This was the most boring class Shawn Warzywoda had ever had the misfortune of attending.
It wasn't that the subject matter was boring. He loved this stuff, loved the readings, heck, he'd even enjoyed writing the papers. He was not so enthusiastic about the professor. The guy was a blowhard, and a boring one at that.
Class was supposed to be over eleven minutes ago. Six minutes ago, a nondescript man in a well-tailored dark suit had slipped through the door, and was currently standing, feet braced a precise shoulder width apart and arms folded casually over his chest, just beside the door. He was average height, average build, of indistinct age and background. A good looking man, but not enough to draw the eye.
Spectacularly average, all around.
And something about him set off every alarm bell Shawn possessed.
The second hand on the clock swept past the twelve, and he saw, rather than heard the man heave a sigh, his shoulders rising and falling. “Mr. Warzywoda,” he said, and Shawn was really hoping he'd hallucinated that, except that everyone in the lecture hall turned in their seats to look at him. “Please gather your things and come with me.”
Shawn stared down at him and wondered if he could make it out the back door of the hall before this guy could reach him.
The smile on the man's face stretched, just a little. “No,” he said, his voice amused. “You can't. Please gather your things and come with me.”
“Excuse me,” Prof. Durbrow snapped. “Class isn't done yet. He can go when I've finished.”
The man didn't even look at him. “Class period was over twelve minutes ago. You stopped having anything worthwhile to say nineteen minutes ago. At this point, you're holding your students hostage because you mistakenly believe that this enhances your standing with them and maintains a power imbalance. It doesn't. It just makes you an asshole.”
There was a beat of stunned silence, and then someone, someone who did not care about their grade or their potential future in this department started to laugh, a high, semi-hysterical sound, and Shawn was pretty sure it was him.
“Who do you think you-” That was as far as Durbrow got before a small wallet was held up in front of his face. He went stark white and took a stumbling, tripping step backwards, his feet making a racket the whole way. His hand clipped his cup of coffee and it went tumbling to the ground with a splash.
“Mr. Warzywoda,” the man said, slipping the wallet back into his inner jacket pocket, smoothing the fabric back into place with a steady hand. “I'm on a schedule here. If you could please?”
And giving in to the inevitability of the situation, Shawn shoved his books and notes in the general vicinity of his backpack. Hugging the whole mess to his chest, and losing a couple of pens on the way down the stairs, he tripped his way down to the floor.
He staggered to a stop, his load almost unbalancing him. Mr. Manners gave him a faintly amused look, his eyebrows forming a precise arch over intelligent, sharp eyes, and reached out. Shawn wasn't sure what he did, but an instant later, his things were neatly stacked, stashed, and his zipped-up backpack was being settled on his shoulder.
Then he was being escorted out the door, a firm hand on his elbow. “What the hell is going on?” Shawn managed, clutching the strap of his backpack with both hands like a lifeline.
“I'm Agent Phil Coulson of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division, Mr. Warzywoda,” the man said with that faint half-smile. “Your recent interaction with a member of the Avengers Initiative has brought you and your boyfriend to our attention.”
“Well, shit,” Shawn said.
“Yes, that's about the size of it,” Coulson said. “You're taking it better than most.”
“I suppose on some level, I've been expecting a federal agency to tell me I make poor choices in, you know, who I date. Or poor life choices in general. That seemed pretty likely. I wasn't going to fight it.” He paused, and his feet wanted to stop, but Coulson kept him moving. “Maybe I should go with you to get Drew,” he said, trying to sound nonchalant.
“Too late, we picked him up first,” Coulson said.
Shawn winced. “Uh, how did that go?”
“He screamed, 'You'll never take me alive, narc,' then tried to crawl out a second floor window.”
“The funny thing is,” Shawn said, his voice sounding faint to his own ears, “that he really is quite fundamentally anti-drug. Little straight edge going on there.”
“I'm aware of that. However, since it appears that he's the only one in his 'Philosophy of Emerging AI' class that is not currently carrying a baggie of weed, he did set off a general panic. Which, I take it, was his intent. As the rest of the class dissolved into a barely restrained mob, he threw himself head first out of the nearest window. I give him credit for thinking on his feet.”
