Clint’s just finishing getting dressed when there’s a commotion on the first floor followed by Tony’s voice floating up the stairs.
“Clinton, your young man’s here,” he calls in a warbling falsetto.
Clint grins, tucking his shirt into his pants and checking his hair in the mirror. “Coming, Mom,” he yells back and he’s probably imagining the sigh he hears from Phil but it makes him laugh anyway.
The mansion is crazy big and Phil never comes to the front door – mostly so he can try to avoid Tony, Clint is pretty sure – so Clint heads through to the lounge above the garage, looking for him there.
Phil is standing on one side of the room. He’s alone, which is unexpected since the others are always clamouring for his attention whenever he stops by – well, okay, not just the others, Clint too – and he looks damn fine, dressed up in grey slacks and a black button down.
“Hey,” Clint says, taking advantage of the fact that they’re alone to step up and kiss Phil’s mouth.
Phil pulls back, one hand on Clint’s hip and just kind of looks at him. Clint makes a face, confused.
“What?” he asks, looking down at himself as well. There’s no toothpaste down his shirt or anything else that Phil might object to, at least as far as he can tell.
Phil shakes his head. “You look good,” he says and there’s still something off about his voice but Clint isn’t going to press him. If Phil’s having some kind of emotion, he’s not going to tell Clint and Clint wouldn’t know what to do with it if he did.
“What did you do with Stark?” Clint asks. “Are we gonna start noticing a weird smell under the carpet in a couple of days?”
“Please,” Phil says, “I know how to hide a body better than that.”
Clint takes hold of the hand Phil has left on his hip and pulls him across the room. “Which is why you’re the coolest,” he agrees. “Ready?”
“Yes,” Phil says, sounding weird again, much firmer than Clint would expect considering they’re just going out to grab some dinner.
“Sure everything’s okay?” Clint asks when they’re in the elevator down to the parking lot. He could say sure you’re okay? but they only ever go that far when one of them’s bleeding out.
“Yes,” Phil says shortly then stops, takes a breath and squeezes Clint’s hand. “Sorry, long day. Not helped by Stark’s…”
“Existence?” Clint offers since Phil is obviously trying to be polite.
Phil laughs. “Exactly.” He pulls Clint closer and kisses the corner of his mouth. “You do look great.”
Clint has no idea what to say to that. It’s an old shirt but the jeans are new and he feels kind of dumb about having gone shopping just because Phil told him to dress up a bit tonight.
“If I wasn’t sure JARVIS was recording it, I’d shove you up against the nearest wall,” Clint says at last. It’s not really got anything to do with anything, except that it’s true. Phil was in Lima for three weeks, only got back this afternoon; if Clint had his way, they’d be skipping dinner and heading straight to the bedroom.
Phil’s eyes flick up to the two visible cameras positioned in opposite corners of the elevator. “JARVIS, a little privacy?”
“Of course, sir,” JARVIS says, “Although I’m afraid I can only guarantee forty-three point five seconds before Mr Stark becomes curious.”
“That’ll do fine,” Phil tells him, apparently not in the least embarrassed to be bargaining for make-out time with an AI.
The elevator glides to a smooth halt, going dark except for the green emergency light. Clint laughs, surprised by the force that Phil uses to pin him to the mirrored wall. Phil kisses him as though it’s been three years rather than three weeks, leaving Clint with nothing to do but curl his hands around Phil’s shoulders and rub shamelessly up against his hip.
“Fuck,” Clint says feelingly once their forty-three point five seconds are over and the doors are opening, leaving them blinking at each other in the harsh light from the parking lot.
Phil clears his throat. “We can skip dinner, if you want,” he offers.
It’s tempting. It’s really fucking tempting. But Phil wanted to take Clint out to dinner and they pretty much never get to go on real dates, so, “Nah,” Clint says, “I’m hungry now. You promised me food.”
Normally, Clint can read Phil really well, but right now, he can’t tell if he’s relieved or disappointed. To be honest, he just looks constipated. Clint wonders what happened on the Peru mission and if that’s the reason for Phil’s not-quite-Phil-like behaviour.
“Come on then,” Phil says, walking around to the driver’s side door of his weekend car, a damn fine convertible that he never normally brings within a hundred miles of anything Avengers-related. “I got us a table at this new Thai place in the city. It got a, um, a good write-up in the inflight magazine.”
Clint blinks. Since when does Phil have time to read inflight magazines? Besides, they normally go to the local diner or, if they’re feeling particularly adventurous, Sbarros. He checks the date in his head – it’s not his birthday, it’s not Phil’s birthday and they both pretend not to know when their anniversary is. (It’s not today.)
“Okay,” he says slowly because he’s not going to ask. He drops into the car and swings his feet up onto the dash, smirking sideways at Phil when he grumbles under his breath but doesn’t ask Clint to move them.
“You can pick the music,” Phil says, which is another surprise since Phil is kind of anal about that.
“Seriously, it’s not my birthday, is it?” Clint asks. Sometimes they lose a month or so Avenging, so possibly he should check.
“No,” Phil says and puts the car in drive.
Okay, then. Clint fiddles with the radio until he finds a classic rock station then kicks back and air guitars along to some Zeppelin.
The restaurant is small and dimly lit – for the atmosphere, Clint guesses; that or they can’t be bothered to spruce up their paint job. The waitress leads them to a table in a quiet corner; it’s so small that their knees bump when they sit down, but Clint kind of likes that.
“Sorry,” Phil says, trying to move his knees to the side.
Clint drops his hand down and rests it on Phil’s thigh. “It’s okay,” he says.
Phil smiles at him, quick and distracted, then orders a beer. Clint does the same and the waitress leaves them alone.
“Sorry,” Phil says again. “I thought this place would be… bigger.”
Clint would seriously like to know why Phil wants tonight to be so goddamn special. They’ve grabbed dinner together a million times by now and they’ve been apart way longer than three weeks before.
“I like it,” Clint tells him honestly.
Phil doesn’t answer, just focuses on unfolding his napkin, apparently concentrating hard on spreading it out across his lap.
The waitress reappears, setting down their beers and taking their food orders. She keeps shooting little looks at Phil, which make Clint feel smug; damn right, his boyfriend is the hottest.
“She likes you,” he sing-songs once she’s out of earshot.
Phil rolls his eyes. “Right. She’s probably just seen me on the news trailing after you guys and she’s telling me with her eyes to pick a new career.”
“Nope.” Clint leans back in his chair, arms folded across his chest. “She thinks you’re damn fine and she wants to have your little ninja-waitress babies.”
Phil’s blushing, just a little splash of colour across each cheek but it’s enough to make him glare at Clint, which is basically one of Clint’s favourite things ever.
“Shouldn’t you be jealous, then?” he asks, like he’s humouring Clint.
Clint shakes his head. They’ve foolishly left a little bowl of toothpicks in the centre of the table and it’s taking a lot of effort not to start pinging them around the room. “Just means I have awesome taste.”
Phil rolls his eyes so Clint grins harder at him. He reaches for a couple of toothpicks but Phil’s quicker, tugging the bowl across the table and out of Clint’s immediate reach. “Behave,” he says sternly.
Clint pokes his tongue out. Phil sticks his face in his beer, probably to hide a smile.
They chat easily over dinner. Everything’s easy with Phil; which makes him different from pretty much everyone else. Clint’s great at talking but pretty shitty at maintaining a conversation.
Phil’s still jittery though, a tension in his spine and shoulders, even when he starts in on his second beer.
“Hey,” Clint says, dropping his fork onto his now-empty plate and leaning forward. “You’re not being shipped off to Asgard for the next millennium, are you?”
Phil just blinks at him, so that’s probably not the answer then. (Good.)
“You’re just being kind of – ” Clint waves a hand, not really sure how to phrase normally, I make you more relaxed, without sounding weird or needy.
“Oh.” Phil clears his throat and looks away.
Clint definitely does not start to imagine life in a post-Phil world. Clint is secure in his relationship, thank you very much. (A post-Phil world would involve a fuck load of alcohol and, Clint suspects, some alarmingly phrased pep talks from Thor.)
Phil puts down his cutlery and squares his shoulders. “I’m going to ask you something,” he says and then pauses and doesn’t ask Clint anything at all.
“Yeah?” Clint asks, leaning forward and resting his elbows on the table. “Is it kinky?” It isn’t, obviously; Phil never has a problem suggesting anything when it comes to sex.
Phil shakes his head. He looks up, catching and holding Clint’s eyes. Clint doesn’t make any more smartass comments. “Marry me?” Phil asks.
Clint’s brain goes momentarily offline. Phil’s still looking at him, pale and still constipated-looking. Clint moves his mouth but it takes a while for sounds to come out.
The word he finally settles on is: “How?”
Phil’s shoulders relax the tiniest fraction, like this is a question he’s prepared for in advance. (Of course it is.) “City Hall. Non-disclosure agreements. Potentially fake names.”
