It takes Clint a while to notice.
It’s almost embarrassing, but he has a series of good excuses. In his beginnings at S.H.I.E.L.D. he was never in the offices much, spending a lot of time on assignments and in deep cover, and most of his interaction with Phil had been during briefings and clandestine meetings, and sometimes when he was drugged out of his mind on painkillers after he almost bled out somewhere in Carpatia.
Then came the Avengers Initiative, the trip to New Mexico, and the happy time when they were fucking stupid about this thing between them. Phil had to get over his handler-asset issues and Clint had to get over... well, most of the other issues in the book. He has a lifetime subscription and gets the complimentary collectable clock.
And after that, Loki, the whole villain-palooza after, the move to the Mansion and what a joy that was... all he says, Hulk should not be allowed to move furniture, ever.
He’s been busy, is what he means.
And then somehow they arrive at a comfortable lull, with most of the villains somehow deciding to take a time off, maybe to crawl off somewhere and lick their wounds and maybe to form a clubhouse and plot together, fuck knows. Thor uses the time to take Jane home to meet his folks (because meeting some of them during a full scale battle for Earth’s survival doesn’t count), everyone else enjoys a much needed respite, and Tony goes on his honeymoon, like he needs an excuse to whisk Pepper away to yet another exotic location.
It’s quiet. Eerily so.
Clint counted on some people taking the opportunity and using some of the billion free days they’ve accumulated by never, ever taking time off, but he should have known it was a lost hope. Phil doesn’t go on vacation, Phil uses the time to focus on new agents’ training and rework the duty roster. Obviously.
And so, here they are now. With Clint spying on fellow agents from the air shaft and working on his impulse control. It’s going well, he hasn’t tranqued anyone. Yet.
It starts innocently, with Julia and the muffins.
Julia is one of the newest agents, she’s not cleared for fieldwork yet. She’s a kid straight out of college, with a pixie-cut red hair, nice smile, and a tendency to bake when she’s stressed, and in this particular line of work, that’s every day.
You can tell when she comes in every morning, because there’s an unusual commotion around the fourth floor, everyone having something important to check in the main area, and just happen to need to pass Julia’s cubicle. The baked goods run out fast.
“Sorry, last one,” Julia tells a very disappointed agent Sitwell, except she’s totally lying. Clint had seen her hide two more in the drawer, in a light blue cardboard box with a ribbon. (So what, he’s hiding in the ceiling. The reason for that is totally unimportant at this point.) “I’ll have more tomorrow,” she adds and everyone goes back to work, some of the more fortunate ones cleaning out crumbs from their shirts and keyboards.
And that would be it, if Clint hadn’t happened to need Phil to sign off on his report. (It’s not a euphemism, unless Phil is on board with making it one. They have a rule about the office, damn it. A rule Clint would be happy to break, except hey, guess who he’s dating, and then guess the chances of the rule breaking ever happening.) Okay, the report isn’t due for a while, but it’s an excuse good as any to hang out in Phil’s office for a while and annoy him into giving up the paperwork for an hour and getting lunch.
Apparently he’s not the only one to figure out the paperwork-as-a-valid-excuse tactic, because at some point there’s a polite knock on the door and Julia enters with a manila folder and a certain blue box. “The requisition forms,” she tells Phil matter-of-factly and then, Clint shits you not, takes an uncertain half-step back and then forward, reaches out to touch her hair, curling a short strand around her finger. “And hey, I have some muffins left. Everyone’s at lunch, so I thought maybe you’d like them?” she says, her voice getting a little squeaky there at the end.
Clint can’t even. It’s adorable. It’s even more adorable because Phil has no fucking idea what’s going on.
(He tends to do that. Newbie agent crush is one thing, he didn’t notice Clint was fucked up over the head for him for years. Frankly, it was a little less adorable then.)