Shawn covered his face with one hand. “Oh, God,” he managed. “Did he break anything?”
“His professor's prime African Violet and his dignity. Everything else is intact. I have some experience catching morons who throw themselves off of high spots. Without warning. Or any concern for how they will eventually end up landing.” He sighed. “I carried Mr. Clark from the building by his belt.”
“I'm so sorry.” Shawn let himself be hustled through the building, ignoring the looks he was getting from everyone in attendance. He was either going to be a social pariah or invited to every party for the next year. It was hard to tell. “Where is he now?”
“In the back seat of my car. One of my colleagues is keeping an eye on him.”
“How- How's that going?”
“We convinced him that no matter what button he pushes, the car is not going to fire missiles. Or produce a smoke screen. Then we gave him a Frappacino and the latest issue of Out. He's happy as the proverbial clam. Last I knew, he was reading blowjob tips out loud to Agent Sitwell.”
“Of course he was.” Shawn took a deep breath, feeling the beginnings of a stress headache build behind his temples. “Is this information that Agent Sitwell wants or needs?”
“Not to my knowledge, but all SHIELD agents are trained to withstand torture. He should be fine. Want a cup of coffee?”
Shawn gave up. “Sure.”
“I'm just saying, there are other articles you could've read. Some actor puff piece or something.”
“Listen, sweetie, everyone needs blowjob advice,” Drew told him as they were escorted into the room. The agent who'd brought them this far seemed all too eager to leave now that they were safely tucked away. The door shut behind them with a staggering finality, and Shawn resisted the urge to freak the fuck out. Drew didn't seem the least bit concerned. “No one has a natural talent for blowjobs.”
“That is a fucking lie,” the pretty, dark haired woman with her feet up on the table said. She was wearing a short skirt that was all the shorter because of her position, and a bright red top that was cut dangerously low into some very impressive cleavage. She grinned at them, her lips red around the stick of her lollypop. “Hey, fresh meat. C'mon in.”
“I don't swing that way, sister,” Drew said, with a wide smile.
“Like I'd want your skinny ass,” she shot back without missing a beat. “I was talking to tall, dark, and handsome there behind you.”
Shawn swiveled around to look. When he figured it out and looked back, his face felt like it was on fire.
“Oh, God, let me love you,” the girl said, her white teeth flashing as she grinned all the wider.
“I will rip your hair out by the rots if you try,” Drew said cheerfully. “I suspect him of bi-tendencies, and your rack is enough to distract even me. That is impressive. I am impressed.”
“Aren't you the sweetest thing,” she said, her lips twitching.
“I know!” Drew threw himself into the chair next to her. “I'm Drew. This is Shawn. We were shanghaied from our college campus.”
“Hi,” Shawn said, taking a seat. He wished his face didn't still feel hot.
“Heya. I'm Darcy. My boss was studying celestial phenomena when a bunch of cranky Asgardians landed on us. She got laid. I got college credit. This is Harris. He's psychologically scarred, and not talking to me anymore. Also, kind of a wuss,” Darcy said, waving a limp wristed hand at the other occupant of the room. He gave her a scathing look, which didn't seem to bother her in the least.
Harris was almost as skinny as Drew, with wheat blonde hair, a broken arm in a navy blue sling and a haunted expression on his face. “I am not 'psychologically scarred,'” he said, the words gritted out from between clenched teeth. “I am just having a rough patch.”
“A couple of YEARS is not a patch,” Darcy pointed out.
“It's an extensive patch,” he snapped back, and Shawn had not been aware that he could hear a migraine headache in someone's voice, but he was pretty sure that was what that was.
“Whatever, dude, you are FUBAR, you might as well accept it with grace. Grace or booze.” She pulled the lollypop from her mouth with an audible pop, and pointed it at Drew. “What're you in for?”
He didn't pretend to misunderstand. “I tried to steal Captain America's phone.”
