Strictly speaking, he and Phil are not married. Despite the fact that, strictly speaking, they're residents of the State of New York, Phillip J. Coulson does not, strictly speaking, legally exist. It would still be risky, even if it were possible, given the fact that anyone who wanted to get to Clint could just look up it and see that he was married to some guy named Phil; it's not homophobia he's worried about, but the fact that someone could look at it and decide nabbing this Coulson person was a good way to get at Clint.
Not that they could, but it would be super annoying if they tried.
But they have a ceremony thing, and Tony stands up for Phil and Natasha stands up for Clint, and Steve reads a poem really badly and doesn't really hide the fact that he's crying a little, and Bruce says a lot of things that are really Zen and pronounces them man and man, and then there's cake and champagne, and Thor loudly talk-sings something that essentially amounts to "The Ballad of the Son of Coul and Also Barton," and that makes them married in the eyes of the Avengers.
The next Monday, they sign three documents apiece, and that makes them married in the eyes of Nick Fury and SHIELD, and absolutely no one else matters.
About a month and a half later, Sitwell and Phil have to go and spend two weeks doing something bureaucratic that sounds hellish to Clint; because Phil is a dick, Phil doesn't tell him that they're doing it in Maui until the morning he leaves. It's the perfect chance, though, to spring his secret plan into action.
Phil should have known Clint would have a secret plan.
If Clint is more excited than usual to see him when he gets back, Phil doesn't seem to mind very much- why would he, when it nets him a lap full of excited archer as soon as they get to their bedroom? He unbuttons Phil's shirt hastily, pushing it down and off before pulling off his undershirt. Phil reaches for the hem of his shirt, but Clint stops him. "Not yet," he says, kissing him again before he stands up.
Phil looks at him curiously; he's panting a little, his lips a little red, and it's a very, very good look on him. "Am I getting a striptease?" he says, a little taunting and a little hopeful.
Clint laughs. "I stripped my way through SHIELD training, didn't you know?"
"There's something that wasn't in your file," Phil says. There's a pause, and Clint takes a deep breath; he pulls his shirt off over his head, letting it out.
Phil doesn't say anything; Clint gives him a minute to take it in. The tattoo isn't that big, but it's big enough to make a statement, big enough that it hurt like a bastard. It's right over his ribs, too, which made it that much worse, much worse than the other ones.
There are a lot of really obvious things that could have gone into it- though he already has an arrow tattoo, so that's covered- and it could have been really over the top- which, if he were doing it just for himself, it probably would have been. But instead, it's black and grey and green and blue and, okay, yeah, purple, but it's his tattoo. It's gorgeous, if he does say so himself, and there's a PJC and a CFB in it, and that's all that matters.
"You wear my ring," Clint says. "I wanted to wear this for you."
After a long, long time, he finally brings himself to look Phil in the eye, because Phil isn't saying anything, just sitting there.
He regrets it instantly, because Phil is furious.
"What the fuck were you thinking, Barton?" he demands, and Clint freezes. Phil hasn't called him that outside work in a very long time. Phil's hand is balled into a fist, and his knuckles are actually white. "How could you possibly think this was a good idea?"
Clint is quickly becoming aware that he may have spent three hundred bucks for the privilege of pissing his husband off really, really badly. "I just thought-"
"You don't get paid to think," Phil snaps, and Clint realizes that it's much worse than he thought. Phil stands up, pulling his clothes back on.
"Phil, wait, just-" Clint says, but when he reaches out, Phil pulls his arm out of Clint's grasp.
He leaves, and he doesn't come back.
Clint has no idea what to do.
Phil doesn't come back the next night, or the next. Clint knows he's sleeping in his office, but his passcode doesn't work on the door anymore. Clint has pretty much decided that he's completely fucked. Brand-new husband doesn't want anyone to know about them- maybe he's right, a little, even though Clint made sure that the tattoo didn't give away anything sensitive at all, even though Phil's being a real dick about it if that's the case. Husband's already worrying about the permanence of this relationship- he's wrong about that, as far as Clint is concerned, but marriage isn't a safe deposit box. If husband thinks relationship won't last, then he's right, because relationship won't last without husband.
He wonders how much it's going to cost to get the stupid thing removed. He's heard they never really come all the way off, that what you're left with is just faint grey; he wonders if that's going to be comforting or depressing, the idea that he can't ever leave Phil behind entirely.
It's several days in, and pretty much everyone has noticed by this point. Clint and Phil, neither of them are boisterous or demonstrative by nature; that might make it worse, actually, more noticeable, because they're not doing all the little things they usually do, the things that are like screams against the backdrop of their personalities.
Clint doesn't think it's affecting his work, though it does seem to be affecting Phil's; he's devouring paperwork at a frightening rate, new reports popping up in Clint's inbox constantly- Clint only knows this because he's actually using the computer lately. Granted, he's mostly using it to play FreeCell and Starkitaire, which is this very bizarre card game that Clint is only just learning the rules of but is oddly fascinated by.
