The key doesn’t turn in the lock, the doors are open when Phil knows he left them closed.
It could be a thief, long way gone now. It could be someone making a rookie mistake of alerting his intended prey to a trap.
It could be someone who just doesn’t give a shit, someone confident enough to disregard the danger Phil could pose. And that could be a mistake, or a calling card.
“The only valuables I had worth of stealing have already been damaged beyond repair, so you’re shit out of luck,” he says to the intruder. He reaches into his holster and steps into the darkness of the house and doesn’t turn on the light, just waits.
“You could just offer me coffee,” Clint says, from where he’s perched by the window, half obscured by the curtains. “Tried to find it, but your kitchen cabinets system sucks.”
“Have you tried in the jar marked coffee?” Phil asks, closing the door behind him and not breathing out in relief. He holds the feeling in, telling himself that to begin with it is because there’s no actual danger and no chances of ruining the furniture. Not because Clint is here, not because... “I’m out of milk.”
Phil nods and goes to make it, wordlessly placing the gun he reached for on the way in on the counter. He adds more sugar to Clint’s mug to make up for the lack of milk. Clint watches him quietly, moves to sit at the counter, hands on his knees, still.
Phil places the mug on the counter with a clinking sound, the liquid swashing against the sides. Clint flinches almost unnoticeably, the line of his sight shifting away from the gun.
The line of his mouth is disapproving, somehow. Not of Phil pulling the gun, Phil realizes with a start, but of him putting it down.
It’s been over a month of Clint back on active duty now, and Phil wonders how many people trust him, how many don’t, after the Helicarrier and after Loki. There are probably some who wince seeing him with the bow in the field, there are others who request reassignment just in case. A month is a long time, but it’s also hardly any time at all.
“Your coffee is still shitty,” Clint tells him but continues to drink it regardless.
Clint brought a half-empty duffel bag. He’s always packed light, but even for him one change of clothes and one gun is a little scarce. A gun, not a bow, Phil notes, not even the foldable one, which should be a sign of something, Phil can’t quite figure out what yet.
“Really?” Clint asks when Phil hands him a set of clothes to sleep in. He holds up the t-shirt, the oldest piece of clothing Phil owns. He bought it in college, he thinks, or maybe the summer before that started, and it’s faded, threadbare, the Captain America shield on the front almost completely faded but faintly visible. “No, but really?”
The incredulousness runs a little fake, like Clint’s only pretending to be gleeful at the thought of the blackmail material to share with Natasha or Stark. Phil knows he’s been aiming for a reaction when he chose this particular shirt but this isn’t quite it.
It would be more helpful if he knew what he wanted, but you can’t have everything.
“I’ll call Fury,” he says and Clint grimaces.
“I’m not exactly MIA. I left a note.”
He probably did, Phil thinks, pinned to Nick’s door with an arrow. Clint likes a classic. He dials Fury’s number and waits for him to pick up, saying without preamble “he’s here.”
“Noted,” Fury says, completely unsurprised. “Tell him this counts towards his time off.”
There are questions on the tip of Phil’s tongue, about Clint, about others, but he holds them back and disconnects. If there was something he should know, he’d be told (at least that’s what he’s telling himself.)
The shirt stretches across Clint’s shoulders, fitting him better than it ever did Phil, but that’s not surprising. There’s a small hole on the knee of his pants, the edges frayed, and Phil’s gaze is inexplicably drawn to it. He forces himself to look up.
“There’s not much choice with tv channels.”
“I’m sure you’ll find a rerun of Supernanny somewhere,” Clint shrugs and folds himself into the couch, staring at the tv intently while Phil flicks through the channels. He seems riveted, like this is the reason he drove for four hours to get here. Phil knows better, there’s no way he’s here for shitty coffee and shittier tv and Phil’s company.