“Oh.” Clint nods. For some reason, he’s finding it really hard not to laugh. Maybe he’s in shock. “That does sound real romantic.”
Phil winces, which is problem since Clint had just been running his mouth; he hadn’t meant it as a real complaint. “I know it would be awkward,” he says slowly, “and I know I’m not destiny’s dream man or anything, but I would like to. If you would.”
Clint finds that he’s nodding and then finds that he’s okay with that. “Yeah,” he says then clears his throat, figuring this deserves a whole word. “Yes.”
Phil smiles. It’s bright and blinding and only lasts a second before he reins it in to something more dignified but it’s still everything Clint needs to convince himself that this is the right decision.
“But,” he says, feeling brave. “No fake names. If I’m marrying you – ” Shit, saying that makes his heart fucking pound. “It’s as me, not… William Brandt or Aaron Cross or anyone else I’ve ever been.”
“Right, okay.” Phil nods seriously, like he’d be writing that down as an action point if he had a notebook with him. “I can work with that.”
It’s Clint’s turn to smile. He reaches under the table and squeezes Phil’s knee hard. “Seriously?” he asks quietly. “You want to?”
Phil lays his hand briefly over Clint’s. “I seriously want to,” he assures him.
“What are you doing?” Natasha asks, propping her chin up on a fist and watching Clint across the kitchen counter.
Clint tosses a pancake and looks at her pointedly. “Guess.”
Natasha shows him her middle finger without lifting her head. “You’re humming. You’re making breakfast and humming.”
Clint thinks back. It’s possible he was humming. Queen, even. That’s not the most embarrassing thing he’s ever done in front of Natasha though, not even this week, so he’s not worried about it.
“Shut up or I won’t let you have any pancakes,” he tells her. He likes mornings like this, before the others are up. The only thing that would make it better would be if Phil were here too, but Fury called him in early this morning, so of course he’d had to go.
Natasha rolls her eyes. “You do know that you could never stop me stealing one anyway.”
Clint opens his mouth to argue then closes it again. That’s probably a fair point. “Ah, but no one can add the maple syrup like I can.”
Natasha just smiles at him blandly, neither agreeing nor disagreeing out loud which, in Natasha speak, means she agrees. Clint was the one to introduce Natasha to proper American breakfast foods, so he likes to think that makes it a little bit special.
Clint drops a towering plate of pancakes in front of her then serves up another for himself. Once she’s busy eating, he kicks her ankle under the table. “If I tell you something, will you keep it a secret?”
“From who?” she asks, probably wisely.
Clint shrugs. “Fury, mainly. And the rest of SHIELD. Oh and the other Avengers.”
“So everyone, basically.” Natasha shakes her head at him. “But not Phil.”
“Well, no,” Clint agrees. “Be a bit hard to do that.”
Natasha’s eyes narrow and she chews contemplatively on her pancakes. “All right,” she says. “Tell me.” She makes it sound like she’s doing him a favour, but he knows how much she likes to know everything.
He leans over the table, lowering his voice so JARVIS won’t hear and murmurs, “Phil wants to get married.”
Natasha makes a soft noise of surprise. Her eyes go wide and interested, mouth curling up into a smile. “Huh,” she says slowly. “Fancy that. He never said a word.”
Clint sinks back into his chair. “Maybe he didn’t want to hurt your delicate feelings,” he teases.
In their time, he and Phil and Natasha have been all kinds of incestuous. It was him and Natasha first, then him and Natasha and Phil for a couple of dark, cold nights in Belgrade. Then there was some serious stupidity, but they got that sorted out and it’s been him and Phil ever since.
Natasha hits him on the arm. It hurts, which is how he knows she’s really pleased for him. “Congratulations.”
Clint bites the inside of his mouth so he won’t smile too widely. “Yeah, well,” he says, like this isn’t a big fucking deal to him.
“All right, listen up.” Phil claps his hands together and everyone stops talking with varying degrees of speed.
Thor and Tony, naturally, are the last to finish their conversation and only after Steve smacks Tony on the arm.
“Ow, ow,” Tony says. “Hit him, he’s the one telling me about the great and glorious blood sacrifice of the – ”
“Some other time, Stark,” Phil sighs and then looks around. “Where’s Barton?”
Clint grins and doesn’t move.
Phil’s shoulders twitch minutely. He looks across at Natasha, like he can read the answer in her expression, but he can’t, of course, not if she doesn’t want him to.
“Hawkeye,” Phil says. It’s supposed to sound warning, but Clint knows how far he can push him and they’re nowhere near there yet.
Phil straightens and turns around, walking slowly toward the desk at the front of the meeting room. Clint watches him pick up a pen, weighing it in his hands, and tenses, biting his lip so he doesn’t laugh.
“Perhaps he has dematerialised?” Thor offers. “My brother used to do that when he did not want to spend time listening to our grandmother’s war stories.”
“No, I don’t think so,” Phil says thoughtfully while everyone tries to pretend that it isn’t awkward when Thor reminisces about Loki. “No, I think he’s a lot closer than that.” The pen bounces in his hand once, twice and then flies up, cutting through the shadowed rafters and thwacking Clint on the underside of his chin.
It’s probably a lucky shot but it hurts and Clint doesn’t bother to hold back his grunt.
He swings backwards, holding himself up by his knees and smirks down at Phil. “Ow,” he says mildly, “If you missed me that much, you could have just called.”
Phil rolls his eyes. “Get down,” he says, long-suffering and on the edge of a laugh that he won’t let through.
“I don’t know,” Clint says, “I’m pretty comfortable.”
“I’ll throw another pen at you,” Phil warns.
“Or I could throw a knife at him?” Natasha offers because she’s a traitor.
“Maybe later,” Phil agrees and twitches his head at Clint. It means, fun’s over, come down now so Clint does.
He rights himself then drops down and lands in the empty seat between Thor and Tony, who leans over and coughs out, “Whipped.”
Clint flips him off. He wouldn’t have come down if he hadn’t wanted to, but he’d only been playing, didn’t have any interest in making Phil pissed.
“Thank you,” Phil says, bright gaze bouncing off Clint. “Now, unless anyone wants to dangle out the window or swing from the light fittings – no, Thor, that wasn’t an invitation – let’s get down to business.”
He spends a half hour briefing them on the newest exciting alien threat (science-y, boring, Clint might get to shoot something but this won’t need his expert knowledge) then dismisses them until they’re needed.
“Barton,” Phil says as everyone else is filing out.
Clint stops and sits down on the table, ignoring the look Steve gives him like he can’t decide if Clint’s about to get in trouble, in which case he should stay like a good team leader, or get laid, in which case he should run far away like a good friend.
Clint doesn’t know either, but if anyone cares, he votes for option two.
“Yeah, yeah, I know,” he says, once they’re alone in the room. “Just because we’re screwing, I don’t get to disrupt briefings.” They’ve had this conversation a lot. Sometimes, he wonders why Phil persevered with this, with them in the first place; Clint was a shit back in the beginning.
“No,” Phil agrees. “Don’t do that again.” He taps his fingers on the table beside Clint’s knee. “But that’s not what I wanted to talk about.”
Clint frowns. “Sir?”
“No,” Phil says, expression flittering rapidly past uncomfortable back into bland. “The other thing.”
Clint smiles. “Phil?”
Phil laughs, shaking his head. They have rules for how they do this, the thing where they’re together and the thing where Phil’s his boss.
“I was thinking,” he says, “about what we talked about yesterday.”
Clint’s chest feels suddenly tight but he pushes that away. Phil isn’t taking it back. For one, he wouldn’t and for another, he wouldn’t do it here.
“Yeah?” he asks casually.
“Yeah.” Phil’s mouth quirks. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a piece of paper. “I’ve found someone at City Hall who’ll make the arrangements, absolute discretion guaranteed, we just have to tell them when.”
Huh. Clint isn’t relieved because he wasn’t worried. “When?” he asks. “Well, I don’t know, I’m marrying Hill next month and Fury in May but I can probably fit you in in June.”
Phil punches him, but only lightly and on his non-dominant arm. It’s not very professional, not for Agent Coulson when the security cameras are on him, which tells Clint how keyed up Phil is over all this.
“Hey,” Clint says, dropping his smartass tone for a minute or so. “I don’t care when we do it. I’d marry you tomorrow, if you wanted.”
Phil frowns slightly, like he’s thinking about it. Clint waits. He did mean that literally, so if Phil can work out how, Clint’s totally on board.
“Not tomorrow,” Phil says, “but Thursday?”
Clint laughs, a little hysterical bubble of oh my god building up in his lungs. “Sure,” he says. “Thursday’s good for me.”
It turns out that Thursday isn’t a good day for anyone.
