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Operation Snapdragon

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The night outside was miserable, steadily pissing down cold sleety rain, but inside the Silver Slipper Gentleman’s Club it was warm and surprisingly cozy. Sergei had closed for the night—a generous gesture on his part, since Fridays were one of the club’s busiest for both the legitimate and the underground portions of the business—and had liberally opened the bar and kitchen.

Phil was ensconced deep inside a fuchsia vinyl booth, sipping on one of the best glasses of scotch he’d ever had, and watching with real admiration as a pair of strippers gave a stunningly gymnastic performance on the pole. 

“You want dance, bro?” Piotr asked, offering him a plate of blini and nodding at the stage.

“They’re amazing,” Phil said, “But please don’t go to any trouble.”

Piotr threw back his head and laughed. “No, bro, I get it, no titty dances, yeah? Sorry, bro, we just got girls here. Your fiancé over there, he don’t seem to care much, though.” He waved an arm to the other side of the stage, where Clint was seated next to Sergei Malarenko, the Heroin King of the Eastern Seaboard, keeping his hands scrupulously flat on his thighs as one of the dancers—Phil thought it was Cinnamon, from the tattoo—gave him a lap dance.

He smiled at Piotr. “He’s such a friendly, giving person,” he said. “But we both know that’s as far as it goes.”

Piotr winked. “Bro, you don’t lie. That bro, he think of nobody else but you.” 

Across the room, Clint craned his neck a little to see around Cinnamon’s shoulder and grinned at Phil, who raised his glass in salute. 

“You two are lucky sons of bitches, bro,” Piotr said. 

“I certainly am,” Phil agreed. The scotch was amazing, and he’d had… several of them. He was starting to feel a little maudlin. “I never thought we’d last,” he confided, even as a part of him—the sober part—was howling in dismay. “I mean, look at him, and I’m so…” he shrugged, waving a hand to indicate his dweeby pants (well, Phillip Coldman’s dweeby pants) and receding hairline (sadly, all his own.) “But then we started going out, and it just worked, you know?” 

Piotr nodded. “And now you marry him tomorrow, bro! Is happy ending!” 

Sergei was laughing and clapping Clint on the back. There was glitter across the bridge of Clint’s nose, sparkling in the blue and pink stage lights.

Phil took a slug of his drink. “Yeah,” he said. “A happy ending.”

This whole operation might have gotten just a little out of hand.

 

SIX MONTHS PREVIOUSLY

 

This is how it started: 

SHIELD wasn’t generally in the drug enforcement business, but every once in a while some cartel or other would get their hands into something weird, and when that happened, SHIELD came in. Street drugs were one thing—one terrible thing, of course, but well within the parameters of, say, the DEA—but when it came to “designer” drugs that glowed funny colors and made their users briefly telekinetic just before they dropped dead of massive coronary trauma? That was the time for SHIELD to step in. 

It had taken three months of painstaking undercover work for Natasha to integrate herself into a drug distribution ring based out of DC, and then four more months for her to gain an introduction to Sergei Malarenko’s people in Brooklyn for her “adopted brother, Clint Franklin.” Clint had worked the connection for two more months, making steady, careful progress into the organization’s trust. At that point, a near-disastrous telekinesis incident at a boat party made it necessary to hurry the timeline. SHIELD staged a shooting, during which Clint heroically “saved” Malarenko; Phil privately thought the bullet graze was completely unnecessary, but he couldn’t deny that it was effective. Clint had been quickly moved into the inner circle, and they finally started getting useful intelligence. 

The only missing piece was the money. Clint’s cover wasn’t a numbers guy, and there was no way for him to get access to the records without raising suspicion. The only solution was to bring in another agent, but the trick they’d pulled with Clint wouldn’t work a second time.

“I think I can talk him into it, if I take the right angle,” Clint had said, “but it’s got to be Phil.” It was only the second time since Clint had gone under that he’d been able to use the secure videoconference line, and Phil has been so caught up in squinting at the screen, trying to see if Clint looked to be hiding any more potentially lethal wounds, that he almost missed the last part altogether.

“Me?” he said, startled enough to let his surprise show in his voice.

“Anyone else, and it won’t work,” Clint had said. There had been an odd look on his face, but the webcam he was using was too shitty for Phil to read it properly.

“You sure about this, Barton?” Maria was frowning, paging through her tablet. “He’s got a cover we could use, but this op would burn it.”

“I’m positive,” Clint had said, and the thing was? If Clint said he was positive he could make something work, then failing some completely bizarre disaster, it would work, and they all knew it.

So they’d brushed up Phil’s shady tax accountant cover, and it was up to Clint to talk Malarenko into hiring him.

Phil hunched further over his console in the surveillance van as he listened to Clint making his way through Malarenko’s headquarters, stopping to exchange greetings with various people along the way. Clint was wildly popular in the organization since he’d saved the boss’s life; the higher-ups were nearly all family, and “Papa Sergei”, while a vicious murderer and drug-peddler, was also a devoted family man. 

In fact, it was this very trait that they were hoping to leverage to get access to the money trail. 

“You seem troubled,” Malarenko was saying to Clint. Phil tensed, turning the volume on his headset up; this was it.

“I… I wanted to talk to you about something, if it’s all right, sir,” Clint said, his voice unusually soft and hesitant. “I know that since Dmitri went to prison, you’ve been looking for a new money man. I, um… I might know a guy? But I wasn’t sure if I should mention it.”

“And why wouldn’t you? Come, now, you know you can tell everything to Papa Sergei. What is problem?”

“He, ah. He and I are kind of… I mean he’s my… we’re…” Clint cleared his throat, the sound harsh over the mic hidden in his collar.

“I think I see,” Malarenko said. “This man, he is your lover, da?” 

“Yes,” Clint blurted, sounding desperate and young. “And I didn’t know if… I mean, I didn’t want to imply that you… it’s just that you hear all these things on the news about Russia, and I wasn’t sure…”

Malarenko scoffed. “This is modern organization, Clinton, we do not stick ourselves to outdated ideas. Family is family, da? Love is love. My Vasya, you know him?”