Phil doesn’t bother with trying to guess the real reason. He has a few working ideas, but nothing definite. It’s Clint, it could be a lot of things. At least if it was anything related to SHIELD business, Fury would have told him. Probably.
He settles on the channel, one of those survivalist reality shows, where they build rafts and eat bugs. Not Phil’s first choice in reality tv, but the alternative was the news channel and it’s the report from Midtown clean-up progress. He shifts on the couch, trying to settle into a comfortable position that doesn’t cause a shooting pain in his chest and finds its more challenging than he thought.
He’s a little too wired, be it from the adrenaline spike from earlier, or Clint’s presence. That’s not usually the issue, they have spent long periods of time in closed spaces together. At Phil’s worst, tired or drugged to the gills or wounded, Clint is still marked as comforting, familiar. But now there’s tension in his shoulders, despite the show of making himself comfortable, his legs stretched, feet propped on the coffee table, arm extended on the back of the couch. It makes Phil ill at ease, makes it hard to concentrate on the tv and not glance aside to see how Clint’s doing.
“Thor started watching this,” Clint says. His voice doesn’t as much startle Phil as it sends a low shiver down his spine, for some reason, easing and upping the tension at the same time. “I don’t want to point fingers, but Stark started him on Bear Grylls and it sort of spiralled. He says he’s learning a lot about Midgardian customs this way, don’t ask me how. Cap, on the other hand, remains unimpressed by the way tv developed.”
“You should show him the Discovery channel,” Phil says, nodding. He knows Clint says it as a peace offering of a sort. Phil’s been doing well not asking after everyone. “So, Thor’s back.”
“Yeah, two weeks now. Spent some time with Jane and then Stark convinced him to join the clubhouse. Right,” he says at Phil’s look. “Stark’s turning the tower into an Avengers hangout, sorta. Dr. Banner practically moved in, we’re there most of the time...”
“You’re telling me Agent Romanov basically moved in with Stark?” he says flatly and Clint smirks.
“Hey, I didn’t think of it that way, I need to tell her.” He drums his fingers against the armrest, mouth working around something he’s figuring out how to say. “She says hi, by the way. I think she misses you or something.”
“This is because Fury won’t let her taze Stark.”
“Probably,” Clint nods. He looks like he might add something more but doesn’t and they fall silent again, even as the show fades into commercial. Phil stifles a yawn and Clint, not even looking at him, moves to stand up. “I’m keeping you up.”
Normally, Phil would argue, but he is tired, his chest hurts more than it should after the light exertion during the day, and he doesn’t quite find the arguments to keep Clint for a bit longer. Not like they’ve been having a scintillating conversation. “I’ll show you the guest room.”
“Let me guess. The one on the left, that isn’t your bedroom?” he shrugs. “It’s not a big house, Coulson, I can figure it out.”
Phil rolls his eyes, more because it’s expected of him than from any real exasperation and waves Clint away. “Good night, then.”
Clint hesitates just for the briefest of seconds before turning to walk away, brief enough for Phil to think he might have imagined it.
Clint is gone when Phil wakes up, but his bag is still beside the bed, with clothes from last night thrown over the back of the chair. It doesn’t necessarily means he’ll come back, but Phil rather likes his chances.
He’s almost done with breakfast, the coffee brewed already, when Clint comes in. He’s obviously been running, and he opens his mouth to offer an explanation but thinks better of it when Phil shrugs at him.
“Good timing,” he says, gesturing at Clint to sit down at the counter and putting a plate in front of him.
“Eggs and bacon? You really think I’m that easy?” Clint asks, even as he’s digging in. There’s a slight smirk in the corner of his mouth when he says it, and he must have said a variation of this a thousand times before, because there are moments when Clint is just about as mature as Stark, but something about the way he says it now bothers Phil.
Clint’s angry, and doing a poor job hiding it, whether because he is too furious or can’t be bothered or wants Phil to realise. And the thing is, Phil knew this before, knew it yesterday, probably since the moment Clint arrived.