“Thank you, Julia,” Phil says, and peers into the box. Apparently the muffins are enough to make him push away the files in front of him which, hey, good to know for future reference. “I was just about to take a break myself, so your timing is perfect. Thanks again,” he adds with an honest-to-god smile.
That’s not something people often see here. Clint feels the corners of his mouth rise in an automatic response, but the effect on Julia is a sight to see.
“It’s no trouble at all. I bake a lot,” she says, a clear opening of a babble attack. “I’ll be making cinnamon cookies tomorrow, I’ll bring you a batch. The muffins, though, they’re best with coffee. Would you like some coffee?” she asks, the “with me” part clear in the air as she bites her lower lip and hides her hands behind her back, fingers twitching nervously. Yeah, Clint thinks. Been there. Only with less muffins and more bullets.
That came out wrong.
“Don’t worry about it. Clint will make some,” Phil tells her, and Julia turns to follow his gaze, noticing Clint for the very first time. Clint gives her a nod and a wave, which seems to fluster her even more. “He might as well make himself useful,” Phil adds, which is uncalled for. Clint had all intentions to make himself useful, but you know, the rule about the office extends to blowjobs. Which it shouldn’t.
“Oh,” Julia says, visibly deflating. “Oh. Okay. Well, see you later,” she finishes meekly and heads out, remembering after two steps to add a little sway to her hips, just in case.
“Now that,” Clint says, moving to sit down on the edge of Phil’s desk, “was awesome.” He reaches for one of the muffins but Phil snatches the box away. “Oh, come on.”
“You heard her, they go best with coffee.”
“Fine, but only because you asked so nicely, dear,” Clint says, making a face at him. “You want some cream with that?” he grins, despite knowing very well Phil takes it black. It’s been a slow day and there are young agents with muffins crushing on his boyfriend. He’s completely justified in jonesing for a blowjob.
“This is a no puns zone, Barton. Get me some coffee or you’re not getting any of my muffins.”
“Now who’s making bad puns, sir?” he points out, and gets a short snort out of Phil, which means that the day’s looking up. The office rule still stands, but there’s nothing stopping him from getting that blowjob in the car.
The second time, he’s unconscious in medical on the Helicarrier.
Except, not really, obviously, since he can hear and see everything. He’s pretending to be unconscious because he drew a short straw when they were planning the drill.
And of course they’re doing a drill instead of using the quiet time to catch up on some sleep, or stay in bed for different reasons, or fuck, even go to the fucking movies.
Technically the orders came from Fury, but Clint knows who’s going to sleep on the couch, and it damn right isn’t Fury.
Okay, because one, Fury. No way, and also, fucking scary, and he probably sleeps hanging from the ceiling upside down anyway. Two, because Clint knows Phil and this drill has Phil written all over the meticulously drafted minutes and scenarios beyond C and into D, E, F, and G.
And fine, okay, Phil isn’t sleeping on the couch. Once they finally get home, they won’t even make it as far as the couch, Clint can promise that.
But, back to the important things (not that fucking against the hall wall isn’t important. It really, really is), like the fact that apparently half of the medical staff wants to fuck Phil just about as much as Clint does.
And that’s a lot.
So, unconscious in medical. It’s near the end of the simulation and he put up a good imaginary fight, so he’s fine with the scenario. He even plays it up for the new nurse, sticks his tongue out to the side and plays near-dead. Good times.
It actually seems like a good chance of catching up on some sleep, while he still can, and as the simulated explosions subsided and no one is running along the corridors anymore. He’s near following on that thought when he catches someone mentioning a familiar name.
“Really, have you seen Agent Coulson today? I know you’re partial to the suits, but fuck me, the field uniform is really working for him.”
It’s not that Clint doesn’t agree, but, the fuck?