“Probably less that, and more the fact that he humped Tony Stark's leg,” Shawn said.
“Hump is such an ugly word, Shawn,” Drew said, trying for dignity. It wasn't a particularly good fit on him, because he was wearing a pink t-shirt that featured a booty-shaking unicorn.
“What would you call it?” Shawn asked, eyebrows arched.
Drew considered that. “A full body hug with occasional hip thrusts,” he said at last, making Darcy laugh.
“Baby, I'd stick with hump,” she said. She stabbed the lollypop at Shawn. “And you?”
“I'm dating him.”
“He's got his good points,” Shawn said.
“Do they involve humping?”
“What is WRONG with you people?” Harris asked.
“Baby, to answer that question, I'd need so much more time and so much more alcohol,” Drew said to Harris. “It is true, I am Shawn's latest twinkie.”
“You a player?” Darcy asked Shawn, her eyes dancing. She swung her legs off the table and leaned forward, her broad mouth curling in a naughty smile.
“He's, uh, he is my first boyfriend,” Shawn said, and there was that damned blush again. “So, most adamantly no.”
Drew patted him lightly on the shoulder. “He is a player in training. I am training him. However, his presence here probably has more to do with the fact that he got between Dr. Banner and a Fox News commentator and argued the man into stuttering incompetence.”
“That's really not that hard,” Shawn muttered. “In that it was a low-level Fox News flunky.”
“Theological arguments in two languages involving the Bible and the Quran are kind of, I don't know, involved for a lot of people,” Drew said, rolling his eyes. “Certainly more involved than the average talking head from a major news network is capable of dealing with.”
“We agreed not to bring that whole situation up again,” Shawn said.
“I lied. You made a Fox commentator almost cry on national tv. That's a deep and abiding fantasy for me. I love you for your mind. Among other things.” Drew gave him a filthy grin, and Shawn wondered if it was possible to die from chronic embarrassment. “What's your story, Darce?”
“I tased Thor. Also, in the most technical sense, hit him with a truck. That was totally my boss' fault, by the way.” She paused. “And I may have pushed Hawkeye into a mob of angry bikers. It's all a blur, so I'm not willing to let that one go into my file without a fight.” Another pause, this one longer. Everyone waited, and she shifted in her chair. “And I slashed Coulson's tires.”
“Dude,” Drew said, deeply disapproving.
“He stole my iPod! I was drunk and Clint lent me his knife! Okay, so he was drunk and I stole his knife, same diff.” She grinned at Harris. “How 'bout you, Chief? What's your story?”
He gave her a level look. “I helped Tony Stark rescue ninety-three foreign nationals held in a Hydra compound in Southeast Asia,” he said, his voice flat.
There was a moment of silence as everyone stared at him. “He wins,” Shawn told the others.
“He's not playing the same game we are,” Drew complained.
“It was less that, and more the fact that, unarmed and with a broken arm, he told the Black Widow to, and I quote, 'fuck off,'” Coulson said from the doorway. “And he lived. It's impressive.”
“I was kind of out of it at that point,” Harris said on a sigh.
“Badass,” Coulson told him, completely deadpan about it. He shut the door behind him, then immediately reopened it when there was a faint thumping. “You're late,” he said to the floating hockey puck shaped object that zipped past him. “No sense of punctuality whatsoever.”
It did not seem concerned. It floated over to the table and came to a delicate landing.
“Is that a Roomba?” Drew asked.
“Is that a flying Roomba?” Shawn asked.
“Is that Clint's special boy Mr. Fantastic the flying Roomba?” Darcy asked.
“Can I leave before this gets any weirder?” Harris asked.
“Yes, yes, yes, and good try,” Coulson walked up the length of the table, dropping thick folders of paperwork in front of each of them. The folders hit with the finality of a gunshot, one after another, with barely a break in between to reload.
He took a seat at the head of the table. “Welcome to SHIELD.”
“Yes,” Drew shrieked.
Harris stood. “I quit.”
“Good try, sit down,” Coulson said, looking amused.