There’s a reason it’s scrambled eggs and bacon, Clint’s breakfast of choice, when he has the choice. He goes for thick and fattening and salty, whenever the SHIELD nutritionists aren’t there to fuck with his preferences. Phil, when it’s his time to choose, on missions and cover-ops, away from the HQ cafeteria, picks pancakes, or waffles, drowned in maple syrup.
Today he went for eggs without a second thought, not really thinking much of it. Maybe he did hope Clint was precisely that easy, or maybe he thought it would make a good start.
He can’t say any of that out loud.
He takes a swallow of coffee to wash down the unspoken words. It’s too hot on his tongue, but that’s a minor inconvenience.
“After breakfast, you should show me around town,” Clint says, a slight non sequitur between one mouthful and another.
“What were you doing for half of the morning?”
“I went running, not sightseeing. I saw lots of trees and a girl walking a dog. I assume there’s more to the town.”
Phil shrugs. “Not that much.” He waits as Clint crosses his arms and leans back in his chair. “Fine,” he sighs after a moment.
They have a discussion whether they’re driving and walking, a discussion that isn’t quite heated or vicious enough to be an argument but feels pretty damn close. Phil’s sure he should lose it, on account of Clint having a pretty damn good option of pulling out Phil’s recent injury, but Clint gives up in what seems to be a middle, pursing his lips and shaking his head, like he can’t believe he got dragged into this in the first place.
The walk isn’t that long, even, though the part of it is uphill and Phil is determined not to get short of breath. The wound doesn’t even hurt that much, just itches slightly, but that’s the stitches, nothing to worry about.
They pass Celia Montgomery biking along the road, and she waves at Phil cheerfully even as she’s staring at Clint. “Morning, Mr. C!” she calls out and manages not to crash into a tree when Clint waves back at her.
“Mr. C, really?” Clint asks under his breath, and Phil shrugs.
“She’s sixteen,” and really, that is an explanation for a great many things in this world. “I went to school with her parents,” he adds.
“So this really is that small town of yours,” Clint says, and the curious inflection makes Phil glance at him.
He tries to remember when did he tell Clint about the town he came from. He must have, there have been long stake-outs and safe houses where they were holed up in for days, and long plane or car trips, and undercover assignments. It’s a miracle they didn’t run out of subjects by the second or third year, especially considering the fact that when the mood strikes Clint tends to be extremely talkative (and that is an understatement).
Right, he remembers. Ukraine, the first time, the fun time. There was the gunshot wound and a head injury and they couldn’t quite show up at a hospital, so Clint spent half of the night making sure Phil didn’t fall asleep before Natasha showed up and they could call in the reinforcements.
They talked for a long while. He’s not quite sure what he said throughout it, but that was back when he didn’t think there was anything he should keep a secret from Clint, not really, unless it was work-related and above his clearance level, but Clint did him the favor of staying well away from those subjects, guide the conversation back to Phil’s college years or his service or his family.
“I grew up here,” he confirms. It’s not quite his anymore, but it’s a safe enough place to come back and recover, even if his parents moved away a while ago. He helped pay for their new house and kept this one, because, well, because it’s a safe enough place.
“And yet you take your gun with you when you go to get groceries,” Clint mutters, words slotting uncannily well between Phil’s thoughts.
Safe enough, not completely safe. “I didn’t take the gun with me now.”
Clint shrugs, the gesture short and sharp. “You took me,” he points out.
He’s not wrong. Phil’s hand slid over the gun drawer when he was getting dressed and somehow he decided against it, for the first time in weeks. It’s not even that it would help all that much in case of any sort of attack, not that he’s helpless without it, it’s not that he expects an attack in the first place, but the last few weeks were filled with new nightmares and the gun is comfortable, familiar.
