Chapter 1: Never Have I Ever
Clint would argue it started somewhere around mid-Febuary, when he had Tony hack into the mainframe and grant him access to all the upper division offices. Tony, himself, would trace the exact origins to late January, when he, Thor, Clint, and Bruce had enjoyed a quiet drinking game while Steve was out on a mission.
It started out simple enough, Tony, of course, initiating the game with a shot glass in front of each of them. Thor was the first to grab at his shot glass, but was promptly swatted on the wrist. “Just wait a damn second,” Tony grunted, topping off his own glass with a free hand.
“For what do we wait? Is this not what we gathered for? Drinking in the midst of company?” Thor asked, eyeballing Clint with a bemused look.
“No, no, buddy, we are, we are! But we're gonna play a game, so you can't drink until--”
“Until you know the rules,” Tony cut in, taking a swig before letting out a pleased hiss and setting the bottle next to him.
“Tonight's game is...Clint, drum roll please,” Tony paused a smirk hanging off his lips as said archer began tapping his fingers against the table rhythmically, “Never have I ever!”
Clint promptly stopped his finger tapping to give Tony an incredulous look, “...Really? I mean...c'mon, man, that's pretty juvenile, even for you.”
Tony just rolled his eyes and shot back, “Yeah, but when we find out Bruce is secretly the table tennis champ of the world you won't be thinking that.”
Bruce leaned forward to meekly put a hand up and add, “I'm...not...just so we're all clear.”
Tony threw a dismissive hand up in Bruce's general direction, “Regardless, you choose the game last time, Clint, and if we all took a moment to remember how much fun that was you'd quit your bitchin' and let me explain the rules to Thor.” The room fell silent for a moment as Tony looked around expectantly, as if inviting someone to defy him. “Exactly. So. Thor. It's easy. Real easy. Okay, big guy? All you gotta do is drink. But you can only drink if you've done what the speaker says they've never done. Like if I say 'I've never bought a pair of shoes under two hundred dollars, then everyone would drink because Bruce I've seen those sneakers you keep locked up in the back of your closet, and Clint you're no better with your faux leather ankle boots.”
Bruce sighed and took a drink, Clint following closely behind has he tried to hold in a chuckle. “They were a gift, you know,” Clint retorted, slapping his glass against polished cedar wood in unison with Bruce. Tony picked up the bottle and began to refill them, “Get it? Got it? Good.” Slipping himself another swig, Tony set the bottle back down, and shifted anxiously in his seat. “Okay, Clint can go first.”
Clint laced his fingers together and offered the group a lopsided grin, looking carefully from one side to the other, “Okay...never have I ever...wished Stark would keep talking.”
Each glass remained untouched.
Tony clapped a hand over his own chest, “Ouch, you guys, that hurts. There wasn't, not once a time when my talking got you out of a bad situation?”
“No, no, Stark, that wasn't the question! The question was that if there was ever a time we wanted you to keep talking!”
“Still! I'm an influential man! I can get out of some sticky situations with my talking!”
“...There's been a time when you've gotten me into a sticky situation with your talking, Tony...” Bruce cut in.
Tony gave Bruce a pained expression and shifted to face him, “I know, and I've apologized for that but--”
“--Never have I ever!” Thor boomed, assuming he had enough of an understanding that he could join the game, “Chased a group of Frost Giants from a fair maiden in the depths of the darkest forest of Asgard!”
The group looked at Thor curiously before shrugging and picking up their glasses. All of them including Thor.
“Thor...” Tony tried, as he set his glass down, and picked up the bottle to refill each shot, “you know you're only suppose to drink if you've never done what was said.”
“Yes! No frost giant dare venture into even the darkest of Asgard's forest for a single maiden! Unless said maiden were an enchantress of sorts...” Thor glared down at the table as if trying trying to take into account all variables of the situation. Tony couldn't help but laugh.