“When do we get our guns?” Darcy asked, her eyes huge.
“Never. I trust the Roombas with a weapon before you.” He gave the Roomba on the table a narrow eyed look. It had been edging towards his paperwork, and now retreated with a whir. “And I do not trust the Roombas. At all.”
“There is always a Arquillian Battle Cruiser, or a Corillian Death Ray, or an intergalactic plague that is about to wipe out all life on this miserable little planet,” the Roomba said, chipper about it, “and the only way these people can get on with their happy lives is that they do not know about it!”
Coulson sighed. “Rule number one, don't trust Stark as far as you can throw him. Unless you have a catapult. Then, remember the SHIELD Google calendar exists for a reason.”
“It talks? Bitching,” Drew said, his voice reverent.
“Was that a Men in Black quote?” Shawn asked, staring at the Roomba.
“They took over the building a few months back,” Darcy told the boys.
“They did not 'take over the building,'” Coulson said, his voice stern. “They caused a few minor problems. Let us practice repelling a hostile force. Provided target practice for our more inept employees.”
“The building was evacuated.”
“That was due to an unrelated problem.”
“What unrelated problem?” Shawn asked.
“Why would you possibly ask that question?” Harris asked, rubbing his forehead.
“Agent Barton was eaten by the air ducts,” Coulson said, and Darcy burst out laughing.
“Now I know you're making shit up.”
“Mmm.” Coulson made the non-committal noise with a faint smile and a twinkle in his eye.
“I don't think he is,” Shawn said, considering the man's poker face. It was epic. Odes could be written to this man's poker face.
“I know he's not,” Harris said. “Look, this place has its own medical facility.” He waved his good arm at the sling that held his bad arm. “The nurse told me that they buy the slings in SHIELD blue to match the uniforms, do you know what that means?”
“That once you get your uniform, you'll be coordinated?” Coulson asked, his faint, amused smile stretching just a tiny bit more. “That we're a detail oriented organization? That style matters?”
“It means that a lot of people employed by this freak show end up with broken arms!”
“We try to avoid phrases like 'freak show,'” Coulson said. “If you'll check your orientation packet, you'll find a list of words and phrases that HR and the psych staff would like you to avoid at all times.” Darcy peeked in her folder, and Coulson flipped his own. “That would be page twelve. Page fourteen includes a list of phrases and words that are only allowable in actual combat or emergency situations.”
Shawn stared down at the list, eyebrows so high he was pretty sure they were no longer on his face. “Question. How will we know what counts as an emergency situation?”
“The people around you will be saying the words on page fourteen,” Coulson explained, deadpan. “That'll be your first hint. Oh, and if anyone in the chain of command says number eighty-five, by the way, lethal force is authorized from that point forward.”
Darcy ran a manicured finger down the list. “Some of these are unbelievably filthy,” she said. “How do you pronounce number sixty-one?”
“Just like it's spelled.” Coulson considered it. “Long 'e' sound,” he added.
“Are we being hazed?” Shawn asked.
“Please refer to the third packet, form 1006-HP, hazing is not allowed on SHIELD property, using SHIELD funds or equipment, and is not tolerated during after hours socializing. Too many people in this organization are heavily armed or have psych profiles that tend towards supervilliany.”
“Seriously, you do not just grab random students and give them employment contracts,” Drew said, crossing his arms. “Forgive us for not signing on the dotted line.”
“Screw it,” Darcy said with a grin. “I'll sign. I've got student loans.”
“Anyone that comes into contact with the Avengers Initiative, especially in a non-combat situation lasting for more than a few minutes, is subject to a background check,” Coulson explained. “If at any point during that check, the individual sets off certain alarm bells, well then, there's two departments that potentially could become involved with the situation.”
He leaned forward, his hands folded neatly in front of him, his smile stretching. “HR, or Threat Neutralization. Trust me. Be glad you're looking at the HR folder.”
“I would very much like to request to be released, or to know the charges against me,” Harris said.