It’s not like Clint woke up thinking Golly gosh, today’s my wedding day! like some of the brides on Phil’s damn reality TV shows, but he still thinks it sucks that, at the exact moment when he’s supposed to be legally binding Phil to him for all time, he’s instead being dangled upside down into the fucking Hudson by a robot spider-thing with way too many legs made up of way too many joints.
“Hawk…” Dunk. “… Eye.” Dunk. “Do…” Dunk. “Copy…?”
Clint twists in the grip of the Robot Spider-Thing, but he can’t get an arm free to shoot it in one of its hundreds of creepy eyes.
“Copy,” he manages, before being dunked again. River water tastes foul; he could have guessed that without ever needing to have it proven.
He twists and finally manages to get an elbow into one of the many creepy joints on one of the many creepy legs.
“Seriously,” he grumps, “look at this guy, doesn’t he know we have places to be?”
The Robot Spider tries to dunk him again but he twists, using his elbow as a pivot to swing around. It tears at something in his shoulder that he probably didn’t want torn which hurts like fuck, but he manages to get an arm free.
“Got a hot date, Hawkeye?” Tony asks. He’s hovering around just behind the Robot Spider’s left shoulder, not quite close enough for Clint to reach yet.
“Oh yeah,” Clint says, “If you’re good, I’ll tell you all about it.”
He’s starting to think he’s done something really alarming to his left arm; it’s numb down to the elbow and he can’t move his fingers. He’s not letting go but he can’t get himself anywhere else either, not with only one good arm and his legs still trapped.
“Yeah, thanks for the offer but no thanks,” Tony tells him and darts down underneath Clint. He fires off a round of lasers and the Robot Spider clanks worryingly.
“Um,” Clint says, “Someone’s going to catch me when this thing goes, right?”
“Hulk catch,” Hulk booms from below. Hulk has a radio but he really doesn’t need one; Clint can hear him in stereo.
“Thanks, dude,” Clint calls.
“Hawkeye.” New voice, Steve this time. “On three, I need you to let go, okay? You really won’t want to be attached to that thing in a minute.”
“Gladly,” Clint agrees, “but I’m kind of trapped, right now?”
“On three,” Steve repeats.
Clint sighs. “Why’s it always three? Seven’s my lucky number.”
“Why?” Natasha asks, interested, just as Steve says, “One, two.”
Iron Man’s repulsors fire and Thor yells out something in Norse from way down on the ground. Lightning hits from above, the repulsors hit from below and Clint lets go.
The Robot Spider jerks and flails, releasing Clint’s legs a second before the twin lines of white fire smash into each other, pretty much exactly where Clint was holding on a second before.
Clint falls, the wind rushing up into his face, buffering him around, but he’s not actually worried. Any second now and – Ow.
Yep. Hulk always catches him and it always fucking hurts.
“Thanks,” Clint says anyway because there’s basically nothing as sad as a hurt and pouting Hulk. He taps his ear. “That was a terrible plan, guys.”
“Hey.” Tony buzzes down as Hulk sets Clint back on his feet. “Got you out of there, didn’t we? Now, can you please turn your radio to channel seven and ask your bo- ask HQ to stop screaming in my damn ear.”
Bemused, Clint retunes his radio. “HQ?”
“For the record,” Phil says, sounding perfectly calm. “There was no screaming.”
Clint grins. “Course not,” he agrees. He rubs ruefully at his throbbing arm. “Hey, so, meet you in the medbay in twenty?”
Phil doesn’t make a sound but Clint can see him shaking his head. “I had no other plans,” he lies dryly.
“Sorry,” Clint says, once they’re back in Phil’s apartment and Clint is gingerly trying to find a comfortable place to lie that won’t jar his dislocated shoulder or annoy any of the bruises that came from falling really far and really fast into grasping green hands.
Phil finishes shrugging on a t-shirt and climbs into bed beside him. “It’s okay. Shall we call that the trial run?”
“Yeah.” Clint decides there is no good way to position himself and flops onto his back. This is not ideal. He can’t sleep on his back – unless he’s on a mission, in which case he can sleep standing up, if he has to – and he was definitely supposed to be having honeymoon sex right about now.
“I can hear you pouting,” Phil says and scoots closer. He puts his hands on Clint, rearranging him like he’s a ragdoll, which Clint allows for once, because he feels like a ragdoll. Clint ends up on his less bruised side, his recently un-dislocated arm spread across Phil’s chest.
Phil can’t sleep well on his back, either, but he shushes Clint when Clint tries to point that out.
“Will your friend at City Hall be mad?” Clint asks eventually.
“You mean can we reschedule?” Phil asks.
Clint did mean exactly that, but for some reason he feels like if he’s too invested in this, it’ll all just fall apart. Kind of like it did today. “Sure.”
“How’s the fifteenth?” Phil asks.
Clint shrugs, then regrets it because it hurts. “Shoulder should be healed by then,” he says.
“That’s what I was thinking,” Phil says then reaches over Clint to turn off the light.
The fifteenth is a Friday, which is usually a pretty quiet day in the superhero world. They actually manage to get as far as the car and half way onto the freeway before the call comes in.
Phil punches the steering wheel once, pretty hard, before saying, “Yes, sir, we’ll be right there.”
Clint laughs as soon as Phil’s disconnected the call. He can’t help it; this is just too ridiculous. Then he finds he kind of can’t stop laughing, one hand over his face to try to muffle it while Phil glares at him.
“Sorry,” Clint gasps, “Sorry, I’m sorry, but - ”
Phil makes a bitten off noise, which could have been a growl but is definitely a laugh. “Stop it,” he says crossly, but he’s flushed and smiling too wide like he’s caught up in the same schadenfreude-like hysteria as Clint.
They’re still kind of punchy when they pull up to the giant crater in the middle of Broadway that SHIELD called them in for. Hill gives them a weird look then clearly decides she’s not going to ask, which is sensible of her, but then Hill is probably the only actually sensible person Clint knows.
Phil walks off with her, accepting three clipboards that she hands him in rapid succession. Clint spies the others jogging over to him so waits where he is.
“Hi,” Steve says, then frowns slightly. “How come you’re all dressed up?”
Clint definitely does not blush. Definitely not. He’s not even really dressed up; he’s just wearing a buttondown and nicer pants than normal. “Eh,” he says, shrugging, “nothing exciting, just an, um. Just a wedding.”
Natasha’s eyes shoot up questioningly, a definite did you? Clint shakes his head slightly and she subsides, looking disappointed.
“Wedding?” Tony asks, sounding affronted. “Who do you know that I don’t?”
“Lots of people,” Clint tells him cheerfully, taking the crossbow that one of the baby junior agents runs up to him with. “But who says it was someone you don’t know? Maybe it was someone who just doesn’t like you.”
“Nonsense,” Tony says, “everyone likes me.”
“What is a wedding?” Thor asks, looking intrigued. They’re all circling the crater now but nothing’s come out of it yet so apparently even Steve thinks they’re okay to talk.
“Handfasting,” Bruce says before Clint can try to stumble his way through an explanation that makes any sense.
“Ah.” Thor nods. “I was unaware that couples still participated in such practices. When I suggested it to my Jane, she was less than pleased.”
Everyone blinks as one. “You proposed to Jane?” Steve asks, looking pleased. Of course he looks pleased, Steve is a total closet romantic, which just makes it sadder that he doesn’t have anyone of his own to propose to.
“I asked her if she wished to be my woman, but she became angry and threw me out of her apartment. I was naked at the time.” Thor sounds puzzled rather than upset and Clint has to bite his lip really hard not to laugh.
“Probably it was the way you asked,” he suggests. “Maybe take her to dinner next time. Maybe don’t do it right after you’ve gotten laid. People tend not to believe shit guys say straight after sex.”
Clint told Phil he loved him for the first time right after sex. Clint knows what he’s taking about.
Thor nods. “Is there still much feasting and rejoicing?”
“Totally,” Tony tells him. “Less swapping swords with your lady or whatever now, though.” He coughs and glances at Clint and does that thing that Tony does sometimes where he tries overly hard not to be a dick. “Or not just ladies. Men can marry men in New York now, women can marry women. All that jazz.”
Thor frowns. “That was always so in Asgard,” he tells him, which makes Natasha laugh at the expression on Tony’s face.
Clint ignores everyone and peers into the crater. “Huh,” he says. “Did you guys know there’s shit moving about down there?”
“What kind of shi- stuff?” Steve asks, leaning over beside Clint.
“There.” It’s faint and oddly red, little moving whirls and - “Get back!”
He pushes on Steve’s chest, knocking him backwards half a step just as the whole twisting, curving mess of what-the-fuck-ever explodes out of the crater. Off to the other side, he hears Tony and Natasha yell and, a moment later, Hulk roars.
There’s heat coming off the... it looks like lava, except it’s red, burning snakes rather than magma.
“Holy fuck,” Clint manages, staring.
“Yeah,” Steve says and things must be bad because he doesn’t even blush at the curse.