“Yeah but, you're not suppose say things you've never done...” Tony's laughter bubbled down to a chuckle and Thor looked back up, smiling now.
“Ah...this has been noted, Man of Iron...”
Much of the game went on in this fashion: Tony saying something that Clint and Bruce would drink to, Clint saying anything and everything that popped into his mind resulting in a drink here and there from one or all of them, Thor saying something pertaining to Asgard, thus forcing everyone to take another drink, and Bruce passing most of his turns in order to 'think on it for a bit more'. By the time midnight rolled around Bruce had a strong buzz going, Thor was seemingly completely unaffected, Clint was romp-roaring drunk but holding himself rather well, and Tony was...well...still being Tony.
Things were beginning to calm down a bit, and Tony thought now was the best time, if any, to up the ante.
“Alright, alright, ladies, no more fuckin' around. We're changing up the rules a bit; I'll call it...'Never Have I Ever...S.H.I.E.L.D Addition!'” Bruce and Clint exchanged confused glances from across the table, and Thor shifted excitedly, always eager to start something new. “I'll just start. I've never wanted to fuck Nick Fury.”
The group boomed in laughter, and Tony just shivered theatrically, making a child-like disgusted face, “Really...never.”
Clint's laughter began to simmer down, as he tapped his fingers against the table top idly, swaying just a bit. “Alright, uh...I've never...hm...I can't say I've ever wanted to bang Hill.”
Tony cautiously pulled his glass away from the table and threw it back.
“What? Seriously?” Clint exclaimed, looking a cross between confused and appalled.
Tony went wide eyed and barked in laughter, “Hey don't judge me, man! There was this one time we got into a heated argument and I practically had her backed into a corner...just...damn the intensity behind those eyes ! If you'd seen it you'd `ve seen it, you'd want to grab her by the wrists and shut her up with a kiss too! She could be a monster in the sack...”
Clint rolled his eyes, shaking his head, “You are drunk...I bet she's into chicks anyway.”
“Whatever man, whatever. Go on Thor!”
Thor let out a gust of breath and curled his face up in serious thought, as he so often seemed to. “...Well...the idea of laying with the Son of Coul does not appeal to me...” Thor mumbled, still somewhat caught up in his own thoughts.
Clint slunk back in his chair, reaching out as casually as he possibly could for his shot glass.
“Don't. You. Touch that glass...Clint. Clint. Really?” It was hard to tell if Tony was on the verge of laughter or projectile vomiting.
“Oh don't even, Stark! You said you'd do Hill!”
“Hill is one thing, Barton, but Coulson!? Phil Coulson?”
Clint threw his head back and groaned as he poured the amber liquid down his throat. “We had a really deep conversation about music once and he's pretty cool when he's not being all S.H.I.E.L.D-y and stuff!”
“Straight laced Phil Coulson?” Tony reiterated, thrusting his arms out into the air. “C'mon, back me up here, Thor, buddy! `Wouldn't touch that guy with a ten foot pole!”
“...I apologize, friend, but the Son of Coul doesn't not rouse my interest in the least.”
Clint sat up and slapped his glass against the table top, “Shut your trap, Stark! Everyone knows you've got the hotts for a certain star spangled American hero; and your little 'childhood idol' crap isn't gonna save ya' this time!”
The whole room turned dead quiet as Tony slunk back in his seat, a light pink tint coloring the apples of his cheeks. “Steve Rogers is the peak of human physical fitness, alright? He may be stubborn as an mule, and an outright ass most of the time, but you can't look me in the eye and tell me he's not gorgeous.”
Clint let out an exasperated sigh, wishing for a single moment that Tony had the faintest bit of shame. “Just because he's attractive doesn't mean we all flirt with him like it's going out of style.”
Tony scoffed and swiped the bottle, taking a good three gulp swallow, “At least the guy has a personality, I don't even think Coulson knows what emotions are. ”
Some days later, Clint realized just how serious Tony was about pursuing his 'childhood hero'. Coming out of a briefing, he overheard the man talking Steve into checking out a new restaurant that had just opened up downtown. Some place “...real classy. You'll love it, Steve.”