“He’s your youngest, right? The one who makes movies?”

(SHIELD did indeed know Vassily Sergeievitch Malarenko. The youngest of Sergei Malarenko’s children by nearly a decade, he was also, by all reports, an indulged and sheltered favorite, showing no signs of ever being involved in, or even aware of, the family’s criminal enterprises. He had recently graduated from NYU with a major in Cinema Studies and a minor in Philosophy, and was currently employed at a non-profit that made short films about intersections, for some reason. He was also very gay, and very out, and it was this fact that Clint was counting on.)

“He got married last year,” Malarenko was saying. “To nice boy, lawyer. Good thing, too, eh?” He chuckled. “Those artists, they need someone to keep them in style. We wanted him to have nice big family wedding, but they wanted destination package in Tahiti. Somewhere warm, he said. I say to him, Vasya, you want warm, we heat up club, da? But nothing else would do for him, so to Tahiti we go.”

“That sounds nice,” Clint said, and his voice was startlingly, achingly sincere; Phil wondered if maybe he should start looking into vacation packages for when the op wound up. Clint usually didn’t mind undercover, but he rarely went under alone. It was different, being isolated like that, with nobody to trust. 

Malarenko was still talking, voice expansive and warm. “So, Clinton, tell Papa Sergei about your young man,” he said, “and we shall see if there is place for him in my organization.”

Phil sagged with relief as Clint started talking, giving the key points from the legend they’d prepared for one Phillip Coldman (ha ha, Hill, very funny, as if you’re one to talk), his voice warm and happy and excited. It was hard to tell over the comms, but Phil thought his relief sounded genuine; the isolation must have really been getting to Clint, or possibly he was a better actor than Phil had been giving him credit for.

“Bring him to meet me, then,” Malarenko was saying, and Phil let out a long breath. It looked like he was in. Hopefully, before long, he’d be able to wrap things up and get them all back out.

 

THREE MONTHS PREVIOUSLY

 

“The problem is, the organization is too spread out,” Phil said, gesturing into the webcam. “We don’t have the resources to hit every node at once, and their communications are so good that we have to get everyone; if we miss even one key player, they’ll just start all over again.” 

“He’s right,” Clint said, leaning over Phil’s shoulder even though the camera had a wide-angle lens and could see him just fine. “We’re solid with pretty much all the leaders, but Sergei never brings them all together for exactly that reason.” He huffed an exasperated breath, scrubbing his hand through his hair. “We need to find a solution, and soon. I haven’t slept in my own bed in nearly a year.”

“At least you and Phil are together,” Natasha said. “Do you know what the asshole ratio is in DC? I’d be better off undercover as Justin Hammer’s secretary.”

Phil shuddered. “Let’s not go that far,” he said.

“Maybe we should just send them all free tickets to a hockey game or something, then arrest them during the power play,” Jasper suggested. “Can’t be worse than that thing with the yacht you three pulled in San Marino.”

“Huh,” Phil said, mind spinning.

“Oooh, watch out, that’s his crazy-idea face,” Maria said.

“Every face is his crazy-idea face,” Fury said, with a tiny twitch of his jaw that would have been a smug grin on anyone else. “Why do you think I hired him?”

“His Bland White Guy In A Suit personal stealth field?” Jasper suggested.

“Well, that too.”

“There’s too many innocent bystanders at a hockey game,” Phil said, ignoring the familiar banter, speaking slowly as he sorted through and discarded possibilities. “But what if we found a different excuse to pull everyone together? Something that nobody would turn down.”

“MI6 once arrested a guy in secret, faked his death in a car crash, and then arrested everyone who turned up at the funeral,” Maria said.

“Sergei has a thing about funerals,” Clint said. “He does this whole open-casket extended wake thing. We’d need to have an actual body, and anyone high-up enough that everyone would come to the funeral knows too much for us to sacrifice if we don’t have to.”

“I’ve got it,” Jasper said, sitting bolt upright like someone had stuck electrodes under his ass. “It’s brilliant, it’s perfect. I am a genius. Malarenko’s all overly-invested in your relationship, right?” he said, gesturing between Clint and Phil. “And he’s all about the family this and togetherness that. So what we do is—”

“Oh no,” Phil said, his gut sinking with dread as he realized where Jasper was going with this. “No, absolutely not. That’s the worst—”

“We throw the biggest, gayest, fanciest gangster wedding in the state,” Jasper said, talking mercilessly over Phil’s increasingly frantic denials, “and we invite them all, and then as soon as you kiss the grooms, BAM! Hands up, motherfuckers!”   

There was silence for a moment, and Phil prayed to any higher power that might be listening that Fury would quash Jasper’s stupid, humiliating, horribly bad, absolutely terrible idea.

“I like it,” Fury said, and Phil let out a very undignified squawk of betrayal.

 

SIX WEEKS PREVIOUSLY

 

“You have got to do something about your boyfriend,” Maria said. Even over the phone, Phil could hear the tension in her voice.

Phil blinked. She had sent him a coded message requesting an in-person call; it had taken him nearly an hour to get to a safehouse with a secure line, and this was the urgent communication that couldn’t wait for the next check-in? 

“I’m sorry, what?”

“He is driving me insane,” Maria snapped. “Well, all of us, but especially me, because somebody decided I needed to be the wedding planner for this debacle.” 

“I thought you wanted more operational coordination experience,” Phil said. “It was one of your developmental goals.” 

“Fuck you,” Maria said bitterly. “I mean it, Phil. Jasper’s at his wit’s end trying to source heirloom carrots without bankrupting SHIELD, Natasha is going to strangle him if he changes his mind about the tuxes one more time, and he’s asked Forensics for photography portfolios. They don’t have portfolios! They have pictures of crime scenes! Because they are forensic photographers!” 

“He hasn’t said any of this to me,” Phil said. If anything, he thought Clint had been avoiding discussing their Big Fake Gay Wedding with him, which was completely understandable. It was probably hard enough on Clint, having to put on the besotted act around Malarenko and the others. Phil had tried to give Clint some space around the topic.