He tries not to think what it really means he’s not carrying it right now. He’s not quite equating Clint with a weapon, even if technically he is, one of many Phil has at his disposal. He’s not quite saying Clint has become so familiar he’s an extension of Phil’s body, somehow. He doesn’t want to say, or think, any of those things.
“So, what’s the cover?” Clint asks, his voice back to flat tone with a low hint of curiosity.
Phil expected this question and dreaded it, a little. “Accountant,” he offers and waits for the inevitable snort.
“Care to elaborate?” Clint asks through the smirk.
“In house accounting for an accounting firm in DC.” It’s going to get back to all the others and he’ll have to taze Stark at some point, and that makes Pepper look at him reproachfully while she actually tries not to laugh.
That is, if he does come back. He forgets about that.
“I don’t even know where to start the joke,” Clint tells him mournfully.
“Here’s an idea. Don’t.”
“In this you are shit out of luck, Coulson.”
Yeah, he thought he might be.
They do additional grocery shopping, mostly for milk and coffee that Clint insists on buying because he maintains Phil’s is terrible.
“Honestly, you wear Dolce suits, can’t you afford something drinkable? What do you even spend the money on?”
“Dolce suits,” Phil tells him flatly. “Bullets. Paperclips.”
“Please, those are requisitioned and I’m sure you have more than you need. You could have an addiction you’re hiding very well, but...” he stops. “Or don’t hide at all. You spend everything on those cards, don’t you.”
Phil shrugs and puts Folger’s in their basket, mostly to see Clint’s face.
They cause some commotion at the check-out. And by them, Phil means Clint. Beth’s trying to flirt and fix her hair at the same time and try not to seem like she’s doing either. Clint mildly flirts back, at five percent of his capabilities, but it’s enough for Beth to flush at finding herself on the receiving end of Clint’s smile.
And Phil realises that this is the widest smile he sees on Clint’s face since he arrived yesterday, even if it’s mostly fake.
It turns just that bit more genuine, not to mention mischievous, when Beth asks how he knows Phil.
“Oh, we work together, sort of. I’m a valuation and risk analyst,” he offers and Phil can practically see Beth at least consider minoring in business and accounting when she goes to college in the fall.
Her mother will be thrilled, he thinks idly.
Clint insists on carrying the groceries home and Phil can’t find a good way to argue, and they walk back mostly in silence that isn’t quite awkward but there on the edge of it. Clint’s usually more talkative than this, at least when the silence isn’t directly called for, but he seems lost in thoughts now.
Phil doesn’t really know what to do with his hands and stuffs them in the pockets of his slacks, in case they start twitching in that nervous way they hadn’t in years, except maybe a few times recently, around Steve Rogers, because, well. He feels some sympathy for Beth, really, except not... Rogers isn’t...
“I’ve decided I like your town,” Clint says, a little out of the blue.
“Your approval means a lot,” Phil says flatly. He expects a smirk in return, at least, and gets a shrug instead, and Clint doesn’t look up. It’s still puzzling, Phil knows his moods, at least most of them, can get a decent read almost always, but the cues are all over the place now, confusing. “Barton, what are you doing here?” he asks finally and it comes out wrong.
It sounds like a reproach when he means it honestly, like he’s complaining when he just wants to understand. Like he wants Clint gone when all he wants is for Clint to talk to him.
Clint shrugs again, his whole body projecting relaxation the way he does only when he’s really tense, ready to fight or run. They’ve almost reached the house and Clint’s steps speed up. “Right now, I think I’ll be making dinner,” he mutters and moves past Phil and inside the house.
Phil stills in his steps, doesn’t follow. He needs to breathe and he’s not sure he’ll be able to inside, something is clenching up in his chest already, right under his heart. It’s not entirely unlike the phantom pain he wakes up with after the nightmares of Loki stabbing him. He doesn’t know why, but he could probably venture a very good guess.
He continues to walk, after a moment, in the opposite direction.
He calls Natasha, of course.
