Clint Barton packed his bow into its case, slung it over his shoulder, and headed out of SHIELD’s training block. He was pleasantly buzzed with a couple of hours’ target practice, and an undemanding evening with TiVo and cold beer beckoned. He struck off in the direction of Phil’s office, and grinned as Natasha appeared out of a side door, a duffle hooked over her arm.
“Hey, Nat,” he said. “Going somewhere?”
“Russia,” she said, unexpectedly. Clint raised his eyebrows, startled.
”What? Why? I thought you were coming out with us?”
Natasha shrugged. “Guess Fury thought my skill set was better directed at something other than a glowing blue cube.”
“You could take it out, no trouble,” said Clint.
“Cute,” said Natasha. “Lermentov’s back to his old games. Fury wants me to shut him down.”
“Well, have fun in the Motherland. Drink some vodka for me.” They’d reached the office marked P COULSON, and Clint knocked briefly on the door and swung it open, stepping back so Natasha could step in.
“I’m heading out, Coulson,” she said to the man behind the desk. “Should take… what are you doing?” She sounded mildly revolted.
Clint poked his head round the door. “What? What’s he doing?”
“Last time I checked, my job,” said Coulson drily. “Did you two want something?”
“Since when did SHIELD pay you to sit around drawing loverboy there?” demanded Clint sourly, glaring at the sketches of Captain America, stars and stripes emblazoned across them.
“I really don’t want to know about this,” said Natasha.
“I’m putting together some uniform ideas,” said Coulson, shuffling the papers together and dropping them in his out-tray.
“That what you were doing when you kept hanging around his unconscious body?” asked Clint.
“I was doing my job,” replied Coulson.
“Well, isn’t it just great that your job is also something you love,” said Clint, tossing his pack onto the couch and crossing his arms in a classic display of passive-aggression.
Natasha rolled her eyes. “OK, I’m leaving,” she said, hitching her bag up her arm. “Russia’s looking great about now. Play nicely, boys; I’ll see you when I get back. Coulson, don’t forget to ask the good Captain to sign those cards of yours.”
“They’re vintage,” Coulson snapped at her back, but Natasha didn’t look round, just waved a hand in a parting salute, and disappeared down the corridor.
“Your job, my ass,” said Clint, leaning forward and snagging the drawings off the desk. “You know Clarice and Troy have made it their life’s work to make sure everyone working for SHIELD looks as sexually objectified as possible.”
Coulson shrugged. “He’s an important icon. He needs to look the part. And don’t knock Clarice and Troy. They did a spectacular job on your ass.”
Clint grinned. “Whatever. You nearly done here? We’ve got, like, fifteen hours of Dancing With The Stars backed up on TiVo.”
“Sure,” said Coulson, standing up and unfolding his shades. “Heaven forbid we go another day without celebrities dancing.”
“Amen to that,” said Clint devoutly, grabbing his case and levering himself off the sofa. They headed out of the door.
“Barton,” said Coulson, half-way down the corridor, “you don’t really worry about me and Captain America, do you?”
Clint grinned. “Seriously? Phil, are you kidding? When you finally meet a conscious Captain America you’re going to have some kind of seismic nerdgasm of joy, and then you’re going to ask him to sign your trading cards. I don’t see you two embarking on a romantic relationship off the back of that.”
“Oh,” said Phil.
They opened the doors into the bright early evening light, and Clint put on his shades, turning to flash his teeth at Phil. “But if you did,” he said cheerfully, “I’d put an arrow through both your hearts.”
“OK,” said Phil.
“And I don’t mean in a fun, Cupid kind of way,” Clint continued.
“I didn't think you did,” said Phil.
“Good,” said Clint. “And come on. We’ve got a lot of TV to catch up on before we go and babysit that tesseract.”