Maria snorted. “That’s because he thinks you’re disgusted by the idea of marrying him,” she said.

“He doesn’t think that!” Phil cried, stung. 

Maria tsked. “Seriously, Phil, do you ever listen to yourself when you talk?”

Phil cringed. “He really thinks that?”

“Phil. You pitched a fit when Jas suggested the idea, you pitched a fit at every major decision point thereafter, and the last time we met he asked you what you thought about periwinkle and aubergine as wedding colors  and you said, and I quote, ‘it doesn’t really matter, does it? It’s not like we’re really getting married, thank God.’” 

“I just meant, because of the mobsters,” Phil said, weakly. “Did I tell you Sasha gave me a shovel talk the other day? He said ‘bro, if you break his heart, bro, nobody find all the bits.’ It was terrifying. And yet kind of oddly sweet; it’s nice that they care.”

“He looked at you like a kicked puppy and took you off the email list,” Maria said, ignoring him, “and since then he’s only gotten worse.

“I am literally terrified to ask you this,” Phil said swallowing around the knot that had appeared in his chest, “but worse how, exactly?”

“He’s signed up for all these wedding websites,” Maria said. “IT thought we were being DDOSed but it turned out just to be wedding spam from creating an account on TheKnot.com. And then there’s the Pinterest. He has boards. Multiple boards. He sent me a priority one email this morning asking if I thought the florist could find some reclaimed barn wood for the centerpieces. Barn wood, Phil!”    

Phil’s phone buzzed with a new email notification. He looked at it. 

“Hawkguy616 has sent you a Pin!” 

He sighed. “I’ll see what I can do,” he promised.

After he hung up the phone, he let his head drop into his hands. This was all such a ridiculous mess. Phil vowed to never again go undercover as the romantic interest of someone he was romantically involved with in real life; it was too easy for things to get… complicated. 

He and Clint had been dating for nearly a year, though that year had of course involved several extended periods of separation due to missions. Still, it had been good; they had been happy, Phil thought. The easy partnership, camaraderie, and trust that they had at work had translated beautifully into a more personal context. Phil had found himself making plans for the future that always had room for Clint in them; trips to places of noted archery significance, potentially dog-friendly apartments so that Clint could get a dog (he never said he wanted one, but the longing looks he gave every mutt on the street gave him away.) But then, just before Natasha had suggested bringing Clint undercover, Clint had started acting strange. He’d stopped staying over after sex, making flimsy excuses about early morning meetings that Phil knew damn well Clint didn’t actually have. He’d started being careful not to leave his stuff at Phil’s place. 

Phil had maybe panicked a little. He’d never been a man who put stock in gossip, but he couldn’t help cataloguing Clint’s previous relationships and realizing that he couldn’t think of a single one that lasted more than nine months. He’d been distantly aware that he had lasted longer than most of Clint’s paramours, and before it had always made him a little smug; now, he was worried that maybe Clint just… didn’t do long-term relationships. 

He’d nearly convinced himself to just rip the tape off and ask Clint outright if he was going to break up with him when Clint had gone undercover with the Malarenkos. And then Phil had gone undercover with the Malarenkos—gone undercover as Clint’s lover, so that they both of them had to put on every appearance of a doting (albeit criminal) couple. Phil could admit to himself that he’d taken advantage of the situation, free to touch Clint, to sit close, to let his feelings show on his face, knowing that it wouldn’t be followed by a moment of awkward silence, a pulling away. He’d been skating close to the edge of ethical behavior, he knew, but he told himself that the cover demanded it. And besides, he and Clint were together, still. Clint hadn’t broken up with him yet, even if Phil was fairly sure he was going to once the op was over. 

And then Jasper had come up with the wedding sting idea, and Phil—who was trying not to let himself preemptively mourn a breakup that was going to take him out at the knees—was now supposed to play the role of doting fiancé, while still somehow protecting his heart. They’d decided to call it Operation Snapdragon, Jasper had explained, because snapdragons meant “deception” in the language of flowers, and wasn’t that just fucking perfect?

He still didn’t understand why Clint was taking to the whole thing so enthusiastically—living his cover, maybe? Compensating for dwindling emotion by making a big display? It hurt, though. If Phil didn’t know better, he’d have almost thought it was deliberate cruelty, taunting Phil with something he’d never get to have for real. But if what Maria said were true, it meant that Phil was the one being cruel; that Clint needed more from Phil, and Phil had been holding it back. 

He sighed. Obviously, he needed to change his approach to this whole wedding situation.

 

 

That night was their scheduled “date night,” which meant that Clint and Phil sneaked off to the safehouse to check in with SHIELD and then used it to grab a little downtime where they could be sure they weren’t being surveilled by mobsters. A late-breaking op elsewhere had cut their regular videoconference short, and they decided to celebrate with Thai carryout. Now that he’d been clued in, Phil noticed that Clint was fiddling with his phone a lot, and that he started a lot of sentences that he cut off with a “never mind.” 

Maria was right; whatever else was going on, Phil was being an asshole. Clint was obviously throwing himself into this mission with his accustomed whole-hearted fervor, and Phil was letting him down and not pulling his share of the weight, just because the circumstances were uncomfortable.

If Phil was really honest with himself, he knew that he’d been letting too much of Phil Coulson’s feelings about Clint Barton creep into Phillip Coldman’s feelings about Clint Franklin, and he was going to fuck up the mission if he didn’t get his head in the game. From now on, this wedding was real, and he would be happy about it—just as happy as he really would be, if it was really happening—and if Clint broke up with him as soon as the reception was over… well, he’d face that when the time came. 

“So, I was thinking about which flowers would fit with our color scheme,” he said, watching Clint carefully over his curry. “What do you think about irises? I’ve always thought they were a really interesting shape, and you can get them in both purple and blue.” 

Clint’s face lit up, and Phil felt like even more of a heel. “I saw some really cool arrangements with irises online,” Clint said. “I could, um. I could send you a link? Only if you want.” 