He lifts his eyelids a little, peering at the people talking suspiciously. He wasn’t mistaken, the voice really belongs to Dr. Stark (no relation), whose unflappability rivals Phil’s. She regularly patches up Captain America, for god’s sake, and she’s the one they call in when Fury needs medical assistance (which Clint supposes means mostly delivering him blood bags. Come on, like you didn’t think about that for at least a second. It’s the coat, and the stare.) She also slaps Tony Stark (no relation) over the head when he overtly flirts with the nurses.
And now she’s giggling like a teenager. And Tom, he of the apparent partiality for suits, is not much better. “Sorry, it’s the suits together with the competence. It’s quite a deadly combination.”
Hey, you know what’s a deadly combination? Clint and arrows.
He pushes down on the irrational surge of hot jealousy. Tom can’t help seeing what Clint sees, after all.
Except... except. The irrationality rears its ugly head. Clint spent years slowly discovering the man behind the suits and the competence. And sure, both things are extremely sexy (and so is the field uniform, he won’t lie), but there’s also Phil’s patience, the quiet concern, the way he actually cares and worries for all the Avengers even when he threatens some (Stark) with his taser, the way his smiles are rare but always honest, the way his eyes are warm when he looks at Clint...
“Barton, you’re still here? We’re starting on the briefing.”
Speak of the devil. Clint slides off the gurney and shrugs. “Enjoying some peace and quiet. You should try it sometime, sir. Lie down for a while.”
There’s an edge to Phil’s shrug, but his lips quirk almost imperceptibly and he nods. “I’ll take this under advisement, specialist. Now, if you could please follow me,” he adds before turning briefly to the others in the room. “Good job everyone, your briefing will be tomorrow morning, carried out by agent Sitwell. Tom, Captain Rogers was particularly impressed with your actions on deck, he wants you to know,” he adds, offering a rare pat to the man’s arm. Clint could swear he sees Tom sway a little.
“Seriously,” he mutters as he follows Phil out. When he glances over his shoulder, Tom is making a show of fanning himself, to the general amusement of the nurses, who all seem to be flustered. Seriously.
“You okay?” Phil asks, shrugging at Clint’s look. “The fall looked quite real.”
The quiet acknowledgment of worry is not unwelcome. Clint shrugs right back. “I fully commit myself to the performance.”
“I’m aware,” Phil says flatly. He waits for a second, in case Clint wanted to follow it with a punchline.
“Yeah, I’ve got nothing,” Clint admits with a rueful smile. Phil’s still giving him a look, like he’s aware something is on Clint’s mind. When they walk into the elevator, Phil waits for another second after the doors close and then leans into Clint’s space, placing his hand on the back of Clint’s neck and pressing lightly. Clint bows his head obligingly, savoring the moment.
They don’t do this at work unless they do.
“So, when you said briefing, you meant...” he drawls, pushing his hips forward. It startles a soft laugh out of Phil, warm air huffed against Clint’s lips before Phil closes the space in a too-short kiss.
“You’re impossible,” Phil tells him. It’s a compliment, really.
So, Clint would like to point out: Clint, one. Tom, zero. Just saying.
He totally blames Natasha.
Mostly, because it’s better than blaming himself, and Natasha isn’t here, she’s undercover at Undisclosed Location #72, so it’s easy to say it’s all her fault. If she were here, she’d tell Clint he’s being ridiculous, but hey, guess what, she’s not.
Now, he was prepared to admit the whole thing was amusing, slightly adorable, a little annoying, and quite baffling except not really (come on, have you seen Phil? People aren’t blind, Clint can’t blame them.) He was prepared to move on, even if the newbie agents giggled and blushed (no, really) when Phil was around, medical took great pleasure in laying their hands all over Phil’s body (that’s the annoying part) and Julia kept trying on seducing him with baked goods and awkward conversation (adorable. And damn useful, her cookies were awesome.)
It’s not like anyone else got to take Phil home.
