The first Clint knows something is wrong is when the doctor frowns at his test results and draws a lot more blood.
No, that's not right. Okay, that might be the first he knows something was wrong, but everything has been off since Loki crawled into his head and Natasha knocked him out again. Clint had never really thought about how the people around him smelled, beyond setting the automatic mental marker of alpha, beta, omega. But since waking up strapped to an infirmary bed with Natasha sitting over him, everyone smells different. More...more a lot of things.
So he'd been expecting the first set of blood work. The docs would find whatever was screwing with his senses and they'd fix it, right? But then they pull a second set of samples and there's another physical exam after... A chill goes through him and his stomach turns over. What if Loki isn't gone? What if his sense of smell is just a symptom of the bastard lurking in there, screwing with Clint's brain?
The doctor isn't talking and Clint doesn't want to ask, isn't sure he wants to know, but she frowns more with every set of test results. Hours go by and Clint feels like ants are crawling around under his skin. He's asked if he can leave and been told no, but nothing else.
He's pacing in the examination room when the door opens. He knows before he even looks up that it's Coulson, but laying eyes on the man and his unshakably calm expression washes most of the twitchiness out of Clint. He takes a deep breath and oh, Coulson smells good, even better than before, all warm and safe and something else, something that makes the last crawling fear in Clint's belly quiet down and uncoil.
Clint takes another deep breath and nods at his handler. "It's good to see you, sir," he says. "Thor said you had a near miss." Apparently, Thor had shouted a warning just in time for Coulson to turn and smoke Loki with the Destroyer weapon. Unfortunately, a gun powerful enough to knock a demi-god through a wall also had a hell of a recoil; Coulson had been thrown across the room and knocked unconscious. He hadn't been found until the battle was over.
Coulson smiles wryly. "Not my finest hour," he says, "but everything worked out in the end."
Clint looks Coulson in the eye. "Are we sure about that, sir? I'm still in medical."
"About that. The doctor and I need to have a word with you." Coulson raps on the door and the doctor comes in. "You might want to sit down."
Clint looks from Coulson to the doctor and back again. After a moment he hauls himself up to sit on the exam bed. Coulson moves to stand next to him, facing the doctor, and Clint relaxes a little at the show of support.
"Agent Barton," the doctor says, "I'm honestly not sure how this happened. It shouldn't even be possible."
"Would you please tell me what 'this' is," Clint says tightly. "I'm ready to go out of my mind here." He winces at his own words. God, he hopes not. A warm hand presses against his shoulder blade and Clint glances at Coulson in surprise even as his muscles unwind automatically. The handler wasn't usually much for physical gestures. Coulson nods at the doctor and Clint shifts his attention again.
The doctor pauses, then shakes her head. "You've undergone a physical change, Agent Barton. Presumably some time during the period you were controlled, your gender changed. You're no longer a beta male."
"What?" Clint stares. "Then what am I?"
"You're now an omega," the doctor says. "I ran the blood work twice, Agent Barton, and when the results were the same I double checked your sexual characteristics. You have every physical and hormonal characteristic of a normal, healthy, sexually mature omega male."
"But that's--" Clint cuts himself off at 'impossible'. He'd been mind-controlled for days by an alien. What was impossible? It certainly explains why everyone smells different; they might be putting out the same pheromones, but those mean something different to an omega than to a beta. He swallows heavily. "Am I going to change back?"
"There's no indication that the change is unstable," the doctor says. "Frankly, if you weren't on record as a beta, I'd have assumed your omega state was natural born."
"Jesus." Clint rubs his hands over his face. A thought strikes. "Does that mean I'm going to go into heat?"
The doctor nods. "Yes. In about two weeks, judging by your hormone levels."
Clint looks at Coulson, bewildered. "What the hell am I supposed to do with this, sir?"
The doctor looks at Coulson, too; he waves her away and turns to face Clint more directly, hitching himself up to half sit on the exam bed. "The good news is, SHIELD has a very broad non-discrimination policy when it comes to gender," he says. "There won't be a problem with you continuing with the Avengers or going on SHIELD ops."