Phil smiled at him. “I’d like that,” he said, and let himself bask in Clint’s brilliant answering smile.

Clint spent most of the next day pinning a whole board full of blue and purple iris bouquets, and Phil found a few himself and sent them back, as well as some wedding invitations he saw on Etsy with an arrow theme.

The next thing he heard from Maria was a coded text message which, deciphered, said “DO YOU KNOW HOW EXPENSIVE IRISES ARE IN NEW YORK IN NOVEMBER? Barton will have nothing else now because he says they’re your favorite. STOP HELPING.” He just sent her back a winking emoji, possibly because he’d been possessed by some kind of wedding-loving alien, but probably more because Clint really liked it when Phil made suggestions about the wedding. Really liked it. Phil was still walking a little funny from how much Clint liked it.

Alexei saw him smiling down at his phone. “Wedding stuff, bro?” he asked.

“Do you think we should have a champagne fountain or a chocolate fountain at the reception?” Phil asked him.

Alexei shrugged. “Only have first wedding once, bro. Get both.”

“Good idea,” Phil said, and sent Clint a text.

 

PRESENT DAY: THE SILVER SLIPPER GENTLEMAN’S CLUB

 

The bachelor party was winding down, and Phil had stopped drinking long enough ago that he was just a little buzzed. He caught Clint’s eye, and the two of them started making their way through the crowd of drunk well-wishers, meeting at the door. 

“Bro!” Piotr said, as they were putting on their coats. “You can’t go home together, bro! Is bad luck for groom to see bride before wedding.”

Clint grinned at him. “No brides here, bro,” he said.

“Besides,” Phil added. “We want to start our wedding day the same way we want to spend our married life: together.”

Piotr sniffed. “Aww, that’s nice, bro,” he said. “You two, you gonna make it, okay? I got good feelings.”

“Thanks, Piotr,” Phil said, surprising himself by completely meaning it. “I hope you’re right.” 

They made it out of the club and back to the hotel where the reception would be held the next day. They had a nice private suite which, Phil was assured, had been properly swept and was beautifully non-bugged. As soon as the door closed behind them, Clint flung himself across the bed. 

“Alone at last,” he said, waggling his eyebrows.

Phil activated the bug detector hidden in his watch, just to be sure, and nodded at Clint when the light stayed green. For tonight, at least, they could relax. “How did you convince Fury to spring for a suite?” he asked, peeling out of his (ugh) short-sleeved dress shirt.

“He didn’t,” Clint said. “He sprang for a double; the upgrade was a present from Sergei.”

Phil sighed. “I hate to admit it, but sometimes I feel kind of bad about Sergei.”

“Shit, I thought I was the only one,” Clint said. “I mean, I know he’s a murdering scumbag and everything, but he’s just been so happy about our wedding. Like, I think he actually teared up when I told him you’d proposed.”

“People are complicated,” Phil said. Oooh, this hotel offered complimentary shoe-shines. He picked up the bag and placed his oxfords inside. “You can be a murdering scumbag and also cry at weddings, I guess.” He set the shoes outside the door, put the “do not disturb” hanger on the knob, and did up the bolt and chain. “I have been thinking, though. There’s going to be deals done when we make this bust; that’s just the way these things go. I’ve made some suggestions to Fury about what those deals should be. The kids, at least, you know? Give them a chance to get out of this life before they do something they can’t come back from. And Basil.”

“Aww, Basil,” Clint said. Sergei’s nephew was something of a combination bodyguard and butler, and was notable equally for his giant, loyal heart and his delicious baked goods. If he hadn’t been born a Malarenko, he’d have probably ended up running the kind of little bakery that had regulars and mysteriously always found something that was “about to go stale” when a hard-luck case came by. They’d both gotten fond of Basil.

“That’d be great, Phil.” Clint rolled over onto his belly and propped his chin on his folded arms. “But they’re all so loyal, they might not take the deals.”

Phil smirked. “They will if Sergei tells them to.”

“And what would make him do that?”

“Our assurance of protection and anonymity for Vassily and his husband,” Phil said, shaking the wrinkles out of his dweeby pants for, thank Heaven, the last time.

Clint blinked. “Shit, that’s brilliant, boss,” he said. “That might actually work!” 

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” Phil said, sitting on the bed next to Clint’s elbow and running his hand over the heavy muscles of his back. Clint arched into the touch, making a happy rumbling noise. He looked up at Phil, sidewise through his lashes; it ought to have been absurdly coquettish on his weathered face, but it made Phil’s blood fizz with desire.

“Shame we’re not really going on a cruise next week,” Clint said, curving one arm around Phil’s hips and stroking his thigh with seemingly aimless fingers. Phil shivered as Clint’s touch traced the hem of his boxer-briefs, then slipped underneath.

“Maybe we should take advantage of this nice hotel room while we’ve got it, then,” Phil suggested, letting his own hand sneak under the waistband of Clint’s jeans, pressing into the damp hollow at the base of his spine.

“You have the best ideas,” Clint said, and somehow managed to roll them both over so Phil ended up flat on his back, blanketed by a solid, heavy archer.

“Hey,” he said, looking up at Clint. His face looked tired and a tad puffy, silver glitter still scattered across his nose and cheeks. It was, Phil thought with a pang, his favorite face in all the world, and he ached with the thought that someday he would no longer be allowed to see it like this, unguarded. His own face must have done something unusual then, because Clint frowned, pulling his weight back a little.

“Shit, am I hurting you?” he asked, starting to get up. “Sorry, here, let me—”

“No, stay,” Phil blurted, grabbing Clint and pulling him back down, one hand on his back and the other on his perfect ass. Clint’s body was hot and a little sweat-damp; he let his weight ease back down, pressing Phil into the bed so that every movement made Phil more conscious of him. “You’re not hurting me,” Phil said, his voice a little breathless from the perfect bulk of Clint on his chest. “I want to feel you. I like it.” He was moved to unusual openness by the situation, or the remains of the scotch, or possibly the accumulation of pent-up emotions that he’d been trying not to acknowledge for the last three months; it didn’t matter. All that mattered was the Clint stay right where he was.