(Neither did Clint, to be fair. Home was Avengers Mansion, and even now, while Thor and Tony are absent and everything is blissfully quiet... no. Walls tend to disappear at scarily regular intervals, Bruce’s moods aren’t conductive to any kind of a romantic atmosphere, and Phil still gets a little starry-eyed around Steve, so they’re definitely not fucking around the Mansion. Phil’s apartment it is, especially since they bought a new bed.)
(Fine, yes, Clint broke the previous one. It had it coming.)
(Pun maybe intended.)
Yes, back to the subject at hand. So, it didn’t seem like anyone was actually trying anything (except maybe fatten Phil up, Julia), so Clint could deal and abstain from hovering in Phil’s office all the time. And since there wasn’t much else to do except randomly freak out people on the corridors, he spent most of his time on the range or in the weapons department.
Or, he would, if not for that one thing.
“We need you to settle something for us,” Claudia says, raising her head from something that looks decidedly deadly. Joe nods and moves to sit behind her, in the swivel chair she’s just vacated.
They’re two of Clint’s favourite people around here. Joe used to work for Hammer but resigned much earlier than the company went down. He’s quiet and capable and Clint can appreciate that. Claudia, on the other hand, is tiny, wears pigtails, and talks to her weapons like they’re her children. Or dolls. She’s absolutely not allowed to ever interact with Tony Stark, because the entire Shield, including Fury, lives in a fear that they might get on well.
“If it’s another Zombies and Ninjas debate, my answer stands,” he informs them.
“No, it’s about Agent Coulson,” Joe says, and Clint forces himself to stay absolutely still and offer an earnest gaze in return.
“What about him? Because if it’s another Zombies and Ninjas debate, that’s classified,” he says and Claudia laughs, swatting his shoulder.
“No, just... what’s his deal? Gay or straight? And most importantly, if he’s single? We’re trying to figure out which one of us might have a chance,” she adds in a scenic whisper, gesturing between herself and Joe.
No, really, what? Clint was fine with the whole thing because it didn’t seem like people were doing anything with their crushes, and there was no designs on Phil’s virtue.
(Yeah, okay, Clint would be the first to ask “what virtue.” Even if there was some to begin with (maybe), Clint has done well away with that in the past few years. If you were to place bets on which Avenger has the best sex life, you’d probably bet Tony Stark and you would be dead wrong. Quality, not quantity.)
(Fine, he doesn’t exactly know what Natasha gets up to, so he doesn’t have all the data. She never tells him anything.)
“Clint?” Joe prompts, which probably means Clint has been spacing out.
“Sorry. Don’t know, guys,” he says, spreading his arms and shrugging. “Heard he might be married,” he adds, and, just because he really sometimes can’t help himself, he goes on. “There might be kids. Three of those, yeah.”
Yeah. That’s not going to come back and bite him in the ass.
“Oh,” Claudia says, her face crunched up in disappointment. “Oh, well. All the good ones, right, Clint?”
“Right,” he nods sagely, then looks at his wrist. “Oh my god, look how late it is. Gotta go,” he tells them and hightails it from there before he can say anything else and dig himself a deeper grave.
On the other hand, weapons people. Who are they gonna tell?
Which is why he’s not quite surprised when the first thing Phil says when he gets home, already tugging at his tie the moment he crosses the threshold, is: “Have you heard that newest rumour about me being married with six kids?”
“Huh,” Clint says, because, well, huh. Rumour mill works faster these days, he blames the Internet. Also, six kids? “You think they just assumed you adopted all the Avengers?”
“Now that would be disturbing, considering,” Phil mutters, discarding his jacket over the back of the armchair and sliding in to join Clint on the couch. Clint obligingly shifts and moves his arm to the back of the couch, fingers brushing Phil’s shoulder. “It’s not the wildest rumour I’ve heard this week, but it’s a bit puzzling.”
Clint has an excellent poker face. You can’t read it. “It’s too quiet, people get weird ideas.”
Phil is still watching him, head tilted a little, eyes narrowed. Clint squints right back. “What?” he says, not defensively at all.
