It’s Clint who finds the invitation. Phil glares at the small piece of paper when Clint holds it up and tells him to throw it out.
Clint turns it over in his hands, reading it over carefully. “Why?” He asks.
“I didn’t like high school. Why would I subject myself to it all over again?” He shrugs and looks back at his computer. There have been possible AIM sightings in Mexico and he’s been struggling to have them confirmed. He’s a step away from resigning himself to sending Natasha or Clint in though he would like to avoid that.
“Because...” Clint trails off and Phil knows he’s looking at Natasha for help.
“Because Clint wants to live a normal life vicariously through you,” Natasha translates absently. She’s sitting upside down with a book, Phil isn’t sure how she’s comfortable, but doesn’t bother asking. Clint’s sitting next to him, pointedly not looking at him, the invitation still in his hands.
Phil sighs and plucks it from his hands to reread it. “It only allows a plus one.”
“Don’t worry about me,” Natasha grins from around her book and he knows that doesn’t mean she doesn’t mind not going. She’s just got another way in.
“Alright,” he sighs. Clint’s smile makes it worth it and he manages to return a small one of his own. Clint catches his chin and pulls him in for a quick kiss, humming happily. “Just let me get this done.”
There are whispers and stares when Phil comes in with Clint’s hand in his. There are lots of things Phil has to hide, and he doesn’t feel like adding Clint to that list. It might even give them an excuse to leave early.
“There actually is a punch bowl,” Clint says is slight awe. Phil shakes it head, trying to understand Clint’s amazement at the trappings of normality but they’re outside Cleveland, Ohio in Phil’s old high school and he’s finding it hard to be impressed. “Sometimes you just think things are caricatures, you know? Like Hollywood uses it as universal symbols but they stopped being real in the fifties.”
“This town stopped socially in the fifties,” Phil grumbles back. He still maintained that moving here had been one of the worst mistakes his mother had made. After the gin and tonic at two in the afternoon and the valium at eight. Luckily the punch bowl is set up at a small bar complete with bartender. “Go get us drinks,” he nudges Clint towards the bar.
Clint squeezes his hand quickly and goes and Phil runs an eye over the tables. Natasha catches her eye from one of them with a small wave of her hand. She’s beautiful and there’s a pleased little smile on her face from sneaking in. He starts to make his way towards her when someone calls his name.
It’s someone who was actually a friend, something he didn’t have very many of in high school so he can’t make himself just brush the guy off. Phil does his best to guide the conversation away from himself, and it works until the guy finishes talking about his beautiful wife who unfortunately can’t come because she’s in Dallas with the kids and he asks Phil if he’s seeing anyone. He glances first at Natasha who has attracted the attention of a former football star and he can’t see her hand but he knows it’s reaching for a hidden knife. Then he looks at Clint who is flirting shamelessly with the bartender.
Phil smiles softly and tells him yes, but it’s complicated.
The man laughs and claps him on the shoulder. “Isn’t it always?”
“You have no idea. I actually need to save one of them, if you’ll excuse me?”
He’s still trying to figure out ‘one of them’ as Phil pulls away and heads toward Natasha. The jock - Jonathan, Phil remembered - was still trying to convince Natasha to leave with him. His hand was dangerously close to hers. Phil clears his throat and rests his hand on her shoulder, waiting for the slight nod before sliding it to the nape of her neck. Jonathan is gaping.
“Is there a problem?” Phil asks.
“Coulson? No way. You got her? How the fuck did that happen? Come on, beautiful lady, I’m a better time then that loser.”
Phil’s hand barely catches hers in time and he leans in so he can whisper to her. “I told you before, no injuring anyone.”
“A small nick is not an injury,” she answers in Russian. He closes his fingers around the hilt of the small blade and slides it back up into the thigh sheath, letting his fingers linger. It’s probably a sign he spends too much time with Clint but he feels good rubbing this in Jonathan’s face.
“Phil this is now two people you have spoken to who you haven’t introduced us too,” Clint says, setting three drinks onto the table. Phil hopes his is straight vodka. Jonathan scowls something at them and leaves before Phil can say anything.
“I’m never going to be allowed back here.”
“Did you get her number?” Natasha asks, looking pointedly at the bartender who is still sneaking glances at Clint. Clint smirks and holds up a napkin.
“Did you get his?”
“I did not want his.”
“Yea sure, you just couldn’t get it.”
Natasha rolls her eyes and snags the napkin from him and a pen from Phil and quickly writes out a string of numbers. Clint looks suspiciously at it and pulls out his phone. They all turn to look as he presses call to see Jonathan pull out his own phone at almost the exact same time.
Phil rolls his eyes, not entirely surprised that they’ve somehow turned this into a game. He glances around the room. “Her,” he says, nodding at a woman across the room who could only be described as trophy wife. Big hair, big boobs, small dress.
“She turn you down Phil?”
“No,” he takes a sip from his class. “I did get a blowjob from her husband though.” Clint makes a choked sound into his drink and his smile widens.
“Who is her husband?” Natasha asks.
Phil scans the room and points at a well-dressed man close to the small stage. “Him.”
Clint whistles softly. “Good choice, sir.”
Natasha grins and stands, smoothing out her dress. “Excuse me, gentlemen.” She leans across the table to kiss Clint and her fingers brush Phil’s shoulders as she walks away already focusing on her target.
They stay longer then Phil originally wanted but Clint and Natasha have their game and as long as he stays at their table he finds that he doesn’t bothered too much, though people do keep on drifting over once they notice him. He puts on his best interested smile and makes polite conversation, though he isn’t surprised when the questions turn to Clint and Natasha. He keeps track of their progress through the room by who people ask about.
At one point, Clint convinces him to dance. It’s a slow song, and he can’t believe he agrees but he lets Clint pull him close. A few songs later, something faster comes on and it’s Natasha’s turn to pull him out to the dance floor.
He decides he doesn’t care what they think and dips Natasha to kiss her right there.
When they leave, they all leave together, Natasha’s arm through his and Clint’s arm is over his shoulders.
The greeters at the door give them a wide-eyed look as they pass but this is middle America so they’re all too polite to say anything to their faces. Clint winks at one as they pass and the scandalized look makes up for the talking Phil is sure will start as soon as they’re safely out of earshot.
“Hotel?” Phil asks, trying not to sound pleading. His cheeks feel sore from smiling so much and he just wants to curl up with them and forget about high school all over again. Natasha slips the keys to the rental from his pocket. He relaxes once the car is moving towards the hotel and the building is disappearing behind them.
Clint and Natasha are double-checking their scores as Phil steps out of the bathroom. They even have a copy of his senior year yearbook and are matching numbers to faces and Clint has a piece of paper with a series of tallies on it. Neither look up until he sits down beside them and Natasha throws a leg over his and Clint’s hand reaches behind her to touch his shoulder.
“That wasn’t so bad, was it?”
“Who won?” He asks instead of answering.
“Me,” Natasha answers. Phil pulls her closer for a kiss, he smiles as her lips part for him. “Congratulations,” he murmurs. He feels the bed dip as Clint crawls across Natasha. He straddles Phil and Natasha’s entwined legs. Phil gives him a look when the kiss ends. “You didn’t win.”
“I wanted to say thank you, for indulging me.” His fingers touch Phil’s lips and trails down to his neck, curling around it. Phil sighs but let’s Clint pull him forward.