Clint nods, feeling dizzy. He hadn't even thought of that. "And the bad news?"
"Barton." Coulson pauses. "Clint. You smell different. In the middle of battle I doubt anyone was paying much attention, but people are going to be able to tell that you're an omega, and that is going to influence how they react to you."
Clint snorts a laugh and rubs a hand over the back of his neck. "Yeah, well, I've got some experience with fucking with people's assumptions. Being an ex-carnie is good for that."
It wasn't the same and they both know it, but Coulson nods anyway. "You've already got a contraceptive implant, which is good, since you're a lot more fertile now." Betas didn't get knocked up too often, but with the kind of missions Clint goes on, he hadn't wanted to take any chances. "You should probably talk to an experienced omega about what it's like."
Clint grimaces. "Do I have to? I've had a hard enough time getting SHIELD to take me seriously, with my background. Now I'm an omega, too, I don't want word getting around that I'm getting the goddamned birds and the bees talk at my age."
"The doctor can give you the factual run down," Coulson says, "but that's going to be about as much use as talking to a ground tech about what it's like to fly a fighter. There are things an omega will be able to tell you that no one else would even think of." Coulson pauses. "Would you rather talk to someone on the team?"
"The Avengers?" Of course. "You mean Stark."
"Yes," Coulson confirms. "Apparently Asgardians have only two genders. Rogers is an alpha, Banner a beta." Natasha, they both know, is also a beta. "Stark's not exactly known for his discretion, but all things considered I expect he'd make an exception."
No one had known Tony Stark was an omega until he came of age and moved to take control of Stark Industries. The board had dropped that bomb in an attempt to keep him out, and the legal battle Stark had fought--and won--had been a major milestone in the omega rights movement. "Yeah," Clint says, letting out a long breath. "Yeah, I can talk to Tony."
"No shit," Tony says, pausing with a glass in one hand and a whiskey bottle in the other. His scent is oddly familiar. There’s an undercurrent of he’s like you to it that Clint had never experienced with other betas when he’d been one. "Huh." Tony pours a much larger drink than Clint had expected and hands it over before pouring himself one just as generous. "I didn't think that was possible."
"The doctors were pretty surprised, too," Clint says dryly. "As far as they can tell, it's permanent, which means I need a crash course in what it means to be an omega. Coulson suggested you." Clint eyes the drink he's been handed before shrugging and tossing half of it down. Can’t hurt.
Tony hitches himself up onto the bar stool next to Clint. They’re in Stark Tower's guest quarters, a couple of floors below where workmen are already starting repairs on the floors Loki trashed. The battle was only three days ago, but money talks and Tony isn’t a patient guy. "First things first: where do you live?"
Clint's eyebrows go up. What does that have to do with anything? "SHIELD barracks, mostly. I could have an apartment, if I wanted, but I'm kind of used to living with people. Why?"
"You're going to need more privacy," Tony says. "You know how some alphas and betas say that omegas are distracting?" Clint nods, but frowns; he's never liked the tone those comments come in. Tony snorts. "What they mean is, we make them horny and they feel entitled to a piece, because ‘that's what we're made for’. I don't care how disciplined SHIELD agents are; even if none of them ever acts on it, you don't want to spend your downtime in the middle of that attitude."
Clint opens his mouth to ask, but Tony's glare warns him away from the question. "I'm not sure I can get another place," Clint says instead. "New York is a little short on housing at the moment."
Tony waves that off. "You can stay here. I've already convinced Bruce and Steve to move in; it'll be a party. Next up: instincts. Yours and others'."
Clint listens, tries to absorb it all, but Tony is basically trying to pass on a lifetime of experiences and assumptions; there's just too much.