“I was waiting for you to take it to the logical conclusion of: ‘it’s quiet, here’s a weird idea, most likely connected to sex.’”
“It’s like you know me,” Clint admits. “Hey, it’s quiet, here’s a weird idea. Let’s order in and stay on the couch all evening. Go through the insanity that is your TiVo.”
Phil smiles softly and nods, already working on the top two buttons of his shirt. Clint’s fingers itch to help, and hey, he will. They settle in comfortably as Clint goes through his cellphone in search of the pizza place number, a little distracted by Phil’s hand resting on his thigh, fingers idly moving over the seam of his jeans. There’s no intent behind it, yet, just a gentle, absent-minded caress, and Clint has to keep himself from doing something like purring in contentment while he’s on the phone.
He kind of likes the quiet times best.
He kind of hates the quiet.
It’s been fun (not) for the first two weeks, but now it’s getting ridiculous and everyone is getting fucking paranoid. Fury starts running everyday drills, and you really, really not want to have drills designed by Fury.
Clint hides in the air vents whenever he can, no one ever finds him there.
Fine, except for Phil, who has the uncanny ability of somehow always knowing where Clint is hiding.
“It’s the tracker I put on you,” Phil says, entering the room and looking at the ceiling in that precise moment, even though Clint is fucking sure he hadn’t made a sound.
He lies. Probably. Clint checks regularly for surveillance. Of course, Phil might be simply mind reading, that’s been known to happen, if you believe the junior agents.
Who seem to think Phil not only has mind reading abilities but also walks on water, stops bullets, can calm Hulk down by humming him a lullaby, and dates a supermodel. (Clint hadn’t started that last rumour. This time. Although he is flattered by whoever did.)
“If you get down, I’ll share the extra cheesecake I got from Muriel,” Phil says and Clint hesitates and then crawls out, trying to look dignified and not as if he would sell his soul for cheesecake.
“How the hell did you get extra cheesecake?” he asks, even though he knows very well. Muriel fancies Phil. Clint knows, because he might have been crawling through an air vent and might have happened to overhear that Phil reminds her of her second husband, the good one, the one who was a hero fireman who died on duty.
That would be sweet if she hadn’t followed it with “I miss his hose, if you know what I mean.”
Followed by all the kitchen staff speculating on the size of Phil’s, ahem, hose.
Clint feels justified in stealing the chocolate chips intended for the muffins. He feels a bit less justified in framing Sitwell for the theft, but whatever, the man made a crack about the supermodel rumour and besides, he needs practice in talking himself out of tight spot situations if he’s to make it as a senior agent.
Phil hums around a mouthful of cheesecake, not at all making Clint want to taste it from his lips. Office rule is fucking stupid.
“I asked if there was more cheesecake, I got more cheesecake,” Phil says, like it’s that simple and Clint is being silly. It’s sort of the slow explanatory voice he uses when he has to explain an Earth custom to Thor and can’t send him to ask Jane. Which mostly means that Thor is inquiring about Earth dating customs. Clint sometimes wishes he could bring popcorn to those conversations.
“You know, this is only because the kitchen staff wants to get into your pants,” Clint mutters and then realises he actually said it out loud. This is why Muriel’s cheesecake is evil. It interferes with his brain functions. “I mean,” he starts and shrugs.
Phil rolls his eyes. “I assure you, the kitchen staff does not want to get in my pants,” he says flatly.
Yeah, that’s what he thinks.
“Speaking of pants, and getting into,” Clint tries, even though he realises it’s a futile endeavor. At Phil’s look, he raises his hand defensively. “Can’t blame a guy for trying.”
“I’m pretty sure I can. Look, I know you’re bored,” he says, his tone turning a little apologetic. Clint immediately feels a pang of guilt for acting like a petulant child instead of enjoying the respite. “I thought about taking the weekend off,” Phil continues, smiling a little. “We could...”