There was a slight hesitation, as Steve crossed his arms, and checked his watch. “I dunno' about all of that, Stark. I'm not big on going out on week nights...let alone to a fancy restaurant downtown...”
Smirking, Clint rounded the corner and clapped a hand on Steve's shoulder. “You talkin' about that, uh, new place Caesar Aldo's?”
Tony shot Clint a dirty look before pushing “Yeah. Caesar Aldo's. How'd you know?” out of his clenched teeth. Steve's eyebrow arched as he glanced from Clint back to Tony, who promptly beamed as innocently as he possibly could.
“I hear they have some to die for burgers, Cap. Nothin' I would pass up. You should go see what's up! 'Specially since Stark here has a problem dealing with authority, and you are the team captain. Maybe it'll help work out some the kinks if your guys' dynamic changed a bit.”
Crinkling his nose playfully, he patted Steve's shoulder a few times and nodded in Tony's direction before meandering off.
Steve shrugged, throwing his hands up in defeat. “I guess I don't see why not.”
A few seconds later a text message called Tony's attention away from thinking up a response.
From: Clint Barton
We'll negotiate my thank you gift after your hott date.
Tony pushed the tall glass of beer toward Clint with his thumb and index finger, “Name your price, Barton.”
Clint wet his lips leaning in to grab a hold of the glass, but Tony put up a finger, eyebrows curving far over his eyes as he looked across the table, a distinct resemblance to a teacher preparing to scold a student written across his face. “Business first.”
Clint threw himself back into his seat, and sighed, “Okay, okay. I just have one request.”
Tony threw a leg over his lap, resting his ankle on his knee, “Shoot.”
“`K, so don't give me shit about this, but...I've kinda been...entertaining the idea of pursuing Coulson for a while...” Snapping his eyes shut, Clint fell quiet, awaiting Tony's verbal judgment with pursed lips. When he didn't hear a peep from the other man, Clint cracked an eye and realized Tony was still waiting. “...Well. Yeah so...I...I guess seeing you ask Steve out gave me the push I needed to...nevermind just...can you pen some doors for me so I can leave something on his desk?”
Tony smirked, reclining in his chair as he folded his hands gracefully over his lap. “If I had known it was gonna be that easy, I would've had you put in a good word with Steve a long time ago.”
Chapter 2: A Gift
Clint was just trying to get Coulson's attention...
Tony glanced up from his laptop, a questioning look pulling at his features.
“That's it?” he asked, still watching Clint as his fingers continued to tap incessantly at the keyboard.
“What you mean this?” He held up the object in question, and shrugged, “I'm trying not to come across too strong.”
Tony scoffed and looked back at the laptop screen, paying no mind to Clint's quiet pacing. “And you're sure you don't want me to scramble the cameras?”
Clint nodded, stopping to tap his foot rhythmically, “Just trust me on this one, Stark. I have a plan.”
Tony rolled his eyes, chuckling gently into his computer screen. “If you insist...” he mumbled, all too caught up in his coding again.
Seconds later, he pulled his hands away just before pressing the enter button, a force of habit at this point. “Alright, so here's how this goes, pay attention because I'm only gonna explain it once: when I say go, all the doors in this hallway will unlock in unison. Coulson's office is at the end there, around the corner. You'll have exactly five minutes, and I do mean down to the second, to get in and get out before Fury is alterted that their systems have been hacked. At that point S.H.I.E.L.D resumes control of the locks and you're trapped in some poor sap's hallways until an agent escorts you out, which is a bit annoying considering Fury himself usually wants to exchange some choice words with you—”
“—But if I get in and out in five minutes, none of that'll matter right?”