Over the next few days, Clint braces himself to be blindsided, but it all comes startlingly easily. Maybe it's the strides made by the omega rights movement, or maybe it's his new instincts, but Clint...he feels good. He's spent most is his life learning to take orders--and when not to take them--but nodding his acceptance when he hears a good plan outlined, fitting into his slice of it, never gave him this sense of ease, of belonging, before. People’s scents tell him more now; half the time he knows when someone’s going act like an asshole just by the pheromones rolling off them. Fighting the urge to back down when someone pushes their alpha presence is rough, but if that’s the tradeoff for how much more often Coulson touches him now, he’ll take it.
Clint puts off exploring his new body for almost a week, figuring that if anything is going to freak him out, it’ll be having that changed on him. But really, it's mostly the same, and going a week without so much as jerking off makes him irritable, so he finally locks himself into his bedroom and gets down to business. It all goes more or less like normal and Clint's beginning to feel a little silly for worrying about it when he realizes the dampness between his legs is too slick to be just sweat.
He reaches down, parting his legs, brushes a finger across his hole, and gasps. He's wet. Okay, more damp, really, but it also... Clint closes his eyes and rubs harder and fuck, that feels pretty good. He'd never really been into ass play, before. If his partner wanted it, sure, but Clint had never been sensitive there. He is now. He comes, panting, with two fingers buried inside himself, and wonders how much more intense going into heat can be.
Tony laughs when Clint asks him. "A lot more," he says, pushing his welding goggles up and spinning his stool around to face Clint, who is draped over a chair turned backwards. Tony's workshop, Clint has found, is basically his default location if he isn't with Pepper. "Really a lot more. Being in heat turns up the sensitivity in your whole body. Stuff that felt good before can make you beg, but at the same time it’s really fucking hard to come without something filling you up, so you just get ratcheted tighter and tighter." Tony makes a face. “Which really sucks if you don’t have an alpha to work you over. I used a knotting dildo for years and let me tell you, it’s a hell of a lot of work.” His expression goes distant and he smirks. “The first time Pepper fucked me through a heat, I lay there and made her do all the work just because I could.”
Clint tries to wrap his brain around it. "I don't get it," he admits.
Tony taps his mouth with his fingers and then snaps and points at Clint. "You're a sniper, right?" Clint nods. "Okay," Tony says, "so you've got to focus pretty hard to make shots like that, yeah? So imagine all that focus is bent on the idea of getting mounted." Tony smirks. "And believe me, when you're in heat, it's definitely getting mounted, not getting fucked. It's all you can think about. Every fiber of your body is bent on that need. You’d do anything for it. There’s a reason omegas aren’t considered legally competent to make decisions when they’re in heat.”
"Isn't that," Clint shrugs. "Scary?"
"Not if you're with a good alpha," Tony says. A smile curves his lips. "When I'm with Pepper it's...everything is right and nothing hurts and it's safe to just let go and--" He cuts himself off, ducks his head and clears his throat. "Well, it's pretty fucking hot, anyway. And you gotta love an excuse to spend three days in bed."
Clint laughs. "I guess I'll know soon enough."
Tony looks at him and shakes his head, but all he says is, "You have someone picked out to help you through it? Or there are suppressants."
"Not for me, not this time," Clint says. "The doctors are afraid it'd screw up my body chemistry if I never go into heat at all. As for having someone picked out..." He knows who he wants, but he hasn’t been able to bring himself to ask. "There aren't that many alphas that I trust. Coulson. Hill. Fury, but I'm not going there in a thousand years."
Tony snorts. "I don't blame you." He pauses. "Steve asked me to tell you that he'd be willing to help out, if you wanted."
"Really?" After a moment, Clint smiles. It’s nice to know Steve cares. "Why didn't he tell me himself?"
"He was afraid it'd make things more awkward with Coulson."
Clint frowns. "What do I have to do with that? I thought Steve was just feeling weird about the cards and all that."
"Oh, come on," Tony scoffs, "you can't tell me you haven't noticed how handsy Agent has been with you."
Clint flushes. "Didn't want to call attention to it."
