Written for a prompt ("Roughhousing/playing together") at Round 1 of Clint/Coulson bingo.
It happens in the space of an indrawn breath, between the widening of Phil's eyes as he slides his hands down to Clint's wrists for better grip and the beginning of a laugh that dies in his throat when he feels Clint seize up underneath him. Before Phil has even had time to register anything beyond not good, he's flung his hands wide out to both sides, non-threatening, and Clint is scrambling away from him, back out of his reach.
It's only a second or two before they're staring at each other across a six-foot gap, breathing hard. Clint's chest is heaving, arms wrapped protectively around himself as his adrenaline-washed gaze meets Phil's.
Phil gives him time before asking, "What happened?" Simple, bland, unemotional; he's information-gathering, not judging, and the wild look leaves Clint's eyes a little as he drops his arms and sidles a few inches closer to Phil.
"Just… just don't grab me like that, okay?" he manages, and even as the rational part of Phil's brain takes notes – no wrists, no arms behind his back – the other part, the part where Clint is already deeper-ingrained than Phil is comfortable admitting, is cursing him for not having thought of that in advance.
There's no way he could have anticipated this, of course, but then, that's why this isn't the rational part of his brain.
He wants to ask why, wants to know what happened to Clint to make him go from laughing, wrestling, mischievous sparks in his eyes to this with just one touch – but this thing they have is still new and apprehensive and fragile, and Phil's not sure he's earned the right to ask those questions yet.
They'll get there, if he's careful and learns from mistakes like this.
"Is this okay?" he asks, closing the gap between them and slipping one arm around Clint's shoulders.
Clint leans into him, yielding to the touch. "It's fine," he says. "It's good. But there's one problem…"
"What?" Phil asks, poised, waiting, ready to back away if Clint asks him to.
"It's unprotected," Clint says, and his grin flickers back to life as he launches himself at Phil.