Tony shrugged and nodded, “Yeah, you'll be good to go for about...an hour or so. Maybe a day if he's busy, but he'll eventually find out and grill you for it—but hey! If I know Coulson, and at this point I do—which leads me to question why you're even doing this—”
“Sorry, sorry. If I know Coulson, he'll want to threaten you, personally. So...ultimately...be quick and...have fun.” Tony smiled, his lips rolling into that guilty looking smirk as a small click was heard from his keyboard, “Also, go.”
“Fuck,” Clint grunted, trotting over to the door and pulling it open before jogging out into the hallway.
“Awesome...awesome!” he whispered to himself, amazed that just as Tony had predicted, each door came open without a single beep or alarm; no card needed! Beaming, he tugged open the final door, Coulson's perfectly organized desk laying no more than ten feet in front of him. Five minutes, Clint, he reminded himself jogging around it and setting the rose between two short stacks of paper. Looking up at the camera, he stuck two thumbs up and began his jog back.
The last door safely secured behind him, Clint propped his hands on his hips and beamed at the ceiling. “Mission accomplished!” he stated, before glancing back down to Tony would was tapping at his computer again.
Tick, tick, tick—beeeeep—shuck!
Clint glanced over his shoulder where the light that had just been green, now showed red. “Well shit.”
Tony slapped his laptop shut and pulled himself out of the little seat that promptly began folding into itself until it was no bigger than a computer chip. “Great!” Tony tossed the little chip up in the air and caught it before slipping it into his pocket. “Now let's get out of here before that guy realizes we don't have clearance to be back here.”
Clint arched an eyebrow at Tony, “We don't? Well, I mean, not back here obviously but...I was pretty sure I could mill about this lobby all I wanted...”
“Well...you have clearance to be up here, and even back there a ways when accompanied by a handful of specific S.H.I.E.L.D agents. Natasha has a lot more clearance than the rest of us, surprisingly enough so her maybe. Technically speaking, though, I barely have clearance to be in the lobby.”
Clint shot Tony a bemused look, who was busing himself with a playfully smirk in the direction of one of the agents standing guard’s direction.
Tony glanced at Clint, still smirking, “Let's put it this way, there's a reason I that whole thing timed down to the second.”
Clint began to laugh airily, “For fuck's sake, Stark.”
True to Tony's word, Clint was summoned to one of the briefing rooms on one of the lower levels of HQ.
He knew he ought to be expecting it, but a wave of nervousness washed over him as the door beeped and clicked open.
Coulson made his way into the small silver room, stopping in front of a far corner, and putting a thumbs down, blank faced as usual. Clint could only assume he was making a gesture toward a camera, god knows how many of those were lurking around this place.
“What is this Agent Barton?” Coulson asked, letting out an annoyed sigh as he tossed the rose on the desk in front of him.
Clint simply pursed his lips and ran his sweaty palms over either of his knees, “...`S for you.” Clint peered up at Coulson through his lashes, unable to lift his head to look at the man full on. Coulson just stared at him incredulously, obviously waiting for Clint to bust up in laughter.
“So it's a joke then? Fine. Just be sure to keep keep out of my office and tell that Stark—”
“—It's not a joke, Coulson.”
Coulson stared at him wordlessly for even longer before glancing up at a far corner behind him, and slashing a hand over his neck, as if telling the air to 'cut it out'. Clint glanced over his shoulder, a camera disappearing into one of the tiles through a small hole. Turning back to face Coulson, Clint watched him blink a few times before taking a single set forward.
“Now what do you mean it's not a—”
“Happy Valentine's Day.”
Coulson was silent again before taking a few more careful steps in Clint's direction, curling his fingers over the back of the chair that sat stationary in front of him. “What even makes you think I'm—”
“—No one talks about Madonna with stars in their eyes like you did at last year's Christmas party and gets away with trying to say they're completely straight.”