He shouldn’t, for more than one reason. He used to be her handler, he shouldn’t involve her in something that might be (definitely is) a private matter. She’s Clint’s friend and his ex-- ex-something, Phil never could exactly figure out what and he’s damn sure they don’t know it either, but she is, they were, and it’s all so extremely complicated that...
That it becomes pretty damn simple again. The three of them, they have each other’s backs. It’s been like this ever since Clint made that call, went against orders and came back with Natasha in tow, and Phil went to Fury and bet his career and possibly his life on Clint’s gut and Natasha’s words.
She picks up after one signal. “I thought you were on holidays.”
“I am. Can you talk?” he asks, just in case, and hears her quiet snort.
“For now. If you hear gunshots, call back in an hour.”
Now that he can speak he doesn’t particularly remember why this seemed like a good idea. He hesitates for long enough for Natasha to hum at him impatiently. “Don’t tell me you got bored with the quiet. From what I’ve heard the doctors don’t want to see you back for at least a month more.”
“It’s about Barton,” he says and can practically hear her freeze, and they both clearly remember the last time he called and fuck, he shouldn’t have opened with that. “No. It’s fine. He’s not...”
“Fuck, Coulson,” she mutters, quiet, muffled by the sound of shaking her head. “He’s not with me, if you’re looking for him. Last I saw him it was back at HQ.”
“He’s here,” he tells her.
She pauses, briefly. “Ah.”
“You don’t sound surprised.”
“I don’t know. Should I be?” she shoots back easily, then sighs. “We all have some leave owed to us, maybe he just wanted to spend it in a quiet place?”
“Remind me, how are you spending yours, then?”
“Believe me or not, this will actually help me unwind. I’ll tell you all about it later.”
“Is this because you need to destress after moving in with Stark?”
“Thanks for that,” she says. “Also, he has rooms ready for you when you come back,” she adds darkly.
“Wonderful. Something to look forward to,” he says. “Natasha. Is that it? Is he here for the peace and quiet, to unwind?”
She’s silent for a few seconds, like she’s weighing her words. “Come on, Phil, you’re smarter than that,” she tells him quietly. “He’s had his mind fucked with thoroughly, very recently.”
“I’m aware of that,” he reminds her. He’s not offended she feels the need to tell him but still would rather she didn’t.
“And you’ve had your heart stabbed once this year. Don’t add to either,” she says, her voice tinged with both warmth and worry, fondness and annoyance, following it with a sigh. “Listen, I have to go. Be careful, alright?”
Like he’s the one going into a situation that will in all probability involve bullets. “You too,” he says before she disconnects.
“Did you call Fury?” Clint asks immediately after Phil walks in. He’s sitting at the kitchen counter, legs sprawled through half of the kitchen (it’s not a big place), reading a week old newspaper Phil was actually going to use for packing paper. There’s something in the oven, and Phil really should have warned him against using it. The old thing works well enough, but in the final stages it smokes up the place something awful.
“Why would I call Fury? I spoke to him yesterday, that’s enough for the week,” he says, and the joke, small as it is, lands completely flat.
“Make sure I’m still me, maybe,” Clint says with a shrug. Natasha’s warning rings in Phil’s ears.
He knows the other Avengers don’t blame Clint for anything that happened. Stark cares so little he probably forgot all about it five minutes after they closed the portal, Banner knows all too well how it is to not have control over your body, and Captain Rogers actually sought Phil out soon after he was released from medical just to make sure Phil knew none of it was Clint’s fault.
Laughing in Captain America’s face is not one of Phil’s proudest moments.
And then there’s Natasha, who would stab you for even considering that thought of blaming Clint could cross her mind. Fury knows better and so does Hill, Sitwell, and a handful of other agents Phil knows are smarter than that. But the thing is, he can’t vouch for everybody at SHIELD having working brains, and some of them had friends die on Helicarrier, or buried under tons of rock in the explosion. And not all the agents know Clint all that well, not really, not as someone other than the guy Fury sends out when the situation’s bad.