There’s a crackle in Clint’s ear and then, “Avengers?” Phil shouts. “Don’t just stand there looking at it, pull back right now.”
“But it’s so pretty,” Clint grumbles, backing up one step then another.
It’s only when he’s falling in beside the other, clustered around one of the SHIELD cars, that he realises just how much heat the snake magma was giving off and he shivers reflexively in the clearer air.
It doesn’t go unnoticed by Phil who shoots him a questioning look.
Clint shakes his head. He’s fine.
“What is it?” Natasha asks, staring up mesmerised like the rest of them. Clint wasn’t just being facetious; it really is pretty.
“Um?” Clint isn’t going to offer glowy fire snakes because that only sounds likely inside his own head. He shivers again, still feeling weirdly cold and rubs his hands together.
“Barton?” Phil asks quietly while Tony is sounding ideas off Hill who’s just looking at him like she’s waiting for him to start speaking English. They’re all waiting for that though, and Clint suspects it won’t ever happen.
“I’m fine, sir,” Clint says, except he might not be. He can’t stop shivering, fingers turning white and fingernails washing blue as he watches them.
Phil reaches out as though he’s going to test Clint’s temperature, which Clint would jerk away from since they just never do that in the field, but he can’t move quick enough and Phil presses his hand to Clint’s forehead, brisk and efficient.
Clint is so warm for the second or two that their skin is touching but, suddenly, he’s far too warm, something like fire flashing across his skin.
Phil lets go with a sharp, startled sound, staring down at his palm, which is purpling up like a bad ice burn.
“Fuck,” Clint says, belatedly shoving his hands in his pockets. “Fuck, are you okay?”
Everyone’s looking at them now and Phil’s still staring at his hand like he can’t quite work out if it hurts enough to admit to or not. “Fine,” he lies and then, louder, “We need a containment unit down here, full Hazmat for anyone who hasn’t breached the area.”
“You need a doctor,” Clint says, or tries to say. A shiver shudders through him and doesn’t stop so his words come out indistinct because of how hard his teeth are chattering. “Phil, I - ”
“And a doctor,” Phil adds sharply, which makes Clint feel smug for the second it takes him to focus on Phil’s narrowed, worried expression and realise that the doctor is probably not for Phil.
The medlab is never, ever fun, especially when Clint is freezing to death and no one can even come inside his specially sealed up room to keep him company.
It turns out that he and Steve were the only ones standing close enough to get whammied by the evil snake magma and Steve, being Steve, is fine so it’s just Clint’s who’s affected.
“Tony has a couple of ideas,” Phil tells him through the microphone that they’ve set up into the room. “You won’t be stuck in there long.”
“Mm,” Clint agrees, trying to curl up even tighter around his own legs. It isn’t actually helping, but it makes him feel better. There are five regular blankets around him and one of those annoying metal ones but they’re not helping either.
“How do you feel?” Phil asks. He keeps asking that, like Clint’s answer is going to change.
“Cold,” Clint forces out from between his teeth. And then, because Phil’s starting to look increasingly frayed around the edges. “But still not sick.”
It’s true. He’s cold, so cold he can hardly think, but there doesn’t seem to be anything else wrong with him. Which is good, he supposes, except that if he loses much more body heat, he’s going to die anyway and then it won’t matter either way.
“Hey, so,” Phil says, like he’s casting around for something else to talk about. “March fifteenth would have been a bad day for an anniversary, anyway.”
Clint looks quickly around the room behind Phil but he’s totally alone. Presumably no one’s monitoring this feed or Phil would definitely not have said that.
“Why?” Clint asks. He curls his hands in against his chest, pulling one of the blankets up to his chin but careful not to cover his eyes so he can still see Phil.
“Ides of March,” Phil says and then, at Clint’s blank look, he shakes his head. “Don’t worry about it. It’s Shakespeare. Julius Caesar.”
“Yeah?” Clint asks. He gets up off the bed and shuffles painfully over to the big glass window between them, sinking down onto the floor beside it. “What happened to him?”
Phil looks down at the patch of floor on his side of the divide then folds down onto it, awkward with his bandaged hand and smart work pants. “You really want to know?”
“Mmm.” Clint leans against the window and manages to find the energy to smile when Phil does the same.
“All right,” Phil says, “although I wasn’t an English major so I’m probably going to mess up some of the plot.”
“That’s okay,” Clint assures him. “Just add some roaring fires to the bits you’ve forgotten. Anything warm.”
“Are you any warmer?” Phil asks quietly.
“Is that how the story starts?” Clint prompts since the answer’s no and Phil already knows that.
“It starts ‘Hence! home, you idle creatures get you home,’ Phil tells him, “but I’m going to paraphrase.”
“Good,” Clint says, and closes his eyes. If Clint concentrates very hard, he can almost believe that he can feel some of Phil’s warmth soaking through the glass and that, plus Phil’s voice washing over him, is the best he’s going to get right now.
It takes the SHIELD nearly twelve hours to work it out and, by then, Clint knows every random story Phil has got tucked up in the back of his brain but he’s so cold he can’t even properly appreciate how much time Phil’s wasting on him.
“Clint,” Natasha says, standing over him but carefully not touching. “You need to sit up and come with me.”
Clint manages to nod but words feel like they’d hurt way too much to even try. Her hands hover over his arms but she can’t touch him so he has to get himself upright.
He wants to ask where they’re going but, again, words.
“The working theory is that all those little squiggly red bits in the ash plume are actually separate heat signatures stolen from living things,” Natasha tells him while Clint tries to work out how to put his feet flat on the ground and what to do after that.
Clint pauses, arching his eyebrows at her in a wordless seriously.
“Trust me, I know,” Natasha assures him. “We’re pretty sure it saw all the heat signatures in New York and thought it was Hanukah and Christmas rolled into one.”
“So how.” Clint coughs. His vocal chords feel like they’ve been stuck in a freezer. “How’m I getting mine back?”
Natasha grins. “I could tell you,” she says, “but you’re not going to like it so I think we’ll keep it as a surprise.”
Phil meets them at the door. He’s wearing a glove over his bandaged hand and a fiercely determined expression. “Can you make it to the elevators?” he asks, brisk and professional, like he wasn’t crouched on the floor, quoting Shakespeare to distract Clint all night long.
Clint nods. He doesn’t know if he can but he’s going to and that’s what matters.
It’s hard to walk when he can’t feel his feet and his knees are screaming at him like he’s pushing ninety rather than forty, but he makes it, leaning against the side of the elevator in relief and then straightening up abruptly when the glass chips and cracks where his hand was resting.
“Sorry,” he croaks trying to stand exactly in the middle and not touch anything or anyone.
Phil is staring at the cracked glass in some kind of morbid fascination. “I’m not even going to make you write that up,” he says faintly.
“Thanks,” Clint says and then, because it’s only them and Natasha in the elevator, “Reminds me of when we were in Siberia.”
Natasha snorts. “Didn’t you get frostbite on your penis in Siberia?”
Phil smiles, a shadow of his real thing and shakes his head. “That was mostly a vicious rumour spread by his handler.”
“Because you stole me,” Clint feels the need to point out.
And that, actually, is what made him think of Siberia right now. Clint was working with a different handler while he was there and Phil came to get him because he finally had enough of him and Clint not having their shit together. That’s what he meant. It’s a romantic story. Sort of.
The tips of Phil’s gloved fingers brush the edge of Clint’s blanket. Phil knows what he means.
“You’re right, I don’t like it,” Clint says as soon as Tony and Bruce and Jane have explained the plan to him.
They’re back on Broadway, just outside the containment area set up around the plume of whirling ash and body heat and it’s not as if Clint was getting any warmth from inside SHIELD but he is definitely even colder out here. It’s almost impossible to think, brain dragging along sluggishly behind his mouth.
“I’m sure this will work,” Jane says, waving the weird antennae-like thing that they want him to strap across his chest. Of course, they also want him to walk through the ash plume, so they’re clearly crazy.
Clint thinks about it. It’s not like he can get any colder and they sound really certain that this is the only way for him to ever get warm again, so it’s got to be worth the risk.
“Yeah, okay,” he says, holding up his arms so they can strap him in.
Phil hovers close by, looking like he wants to put everyone on a timeout so they can really think this through, but Clint can barely walk now; if they leave it much longer, he won’t be able to do what he has to do.
“Okay?” Jane asks, once she’s finished strapping Clint in. It took her twice as long as it should have since she had to be careful not to touch him anywhere but now Clint looks like a giant television aerial which is apparently a good thing.
“G-great,” Clint tries to say, but it comes out as a stutter of chattering teeth.
“Just get as close as you can.” Jane pats the air just above his shoulder encouragingly. She’s smiling way too wide to be appropriate – Clint never noticed before but the reason she and Thor get on so well must be that they’re both far too excited by certain death.