“Mr. MacIntyre.” Coulson tapped an index finger on the file in front of him, the sound slow and measured. “The charges? By that, I believe you're asking why we've taken an interest in you?” He flicked the folder open, but didn't bother even glancing down at the contents.
“Harrison Dean MacIntyre, age 25, born in Alexandria, Virginia. No living relatives. Masters in compsci, with undergraduate minors in cryptography and linguistics. Fluent in five languages, Navy brat, raised mostly overseas in the Pacific rim and the European theater. Versed in basic mechanical function and engineering principle. Certified in sailing, small aircraft, and diving. Licensed in most street-legal vehicles, and that thing with the tank? That was an interesting little nugget, I appreciated that. Fascinating reading.”
Harris looked like he was considering slamming his face off the table. “I thought that juvenile records were sealed.”
“There's no such thing as a sealed file, Mr. MacIntyre, only files that are a little harder to access.”
“Wait, what did you do with a tank when you were a juevie?” Darcy asked, her eyes huge. “You. And a tank.”
“I was fifteen!” he snapped.
“I am so turned on right now,” Darcy said, bracing her chin one fisted hand.
“What is wrong with you?” Harris asked her.
Coulson flipped a page. He still wasn't looking at the folder, but the act drew everyone's attention. “Decent hand to hand combat training, and proficient in small arms. Your rife and larger caliber weapons scores are rather, well, lacking, but we can work around that. A few weeks in the range and you should be up to standard. Or you'll have a breakdown. Either way, it'll just require a few forms to be filled out. It happens.”
“Look-” Harris said.
“Author of the highly successful 'whisker' virus of 2004,” Coulson said.
“Yeah, you made a mess with that one. Never traced back to you. Because you used a government network to disburse it.” He closed the file, and blinked up at Harris. “You are free to leave at any time, Mr. MacIntyre. However, I think your best option at this point is to accept our offer of employment.”
“And why is that?” Harris asked, sounding pained.
“Because we protect our own, and you have, in the most technical sense, been employed by a terrorist organization for the past year,” Coulson said with a bemused smile. “Now that you've been released from medical care, and that was covered by your employee health benefits, by the way, excellent plan, no deductible, dental, best in the industry, the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security would like to speak to you.”
“I was held against my will. By armed guards,” Harris said. “C'mon!”
“Oh, yes, and heaven knows, the Department of Homeland Security never gets anything wrong. Or looks for a convenient scapegoat. Say, a programmer who was found near the WMDs that used his guidance program? Because that looks bad.” Coulson's fingers rattled across the folder, a slow roll. “I have to say, in their defense, that looks bad. So the question is, Mr. MacIntyre, are you taking these meetings alone, or will a SHIELD representative be accompanying you?”
He leaned forward. “I would not go alone. If I were you.”
Harris slumped in his chair. “Son of a bitch,” he said, but his voice was resigned. Almost amused.
“Dude,” Drew said, before Shawn could cover his mouth with his hand and drag the other boy away. Calling attention to themselves right now? Not something Shawn wanted to be doing. “That was BEAUTIFUL.”
Coulson's lips twitched, just a little, and Shawn wondered when he'd begun to recognize that as a sign of extreme danger. “Thank you,” he said, his voice serene. His eyes never left Harris'.
“Do you get all of your employees via blackmail?” Harris asked, but his lips were curling up at the corners, just a little.
“Not at all. Some of them, I shoot.” Coulson waved a languid hand at the other three occupants of the room. “I'll gain these three just by letting them witness this conversation.”
“Wait, I'm not going to get blackmailed?” Darcy sounded highly insulted. Her eyes comically wide, she demanded, “What the hell? Take me seriously, Coulson! I am not going to let you-”
“Sea World,” Coulson said, never even glancing at her.
“I'm good!” Darcy flipped open her folder. “Wow, so good, thanks, where do I sign?”
“Everywhere I've marked with a post-it note arrow,” Coulson said. His lips were twitching again. “Anyone else?” Shawn raised his hand, the movement tentative. “I am aware you have not graduated yet. Your placement at this time will officially be as a summer intern, which carries a salary, a room in the barracks, and tuition reimbursement. Oh, and full benefits.”