And that wouldn’t matter if Clint wasn’t the first in line to blame himself.
“I know who you are,” he says flatly. “I don’t know why you are here,” he mutters.
Clint grins, with no real humor behind it. “Maybe I missed you, sir.”
“Be serious,” Phil says sharply and realises his mistake only when the quick flash of hurt crosses Clint’s face. He’s off his game and can’t even really blame the injury, it’s been to his chest, not his brain. “Clint.”
“It’s this or hanging around while Stark and Banner experiment on things that explode,” he says with a shrug, but he’s already closing up. Phil shakes his head and steps forward, not stopping until his knees are touching Clint’s stretched legs. Clint’s fingers clench on the newspaper he’s just folded.
“Be serious,” he repeats, and this time he turns it into an honest plea. “Be serious about this,” he says, reaching out, his hand on the side of Clint’s face. Clint looks up, searchingly, suspiciously, looking for something in Phil’s eyes for a moment that stretches into an eternity. Finally, he nods, almost imperceptibly, but the movement pushes his face into Phil’s palm and he closes his eyes for a second, taking it in.
And then Clint is moving up, into Phil’s space, pulling him close into a kiss that seems like it was supposed to start gentle but then Phil sighs against Clint’s lips and somehow that shifts into a kiss that isn’t soft or gentle at all, but leaves him breathless and his lips aching.
Clint is pressed tightly against him, fingers tangled in Phil’s shirt. He starts working on the top button but gets distracted, his movement clumsy like it almost never is.
They move together, directionless, maybe with the aim of heading towards the bedroom, probably, yes, but Phil hits the counter with his back and groans, making Clint immediately pull away.
“I’m fine,” he assures Clint quickly, but Clint shakes his head. He starts unbuttoning Phil’s shirt, which was kind of the point a moment ago, but his fingers are not clumsy now, but rather business-like and purposeful. It occurs to him belatedly that this is something he wouldn’t allow with anybody else, especially this, the way Clint’s palm presses against the bandage, enough pressure to feel but not enough to be painful.
“Remember all the times you dragged me to the medical even when I had assured you I was fine?”
“This is the revenge, then?”
“Believe me, I’m suffering too,” Clint says, leaning in and bowing his head, his breath warm against the side of Phil’s neck as they fit together, Clint’s fingers still splayed on his chest.
Phil reaches up, pressing his palm to the back of Clint’s neck, letting himself have this moment for that much longer. “Not to ruin the mood...” he starts and Clint sighs.
“Which you’re about to do.”
“Which I might,” he agrees. “This isn’t why you’re here,” he says. It’s not a question.
Clint is silent for three seconds more, Phil can count them in the beats of his heart. “Yeah, I came here because I’m fucking pissed at you. Thanks for reminding me,” he says darkly but doesn’t step back. If anything, he leans a little closer, enough so that Phil can feel his lips moving around the skin of his neck. “Also, I think something’s burning,” he adds thoughtfully.
Phil shrugs. “It’s the oven, it does that.”
“You sure? Burning your house after breaking into it wouldn’t look good in my file.”
“When have you ever worried how something would look in your file? Also, stop changing the subject.”
Clint nods and steps back, just a little. Still close enough to pull him into another kiss, if Phil was so inclined, and he thinks he might be, soon enough. “I had to ask Stark to hack your phone to find out where you are.”
“You could have just called me, you know.”
“Could I?” Clint shrugs and looks down when Phil nods and reaches out to brush their fingers together. “Yeah, didn’t know that. You send me a fucking memo to say you’d be out of office for a while.”
It’s true, but not quite fair. “You were nowhere to be found and I’m pretty sure you wanted it that way. Not quite in the condition to look for you in the ceilings.”
“Just because I’m angry at myself doesn’t mean I’m not pissed at you,” Clint mutters, displaying impeccable logic.