Clint nods. He looks over at Phil, who’s now a sensible distance away, his back to them and fingers white around a cell phone he seems to be using to yell at several people at once.
“Want me to get him for you?” Bruce asks hesitantly, catching the direction of Clint’s gaze.
Clint shakes his head sharply. He’s not actually planning to die right now and, if he did, a half-hearted goodbye would probably be worse than none at all.
“Thanks, but,” Clint says, and then squares his shoulders. “Okay, ready.”
Bruce lifts the barrier for Clint, who shuffles around it, having to push against a weird, hot wind that’s swirling around everything. The wind and the heat coming off the plume feels hotter than it did before, probably because Clint is so cold, but it doesn’t seem to be warming him up any.
The antennae he’s wearing starts to hum and it crackles some when he gets closer still.
Ash blows across his face and as he watches, wondering if there’s anything that he needs to do other than stand around like an idiot, one of the little fire snake things starts streaking toward him.
“Hi,” Clint says, accidentally inhaling a whole load of ash. “Um, please don’t eat me?”
It doesn’t offer any opinion on whether it’s going to eat him or not, just snakes (ha) toward him, wraps twice around the aerial and then seems to get stuck, twitching and flailing like it’s gotten electrocuted and then it disappears.
The metallic whatever it is that’s wrapped around Clint starts to hum and he holds his breath. Something seems to be happening; his fingers and toes are tingling like they’re waking up after a long sleep.
This is the most ridiculous thing that Clint has ever done, but somehow, it seems to be working. He laughs in relief; his team are arrogant and annoying and always there but hell, they can be really fucking smart.
It’s getting way too hot, but Clint’s sweating and he’d started to fear he’d never sweat again so he’s not in any hurry to move away. The aerial around his chest is crackling constantly, little bolts of lightning that make Clint think of Thor.
Clint coughs again. Okay, time to retreat and hope he’s been in here long enough, since he can’t really breathe. He blinks against the heat, trying to work out which way is out. He can’t see anything but black dust and streaks of red light.
This might be a problem.
“Um,” he chokes, hoping his radio still works. “Anyone there?”
There’s a hiss of static but nothing else, and Clint has never been the type of guy to sit around waiting for a rescue, so he turns sharply on his heel and starts pushing forward.
Since he’s basically stumbling around blindly across a New York street, it shouldn’t be as much of a surprise as it is when he trips over a curb and ends up on his knees.
Oh fuck this, Clint thinks, and staggers back to his feet.
He opens his eyes wide. There has to be a reason that he has freakishly good eyesight, he’s sure, and it can’t just be so he can put a bullet in someone’s head at two hundred yards.
Just off the edge of Clint vision, to the left, he can just about make out a lighter shadow amongst all the other shadows so he heads that way. The antennae are weighing him down so he fumbles with the straps as he keeps pushing forward.
The lighter shadow is moving fast and Clint’s just starting to second guess his decision when it crashes into him, a familiar arm wrapping around his waist, familiar blond hair flapping into his face and a familiar hammer carving through the ash and flying them straight up and out of there.
Clint gets the last strap undone and the whole antennae thing goes crashing to the ground, letting him twist and cling onto Thor’s shoulders as they soar up into clean, fresh air and then back down onto the ground right next to where the others are waiting.
They land with barely a bump and it would be pretty fucking graceful and heroic if Clint’s knees didn’t give out immediately, sitting them down on the sidewalk without any kind of warning.
“Sorry,” Clint rasps, patting Thor’s side. “Thanks.”
Thor shrugs it off and bounds to his feet. Clint doesn’t; he’s not really feeling the bounding right now.
“Are you recovered, my friend?” Thor asks, leaning down to look at Clint’s face with big, concerned eyes.
Clint opens his mouth to say yes and starts coughing so he settles for nodding hard and flapping a hand which is just as dignified, seriously.
“Good,” Thor says, smiling. “Although I fear you will not be once my Jane sees that you have destroyed her…” He pauses thoughtfully, clearly having no more idea how to describe the antennae thing than Clint does.
“Here,” says someone else and shoves a bottle into Clint’s hand.
He’s drunk half of it before he realises that it’s a glass bottle, which is weird until he works out that a) it was Phil who gave it to him and b) the glass hasn’t shattered.
Thank god, he actually seems to be fixed.
Phil obviously agrees, sitting down cross-legged on the pavement beside Clint and patting his back while he coughs. Clint can tell he's relieved by the slight curve of his shoulders.
Clint’s not cold any more but he still remembers what it felt like and he kind of embarrassingly, desperately wants to curl into Phil’s side right now. He can’t, obviously not only are half of SHIELD on the scene, they’re in the middle of New York, there are probably a million cell phone cameras on them.
“Hey,” he says instead, clearing his throat and drinking some more water. “Shakespeare, huh?”
“Hi,” Phil says softly and, “You asked for it.”
Clint nods and can’t really argue with that because yeah, he did.
“I’ve been thinking,” Phil says later and then pauses, clearly waiting for the wisecrack.
“Did it hurt?” Clint asks, because he doesn’t want to disappoint.
He’s not really committed to being a smartass right now, since he’s naked and lying back in the private jacuzzi that Tony agreed they could use as long as there was no sex – or, as he put it, no ‘kinky sniper on suit action in the love tub.’ (The fact that he calls it the ‘love tub’ makes Clint really hope that the water gets changed regularly.)
Phil flicks him with water and doesn’t rise to the bait. Phil, predictably, doesn’t like the idea of getting naked where Tony might see so he’s not in the tub with Clint, but he is lying on his stomach beside it, so close that Clint can kiss him every time he turns his head. It’s a totally okay compromise.
“Maybe we should stop making plans,” Phil says, dipping his hand into the water to put it on Clint’s shoulder and squeeze. (He’s taken his bandages off and he’s ignoring the pointed, silent looks Clint keeps shooting him about that.)
“Plans for – ?” Clint starts to ask then stops. “Oh. Wedding plans?”
Phil traces a path along Clint’s collarbone with three fingers. “We seem to be jinxed at the moment,” he says in a way that’s clearly supposed to sound light but really doesn’t.
“And the real reason is…?” Clint tips his head back, squinting up at him. There’s ash in Phil’s hair, although Clint doesn’t know how it got there. He reaches up and dusts it free, accidentally dripping a few drops of water onto Phil’s nose, which twitches.
Phil sighs. “Every time we set a date, you get hurt.”
Clint smiles at him, wide and upside-down. “Hey, I’m fine.” He tugs on Phil’s collar. “Look how fine I am. I’m so fine, I want you to get in here so I can make out with you properly.”
Phil shakes his head but doesn’t pull away. He kisses Clint slowly, adjusting angles so it barely registers that they’re the opposite way up from each other.
“You weren’t okay,” he says, low and serious. “I’m not saying we scrap the idea, I’m just saying let’s leave it for a month or so until this new wave of catastrophes settles down.”
No, Clint thinks but he’s learned better than to seriously argue with Phil when he’s got his stubborn on. “Come here and stop worrying,” he says instead, because kissing Phil is never a hardship and it distracts them both from the shittiness that was today.
Later, when Clint has finally dragged himself out of the jacuzzi, they stretch out in bed under two comforters and a couple of extra blankets, because Clint is warm now, but he dreamed about this for the twelve hours when he wasn’t sure he'd ever get warm again.
Phil puts his head on Clint’s chest and traces the hem of Clint’s t-shirt, fingers soft across Clint’s stomach. He doesn’t say anything and neither does Clint.
Sometimes they just have to accept that they have the kind of jobs that mean they might be taken away from each other at any second. Clint doesn’t think that’s any reason not to get married, but it’s not like Clint’s the right kind of articulate to be able to change Phil’s mind with words.
What he needs, he decides, is a plan. But not right now, right now is definitely for sleep.
Clint ropes Natasha into helping - because if he didn’t, she’d kill him - and also Darcy Lewis, because Phil likes her.
“Oh gosh,” Darcy says, eyes wide, when he tells her the plan, “that’s so romantic.”
Clint frowns and tries to look intimidating. He knows that it really doesn’t work. “It’s not romantic, it’s practical.” Phil likes practical.
“Right, sure, that too.” Darcy hops up onto the desk opposite Natasha and waves two fingers at her.
Natasha almost smiles back, which Clint is surprised about - Natasha is even worse about new people than he is.
“All I need is the number for his friend at City Hall. You can tell him it’s for a research project or - ” Clint waves a hand, hoping she can run with it. He doesn’t have a lot of ideas about what people do in college, especially not Political Science majors.
“Got it.” Darcy shoots two finger guns in Clint’s direction. “Leave it to me, Cupid.”
Clint groans then groans harder when Natasha actually laughs. “Don’t ever call me that again,” he says. Judging by her sunny smile, she totally will.
“Oh,” Phil says when Natasha uses whatever special powers she has to get him to Clint without him realising where he was going. He looks from Clint to the Court House and back. “Now?”