“You’re so hot,” Clint groaned. His voice was desperate, almost despairing, and he crushed their mouths together in a clumsy, eager kiss. Phil closed his eyes and sank into it, trying to let go of his nerves, his fears, and everything else that wasn’t the press of Clint’s body, the clutch of his hands. They kissed and kissed, until Phil’s lips were tender and stinging, and when they finally broke apart they were both panting and hard.

“Why are you still dressed,” Phil managed.

Clint chuckled, his breath tickling the wet spot on Phil’s neck where he’d been working on what felt like a pretty impressive mark. “I got distracted,” he said. “This hot guy came into my room and took off his pants.”

“Well get undistracted, then,” Phil said, trying to make it sound like an order and not a plea. Clint grinned at him, the light flashing off the glitter as his cheeks creased, and rolled off the bed; Phil bit back a disappointed sound at the loss of his weight and busied himself wriggling out of his own, too-tight underwear. 

Clint undressed fast, leaving his clothes crumpled where they fell, but it was still too long before he came back to the bed. Phil grabbed at his shoulders, pulling him back on top; he felt formless and anxious, like the press of Clint’s body was the only thing keeping him from floating away from the bed entirely. Clint went with it, hissing as their hips met. Phil could feel the hot, damp tip of Clint’s cock dragging against him, and shuddered with it.

“…feel amazing,” Clint was mumbling, pulling his lips away from the knob of Phil’s shoulder. “Fuck, fuck, Phil, let me—”

“Yes,” Phil said. There were more parts of Clint to hold on to than he had hands; it wasn’t fair. “Clint, yes, whatever you—aaah!” he broke off, sobbing for air. Clint had twisted himself around, in one sinuous motion, and swallowed Phil’s cock right down. He wasn’t bothering to play it coy, just fucking his throat on Phil, fast and harsh, almost mean, lighting him from neck to knee with incandescent pleasure. It was too much, it was overwhelming, it was perfect, it was—

It was going to be over soon—too soon—Phil could feel orgasm looming up, like the undertow of an incoming wave tugging at his ankles. No, he thought, not yet, not yet—

“Cl— Clint!” he managed, flailing until his uncoordinated hand landed in Clint’s hair. 

Clint looked up at him, mouth still stretched and spit-slick around his cock, and Phil groaned. 

“Not yet,” he managed. His throat was dry from panting; he worked his jaw, trying to draw some moisture back into his mouth. “I want…” he gestured weakly with his other hand.

Clint slid lazily off his cock, and Phil lost his train of thought again.

“What, baby?” Clint asked, the rasp in his voice making Phil’s cock jump. “You know I’ll give you what you want.” He trailed a finger idly over Phil’s balls, grinning wickedly at the little noise he made. “You just have to tell me what it is.”

Clint, he wanted Clint; Clint solid and strong and hot and real, over and around and inside him, until there wasn’t any part of Phil unmarked, unclaimed, unowned.

“Fuck me,” he said, and tugged at Clint’s hair. He splayed his legs out wide as he could, relishing the pull of the unusual stretch, a line of tension up the inside of each thigh that seemed to radiate sensation to the tender skin between them. “On top, hold me down, fuck me, Clint, fuck—” he would have kept on, his voice reedy and trembling, if Clint hadn’t surged up his body and swallowed the rest of the sentence in a greedy, biting kiss.

“Phil,” he groaned, barely pulling back enough to form the words. “Yes, of course, yes, anything, just—” he broke away, then came back for another kiss, then finally pulled back far enough to wrench open the nightstand and dig out the lube. “Gotta get you ready,” he said, “all wet and happy for me, gonna just sink right in and you’ll open up around me, let me inside you—” 

He grabbed Phil and pulled, muscles bunching, settling himself with Phil’s thighs over his shoulders and Phil’s hips tilted up sharply. He spread Phil’s ass further and ran a thumb over his hole, barely damp and perfectly rough. This was real, Phil thought; whatever else might come. This, the two of them together, their gentleness and passion and ache, this was true.

“Please, Clint—

“Yes, I will, I promise I will, I’ve got you,” Clint said. He leaned down and licked a broad stripe over Phil’s hole, and Phil kicked involuntarily, his heel thudding against Clint’s back. Clint chuckled against him and hitched Phil a little higher, his nose bumping Phil’s balls as he circled Phil’s hole with a pointed tongue. 

Phil’s world narrowed down to sensation; the slide of sweaty skin, the grip of calloused hands, the lush wet drag of Clint’s tongue, circling and lapping, teasing him open, taking him apart and holding him together. It had gone on forever—it had barely begun—when Clint pulled away, easing Phil back down to the bed. He was humming with arousal, but languid, feeling everything like bright flares; the sting of his inner thighs, scraped tender from Clint’s stubble, the twitch of his loosened hole, already missing Clint’s tongue, the twinge of his back and hips, straightening out from Clint’s tight hold. He thought he made some sound; he must have, because Clint was there, wrapping long knobby fingers around Phil’s wrists and bearing him down into the bed.

“I’ve got you,” he said again, and oh, there, Clint’s glorious fat cock, slick and hot, nudging at Phil’s hole. Clint shifted a little, centering a little more between Phil’s legs, and then he was pushing in: slow but inexorable, a press forward then a pause, like landings on a staircase. Phil let him in, his body opening like there was a space inside him shaped for Clint, to hold him and keep him. Finally, the long slide ended; they were pressed together, breathing each other’s breath.

“There,” Clint said, wild-eyed, so close to Phil his face was blurry. “There.” He rolled his hips, and they both shuddered.

“More,” Phil demanded, pressing up into Clint’s weight just to feel himself unable to move it. “Come on.” 

