Phil Coulson’s mind was racing – not that it was something new, it was racing a lot, especially since Fury gave him the position of Avenger’s keeper officially. Well, that wasn’t official name, but Agent in charge didn’t really cut it in Phil’s mind.
‘Agent in charge ‘ wouldn’t have to listen through Thor’s fancy wording, wouldn’t have to frown on Stark whenever Captain America came in the room flushed and gaping, a bit out of it, and Tony snickering behind him.
He wouldn’t have to deal with Bruce kindly ‘mentioning his worries’ about Hulk and how he was considered part of the team more than he was (And Phil made sure to have LONG talk with Hawkeye about that, cause seeing Bruce Banner cry in his ‘office’ once in his life was enough even for him, thank you very much).
He was a bit happy that his old wards were there, they were less problematic – well Natasha was, and Phil was already used to Clint’s kind of trouble – and at least here no one came running to him, talking about how ‘Agent Barton asked him to be present on his target practice and they are going to die, and please, Agent Coulson, do something’. No one really took Clint seriously here, which was kind of good thing, since everyone went through Clint’s jokes already, and even though Phil knew that Clint is very clever, he couldn’t come up with new jokes that quickly – thank God.
Or perhaps no one took him seriously, because there were psychopaths all around – Phil wasn’t sure.
But he got used to the position, eventually, threatening to take Stark’s toys away and teasing him, telling Clint he was going to send him to desert, shaking his head at Thor’s family issues and mentioning once or twice how disappointing it was when Captain let Tony provoke him – which seemed to usually work with the bunch.
So no. That wasn’t the reason why Phil Coulson, Agent of SHIELD with the experience of over nine years was currently sitting in his office, staring into the space and thinking. Or more like mentally gaping, if he was honest to himself. Because he didn’t see this. And he had no idea how he could have not noticed, since he’s responsible for so many lives (especially since he was living with Tony Stark), and he was supposed to notice things around him. All kinds of things. And this one was right under his nose and it seemed that Phil just ran over it, not really thinking – probably not even looking in that direction. Why would he? It would never cross his mind on its own.
But perhaps it still didn’t mean anything. Phil ran a hand over his face and closed his eyes, trying to think about it.
“You know, eating only when your crush does, isn’t really healthy. Especially since your crush doesn’t know what food is.” Natasha’s voice came through the door and Phil stopped, his head rising up from the report he was currently reading. One of the Avengers had a crush? That… could mess up the work a bit.
“It’s not a crush. “ Phil blinked at that – his WARD had a crush and he had no idea?
“Yeah. I’m sorry.” And the tone of Natasha’s voice made sure everyone realized she was not sorry indeed, not by a bit. “I forgot Phil Coulson is your everlasting love, that you’re not doing anything about.”
And Phil had to hear wrong – or perhaps Natasha was just making fun of Clint and –
“Iam doing something about it!”
“Really? I didn’t know puppy eye-ing counted.”
“Puppy eye-ing isn’t a word! And I’m wooing him!”
Phil’s fingers twitched on the reports. What?
“You’re wooing him with the puppy eyes? I don’t think that’s going to work.”
And this time Phil could hear the frustrated sigh and probably even a glare when Clint replied: “NO. I brought him food yesterday.”
“Uhm… sorry to break it to you, Hawk, but I don’t think Phil eats.” And Phil was a bit offended at that. Of course he does eat. When he has the time.
There was a bit of quiet and Phil turned slowly – he didn’t want to listen to this anymore. He probably didn’t hear wrong, and if his ward was, no, THOUGHT he was in love with it, Phil was going to do something about that. Dating in between colleagues went against the work policy. Clint had to know that.
The next day when Clint brought over his report Phil tried not to notice how his fingers brushed over his own, tried not to think about whether it was deliberate or not. As well as he tried not to see how Clint dropped on the couch, knowing he belonged there and that it was his actually, even though it was in Coulson’s office.
Phil tried to ignore the away Clint whined about him not eating, as well as the food resting on his desk, along with a cutlery and a note of ‘eat, or you’ll be so thin that even I won’t be able to see you’, after he returned from another talk (threatening) with Stark.
…and it didn’t mean anything if he ate the food.