Clint bites his lip. His hands are clammy, which is stupid, but otherwise he isn’t actually all that nervous. “Unless you have other plans?”
It’s not often that Clint sees Phil lost for words. “No,” he manages eventually. “No other plans.”
Clint grins at him. He is supremely confident in his planning abilities right now. “You said that we’re jinxed when we try to organise it so I thought maybe if we didn’t organise it, it would be okay. And - ” He looks around. “It’s going okay so far.”
“Oh, god,” Phil says, closing his eyes briefly. He grabs Clint’s wrist and starts to hustle him up the stairs. “I hope you didn’t just tempt fate.” He stops just before they go inside, turning and making Clint look at him. “Really?”
Clint can’t kiss Phil on the steps of a public building and still keep them a secret but fuck, he wants to. “Come on, we’ll be late.”
It’s getting late and technically City Hall isn’t holding any more weddings today, but little things like that apparently don’t matter when you’re marrying Phil Coulson.
Phil’s friend is a tall, blonde woman called Rebecca. She looks terrifyingly young but her handshake and her eyes and the way she hugs Phil seem somehow world-weary and much older. Natasha and Darcy are already sitting at the back of the room and Darcy waves cheerfully at Phil once he spots her.
“Did you have to invite her?” Phil hisses. “She's never going to see me as an authority figure now.”
Clint shrugs. “We needed witnesses. And did she ever?”
Phil grins ruefully, so he probably agrees.
“Ready to start?” Rebecca asks.
“Um, yeah?” Clint says, maybe more of a question than it should be. Phil smiles at him, just as questioningly. It's reassuring to see that Phil is just as freaked out as he is.
Rebecca smiles at them both and folds her hands together in front of her. “It is a pleasure to be here with you this evening,” she says, sounding like she means it. “I understand that you haven’t prepared your own vows?”
“No,” Phil agrees, sounding so horrified that Clint has to bite his tongue not to laugh. He tries to imagine what their idea of personalised vows would end up sounding like and shudders in horror.
At the back of the room, Natasha shifts suddenly, hand going to her purse. She pulls out her cell and makes a face, standing up to whisper into it in the corner. Clint frowns at her but she waves them on.
Rebecca looks a little nonplussed but carries on. “That’s fine,” she says, and carries on with her introductory bit.
Clint shakes his wrist free from the grip Phil still has on it and links their hands together instead. It’s his fucking wedding; he can do that kind of thing if he wants to.
It’s...it’s all kind of surreal, to be honest, but it isn’t bad. He’s not maudlin enough to wish that he had family here or anything; he’s got Phil and Natasha and they’re better than family. Although he does feel a little bit guilty that they didn’t invite Phil’s parents, who’ve always been really polite and really nice to Clint.
“Sorry,” Natasha says softly, interrupting. “This is all really great, but is there a quick version?”
She looks relaxed - or as relaxed as she ever is - but there’s a tightness around her eyes which means there’s somewhere else she needs to be.
“What’s going on?” Phil asks.
Natasha shakes her head. “No, you have to do this first. I’ll tell you after.”
“All right,” Rebecca says, apparently not fazed, although she clearly knows who they are, so that makes sense. “Abridged version it is. Do you have rings?”
“Damn it, no.” Phil looks guilty enough about that that Clint actually stops feeling quite so embarrassed about having stopped off on the way here.
“Yeah, we do,” he says, digging in his pocket. They’re only cheap, drug store bands, plated gold and thirty dollars each, but they make Phil laugh.
Natasha’s cell chirps again. “Sorry,” she says, and makes a faster, faster motion with her spare hand.
Clint flutters his eyelashes at Phil. “Oh baby, this is all I ever dreamed today would be.”
Darcy snorts, Rebecca ducks her head but Phil just squeezes his hand.
The disaster Natasha wouldn’t tell them about turns out to be a Sentinel on the New Jersey freeway. It’s not like they were going to spend their wedding night any other way than fighting a big hunk of grumpy metal though, so Clint is mostly having fun.
They arrived late and got a few weird looks from the others but everything’s been moving so fast since then that no one’s had a chance to ask where they were.
“Hawkeye, you taking a nap up there?” Tony asks over the comms.
“Just resting my eyes,” Clint tells him, leaning further over the lip of the building, trying to work out where and when to jump. The Sentinel’s headplate is a really ugly red colour like it’s just asking someone to leap on it from a great height.
Always happy to oblige, Clint jumps.
“Try to get an arrow in its eye,” Steve advises, like that isn’t exactly what Clint’s trying to do.
The Sentinel gets pissed at having Clint on its head really quickly, swatting at him like a he’s a bug. Clint springs backwards off his feet and onto his hands, dangles off an arm for a second then drops to the ground.
“Yeah, that’s not going to work.”
“Agreed.” Steve sighs. “Has anyone called the X-Men? They’ve had more practice with these things.”
“Reunion dinner with Magneto,” Phil says dryly over the radio.
“What, really?” Tony asks, but no one answers him.
“Does anyone have anything resembling a plan?” Natasha asks. She’s tying her hair back in quick, jerky movements with a hair tie that Clint suspects she stole from one of the pre-schoolers gawping at them their bedroom window.
Sentinels in a residential area, man, that’s just not cool.
“Kick it in the shins until it cries and goes home to its mommy?” Clint offers.
Everyone ignores him.
“Double electric shock like we pulled on Hawkeye’s giant robot spider?” Tony suggests.
“Hey, it wasn’t my robot spider,” Clint grumbles.
“No good,” Phil’s voice comes through the radio, making Clint’s thumb automatically drop to his ring, twisting it around. No one’s noticed that yet either, but he knows that they will.
“No?” Steve asks. He’s spinning his shield around like he really wants to throw it. They tried that though; it was kind of embarrassing the way it just bounced off and Steve had to go running after it.
“Reports from the X-Men indicate that Storm’s lightning does nothing, so I doubt Thor’s will.”
Thor puffs his chest out. “I am the God of Thunder. The one they call Storm is merely an amateur.”
“You want to be the one to tell her that?” Clint asks. He’s bored now; strategizing is nowhere near as fun as doing, so he scales the nearest drainpipe and perches on the edge of someone’s roof.
“Don’t destroy their guttering, Hawkeye,” Phil says warningly, but he doesn’t tell Clint to get down so they don’t have to have their first post-wedding domestic in the middle of an Avengers takedown.
“You should come up and keep and eye on me, sir,” Clint suggests, kicking his heels and grinning up at nothing.
“Thanks, but I think I’ll pass,” Phil says, which is more of a response than Clint normally gets.
“Ugh,” Tony mutters, “do you have to flirt on open comms? Some of us had an excellent lunch and we’re in no hurry to lose it.”
“Some of you are jealous,” Clint flashes back at him but he subsides after that because he’s feeling weirdly itchy, like he wants to strip Phil down and lick him all over right now.
It’s not the wedding that’s got Clint all squirmy in the feelings area – although it does sound good whenever he thinks about it. Stable. Clint is secretly very fond of stable – it’s the fact that Phil hasn’t gotten tired of him yet, thinks he might never get tired of him. That’s… that’s fucking massive.
“Okay, now I’m bored,” Natasha declares. “And you really don’t want that. Permission to try something, Captain?”
“Um, I suppose so – ” Steve starts. Before he can finish his sentence, Natasha has sprung up from her position on the ground, landing neatly on the Sentinel’s foot and then running up its fucking leg.
Clint grew up in a circus and he still doesn’t understand how Natasha does half the things she does.
“Hawkeye, join me?” Natasha says, arriving at its elbow and swinging from there onto its shoulder before it can swat her.
“Already tried that, remember?” Clint asks, not that that will actually stop him.
“Throat,” she says, “not eyes. Remember Bratislava.”
“No,” Phil says firmly. “No, don’t even think about it.”
“What is a Bratislava?” Thor asks.
Clint tunes them all out and leaps, landing on the opposite shoulder from Natasha, boots making a clang that seems to really annoy the Sentinel.
“If you two get yourselves blown up, I won’t mourn,” Phil tells them flatly. He’s being seriously chatty on comms for once. It’s fun. Working one on one with Natasha, Phil bitching them out in their ears just like old times.
“Lies,” Natasha says cheerfully so Clint doesn’t have to. She pulls out two knives and raises her eyebrows. Ready?
“Yeah, you know we’re your favourites.” Clint pulls one of his own knives out of his belt and holds it up for her to see. It’s not one of his preferred weapons, but he can handle it okay. Ready.
“Widow maybe,” Phil says. “I’m not really sure what you’re still doing here.”
“Does anyone else feel superfluous?” Tony mutters.
Clint laughs and plunges his knife into the side of the Sentinel’s neck, dragging it around in a firm semi circle like opening a can.