“Bossy,” Clint breathed, starting to move. He couldn’t pull out very far, stretched over Phil as he was, but it was amazing; steady, small motions, out and in and out and in, building and building but never cresting, deep inside Phil’s body while Phil’s cock was pinned between their bellies. He kept thinking that he would come, then kept not coming, until he felt hot and tight and near to bursting all over. At last, Clint shifted just right, pulled back enough to get a bit more leverage, and his thrusts started dragging the length of his cock along Phil’s prostate; Phil’s trembled on the crest for a golden forever before spilling over in endless waves as Clint fucked him perfect and deep.

When Phil came back to himself he felt Clint still hard inside him, unmoving and patient but his strong arms trembling on either side of Phil’s head. Clint smiled down at him, sweet and a little wild.

“You with me?” he rasped.

“Yeah.” 

“You need me to pull out, or—”

“No! Keep— keep going, please keep—”

“Shh, yeah, okay, whatever you—” Clint gathered himself and moved, hard, fucking into Phil’s lax body with all his considerable power, and Phil could do nothing but accept it. He didn’t know what he was doing with his body or his voice; all he knew, all he could know, was Clint, there, his, that terrifying focus all on and in and around him, until Clint shook and cried out, coming in long hot pulses.

They moved, Phil thought. Clint moved them, moved him; he pulled up a corner of the sheet and wiped Phil’s face.

“You okay, baby?” Clint whispered.

“Clint,” Phil said. It was all the answer he could find, just then, zinging and flying and settled and sure; but Clint seemed to understand. He tugged some covers over them and pulled Phil further into the lee of his chest.

“Sleep, baby,” Clint said. “I’ve got you,” and Phil drifted: certain, for once, that it was true.

He wasn’t sure how long he drowsed, but the next time he surfaced, the light in the room was dim and Clint was wrapped around him. He was broad and warm and wonderful, positioned perfectly to take the pressure of Phil’s dodgy knee and make him feel protected and cared for and secure while still leaving Phil’s gun arm free. He let his eyes slide shut and drifted, sated and sleepy, and tried not to think about the future.

“I’m gonna marry you tomorrow,” Clint whispered into his hair. “Fuck, Phil, I wish it was for real.”

Phil must have moved, or made some noise, because behind him, Clint had gone stiff.

“Sorry,” Clint said, his voice high and tense and afraid. “Sorry, sorry, Phil, forget I said anything, I didn’t—”

“I do too,” Phil said.

“You. What?”

“I wish it was real too,” Phil said. “I always have. That’s why I was such a jackass about it at first. Going through all that, picking out food and wine and flowers, and knowing it was—”

“Knowing it was a lie,” Clint said, pulling away from Phil and sitting up. “Playing at something you knew you could never have, when all the time—”

“You’d do anything to make it true,” Phil said. “But you knew it wouldn’t happen.”

“I never thought you’d want to,” Clint said, his voice raw and rough.

“But—you’re going to break up with me!” Phil blurted.

“What? No! I mean—no!” Clint was blinking rapidly, looking shocked and increasingly upset. “Phil, why would you even think that?”

“You stopped staying the night,” Phil said, bewildered. “You said you had meetings that I could see were fake. You kept making excuses not to come over. You stopped touching me at work—”

“Christ, I am such a fuck-up,” Clint said, grabbing anxiously at Phil’s hand. “Phil, no, shit, I didn’t realize you’d think—that it looked—I don’t want to break up with you, I never did and I never will, fuck.”

Phil rubbed at his breastbone with his other hand, as though he could ease the lump of emotion that sat there, confusion and worry and bright dawning hope. “Then why?” he asked. “Help me understand.”

Clint ducked his head, though he didn’t let go of Phil’s hand, rubbing his thumb over Phil’s knuckles like worry beads. “I, uh,” he said. “I’ve been told on—on many different previous occasions, that I can get kind of, um. Intense? Clingy. Needy.” His voice twisted, taking on a bitter echo. “People get sick of it, you know? They got their own problems to deal with, they didn’t sign on for my baggage too. It’s okay at first, usually, especially if the sex is good, but that only lasts so long, and then it’s all ‘Clint, I think we want different things, Clint we should see other people.’ I didn’t want—” his voice cracked a little, and he cleared his throat. “I was trying not to do it this time,” he said. “I was trying so hard. I made myself rules and shit, you know? Like, I couldn’t invite myself over, I couldn’t sleep over two days in a row, I had to wait for you to initiate plans—I’m such a fucking moron.” He pulled his hand away, crossing his arms defensively across his naked chest. “I don’t even know what I thought I was doing, you know? I just, I thought if I could keep it together I could buy myself some time to figure out—” he broke off again, biting his lip.

“Go on,” Phil said, “Clint, please, just tell me. What did you want to figure out?”

“Some way to keep you.” Clint’s body sagged, and he didn’t meet Phil’s eyes. “Some way to not drive you off with my slobbery puppy act. Some way to not be me, I guess. Pathetic, right?” 

Clint.” Phil reached out, cupped Clint’s jaw, and tilted his face back up towards him. He brushed his thumbs, whisper-soft, against the dampness at the corners of Clint’s eyes. “I don’t think you’re too needy, or too clingy, or any of those things,” he said. “If you want to—to keep me, then all you have to do is ask.”

“So you’re saying I made us both miserable for nothing,” Clint said. 

“It’s just as much my fault as yours,” Phil whispered. “I was convinced you were going to break up with me, but I never said anything to you about it because I was so goddamn in love with you I wanted to get all the time with you I could.”

Clint was silent, his breathing harsh in the quiet room. “Was?” he said at last.

“Am,” Phil said. 

Clint flipped on the bedside lamp, leaving them both blinking in the sudden glare.  “Just to make sure,” he said. “No covers, no legends. You, Phillip Joseph Coulson, you would like to marry me, Clinton Francis Barton, for better, for worse, and all that shit?”

“For as long as we both shall live,” Phil promised, and the smile broke over Clint’s face like the rising sun.

“So Phil,” he said, eyes suspiciously bright. “After we get married tomorrow, I’ve heard you can do this destination thing in Tahiti.” 

“We’ll both be owed time off,” Phil said, and kissed him, long and lingering. “I think that sounds like an excellent plan.”

