Natasha probably was good enough to drug Coulson. Getting a waxing kit was about ten embarrassing minutes at a pharmacy that he never intended to visit again; drugging Coulson was half an hour out of Clint’s lunch break, but getting rid of the furry menace? That was going to make it all worth it.
Natasha signaled that the coast was clear and they rounded the corner to Coulson’s office. The door was slightly ajar, as it always was when Coulson was expecting someone to drop off paperwork. The hinges were well oiled and the door pushed open easily. Clint and Natasha sneaked silently into the office.
Coulson was asleep on the couch along one wall, a couch that existed for the purpose of late nights when Coulson needed to grab an hour’s rest during a 72 hour state of emergency. He looked so comfortable there that Clint briefly considered drugging his coffee more often.
Of course, that was when Coulson rolled over and opened one eye.
“Clint.” Coulson wasn’t even groggy sounding. Natasha had disappeared out the door already and Clint was frozen with a waxing kit in his hands and one foot in the air. “What are you doing?”
“You didn’t drink your coffee.” Clint said in a betrayed tone of voice.
“It tasted funny.” Coulson responded before he turned to face the couch’s back. “Keep me out of your hazing of the Black Widow, Hawkeye.”
The soft sound of snoring followed Clint out of the office.
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
The WSC has decided to audit the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division (Clint was just calling them ‘Stratego’ until someone shortened that shit or they changed the name again) and so anyone not on an active mission had been called in to handle the paperwork and face hours of interviews with WSC pencil pushers. Clint had already done his interviews and he knew that Coulson had been in and out of interviews and meetings since before the audit started.
So when Coulson left for the day Clint knew that by the time the other man fell asleep he wouldn’t wake up until his alarm clock went off or imminent danger threatened. Clint had bullied the guys down in R&D, with some help from Natasha, into getting one of their new fancy suits that allowed you to climb walls. The guys in R&D had warned him that the suit wouldn’t stand up to a few hours of a use but Clint wasn’t planning on using it for hours.
Coulson had gotten used to Clint crashing at his apartment. Clint hadn’t planned on making a habit of it but the other man had a disturbingly comfortable couch and it was… weirdly nice to sleep in the same apartment as Coulson. (Clint had made himself a solemn promise not to dwell on why that was.) So when Clint snuck in later that night and he had to reset the alarm and re-lock the door not a sound came from Coulson’s bedroom.
Clint’s clothes came off and the fancy wall sticking suit was put on. It was easy to get into Coulson’s bedroom, walking quietly while dangling from the ceiling was harder. When Clint was in position he carefully began to unzip the shaving kit.
Which was when the suit failed. Clint dropped onto the bed, right on top of Coulson who startled awake, reached for his gun, and bashed his forehead right into Clint’s nose.
“Ow!” Clint toppled off the bed and hit the floor hard. He did his best to give Coulson puppy eyes without being distracted by the sight of Coulson staring down the sights of a gun at him. “…uh, hi?”
Coulson sighed and slipped the gun back into his beside drawer before offering Clint a hand. “You could just have asked.”
Then he pulled Clint into a kiss.
...Clint kissed back.
Apparently they’d been ‘sort of’ dating for some time. Clint was pretty sure someone should have made him aware of that fact but apparently everyone assumed he’d known. After all, he slept over at Coulson’s (on the couch!) and they ate meals together (but not like date meals except apparently they were). Sprung on him or not Clint had no issues with being in a relationship with Phil Coulson.
Well, only one issue.
“My furry-wurry enemy.” Clint muttered, high on psychotropics after a slightly botched op that had gotten him captured, beaten, and drugged before he had freed himself, dispatched with his kidnappers, and signaled SHIELD for clean-up. He was succumbing to the drugs now, his head lolled against the starchy pillow while blue and green scrubbed doctors wandered around the edge of his vision. “My fuzzy-wuzzy nemesis.”
“…Clint.” A warm, calloused hand was pressed to the side of Clint’s face and he turned to look at the person the hand was connected to. Coulson was as fuzzy as his mustache and Clint, who only ever saw things in crystal clear quality, smiled widely. “…how are you feeling?”
“Fuzzy.” Clint admitted. “Blurry. Out of focus.” He blinked slowly and tried really, really hard to bring the sharp edges back to Coulson’s face. “High. Oh, hey, Phil, I’m hiiiiiiiiiigh.”
Then he giggled.
The warm hand patted Clint’s cheek lightly before withdrawing and Clint pouted. He wanted that hand back, it was warm and nice and Coulson always knew just how to touch him.
“I’ve filled out all the forms.” Warm hands on his shoulders now, pushing him into a sitting position and oh hey, were those his clothes? Pants, yes, he wanted pants. “You’re being released into my care.”
“Awww, I care for you too, Phil.” Clint stumbled into Coulson while pulling on pants, planting his face securely in Coulson’s shoulder. Coulson wrapped a steady arm around Clint’s waist. “All of you.” He muttered into Coulson scented cloth and the promise of warm flesh underneath. “Except your fuzzy-wuzzy mustache. It’s like kissing a wire brush.”
Coulson stiffened slightly but Clint didn’t notice; he was too busy wrestling his shirt on. The sleeves were attempting to either defeat him or tie him up and Clint didn’t like the thought of either. After all, if he was tied up he wouldn’t be able to go to Phil’s and sleep on his comfortable couch.
His head was killing him. Clint lifted his head from the extremely comfortable pillow his face was stuck in and blinked blearily at the headboard to Coulson’s bed. “…hey.” He greeted the headboard. Besides the headache he felt normal, a little more lethargic than usual but his body was bruised and a little bloody from the treatment of his captors so he wasn’t that surprised. Carefully, Clint pushed himself to a sitting position.
His head throbbed and he pressed a hand carefully to his temple.
He walked slowly to the bathroom, careful to brace himself against the bedside table, then Coulson’s dresser, and finally the wall. He could hear water running in the bathroom but it sounded like it was coming from the sink and not a shower. Clint knocked on the door, two raps which made his head hurt like someone had kicked it. “Phil?”
The water turned off. “Just a minute Clint.”
Clint pressed his forehead against the wall and nodded even though Coulson couldn’t see it. A minute? Sure he could wait a minute. There were muffled noises from inside the bathroom and on any other day Clint might attempt to figure out what Coulson was doing but he was not up to that right then. Instead he waited, patiently, until the door to the bathroom opened and an already half-dressed Phil (suit pants and undershirt) motioned him inside.
Clint nodded and then continued his careful walk until he hit Coulson’s shower. He probably should have realized he and Coulson were dating when he moved shampoo and a toothbrush into the other man’s bathroom.
What could he say? He could be incredibly unobservant.
Feeling slightly better after the shower, a shave, and a handful of non-prescription painkillers Clint shuffled into the kitchen. “Do I have to go in today?” He whined while he poured himself a cup of Coulson’s coffee. Coulson looked up from his breakfast of toast and coffee to almost smirk at Clint over his paper.
“No, you are off duty for at least week.”
Clint knew he’d be whining about that in another day or two but decided not to complain right then, instead he bent down and gave Coulson a coffee flavored post-psychotropics kiss. The lack of toast and coffee scented bristle attack made Clint pull back in surprise.
Coulson was smirking at him.
“You said you hated my mustache.”