Coulson narrowed his eyes, wrists visibly jittering slightly as he curled his fingers just a touch tighter around the metal chair back. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Clint knew Coulson was regretting even going, let alone allowing himself to be talked into a few drinks. Note to self: find out why Coulson even went to that damn party.
“Regardless. Fraternization among employees is not tolerated in the workplace, Agent Barton, and—”
“When's the last time you got laid, anyways?”
“Would you please stop doing that!” Coulson grunted through gritted teeth, jaw set in a straight line now. “Besides. That's none of your business.” He was practically seething with anger, trying so hard to hide it, but Clint could tell. No matter how many demigods, and egotistical iron men he had to deal with on a daily basis, nothing could send a man over the edge quite as fast as bringing his sex life into the picture. ...But Coulson had to have more self control than to let a little comment like that get to him...
Rising to his feet, Clint quirked a smile and kicked his chair back sauntering around the table at an antagonizing speed, “I know you're a real tight ass...Phillip; but I like that. You're always so calm, cool and collected...” Leaning in to Phil's breathing air, his smirk grew. “I guess it's a crush out of admiratio—oh! Fuck!”
Before he could even fathom what was going on, Coulson had a hold of Clint's wrist and was turning it counterclockwise in the most painful manner.
“F-Fuck, Coulson! That smarts! C-Cut it out, would ya`—”
Coulson just snapped the hand around a touch more, pulling a high pitched whine from the back of Clint's throat. If he weren't in so much pain, he might have actually been alarmed with how quick Coulson had slipped back into his signature unimpressed look.
“Listen up and listen well, Agent Barton. There are a few things in this world that I actually enjoy and my job is one of them. The moment Fury caught so much as a whiff of your little delivery with Stark's aid, he was up my ass about what the hell was going on, and he was not. Pleased. I refuse to go into it with the likes of you but the word 'retirement' was loosely tossed around. Needless to say, the non-fraternization rule is still very much in affect, and unless things around here change no one will be dating anyone employed by S.H.I.E.L.D. Is this,” he paused to turn Clint's wrist a bit more, earning another pained sound from the archer, “under,” and again, “stood?”
Clint nodded ferociously, face contorted in agony.
Coulson released him and turned gracefully on his heel before heading toward the door. “Remember that Agent Barton.”
There was momentary silence as Coulson slid his card along the little slot next to the door.
“So the roses were a bad idea?” Clint called after him.
“Terrible,” he quipped in response, blandly.
Clint watched Coulson slam the door shut behind him, and shook his wrist out, testing the movement of each finger. “...I'm an archer, you know!...Meaning I need both my hands! ...Christ...”
There was no response.
A lazy laughter poured from Clint as he brought the bottle to his mouth again. The Bad Girls Club was on, and in his current state it was possibly the best entertainment available.
A larger blonde figure loomed over him, concern touching every corner of his face.
“Clint...? Are you...drunk?” a familiar voice asked.
After a few seconds of shifting in his seat and focusing his eyes on the brilliant blue orbs staring down at him, Clint beamed. “Ssteevee! You're date! …With...uh...T...Tony! Yeah! Did it...did it go well? Forgot to ask him...”
Steve's face curled into something Clint couldn't quite read. The bottle was plucked from his hand and suddenly he was no longer on the couch, but pressed against a large muscular chest. “God, you reek more than Tony does after he's been drinking.”
“The date...” he slurred, the words sounding almost like one.
“The...that was a date?”
Clint stared dumbly up at Steve as he was gently placed into his bed. “He didn't tell you he's got the hotts for you?” he mumbled painstakingly slowly.
“No...? But...Clint? How much did you drink?”
Clint clapped a hand over his face, groaning loudly. “I shouldn't `ve said 'nything,” he grumbled, quietly. “I fuck everything up...”
Steve let out a breath of laughter, pulling the blanket over Clint's limp body. “Yeah, you've been spending a bit too much time with a drunk named Tony Stark. We'll just have to change that tomorrow, hm?”