 

Things were different, the next morning. Phil woke up buzzing with anticipation, the tiny sour note of dread finally gone. They got room service breakfast and ate largely in silence, with lots of little touches over the butter dish and coffee pot. They kept grinning at each other like fools. They were curled up on the couch watching Project Runway when there was a rattle at the door and Nick—decidedly Nick, today, and not Fury—and Natasha came in. In their roles as Clint’s sister and Phil’s best friend, they were serving as the wedding party; they were there to go over any last-minute changes before everyone headed to the church.

“Hey, Nat, si—um, Nick,” Clint said, lifting one arm from around Phil’s shoulders to give them an absent wave. He brushed his lips over the back of Phil’s ear.

Natasha and Nick exchanged expressive looks.

“Took you two long enough,” Nick said.

“I was going to knock your heads together after the reception if you hadn’t pulled them out of your asses,” Natasha added. “You’ve been making Maria and Jasper’s lives a living hell.”

“It’s good practice for them,” Nick said. “But I was getting sick of all the cow-eyes and drama.”

“I haven’t the slightest idea what you’re talking about,” Phil said, kissing Clint’s soft, rumpled hair as he reluctantly slid out of his arms and went to grab his bag. “See you soon, babe,” he told Clint, and Clint grinned at him.

“Not soon enough,” he said, and the door closed behind Phil on Natasha’s anguished, theatrical groan.

The hallways and common areas of the hotel weren’t clear, so he and Nick stayed in character as they made their way to the church. Phil wasn’t entirely sure what they talked about on the way; his inner thighs stung a little when his pants brushed against the stubble chafing from the night before, and it was hard to keep his attention from wandering.

Sergei’s insistence that they should have a church wedding had been something of a hiccup in the original plan, causing them to move the planned sting from the ceremony to the reception. Phil had been bitter about the prospect when it meant he would have to make it through an entire faked wedding to the man he loved; now, he was actually looking forward to it.

As Phil dressed, Nick briefed him on the status of the op. Everything was in place, from Melinda May’s fake caterers to John Garrett’s fake wedding DJ, a role to which he’d taken with unsettling aplomb. Agent Hand, Phil knew, would be standing by with reinforcements, ready to round up any wedding guests that tried to escape the net. The plan was solid; all that was left was execution.

His hands were shaking a little as he tied his tie. His hands never shook before an op.

“Have you got the ring?” he asked Nick, for what might possibly be the third time (okay, the fifth.) 

“For the last time, Cheese, I have the fucking ring. Shit, you’d think this was your actual wedding. Have you got your gun?”

“Of course I have my gun,” Phil snapped. Nick shot him one of his looks, and he held up his hands. “Sorry, Marcus,” he said, clearing his throat. “Pre-fake-wedding jitters, I guess.” 

“Uh huh,” Nick said, but the look in his eye was kind. “Sure.”

There was a quick, hard knock on the door, and Maria came in immediately afterward.

“I could have been naked,” Phil said, mildly.

Maria scoffed. “Like I haven’t already seen that.” She turned to Fury, alert as a hunting hound. “We’re ready on my end, sir. Do we have a go?”

“Let’s get this circus the hell done,” Nick said, and Phil reminded himself that Nick was referring to the sting, not Phil’s wedding. Because this wasn’t really Phil’s wedding, and Phil had no reason to feel protective over it.

Still, if they hurt Clint’s feelings, Phil was going to have Words with someone.

“Okay,” Maria said. “Be at the door in ten.”

To avoid the awkward question of giving-away, they had decided to walk up the aisle together. Phil had seen Clint in his wedding suit before—had, in fact, helped Clint pick it out, and they had been fitted together by the same wardrobe department that outfitted all their undercover ops; their waistcoats were bulletproof, and there were far more knives hidden in Clint’s trousers than should have been possible in such a slim cut. So there was no reason why seeing Clint standing in the vestibule should have made Phil’s heart leap, or his breath catch. It did, though.

Natasha and Clint had their heads together, saying something; as Phil came closer, she looked up and caught his eye. She smiled, a little; one of her rare, real smiles.

“Showtime,” she said, and Clint turned, and Phil’s gait hitched as their eyes met; he had to do an odd little stutter-step to regain his balance. Clint reached out as if to catch him, and Phil caught his outstretched hand, tangling their fingers together.

“You look amazing,” he murmured.

Clint ducked his head. “Only the finest in bulletproof formalwear,” he said.

“The suit is also nice,” Phil told him, and then he had to kiss the line of Clint’s cheekbone, because Clint had gone faintly pink there and it would be a crime not to.

“Ahem,” said Nick, not even pretending to be subtle. 

“Save something for afterward,” Natasha added, her voice warm and rich with amusement. She stepped forward and straightened out Clint’s lapel where Phil’s grasp had rumpled it—when had that happened? Phil would have sworn there hadn’t been any grabbing—then kissed them each on the cheek.

“Be happy,” she whispered, “and keep each other safe.” She took Nick’s offered arm as the organ swelled, and stepped into the aisle.

Phil squeezed Clint’s hand. “Ready?”

“Always,” Clint said, and they walked up to the platform, hand in hand and perfectly in step.

It was strange, the way Phil felt as they moved through the ceremony. Part of him, the part that never forgot that they were surrounded by mobsters, was running in mission mode, categorizing and watching for the unexpected. The rest of him, though—and, to be honest, it was the largest part this time—the rest of him kept getting caught on images, sensations;  light falling through the stained glass window to paint Clint’s hair, the faintly quavery voice of the old priest Maria had dug up from somewhere, the delicate blue iris on Clint’s lapel.

Phil had never been a religious man, but he did take oaths very seriously, and now that he knew Clint felt the same—now that he knew it was real to them both—he let himself feel the truth of his words as he spoke, and he saw and heard Clint’s answer in the grip of his hands, the light in his eyes.

Forsaking all others… until you are parted by death.

