IT'S WHERE YOU LEAST EXPECT IT
The original plan had been to get Ethan Hunt discharged from the hospital and the hell away from the Avengers, back onto IMF’s property. Responsibility for a team of super-powered maniacs and crazed assassins, he would take. Being liable for damage to an attention-deficit superspy that was owned by another agency?
No, thank you.
Which, of course, meant Fate summarily decided to fuck with him.
“A sprinkler malfunction,” he repeated, not quite able to keep the incredulity from his voice. “In IMF’s only remaining uncompromised New York-area safehouse.”
“That is what I said, Coulson,” Fury answered, sounding far too entertained for Phil’s peace of mind.
Another spike of pain through his temples reminded Phil that clenching his teeth was not a good idea; stubbornly, he clenched them tighter, hoping the pain would help to ground him.
“Nick,” he began, stressing the other man’s name to remind him that at one point, they had actually been friends, and you didn’t do things like this to your friends if you didn’t want to wake up with something unfortunate tattooed down your nose, “what exactly am I supposed to do with them until another safehouse becomes available?”
He knew what the answer would be, had known since Fury’s ringtone had stabbed through his aching head two minutes before, but that didn’t stop him from absolutely dreading the answer.
Right on cue, the line gave a telltale click, just before Tony Stark’s voice interrupted what - theoretically - should have been a highly secured conversation on a heavily encrypted SHIELD line.
“Oh, for gods’ sakes, Coulson, just give them the address to the Tower,” Stark snapped, as though he had any right whatsoever to be fed up with the situation. “We’ve got plenty of room for two more, and it would be nice to have a couple of regular people around.”
Before Phil could even begin to iterate the dozens of reasons why it was an Exceedingly Bad Idea, capitals fully deserved, Fury responded with a calm “That seems to be our best option, yes. I’ll tell the Secretary that his men will be with us for a night or two.”
Coulson heard Stark chuckle, obviously pleased with himself, only to be interrupted with, “Mister Stark, we will discuss your ability to hack SHIELD cellphone encryptions at a later date.”
“Oh, dear, that’s JARVIS calling me, I’ll get you back,” Stark said, too-hasty, and vanished from the phone line with a blat of static.
“The oddest part of that is that he actually wasn’t lying,” Fury mused, and the light tapping of keys in the background told Coulson that Fury was tapping into Stark’s computer data. Turnabout was fair play, after all - but SHIELD already had Stark’s encryption key.
“You owe me a pay raise for this, Nick,” Phil sighed, glancing back towards the room where Ethan was no-doubt impatiently waiting for his discharge.
“Like hell I do. You’re already making more than I am,” Fury snorted, and hung up on him before Phil could narrow down the number of profanities he wanted to spit to only the ones in languages he knew Fury spoke.
He didn’t hear the footsteps behind him, but the sixth sense that field agents develop for the sake of survival warned him of the presence at his back a second before a familiar warmth touched his skin.
“Houseguests?” Clint asked, his voice wavering between sympathy and amusement as Phil shoved the phone into his pocket. His hands, heavy and callused, settled on Phil’s shoulders with the same delicacy they handled his bow, thumbs stroking lightly over the tense muscles above the collar of Phil’s jacket.
“Hmm,” Phil managed in agreement, his eyes falling shut as the familiar touch banished the screaming edge of the unwelcome pain behind his eyes. “Hope you don’t mind lending Brandt clothes overnight.”
“I think I can manage,” Clint chuckled, leaning in to nip suggestively at the back of Phil’s neck, the tiny trace of welcome pain forcing back more of the throbbing in his head, and Phil was just tipping his head back against Clint’s shoulder when the squeak of a shoe and a discreet cough alerted them to the presence of a nurse with Hunt’s discharge papers.
Phil was too tired to blush.