Tony shoots him a knowing look. "Afraid he'd stop?" Clint blushes brighter and Tony laughs. "I don't think you have anything to worry about, Clint. The weirdness between Coulson and Steve isn't about the cards, it's about you. They're both alphas and you're an unmated omega with a heat on the way. Worse, they're both in a leadership position over you. When Coulson puts his hands on you, that's something that he has with you that you don't have with Steve. And then there's the reminders."
"Reminders?" Clint asks.
"When to eat, when to sleep, that sort of thing." Tony tilts his head. "You didn't notice those?"
Clint shakes his head. "That’s nothing new. I'm not so good at remembering that sort of thing." Clint has spent too much of his life learning to ignore those physical cues, since he's so rarely been able to satisfy them. "Those mean something now?"
"They probably always did," Tony says. "That's how you know a good alpha--they want to take care of you." Clint remembers Coulson standing with him when the doctor first came in, the supportive hand on his back, and a little surge of warmth goes through him. "Coulson's been making kind of a point of doing that sort of thing in front of Steve," Tony goes on. "Not exactly warning him off, but making it pretty clear that he's the one giving you the things an omega wants from an alpha. Steve thinks that if Coulson knew he'd offered, he'd be...upset. But Steve wanted you to know you have options."
"I appreciate that," Clint says, when it seems like Tony is waiting for a reply.
"But you aren't going to take him up on it." Tony chuckles. "Probably for the best. You might want to warn Coulson to hang close to the tower for the next few days; heat can come on pretty fast."
"I'll be okay," Clint says. Nothing else has been half as difficult as it'd been made out to be. He’ll be okay. He’s sure he’ll be okay.
Tony snorts skeptically, but doesn’t argue.
Clint wakes to discover that he's kicked the sheets off during the night and he’s still sweating. He rolls out of bed and groans at the way his muscles ache. "JARVIS, what's the temperature?"
"I am maintaining a standard sixty-eight degrees, Agent Barton."
Clint stumbles into the bathroom and starts a shower. He shouldn't be sweating at sixty-eight degrees. God, he hopes he isn’t getting sick. The shower helps, but when he’s toweling himself off afterward he rubs between his legs and hisses at the sensitivity. He freezes. "Oh shit," Clint says aloud. "JARVIS," he finishes up quickly and hurries back to his room to pull on some clothes. "Call Tony for me?"
Tony's voice comes over the speakers almost immediately. "Barton, what's up?"
Clint swallows, suddenly nervous. "I think I'm going into heat."
"What are you calling me for, then?"
"Fuck you, Stark," Clint snaps. "I've never done this before, okay?"
"Right, sorry, be there in a second."
Tony's only a couple of floors away, but by the time he walks into the living room of Clint's quarters, Clint's already sweating again and he's pretty sure that's a different kind of wetness trickling down between his legs. "Woah," Tony says, taking a breath. "You are definitely going into heat."
Clint laughs, a little hysterically, and wraps his arms around himself. His whole body is aching. He takes a deep breath and he can smell Tony, but it's wrong, it's not...not... "Tony, I don't feel right." He starts pacing, swallows a noise when the movement releases a pulse of liquid from his hole, soaking his shorts. God, he hopes it isn't showing through his pants. "I don't-- I need. I don't know what I need, I just need!" Clint swallows a sob. He feels empty and his heart is pounding and he keeps thinking please, but he doesn’t know please what, fuck, fuck why can’t he think?
"It's going to be okay, Clint," Tony says, his voice low and soothing. "You need someone to take care of you, that's all. I'll call for you. Who do you want to take care of you?"
Clint answers automatically, doesn't have to think about it. "Phil. Phil always knows what I need." He closes his eyes, thinks of Phil's hands on his shoulders, his back, his hip, and whimpers softly when his body throbs and he can feel his ass leaking, wetness trickling down his thighs and God, it has to be showing now.
Tony's voice sounds very far away. "JARVIS, call Agent Coulson."
Clint keeps his eyes closed, and has to bite his lip to stay silent when Phil answers. "What is it, Stark?" Just the sound of Phil's voice makes the ache in Clint's body sharpen. He bites back a groan.
Tony gets right to the point. "Clint's in heat. He's asking for you."