The Sentinel twitches and flails, landing on its knees with a jolt that should but doesn’t dislodge either of them. Clint’s knife meets one of Natasha’s and she grins up at him. He gets the feeling that the only way she could be happier right now would be if the Sentinel had blood to spray up her arms.
“On three?” she says.
“Nah, I like two,” Clint tells her.
“One,” she says and they both push.
The Sentinel’s metal head creaks and groans, wires sparking and filling the air with the smell of electric burning.
“Timber,” Clint calls and then the whole thing comes away, hitting the ground with the kind of crash that’ll wake up any parts of the neighbourhood that managed to miss that they were playing host to the Avengers until now.
The body of the Sentinel sways from the aftershocks of losing its head and Natasha and Clint grab a couple of warped bits of metal each and coast down with it to the floor.
“Huh,” Steve says when they’ve both jumped off. He raises his eyebrows, nodding. “Good going.”
Clint refuses to be pleased or anything, but he returns Steve’s nod anyway, just to be polite.
Natasha sits down on the sidewalk, still smiling, so Clint sits next to her, stripping off his gloves and dropping them on top of his bow. After a minute, Hulk joins them and then apparently they’ve started a trend because everyone else is flopping, sitting, or - in Tony’s case - clanking down in a loose circle.
It’s kind of nice, not saying anything just... being together. Clint wouldn’t say they were a family, not yet, but they’re definitely a team.
“Pretty,” Hulk says after a while. Clint assumes he’s trying to play with Thor’s hair - Hulk does that a lot - but when he looks up, he sees that Hulk is pointing at the sunset glinting off the ring on Clint’s hand.
“Oh,” Clint says and contemplates hiding his hand in his pocket. He knows Phil’s still listening on comms though, so he doesn’t. “Thanks.”
“Hulk have?” Hulk asks, watching the light bouncing around in fascination.
“No, buddy, sorry.” Clint holds his hand up against Hulk’s. “It wouldn’t fit you, see?”
Hulk looks really sad, which is always shitty. “Hulk want,” he says, and Clint’s just about to explain again that Hulk can’t have when he realises that Hulk isn't talking about the ring.
“Oh.” It’s weird what Hulk understands and what he doesn’t; Clint would never have guessed that he’d recognise a wedding ring. “Ask Betty,” he says and watches as Hulk smiles, wide and bright like a freakishly green sun.
“What are you guys talking about?” Tony asks, leaning around Natasha to see. (Clint thinks she’s been deliberately putting herself between them. Clint adores her.)
“Pretty ring,” Hulk says, and twists around to poke Thor in the side. Thor is the only person crazy enough to play with Hulk, so he pokes back.
“Pretty - ?” Tony echoes then stops, eyes going really, really wide. “Holy shit.”
Now Clint does have to shove his hand into his pocket. He’s not ashamed, he’s embarrassed; that’s legitimate. He jumps up and smirks down at Tony. “It’s no fancy diamond but, you know.”
He leaves Tony still gaping like a fish and Steve clamouring to find out what he missed, and makes his way over to the SHIELD van parked on the corner.
Phil jumps down before Clint reaches the back door. “Well,” he says, checking his watch. “We kept it quiet for two hours forty-eight minutes.”
“Better than I thought we’d do,” Clint agrees and then laughs. “Shit, did you have visual on us? Tony’s face.”
Phil smirks. “I did,” he agrees. “It made up for a lot.” He elbows Clint lightly in the side. “Want to get out of here?”
“I love you,” Clint says into the kiss. They don’t say it much, hardly ever, but if there’s ever a night that’s good for it, it’s got to be this one.
Phil shudders against him. “So much,” he agrees and then – thankfully – shuts Clint up by pulling him back in and kissing him, wetter and dirtier than Clint’s been kissed in a long time.
It’s totally possible that they might have ended up fucking right here in the hallway between the kitchen and the second lounge, but there’s the soft creak of floorboards over their heads, and it’s enough to make them break apart.
They only managed to get home a step or two ahead of the others, and it looks like they’ve squandered their lead. Considering the awesomeness of that kiss, Clint thinks it was worth it.
“Come on,” Clint says, putting his hand on the small of Phil’s back – like an idiot, probably, but who cares. “Bedroom.”
“Good idea,” Phil tells him and quickly straightens his collar before following Clint along.
Clint almost thinks they’re going to get to his room without bumping into anyone but then Bruce appears, silent and almost ghostlike out of a bathroom doorway and Clint only doesn’t scream like an amateur because he’s had that kind of reaction trained out of him.
“Jesus, Banner,” he says, pressing a hand to his heart for effect. “Lurk much?”
“Sorry,” Bruce says, shaking his head. He looks half-asleep or, more likely, still trance-like from too much time bright green.
“Are you okay?” Phil asks, stepping around Clint and, god damn it, Clint really likes Bruce but if he’s about to Hulk out again and ruin Clint’s plan to strip Phil slowly and lick every inch of skin he finds, Clint is going to have fucking words.
“What? Yes? Um.” Bruce shakes his head and the meaning behind Phil’s question must finally penetrate because he nods again more firmly, meeting Phil’s eye. “Yes. Sorry. Just a little spacey, that’s all. I can almost guarantee that there’ll be no more visits from my less pleasant alter ego tonight.”
‘Almost guarantee’ is as positive as Bruce ever gets so Clint sighs in badly disguised relief.
“That’s awesome,” he says, grabbing Phil’s arm before he can ask if there’s anything he can do to help Bruce out or something. “Really pleased to hear it. Good night.”
“Good night,” Bruce agrees, sharpening awareness becoming more obvious as he looks between them and frowns quizzically. “Has something happened? You look… happy?”
Clint bits his lip. If Bruce doesn’t remember, Clint isn’t going to remind him. Bruce can be kind of maudlin and Clint is on a schedule. A getting Phil naked schedule.
“Nothing special,” he lies. “Just had a good day.” Phil touches his back, very lightly. Clint isn’t sure what he’s trying to say.
Bruce smiles slightly. “That’s good,” he says, maybe a little wistfully but it’s not like he couldn’t take Betty out and buy her dinner and ask her if she wants to become Mrs Hulk. “See you tomorrow.”
“Yes,” Phil says, way more politely and graciously than Clint managed. “Good night. Try to get some sleep.”
Bruce waves them off and turns around, heading in the direction of his lab.
“He’s not going to go to bed,” Phil sighs.
Clint grabs his wrist and tugs him along. “Probably not. But hey, he’s a big boy; that’s his choice. The only thing you need to worry about tonight is me.”
“Oh yes?” Phil asks, falling into step with him. “And why do I have to worry about you?”
“Because,” Clint says, leaning in to whisper in his ear, “I’m going to make you come so fucking loud, people in New Jersey will hear us.”
“Really?” Phil asks, sounding bland and curious like this is an interesting theoretical experiment. “I’ll look forward to that, then.”
Clint laughs, wrapping his arm around Phil’s waist and tripping him into his bedroom door, their shoulders then chests bumping together.
“Hey,” Phil protests, catching Clint’s hands in a grip that might be harder than it looks to break away from. “Patience.”
He reaches behind his back and unlocks the door, sending them inside in a (mostly) controlled tumble. Because Clint’s the last one through the door, he’s the one who ends up kicking it closed and then he's shoved up against it.
Phil grabs his hips and pins him still. His chest is pressed up against Clint’s, mouth a half-inch from Clint’s. Clint would end every day just like this, if he had the choice and, he thinks smugly, leaning in and licking Phil’s bottom lip, that’s what they’ve signed up for now.
As soon as he’s thought that, it all kind of comes crashing down on him what they’ve done and then he can’t stop laughing.
“What’s funny?” Phil asks, pulling back and looking like he’s considering being offended.
Clint shakes his head. He drops his forehead down to rest against Phil’s shoulder and laughs helplessly. “We got married,” he chokes out, “have you ever heard of anything so crazy?”
Phil’s chest rumbles on a laugh of his own. “Yes,” he says, “I work for SHIELD.”
It’s a good point, but unfortunately, it just makes Clint laugh harder. He tilts his head, aiming for Phil’s mouth because he’s been waiting hours for this and not even a dose of hysterics is going to be enough to stop him.
“Shh,” Phil says and bites Clint’s bottom lip. Hard.
Clint’s laughter stutters out on a moan and he grabs hold of Phil’s head, holding him still for kiss after kiss, while his thumbs stroke the soft skin behind Phil’s ears.
Phil groans into his mouth and takes hold of Clint’s wrists, tangling their hands together for a second before pushing Clint’s arms back against the door and holding them still.
Clint shudders all over. He loves it when Phil tries to hold him down. “Ugh,” he manages, “Ugh, shit, Phil.”
Keeping hold of Clint’s wrists, Phil kisses him once then folds down onto his knees.
Clint thumps his head back against the door, fingers twitching with the need to touch Phil’s hair. He doesn’t want that as much as he wants Phil to hold him still and blow him though so he doesn’t struggle too hard.