He's hanging around central command and he's- he's not moping, and he's not waiting for Phil to come by, because that would be pathetic. He's waiting to see what the reports are from- uh, shit, where is Woo? Moscow?- what the reports are from Moscow, which is a completely legitimate use of his time.
But, of course, Phil does come by; he walks over to one of the agents who's standing across the room, saying a few words to her. He turns his head and catches Clint looking, and it hurts really badly when he resolutely turns away.
Maria snaps her fingers in front of Clint's face, and he almost jumps out of his skin. "Look," she says sharply, clearly irritated. "You need to go to him, and you need to fix this. We don't spend billions of dollars a year on this goddamn project so that two of its important participants- who are full-grown men- can act like ninth graders."
Clint is suitably chagrined. "Right," he says. "I'll- I'll just go."
"Good," Maria says, turning back to her screen, and Clint is aware that he has been summarily dismissed.
He doesn't, not right away; he takes a long detour through the range, shooting until he calms down a little. Finally, he can't put it off anymore, has to do it or it won't get done, and he goes to Phil's office. He tries the passcode, and, predictably, it doesn't work; he knocks on the door, and Phil doesn't answer; he knocks again, and there's still no answer; he starts knocking and just doesn't stop, rapping over and over until Phil finally pulls the door open.
He looks extremely unhappy. "What do you want, Barton?"
"I want to talk," he says, holding up his hands. "I come in peace."
Phil frowns, looking like he'd really just rather tell Clint to fuck off, but he doesn't, just opens the door wider so Clint can come in. It's really obvious that Phil has been sleeping in here; it's still tidy, but there are trays from the commissary underneath one of the potted plants, a toothbrush sticking out of one of the pockets of the jacket hanging from his coat rack.
It's depressing; this is a lot like how Phil used to be before the two of them got together, when both of them had pretty much given up hope. They sort of saved each other from that, and it's awful to see it happen again. If Phil's like this, he wonders how bad off he is, whether he just can't tell.
"I'm busy," Phil says, although he's clearly not; his Stark Flash is sitting on his desk, and Clint can see Dracula from here.
Clint swallows. "What did I do wrong?"
"You got a tattoo," Phil says, cutting right to the heart of it.
"Phil, I have six," he points out, and he's starting to get a little pissed off right now.
"You got a tattoo for me," Phil says, and that just makes it worse.
"Yeah, I did," he snaps. "What the fuck is the big deal? I wanted to do it for you, so I did it. You don't have to be grateful, but you could at least show me some respect."
"I can't respect it when you do something that risky," Phil says, looking upset. "Marriage tattoos are bad luck. People who get tattoos get divorces. I don't want to lose you because of some ink."
"For fuck's sake, Phil," Clint says, sighing; he feels relieved and crushed at the same time. The only thing Phil Coulson has ever been superstitious about in his entire life, and Clint had to stumble right into it. "You should have told me. I thought you didn't want anyone to know. I thought you didn't think this was permanent. I thought I was losing you now."
Phil is about to say something, but he stops, looking quizzical for a moment. "That's ridiculous."
Clint gives him a look. "You're really going to get into a 'Who's More Ridiculous?' contest on this one with me?" Phil looks faintly embarrassed, so Clint steps forward, pulling him in close; Phil resists for a moment, but he relaxes into it. "It's okay," Clint says. "They won't grant a divorce to Hawkeye and his imaginary husband. We have to stay married."
Phil snorts. "Well, when you put it that way."
"I'll get it covered up if you want me to," Clint promises. "If it bothers you that much, then I'd rather make you happy than keep it."
"The damage has been done," Phil says. "We did already fight over it. Maybe we'll get it out of our systems before anything drastic happens."
"Hey, whenever you act like an asshole, you can blame it on the tattoo," Clint offers.
"Not me I'm worried about," Phil says, and Clint punches him in the arm. "You just-" He purses his lips. "We just have to be particularly careful," he says.
Clint would never, ever have expected this kind of thing from Phil, but he doesn't say anything mocking about it at all- everybody's got weird things, and if this is a weird thing of Phil's, then Clint is just going to deal with it. "Of course we will be," he says, kissing him. "I'll be on my best behavior."
Phil smiles, and it's a great thing to see again. "I don't believe that for a second."
"I'm offended," Clint says, pretending to be shocked, but then he grins dirtily. "But come home and I'll show you just how good I can behave."
Phil laces his fingers into Clint's hair, kissing him hard. "That's a very hard offer to pass up."
"Then don't," Clint says, biting at his lip.
"Come on, let's get out of here," Phil says, pulling away; Clint lets him go long enough so that he can gather his things.
"Ready?" Clint asks.
"Ready," Phil says; he twines his fingers into Clint's and lets Clint take him home.