Which is precisely the moment when the alarm goes off. Red light, meaning all hands on deck. That’s a big one.
Perfect timing, Clint thinks starting on his way down the corridor and feeling Phil fall into step next to him. On their way, they pass Natasha.
“Welcome back,” Clint tells her without pausing. “Your fault?” he asks, indicating the sound.
She cocks her eyebrow at him, which isn’t a proper answer, he’d like her to know. Then again, Natasha never wastes time using words when a perfectly arched brow would suffice. At his look, she gives in. “Might be.”
Which is why he has no trouble blaming her for the whole thing four hours later, when he’s waiting outside medical for the doctors to give Phil an all clear.
“It’s just a scratch, stop freaking out,” Natasha tells him, from where she’s leaning against the wall and watching Clint pace.
“Tom’s on duty,” he tells her, and when she just continues staring at him he realises he needs to explain a bit further. “He really enjoys the part where he gets his hands all over Phil.”
He probably deserves the eyeroll, but complaining about that is easier than saying he worries. Easier than admitting that when Phil went off the comms for forty-three seconds Clint was aware of each of them passing and they seemed like fucking years. Easier than saying that he’s pathetically grateful to Bruce for smashing the hell out of the robot attacking Phil and a little pissed that it took so long and ended with Phil getting knocked out for a moment.
He suspects Natasha gets it anyway, but he’s not actually saying it.
“Yeah, that’s kinda what doctors do when they patch someone up,” she tells him.
“Well he doesn’t have to enjoy it,” he points out sullenly and she snorts, a rare thing coming from Natasha, but it sort of makes him feel better. “It’s like everyone wants...” he stops and shrugs.
“I assume you realise you’re being ridiculous so I won’t point it out,” Natasha offers flatly. “Why does it bother you?”
He shrugs again. Hell if he knows. He just wants people to stop, and he kind of wants everyone to know Phil is off limits, and...
“So, apparently I am taking that day off,” Phil says, walking out and closing the door carefully. The cut on his brow looks much better now it has been cleaned and is held with butterfly bandage. He’s also favouring his left side, and if he allows them to see it, it must actually be serious. Clint’s fingers itch to reach out, but they’re still in the corridor outside the medical, and the doors are transparent.
“Mandated medical leave. I’m sure you’ll have a blast.”
“Don’t be so happy about it. Before they let me out they made me swear I’ll have someone checking up on me every hour to see if I remember my name,” he says dryly, a little annoyed. That’s good, annoyed is good. “I volunteered you, Barton.”
Clint nods. “The alternative was medical, wasn’t it.”
“I hate the smell,” Phil agrees. “Your company is a slight improvement,” he adds, and for once his face totally betrays the fact that he’s lying through his teeth.
“I’m flattered, sir. Shall we?” he asks, and follows Phil past Natasha, who winks at him knowingly. Once they get to Phil’s car, Clint extends his hand and waits for Phil to reluctantly give up the keys. He waits for Phil to get inside and close the doors before he gives in and turns in the driver’s seat, placing a hand on Phil’s cheek and tilting his head gently to investigate the injury.
“It’s nothing,” Phil tells him.
“Sure. That’s why you’re on mandated medical leave. And why good doctor Tom wanted to keep you in,” he says, managing to sound not bitter at all. While he’s working on that, the worry somehow comes through. Oh, well, can’t win all.
Phil covers his hand with his. “I’m fine. They wanted to keep me in as a precaution, and they did let me out.”
Precaution, that’s what they call it now, Clint doesn’t say. One battle at a time. “At least I have a reason to keep you in bed for the entire day.”
“Like you ever needed a reason for that.”
Clint’s going to murder Tony Stark.
It’s going to fuck with the perfect record of Avengers not killing one another (yet), and it could upset Phil due to the inevitable paperwork involved, but whatever. Tony has it coming.
