“Stop calling me that, especially when you're kissing me. What is it?”
“What is that?”
“What is what?”
Tony grumbles against his lips, pushing Steve back to arms length and turning him around. Sitting at their feet is a Corgi, ears pricked up high and tail slowly wagging. Steve nudges Tony out of the way and kneels down, sifting his fingers through the dog's fur and scratching behind his ears.
“Hi there... where'd you come from?” Steve asks, laughing when the dog makes a valiant effort to lick his face. It makes the tag on his collar clink and Steve leans down to check it. The front of the tag says Biscuit, the back says P. Coulson and has a phone number. “I didn't know Agent Coulson had a dog.”
“He's not very old. We only got him six months ago.”
Steve looks up to see Clint sagging into the doorway. He looks rundown and one second away from collapsing. Steve recalls that Clint was supposed to be moving in today and he wonders if the guy did everything himself. He'd offered to help.
“It was a wedding present from Phil.” Clint says humorlessly, face betraying no emotion when Biscuit skitters behind Steve. “I used to joke about wanting a dog. I never had one as a kid. I wasn't really serious but he thought... he was right. I wanted it more than I thought I did. But since... after Loki, he won't come near me.”
“It's only been a few days. He probably notices there's something different about you, it's a new environment...” Steve tries, and he knows he's grasping at straws but right now he'll say anything to take that look off of Clint's face.
“I think he misses Phil. If you could watch him for a few days. Thanks.”
Clint doesn't wait for a response before he's leaving Tony's lab. It's only when the door closes behind him that Biscuit whimpers and starts to follow, ears drooping.
Steve can't help the smile, even with as terrible as Coulson looks. “Steve works fine. Clint's going to be upset with you.”
“I didn't want to stay in medical any longer and he's out of the country, what he doesn't know won't hurt him.” Coulson states. Steve disagrees. The man is leaning on a cane and Steve will bet anything that he wasn't authorized to be released, he took himself out of there.
When he wobbles, Steve crosses the lobby of the tower and wraps an arm around his shoulders, steadying him and steering him towards the elevator. “Here, let me help. If you hurt yourself, he'll be mad at me and I'll be mad at me too.”
“Can't believe I'm living in Stark Tower. What has my life come to?”
“Nice painkillers, huh?”
“Like you wouldn't believe.”
There's an open grin on Coulson's face that makes Steve smile in turn, something unguarded about it. And maybe that ease is chemical assisted but when you get stabbed through the heart, it's a miracle to get to come back to smile at all.
The moment the door slides open, there's a cacophonous barking and the clicking of nails against the floor. Biscuit skids to a halt in front of them as they step out and commences circling them rapidly as they make their way towards the couch. Steve would rather steer Coulson to bed, the sunken living space perhaps too difficult for him to navigate but Coulson had said something in the elevator about catching up on Hoarders, whatever that is. The moment Coulson is on the couch, Biscuit is scrambling up to join him, head flopped into his lap.
“He missed you. Wouldn't have much to do with Clint for a while.” Steve says with a smile before heading into the kitchen for water.
“Clint said you took care of him. Thank you.”
“It wasn't a problem. The least I could do. Only, I felt bad. Clint didn't have anything left of you to hang onto but that dog and it was afraid of him.”
“Probably because of Loki. Dog must have noticed something was still off. But he warmed up?”
“Good. He loves this damn dog.” Phil says, and the smile on his face is fond and devoted. “I'm sure you're busy, but you're welcome to stay and watch tv.”
“Promise you'll take your pain medication and eat something?”
“Whatever you say Captain Rogers.”
“I hate you. So much. I don't even like you a little bit.”
“Don't be such a baby.”
“Raw sewage Nat! A whole fucking tank of raw sewage!”
“On your boots. It could have been on you.”
“I liked those boots!”
Hawkeye and the Widow are both quite loud and getting louder as they walk through the apartment, but as Steve had gently persuaded Coulson to take the advised two painkillers instead of trying to tough it out, he's out like a light. There's another episode of Hoarders on the television, and as disgusting as it is, Steve actually finds it quite fascinating. He also wonders if maybe they should have a talk with Tony because one of the houses greatly resembled one of Tony's labs.
“Then buy new ones. It's not like you don't have the money.”
“No, you're buying me new ones. You ruined these.” Clint says as he rounds the corner and Steve smiles faintly when both Clint and Natasha stop short and just stare at him. He realizes that it looks, perhaps, a bit strange: Coulson slumped over against Steve's shoulder and Biscuit stretched across both their laps.
Steve smiles faintly and waves. “He busted himself out of medical.”
“He so does not get to lecture me and give me the stink face next time I do that.” Clint says, treading down the steps. He's barefoot in threadbare jeans and a too tight t-shirt. It's the most casual Steve has ever seen him and he can kind of see why Phil married him. Steve slides out of the way, carefully holding Phil up so that Clint can take his place. “Did he take his medication? Did he eat something? Oh god, did he watch Supernanny?”
“Yes, yes and no. We've been watching Hoarders. It's disgusting.” Steve answers, but he knows that he's not being listened to. Clint has settled Phil down so that he's stretched across the couch, his head in Clint's lap. The archer is smiling at his husband, wedding band glinting as he strokes at the older man's cheek.
He doesn't notice at all when Steve and Natasha leave and walk to the elevator together. Neither of them says anything on the ride down.