"On my way," Phil says, and Clint whimpers. He can’t help reaching down and rubbing the heel of his hand over his cock, but that just makes it worse. He sobs.
"Clint," Tony says. Clint forces himself to take a breath and open his eyes. Tony looks serious. "With the pheromones you're putting out, things are going to move pretty fast once Coulson gets here. You ready for that?"
Need is washing through Clint in waves, an aching, throbbing craving that he can't put words to. "Need him," is all he can manage.
"I know," Tony says gently. "He's coming. He’ll be here soon, and he’s going to fill you up just the way you need, and you’re going to love it, Clint. It’s going to be amazing."
“Please,” Clint gasps.
Clint is shaking, his pants so wet they're sticking to his skin, when the door to his quarters slides open. The scent hits him first, rich and musky and powerful. His head snaps up; Phil is already crossing the room, brushing by Tony like he isn't even there. Clint barely manages to reach out before Phil is pulling Clint into his arms and kissing him, his tongue sliding, demanding, into Clint's mouth. Clint moans and melts against him, barely registering Tony's departure. Phil is here, the steady touch of his hands soothing the need burning through Clint's body, his presence easing the frantic tension humming under Clint's skin. Clint rubs against him, whimpers. "More."
"I've got you," Phil says, and Clint can feel the rumble of his words in his chest where they're pressed together. He nuzzles mindlessly into Phil's throat while Phil strips him out of his clothes. His hands sweep, possessive, over Clint's skin and dip between the slick cheeks of his ass to finger his hole. Clint cries out at the sudden, sharp stab of need. Phil's hands urge him to move and he does, follows Phil back into Clint’s bedroom. "On the bed," Phil says, and Clint scrambles to obey. He sprawls on his belly, legs spread, but that's not quite right. Instinct drives him up onto knees and elbows, ass raised high, presenting himself to his alpha.
"Good boy," Phil says, and Clint keens at the shock of pleasure that goes through him at the praise. He's good, he's being so good. Phil puts a hand on his hip and pushes two fingers into Clint's wet hole. Clint moans, rocks back into the touch. He needs more, needs so much, and Phil's hands are so strong, he knows Phil can give it to him.
Phil's fingers slide out of him and Clint whimpers and squirms, until he feels a hot, blunt touch and oh, yes, please. Phil takes him in one powerful stroke, sinks his cock deep into Clint's body, and Clint cries out in surrender, bucking his hips up into Phil. "Mine," Phil rasps.
Clint can only moan, "Yes," in answer. It's not just the thick, full presence of Phil's cock inside him. He can feel Phil everywhere, wrapped around him. This is where he belongs.
Phil holds his hips still and starts pounding into Clint, setting up a steady rhythm. Clint fists his hands in the sheets and loses himself to it, trusts Phil to anchor him in the sea of pleasure, waves of it rolling through him. Nothing has ever felt like this. He can feel his pulse thundering through his skin and his cock and his shoulders and his ass. He can draw breath and taste Phil in the air, his scent thick and perfect, feeding Clint's hunger and satiating it at the same time. Phil has driven away the hollow ache of Clint's body, has filled him up with the weight of his cock and the firm grip of his hands, fingers pressing into his skin and keeping him close and safe. The desperate tension evaporates with the sweat on Clint's skin and his body goes pliant instead, moving eagerly to accept Phil's deep, urgent thrusts.
"There you go." Phil's voice is gravely and so sweetly approving. "That's good, that's perfect. I've got you now."
"Phil," Clint pants. He rolls his hips, moaning roughly at the way it stirs Phil's cock inside of him. "More," he begs.
Phil's hands move from Clint's hips and pull him up off his elbows and onto his hands instead. Clint whines a little--Phil can't mount him as deeply like this--but then Phil drapes himself over Clint's back and oh, all that skin, all that contact, it's wonderful, and maybe he isn't going as deep, but the short, hard jabs Phil settles into instead barely let his cock slip out of Clint before driving in again, keeping Clint full and working his ass wonderfully hard at the same time. Clint locks his elbows to hold them both up and glories in the heat of Phil's body on his.