Phil made sure he didn’t see the smiles Clint was throwing his way, and how he always checked where Phil was before running off on the Avenger’s emergency, how he always checked on Phil first, when he returned. How he complained about writing reports being too much of a drag and giving spoken one rather, or how he rested up on Phil’s desk right next to his papers, when he did. How his tight lightly brushed Phil’s forearm as Phil tried to make his hand move, to write the words that needed to be on the paper, as he tried to tear his eyes from the point where the black cold uniform touched the sleeve of his suit.
He tried not to see how content it looked, his hand ignoring him, as if it didn’t want to move ever again, and if Phil stood up quickly and walked out of the room a bit too fast and didn’t look back when Clint called him … he was not noticing that either.
What he DID notice though, was when he walked through the hall later that day and he felt eyes on the back of his neck. He stopped and swallowed, not really wanting to turn, knowing way too well who the gaze belonged to. He quickly took the first corner he could and frowned lightly when his eyes caught Clint watching him closely, while he muttered something to Natasha, that was frowning just a bit, and… for the first time in nine years Phil’s blood went cold.
If the next day, a memo from Fury appeared on the Avenger’s board, mentioning the no-dating policy of employees, it had nothing to do with Phil. Because really, Phil didn’t spend the previous day talking to Fury about how weird looks Stark was giving to Banner, and that having Banner Hulk out in the middle of the town might be a bit unfortunate.
He glanced at the board, trying not to feel the disappointment and slipped into his office, where he stopped, pinned by pair of eyes, he knew way too well.
“That was dirty.” Clint pointed out and Phil walked around him, and to his desk.
“I know.” He nodded, there would you be no point playing stupid – and he respected Clint enough to admit that, “but nothing else came to mind.”
“How about talking to me?” Clint offered, the hurt expression coming on his face and Phil almost groaned. THAT was exactly why he didn’t talk to Clint. “I thought I deserved at least that much. I though you cared at least that much.”
And Clint was looking at him, his eyes miserable and Phil sighed. He was doomed, he knew that. Right now Clint reminded Phil of a little puppy he owned – or wanted to own when he was a kid. But his mother told him then that they couldn’t – with all the moving around they were doing, the dog might get confused and it would be better if someone more stable owned him… and Phil wondered if it wasn’t like that with Clint. Wouldn’t it be better if there was someone other? Someone younger, and with more stable, safer job?
And worse was, that it wasn’t someone with more responsibility telling Phil he couldn’t have Clint. It was he, himself and he shook his head.
“I don’t know how to make this work – it’s against the rules.” And if Phil believed in something it was rules. They helped him when he was lost and if one followed the rules, there was never wrong situation – only there was one. And Phil knew what the rules were saying and so should Clint and –
“You never went against the rules?” Clint asked before shaking his head. “It’s YOU of course you didn’t.” The man sighed a second later and walked over, touching Phil’s hand – and Phil tried to remind himself of the rules. Rules brought order, and order was GOOD and he looked up to Clint’s face from where he was sitting.
“But you should try it. This is not that big. And… you don’t exactly hate me, do you?” And was that anxiety in Clint’s voice? It was, cause there was no joking and not that confident smile. Just a little nervous twitch of Clint’s lips. “Cause Natasha told me that perhaps… that I should try being more open. That you like me, just didn’t really pay attention to that, and here I am, being as open as I can be.” He shrugged and took a deep breath.
“Sir… Phil… I like you.” Phil opened his mouth and Clint shook his head. “Don’t think about the rules.” He tapped Phil’s chest. “Try this one. That’s the only rule you should listen to now.”
And Phil didn’t want to… because if he did that would mean chaos and Phil didn’t like that in his life. He liked having pretty orderly life, thank you very much. He couldn’t take chaos and being with Clint would be really chaotic – if the state of Clint’s room was anything to go by.
“It won’t work out.”
“You don’t know that.”
“I don’t know how to make it work.” Clint shook his head.
“That’s because we are supposed to make it work. Not you.” And Phil tried, he really tried to think about all of the other reasons why he shouldn’t agree to this. But with the way Clint was looking at him, worried and slightly hopeful… perhaps there was something Phil felt too. Cause the person standing in front of him was the only one who could make him do whatever he wanted.
“I… “ He sighed and shook his head. “Fine. Let’s give it a try.” And his traitorous heart jumped up at that, beating quicker and he swallowed hard. “Even though I don’t see where this is going.”
Clint smiled as he leaned down and pressed his lips to Phil’s – his lips were hard and warm, and Phil didn’t really notice much more, because Clint was already pulling away.
“Don’t worry about that – I’m your Eye in the sky – I see the things you don’t.”