Phil nods. “Okay.”
“And you’re gonna leave it at that,” Clint says, suspiciously.
“No. But I’d rather...” he glances at the oven. “Can this be reheated later?” At Clint’s nod he turns it off and tugs on Clint’s sleeve. “Come on,” he says and Clint starts to follow instinctively before he can actually consider it. Phil can see the moment it registers and can’t help smiling at the way Clint rolls his eyes at himself.
Then he tries for a stern look when Phil leads them into his bedroom. “Which part about near-deadly injury escaped your notice?” he asks flatly.
“Actually deadly, if you want to be exact,” Phil tells him, earning himself another dark look, Clint seems wholly unimpressed with the quip. “Oh, would you just...” he mutters, pushing Clint down to sit on the edge of the bed and stepping into the triangle of his legs. Clint looks like he’s going to argue some more, but that’s easy enough to stop, and fuck, the kissing thing is extremely effective in this.
It could get difficult at a later time, when he’s trying to find ways of shutting Clint up during briefings, but for now it is rather fantastic.
He makes sure to keep the kiss soft enough to mollify Clint, not intent on anything other than this. It’s been years since simple making out was an end in itself, not a prelude, but he’s perfectly happy with that at this point.
Clint sighs into the kiss, a sound Phil probably won’t ever get tired of hearing, and pulls, moving to lie down on the bed, Phil half draped over him, the movement a little awkward as they take care not to break the kiss for even a second. Clint’s hand wanders to the back of Phil’s head, cradling it gently.
They pull away eventually, but don’t move away more than an inch, Clint’s breath warm on Phil’s cheek. “So then,” Phil starts and Clint shakes his head slowly.
“You’re about to ruin the mood again, aren’t you?”
“Why are you here?”
“Didn’t I explain?” he asks, placing a brief kiss on the side of Phil’s mouth. His voice is clear now, less defensive, like he knows it’s time to explain but he’ll be damned if he didn’t give Phil a hard time anyway.
“This is going to be like that time you shot me in the leg because I wouldn’t do what you asked?”
Phil shrugs. “I warned you twice.”
“That you did,” Clint agrees. “I’m here because you left. You left without telling me where you were going, and I know that’s partly my fault, but when was the last time you didn’t hunt me down and make me listen, even if I was hiding much better?”
“Why were you hiding in the first place?”
“I didn’t think you’d want to see me. I was the one who...” he trails off, running his fingers over the bandage on Phil’s chest again. It all comes back to this.
“So your answer to thinking I wouldn’t want to see you was to come after me?” It does sound like Clint.
“I’d have my definite answer if you closed the doors in my face.”
“You broke in,” he points out and can’t help smiling. Clint shrugs, his face serious even though a soft answering smile might be beginning in his eyes.
“Old habits,” he mutters. “Still, I wasn’t sure I was wanted...”
And the thing is, it might sound ridiculous to Phil, who felt it was clear for years, how much exactly Clint was wanted, how close he got unannounced and unexpected but wholly welcomed, but it’s not... It’s a familiar thing, this doubt, echoing a thousand times before, the reason for not ever taking this step, not kissing Clint all the times he wanted to.
“I don’t know how to make this any clearer,” he says, raising his head to be able to look Clint in the eye. “You are. You always have been.”
“You shot me the day we met,” Clint points out, even though he sounds pleased. Happy. It’s a good tone.
It’s an old tease, old enough for Phil to have a number of responses at the ready, from the good ones to the true ones.
He goes with the one he hasn’t used before, a true one. “You came with me anyway.”
Clint closes his eyes and lets his head fall down to the bed, shifting obligingly to allow Phil lie beside him, his cheek leaning against Clint’s neck.
“Well, I have a documented lifetime of bad decisions.”
Phil can feel the smile when Clint’s lips press against his forehead. “And a few good ones,” Clint allows.