This is what happens: it’s the day after the latest Hydra hijinks and they’re all at the mansion, in various stages of mild injury and general laziness. They tend to gravitate towards the media room in this state, and there’s take-out food and morning cartoons on tv (courtesy of Thor and Bruce, though Clint suspects Natasha secretly enjoys the Disney Channel though he’s yet to confirm that).
Phil arrives at some point during late morning, in one of his impeccable suits, looking crisp and sharp as always, even though Clint knows he hasn’t slept much, coordinating the cleanup and dealing with the fallout, as he does.
Everyone acknowledges the arrival with a nod or a quiet word, except for Thor, who exclaims “Son of Coul, welcome!” at a volume that makes Clint’s head hurt but is somehow never not hilarious.
Tony doesn’t look up from his box of noodles, but he raises his hand. “Hey, Coulson, before I forget. Agent Tan, you know, she was on the Hellicarier yesterday?”
“I know my personnel, Stark,” Phil says dryly and slides into a seat at the table next to Steve, handing him a thick folder of what looks like hours of fun paperwork.
“Apparently. Yeah, so she was asking about you, I gave her your number. The actual number, not the office extension. You need to have some fun, Coulson.”
Tony is really fucking lucky Clint’s gear is upstairs.
The prolonged silence makes Tony finally look up and glance around. His eyes shift between Steve, Natasha and Clint. Bruce has already hid his face in his palm, shaking his head a little like he can’t believe this shit.
Thor just looks a bit confused, like a golden retriever whose owner hid the ball.
“Thank you, Stark, but I believe I can manage my own affairs,” Phil tells him, his voice extremely calm and level, which makes Tony swallow whatever he was going to say next, probably as he remembers it’s not fun being tased.
Clint, however, can’t hold it in. “Married life so boring you have to live vicariously through Phil?” he asks, and then catches Steve’s look, realising. Phil, he said Phil, not Coulson. Steve offers him a nod and a small smile, and of course he figured it out, he’s not an idiot and he is interested in the well-being of his team. And Phil is a part of that team, whatever he says.
Tony, however, frowns at them. “What did I say?” he asks and Natasha rolls her eyes and clearly barely restrains herself from throwing a cushion at him.
“Clint, a word?” Phil says, and Clint is pretty sure that the first name slippage is completely deliberate from him, because Phil doesn’t make rookie mistakes like that. He nods and follows, a little surprised when Phil heads for the half-open kitchen area instead of anywhere with closed doors. “It’ll give Natasha a moment to smack him over the head,” he says quietly and Clint snorts, especially since there is a muted “ow” coming from Stark, followed by something quiet said by Bruce.
“Seriously?” Tony asks, loud enough they can hear him well. “Fuck, okay, that explains... but seriously? How come I didn’t know?”
Phil sighs and moves to pour himself a cup of coffee from the state-of-the-art coffee machine Tony designed himself one morning when their old one broke. It makes fucking great coffee and sometimes dispenses Skittles, no one knows why.
“I think it’s time we let people know,” Phil says, his tone a little uncertain. And not as if he’s reluctant to do this, but like he doesn’t know what Clint would say, if Clint would want to actually tell people.
Like Clint wasn’t ready for the rooftops shouting for a long time.
It’s not that they hid this. Fury knows, obviously, because you don’t hide shit from Fury and Clint is dead certain Phil reported this sometime between the first kiss and the first time they fucked (he must have fit a phonecall in those four minutes somehow). Most of the Avengers know (well, all now), Pepper knew for a while, Jane and Darcy, probably even Loki (there was this one time... you know what, don’t ask.) They’re not hiding. But they weren’t telling people either, and it’s been part of the whole thing that’s been driving Clint insane.
Yeah, okay, he’s an idiot and he should have said something.
That’s probably going to be his epitaph, what’s your point?
“Clint?” Phil prompts, because Clint’s spacing out, again. “You okay with that?”