Because Phil is potentially not even a real person, he doesn’t need his hands to deal with Clint’s zipper and soon he’s mouthing at Clint through his underwear. Clint is really regretting his decision to put on boxers this morning.
“Is this... Is this something I get every evening now?” Clint asks, because he can’t be quiet, it’s just not possible for him. “Perk of being married?”
Phil hums against his cock, which could mean anything at all, but probably means stop talking or I’ll bite your dick. That should also not be as hot as it is.
“Did you - ?” Clint tries to ask. “Can you - ? Can we - ?” Phil is sucking the head of his cock through the fabric of his boxers. It’s warm and wet and the friction is ridiculous so it’s completely not Clint’s fault that he can’t make a sentence right now.
Phil pulls back. “On the bed?” he asks, like he understood Clint’s attempts at questions.
Clint nods gratefully. “Naked.”
Phil gives him a look like that was so obvious it didn’t even need mentioning and Clint is seized by the desire to marry him all over again.
As awesome as being fondled against a wall always is, being naked on a bed with Phil is even better. It’s especially good when Phil’s stomach is rising and falling under Clint’s mouth, Clint’s hand wrapped loosely around Phil’s cock and his tongue in Phil’s bellybutton.
“Clint,” Phil gasps, tapping the back of his head. “That’s not an erogenous zone.”
“Isn’t it?” Clint asks, arching his eyebrows. “Does your body know that?” Phil’s wearing a flush that goes all the way down. Even his toes are pink – it’s endearing, which isn’t a word Clint likes to throw around.
Phil’s fingers tangle in Clint’s hair, tugging so Clint stops teasing him, twisting around to kiss him some more while Phil tugs and nudges him over until he’s kneeling between Phil’s spread legs.
Phil’s knees are parallel to Clint’s ribs, round and covered in soft, pale hairs. Clint kisses the inside of Phil’s thigh because he can’t be the kind of person who kisses knees.
“What do you want?” he murmurs against Phil’s skin, darting his tongue out to lick.
Phil rubs his foot against Clint’s ankle, arching his hips a little. “You,” he says, which tells Clint nothing. The way Phil’s smiling at him, hazy and horny and a little shy tells him a lot though and Clint feels his blood run hot.
“Yeah?” he asks hoarsely.
Phil nods. “Yeah.”
And okay, never let it be said that Clint needs to be told twice - or even once - that Phil Coulson wants to get fucked.
“Two seconds,” he says, kissing Phil hard and leaning over to the side table.
There are sachets of lube everywhere but he can’t find any damn condoms. They can’t be out, he thinks desperately, then remembers last weekend and realises that huh, maybe they can be. It doesn’t matter; he will drag his naked ass to beg Natasha for some if he has to - hell, right now, he’d ask Steve.
“In my briefcase,” Phil says, smoothing a hand slowly over Clint’s hipbone.
Clint arches his eyebrows. “Seriously?” Forget Zac Efron on the red carpet, if Phil Coulson had dropped condoms at SHIELD, the world would probably have imploded. And then Fury would have put it back together just so he could kill them himself.
Phil smiles at him, not even a little embarrassed. “Special occasion,” he says.
Clint hesitates, torn between making out with him some more and getting the condoms. Condoms win because then there can be making out and sex.
“Hey,” Phil says, a while later when his ankles are locked behind Clint’s thighs and Clint is doing his best to fuck him slow enough to make this last all night, “remind me to get JARVIS to wipe the security tapes at City Hall.”
Clint stops moving and stares down at him, eyebrows arched as high as he knows how. “Seriously?” he asks. “That’s what you’re thinking about right now?” He gives his hips a pointed thrust and smirks, satisfied, when Phil gasps and pushes up to meet him. “I must not be doing this right.”
Phil’s fingers dig bruises into Clint’s hips, which is a feeling that Clint fucking loves.
“I was thinking about earlier,” Phil says, tipping his head back when Clint circles his hips again. “That was – yeah, there, that’s good -- that was just the bit that came out of my mouth.”
Earlier, Clint thinks and smiles.
“I want a reward for not saying something dirty there about coming and your mouth,” Clint tells him. Speaking of Phil’s mouth, it’s right there, swollen and shiny from all the kissing. Clint might be a little distracted.
“Okay,” Phil agrees, hooking his arm around the back of Clint’s neck. “Your reward is that you can be quiet and fuck me, how about that?”
Clint pretends to think about it. “Yeah, okay,” he decides and puts his back into it.
Phil’s never loud during sex – Clint doesn’t know if that’s a holdover from his military days or just him – but is he ever fucking bossy. Which really works for Clint.
“Harder,” Phil bites out, “I’m not going to break, come on.” His head is thrown back over the pillow, throat exposed, his hands wrapped around the bedframe so he can fuck himself on Clint when Clint doesn’t move fast enough for his liking.
They’re making a lot of noise, the bed thumping against the wall, and it’s a big mansion and no one sleeps particularly near them but Clint still really, really hopes that they’re making the fucking house rock tonight.
“This is why you usually do this bit,” Clint bitches, hands on the backs of Phil’s thighs so he can really get a good angle. “It stresses you out, doesn’t it? Not being in control.”
Phil laughs, thick and delicious and lifts one hand off the wall to card it through Clint’s sweaty hair instead. “No,” he says, “no, you’re doing great.”
Clint drops his head, mouthing at Phil’s shoulder. “You’re so… God, Phil, you’re so. Fucking.” There’s a tattoo on the ball of Phil’s shoulder that Clint likes to think no one knows about but him. He rubs his face over it and groans when Phil laughs again. “One day, I’m going to film this so you can see how hot you are.”
Phil turns his face towards Clint’s. “But I already know how hot I am,” he says, deadpan into Clint’s ear, and it’s Clint’s turn to laugh.
“No seriously,” Clint says and that seems to be all Phil needs to suddenly roll them over, pinning Clint to the bed with his knees, ass cradled snuggly in the convex curve of Clint’s hips.
“Hi,” Clint says, rubbing his hand over the solid muscle of Phil’s chest. He doesn’t feel like joking around anymore.
Phil’s leans down over him, eyelids sinking closed on a sigh as he shifts on Clint’s cock, and brushes their mouths together. “You keep saying that.”
Clint scratches his fingers through the thin, dark hair on Phil’s chest, thumbs across a nipple. “I like reminding you I’m here.”
“As if I could forget,” Phil tells him and starts rocking on Clint’s lap.
It feels so good that sparks flash up behind his eyeballs. “Mmm, fuck, you feel good. Marry me?”
“Sorry,” Phil says, breathlessly, “I’m already married.”
Clint drops his hand down between them and squeezes Phil’s flushed cock. “Damn right, you are.”
Phil’s quiet when he comes – he always is – but he shudders all over, clenching down tight around Clint until Clint can’t breathe and his hips jerk and shake, trying to push up into Phil’s body, trying to, trying –
Clint buries blunt fingernails into Phil’s hips, body bowing up into his orgasm.
He feels boneless once it’s washed over him. Sweaty and good and he can only swat at Phil while he buzzes around trying to get Clint to clean up and get into bed and, well, move.
“Stop it,” Clint mumbles, throwing his arm across Phil’s chest and pulling him down until he's kneeling on the bed. “Stop moving. Afterglow time. Honeymoon time.”
“Is that right?” Phil asks, climbing under the comforter and mouthing kisses along Clint’s neck.
Clint rolls over, sprawling half way over Phil’s chest and closing his eyes. Love you, he thinks. He’s said it once today so he’s not going to say it again, just tries to breathe it into Phil’s skin instead.
Phil touches the back of Clint’s neck, runs his fingers all the way down his spine and Clint must have known him far too long because he knows exactly what he’s saying.
“What?” Phil snaps, wide awake immediately and springing out of bed. “JARVIS, report.”
“I was instructed not to disturb you so when Mrs Coulson telephoned, I transferred the call to Agent Romanov. Unfortunately, Mr Stark – ”
Clint groans and sticks his head under the pillow. He’ll get up in a minute and stop Phil killing Tony but right now, he’s comfortable.
He rests his cheek on his folded hands and smiles stupidly when the band on his right ring finger digs hard and warm into his lower lip. It’s good that no one can see him; he’s sure his face looks stupid.
“Hey, no, don’t take it out on the robot!” Clint hears, Tony’s protesting voice floating up from wherever he is. “She was going to find out anyway…”
“Agent Barton?” JARVIS asks apologetically.
“Yeah, yeah.” Clint waves a hand in the air. “I’m on it.” He rolls out of bed and spends some time trying to find his pants.
In the distance, he hears Tony yelp and Clint grins, wondering if Phil has finally made good on his taser threat.
“Married life, JARVIS,” he says cheerfully, shrugging into a t-shirt that’s most definitely one of Phil’s.
“Quite, sir,” JARVIS agrees and Clint starts whistling as he heads out into the hall.