“Give me a pen,” Drew said, without missing a beat.
“I think they might be evil.” Shawn gave Coulson a nervous look. “No offense sir, really, please do not take offense right now, but you look like you need a long-haired white cat and some interchangeable minions. I do not want to be a minion.”
“I'll be a minion if it means a paycheck, an affordable living space in New York, and not having to spend the next three months having to pretend I'm not a 'sexual deviant' to the occupants of Oklahoma's most ass-backwards small town,” Drew said. “Seriously, last summer my aunt tried to have me exorcised. Her church group tried to chase out my gay with Holy Water.”
“Did it work?” Darcy asked.
Drew gave her a withering look. “First of all, while the Southern Baptists have a proud history of throwing water on people, they don't really have an actual idea of what an exorcism entails, other than watching the non-gross parts of The Exorcist. Hint: there aren't many non-gross parts of The Exorcist. Second, the whole idea is moronic. Third, most successful exorcisms don't involve lemon squares or red velvet cake, no matter how polite the participants. Fourth, DOES IT LOOK LIKE IT WORKED?”
“Hard to say,” Darcy said, bouncing the tip of her pen off the folder. “Maybe? I would never presume to know someone's orientation from physical appearance or traits, that's just rude.” Drew flipped her off, but he was grinning.
“It didn't work,” Shawn whispered. “I have ways of knowing. It did not work.” Darcy started to laugh, a full body gaffaw.
Coulson arched an eyebrow. “I'm allergic to cats, I leave the minions to Stark, and the maniacal cackling to Director Fury,” he said. “It's safer for all involved. Any other questions?”
“What's the fraternization policy?” Darcy asked, still choking back giggles.
“Everyone consenting and happy, and it does not affect your ability to do your job, and it will be politely ignored. Remember two things, however. One, it's entirely likely that either the person you're hitting on is heavily armed, or their current partner is. Make sure you are not making unwelcome advances, because most things of that nature are 'settled,'” he made finger quotes around the words, “without HR ever being notified.: Two, there are cameras everywhere here.” He paused. Sighed. “Everywhere.”
“And on that ominous note, I'll be using the bathroom at the Starbucks across the street,” Shawn said. He reached for his pen. What the hell. He didn't want to go home this summer, either. He set the pen to paper and damned if that didn't feel like signing his soul away.
“Everywhere,” Coulson repeated, the word a physical presence in the room.
“This is the worst choice I've ever made,” Darcy said, signing with a flourish.
“Do you have any other advice for us?” Drew asked, his pen scratching across the page.
“Don't eat the egg salad in the cafeteria. Trust me.” Coulson arched an eyebrow at Harris. “Well, Mr. MacIntyre?”
He rubbed a hand across his face. “I have one demand.”
“You're the one who goes with me to the meetings with the other government bureaucrats.”
“Of course. Stark already made that request.” Coulson held out a pen, and Harris took it with a faint sigh.
He leaned over and signed with a flourish, slapping the file folder shut. “Sir?”
“Yes?” Coulson started collecting paperwork.
“Why is the Roomba here?”
“Last test of your psych profiles. If that caused you to freak out, you weren't going to survive long.” Coulson gave Mr. Fantastic a stern look. “Thank you. You may go.” The Roomba lifted off the table and hovered there for a second before darting towards Coulson, who had a gun out and leveled at it before anyone could blink. Shawn made an undignified squeaking noise. “If you eat another one of my ties,” Coulson said, his voice full of polite wrath, “Not even Barton will be able to save you from the scrap heap.”
The Roomba floated forward and bumped against Coulson's forehead. “I hate those things,” Coulson said. He reholstered his gun. “Darcy, could you please let it out?”
She stood up and bounced to the door along with the Roomba. Catching it, she leaned over and pressed cherry red lips to the case. “Go say hi to Clint for me!” she said, opening the door.
“You haven't been given a post yet, Ms. Lewis. Behave before you end up in the requisition department.”