"You're so beautiful," Phil murmurs, lips brushing over Clint's throat. "So eager and unrestrained. You'll come to me and I'll give you everything you could possibly need, always." Phil presses a hand to Clint's chest, as if he needs to hold him any closer, and his cock is thick and hot inside Clint, and his mouth is on Clint's neck, and suddenly Clint knows what he needs. What they both need. Giddy excitement flares in his chest and tingles over his nerves; if his heart could pound any harder it would. He tilts his head to one side, exposing the arch of his throat.
Phil moans and bends his head and bites.
Something snaps into place inside Clint. A rush floods through him and it's like...it's like shooting, it's that same pull of tension and focus and release and utter freedom in the moment the arrow leaves the bow and deep, visceral satisfaction at a perfect shot. It's all coursing through Clint now, and he moans and comes helplessly. Completion pulses through him, tightens his body around Phil's cock and God, that's good, so good he'd come again if he could.
His knees and elbows go watery, but when he starts to sag Phil growls and fuck, that's all the motivation Clint needs to hold them up, to tilt his hips and try to open himself up further for Phil to fuck as long as he likes. Phil nuzzles at Clint's throat as he strokes into him, licking and sucking at his mark, and then he thrusts in hard, grinding into Clint, and Clint feels him start to swell. Clint's chest goes tight. Phil is knotting him, and there's a weight between Clint’s hips that he doesn't understand. The wet rush of Phil finishing, come spilling into Clint, is almost lost in the heady fullness of his knot growing larger, tying Clint tight. It's like the knot is pushing at that weight, and finally Clint just lets go and releases it.
Liquid is splashing over Clint's belly and down onto the bed before he realizes he's wet himself. Clint whimpers in humiliation, but Phil just wraps his arms around him and carefully sits back on his heels, drawing Clint with him so that he's sitting on Phil's lap, still tied, the last of his piss pouring over his thighs. "Shhh," Phil murmurs over Clint's whimpers. He rubs his hand over Clint's stomach and another little spurt of piss leaks out of him. "It's okay, Clint. It's fine. You're just showing me you know who's dominant. It's good." He turns his head into Clint's throat again, bites gently at his mark. "I like it."
Clint relaxes back against Phil and lets out a shuddering breath. Apparently 'I like it' from his alpha is all he needs to hear to drive any bad feeling completely away. "I'm going to lay us down, okay?" Phil says. Clint nods, and together they shift carefully over so that they're lying on their sides, spooned up close thanks to the tie. Clint half closes his eyes. Now that the endorphins are ebbing away Phil's knot feels huge.
Huge and...good. So good. Phil's not going anywhere with them still tied and his arm wrapped around Clint, palm resting on his chest. Being full and warm even after the sex is done is startling satisfying. A little sigh escapes Clint.
"How are you doing?" Phil asked. He isn't speaking particularly quietly, but somehow it still sounds close, intimate.
"Perfect," Clint says without thinking.
Clint flushes with embarrassment--he's never answered that question with anything better than 'good' before--but it's quickly washed away by a low current of contentment. Still, he stumbles through his answer. "Yeah. I-- God, Phil, sex has never been like that before, and I don't just mean the need." He closes his eyes, remembers the certainty of it, the bone deep knowledge that this was right "Sex for a beta is-- I don't know, it just is. It's good, but it's just fucking around. Just play."
"That's what a lot of betas say they like about it," Phil says. "That they can have what they want, instead of being forced to accommodate what they need."
Clint can hear the question hiding in that comment. He raises his hand and tangles his fingers with Phil's over his heart. "I enjoyed the fucking around," Clint says, because he did. He shifts, just enough to feel Phil's knot, big and solid; it's hardly gone down at all, still keeping him close. He swallows a moan and smiles. "But I'd rather be here, like this."
Phil's squeezes his hand. "Good," he says, and brushes a possessive kiss over Clint's jaw.