Clint doesn’t answer immediately, just reaches out to take the coffee mug out of Phil’s hands and place it gingerly on the counter before moving into Phil’s space, slowly pressing him against the cupboards. Phil’s hands automatically move up, fingers tangling in Clint’s hair, one hand reassuringly on his back, as Clint leans in for a long, slow kiss.
He doesn’t stop even when he hears feet shuffling behind him and someone (Tony, obviously) clears his throat mock-politely.
“I get the point, Coulson. You obviously can manage your own affairs.”
Clint snorts into the kiss but he has no intention of stopping. Phil doesn’t move either, except for one of his hands momentarily moving to either flip Tony off or threaten to tase him, Clint would approve of both. Whatever it is, it makes Tony laugh warmly and tell them to get a room, or at least clear the way to the coffee machine.
Phil pulls back then, smiling slightly. “Fine, sometimes Stark has some valid ideas.”
“Thank you, Coulson,” Tony says seriously and makes shoo motions with his hands, intent on getting to the coffee.
Fine. Tony can live for now. Clint is nothing if not reasonable.
It concludes, fittingly, with Julia.
It’s not that surprising. She’s been doing well on the articulating her feelings front, even asking Phil about his lunch plans once or twice (Phil is still oblivious as to where that’s going, bless), and the gossip clearly hasn’t trickled down to the junior non-field personnel yet.
It’s not like they’ve been doing any rooftops shouting, after all. People get told when it comes up. Hill obviously already knew, because she’s kind of like Natasha and Fury combined and has spies everywhere, but now she does things like mentioning it when Clint ends up in medical again and she tells Phil to leave cleanup to her and go pace the corridor for a while.
Sitwell just looks at them for a long while and then nods slowly. “Hey, that explains... actually, it explains a lot.”
Phil actually tells Muriel, and asks if his boyfriend could get some more cheesecake, please, and the weirdest thing is that it works. And she practically coos at them and then tell Clint to take good care of Agent Coulson.
No, Clint doesn’t know what the hell either.
So, there’s some telling, but it’s not like they’re updating their Facebook statuses or some shit.
(Actually, none of the Avengers is allowed to have a Facebook page that isn’t run by a PR specialist anymore. Clint never had one to begin with, but he misses Thor’s page, it was fucking hilarious.)
There are still people who don’t know, and Clint is fine with that. Except, then there is Julia, and, well.
Clint catches only the last part of what she’s saying, when he slides into the seat next to Phil in the cafeteria. She’s blushing, but moving forward, and Clint only half listens as she goes on, until this:
“And I was wondering, can I buy you a coffee sometime?”
Clint blinks. Phil looks down at the coffee he’s currently drinking and then back up, and Clint sees the moment he actually catches on.
Phil Coulson, everyone. Can plan scenarios A to N for every mission and then up to V in case something goes wrong (X, Y, and Z are improvised on the spot), but doesn’t notice that a pretty girl has been trying to ask him out for months. It takes skill.
“I don’t think that would be appropriate, Agent Wendell,” Phil says, and yeah, there’s awkwardness in full swing, Clint remembers that. Good times, except not. It took a fucking near-death experience for them to get their shit together.
At least now he can help.
Fine, most people wouldn’t call pointedly kissing Phil in the middle of cafeteria during rush hour helpful, but most people can shut up.
“Oh,” Julia says, and then sits there awkwardly for the full half minute Clint makes the kiss last.
He’s just driving the point home.
Pun hopefully intended.
“Clint,” Phil says once Clint pulls back (and he’d like to point out he was the one to pull back, Phil wasn’t doing anything to stop or discourage the whole thing. So there.) and shakes his head, visibly fighting a smile from pushing its way into his swollen lips. “Office rule,” he reminds gently.
“Yeah,” Clint agrees. “About to be broken,” he offers and Phil doesn’t bother denying it.
The rumour mill is going to be running on this for months, best make sure there’s going to be some truth in that.