Darcy blew Coulson a kiss. “You know you love me.”
“Tires. Bikers. The laundry incident.” He bent over the paperwork.
She froze. “Uh, didn't know you knew about that one.”
“Ms. Lewis, I know about everything.”
“I am beginning to believe that, yes.” She cleared her throat. “So...”
“So, as the only one familiar with the neighborhood, bring them down to Tony Stark's Super-Secret Speakeasy and get them set up with a tab.”
She chewed on her lower lip. “You, uh, you know-”
“Everything, Ms. Lewis. Everything.” His lips curled up. Just the tiniest bit. “Go.”
“Going.” She grabbed Harris by his good arm and dragged him up. “Let's go. You drink, don't you?”
“Oh, Jesus, yes,” Harris said.
“I'm not, um, I'm not twenty-one yet,” Shawn said, as Drew scrambled in their wake.
“No one cares,” Darcy said.
“No one cares!” Darcy grabbed his arm with her free hand. “You need a drink. You just became a super-secret secret agent.”
“I need so much booze,” Harris said, his voice faint.
“Wuss,” Darcy told him, laughing. “Let's go.”
“What's Tony Stark's Super Secret Speakeasy?” Drew asked.
“Just what it sounds like. It's a hidden bar that Stark started in bowels of SHIELD to keep the average SHIELD agent from shooting him in the back. It's been pretty successful. Everyone knows it's there, and no one talks about it.” She grinned. “You need the password to get in.”
“What's the password?”
“Iron Man is my hero,” she said, sing-song. “Unless you're Director Fury. Then the password is 'Don't make me shoot you, motherfucker.'”
“I just wanted to make video games,” Harris said. “That's it. That was all.”
“Shouldn't have been a badass, then,” Darcy told him. “So, that thing with the tank...”
“You can come down now,” Phil Coulson said, his pen moving efficiently over the pages spread out in front of him.
There was a second's pause, and then the scuff of boots hitting the floor. “How do you always know?” Clint asked, spinning a chair out with one foot and sinking into it.
Phil gave him a sideways look, trying to make it stern, but it was hard when there was that much Clint in the room. “I'm just that fucking good,” he said, utterly deadpan.
“You are.” Clint wiggled his eyebrows. “Did you just get minions, Phil?”
“I'm hurt, Phil. I am deep down hurt right now. I thought I was your only minion.”
“You are my favorite minion, that will just have to be enough for you.” Phil felt his lips twitch and struggled against it.
“Also, I had better not find out that you recruited anyone else with a bullet. I thought that was just us. That was our special THING, Phil.”
“Most people are smart enough to give in when the warning shot is fired, Clint. You're the only one who has refused to see reason,” Coulson said, and there was no holding back the smile now. “You are unique.”
“True.” Clint put his feet up on the table. “So, you planning on telling Shawn that he's your Captain America Fanpage buddy?”
Coulson's fingers twitched on the metal case of his pen. “Excuse me?” he asked, trying to sound amused. Or disdainful.
“You know. The fact that you do the fanboy thing with him. All the time.” Clint grinned. “You may know everything, sir, but I know you.”
Phil capped his pen and put it down. “Really.”
“Oh, yeah.” Clint pulled a lollypop from his jacket pocket and unwrapped it. Tucking it between his teeth, he grinned. “So?”
“That information's going to be kept on a need to know basis,” Phil said, giving into the inevitable. He stared at the lollypop, his eyes narrowing. “You and Ms. Lewis?”
“I love that girl. Little sister I never had.” Clint rolled the lollypop stick in his mouth. “We are going to have so much fun. Natasha just scowls at her and gives her candy anyway. I do not know why or how. It's like Darce is a small woodland creature that must be fed. Natasha's going to keep her as a pet.”
“This was the worst mistake I've ever made,” Coulson said to no one in particular.
“Nah, that would've been shooting my Roomba.” Clint rolled to his feet and brushed his lips against Phil's. “Everything else can be forgiven.”
“You cannot imagine my relief.”