“I will,” Phil said, and he meant it; he meant it down to his bones. Everything after that was flashes; he was sliding a ring onto Clint’s cold finger, he was watching Sergei dab at his eyes with a red silk handkerchief, the priest was declaring by the power vested in him by the state of New York that they two were married—married.

It’s not real, he thought, but then Clint pulled him close and kissed him, close-lipped and chaste and achingly tender, and that was real. It was real enough.

After they had walked back down the aisle, hand in hand and grinning, they walked into an ambush consisting of Maria and the photographers, two agents who Phil vaguely remembered from Forensics. He thought that the last time he’d seen them, they’d been bickering over the best way to capture an accurate image of glow-in-the-dark, radioactive slime in situ. Phil wasn’t sure why they needed to actually go through with taking wedding photos—he gathered it was something about not tipping the evil guests off that anything was out of the ordinary until they all got to the reception—but it would be nice to have pictures of everyone looking their best before the inevitable destruction. Plus, it wasn’t like it was any great hardship to pose with his arm around Clint’s waist, or with Clint kissing his cheek, or shaking Nick’s hand, or with a beaming Natasha snuggled between him and Clint, slim strong arms squeezing them tight. When Maria was finally satisfied, they all bundled back into one of SHIELD’s SUVs—pretending to be from a limo service—and went back to the hotel.

“Please tell me there’s not one of those line things,” Clint said into Phil’s ear, sending little ripples chasing down the back of his neck.

“No receiving line,” Maria said—she must have ears like a bat. “We’re doing a dollar dance instead. Sergei insisted,” she continued, cutting off Phil’s comments on how his late mother, may she rest in peace, had felt about dollar dances. Phil’s mother had been very emphatic on the subject, and Phil himself was possibly (definitely) a tiny bit concerned that one of them (Clint) would get all the requests while the other one had a string of reluctant pity-dancers. It would just be awkward.

“I changed my mind,” Phil told Clint. “I can’t wait to arrest that man.”

Maria just grinned. “All in good time, Phil.”

The plan was to spring the trap once the reception was in full swing, in hopes that the arrests would go a little smoother if the wedding guests were too drunk to run away. With that end in mind, a truly unfortunate assortment of purple “signature cocktails” as well as the standard hotel open-bar beer and wine had been flowing for some time when they finally arrived in the ballroom, at least if you judged by the boisterous cheers of the guests and the corresponding level of death-glare that Melinda May, their fake head caterer, shot Phil when he came through the door.

“And here’s the happy couple!” John Garrett, wearing an eye-searing and ill-fitting silver sequined sport coat and bow tie, played a tinny trumpet fanfare over his loudspeakers. The hidden weaponry and bulletproofing did not do the sound quality any favors.

Clint took his hand, and leaned in to whisper in Phil’s ear under cover of a sweet kiss. “Just think of the terrifying revenge you’ll get on him later, when he least expects it,” he said, and his eyes creased with laughter. 

Phil firmed his jaw. “That may be all that gets me through the next hour,” he agreed.

They ate. Garrett cracked terrible jokes. 

There was a champagne toast; the champagne had somehow been turned purple. 

(“Raspberry syrup,” Clint said proudly. “Tastes better, too.” 

“You have the palate of a child,” Natasha told him.

The raspberry champagne was actually pretty good.)

Garrett cracked terrible, slightly more risqué jokes.

Natasha gave a speech that was completely made up as to detail and completely true, as far as Phil could tell, as to sentiment. Clint got sniffly, and Phil found his own eyes getting a little damp.

Nick gave a speech that was short, funny, and surprisingly touching at the end; Phil was pretty sure that when he told Clint “you have my blessing, because nobody else is enough of a dumbass to try to keep up with that slippery bastard,” he completely meant it.

Garrett immediately ruined the moment with a terrible joke.

They danced their first dance—to “Cupid, Draw Back Your Bow,” because Garrett thought he was a funny man. Phil consoled himself by planning how long he should let Garrett wait before unleashing his epic revenge. It should be long enough that Garrett had almost forgotten to look over his shoulder, but not so long that he wouldn’t know instantly what he’d done to deserve retribution. If you waited too long, he was liable to do something else before you could get off a really good plot, and mess up your timing.

The next song Garrett played was “Secret Agent Man,” and seriously, it was a good thing the guests were all drunk, because three-quarters of the room looked shifty at that point despite being actual, professional spies. Clint and Natasha did a showy two-step, though, which was beautiful to watch even though Phil was increasingly wishing he had an excuse to punch Garrett in his smug mouth.

They cut the cake and fed each other tiny pieces. It was delicious, Phil thought, though he might have been unduly influenced by the adorable crease of concentration between Clint’s brows as he carefully avoided getting any frosting on Phil’s face. Phil paid him the same courtesy, and then couldn’t help kissing a non-existent smear of frosting off Clint’s bottom lip.

“Hey, folks! It’s time for the chicken dance!” Garrett announced. They both tensed, because that was the warning song. Phil peeled off, herding reluctant guests to the dance floor. Around the perimeter of the room, he could see the other SHIELD agents doing the same, until all of Malarenko’s people were on the dance floor, flapping their arms and clapping, surrounded by a loose ring of undercover guests and catering staff and wedding party.

“And now, the highlight of the evening!” Garrett said into his terrible mic. “You are all under arrest!” 

“Goddammit, Garrett,” Phil said, and then Olga Malarenko—Sergei’s mother, ninety if she was a day, and the driving force behind a good half of his criminal endeavors—shrieked something absolutely foul in Russian and tried to dive over the DJ booth to get to Garrett.

Things got a little out of control, after that.

 

 

Phil was picking the sticky shards of a champagne flute out of his hair—fortunately, he’d caught the blow with a chair leg before it had crashed into his head—when Fury—Fury now, not Nick and certainly not Marcus, they were on the clock—cornered him.

“Coulson,” he said. He looked Phil up and down, taking in the tailcoat that now only had one tail, the rivulets of tacky raspberry champagne down his face, the smears of purple frosting on his knees. 

“Sir,” Phil replied. Somehow, Fury looked completely unruffled. His bow tie wasn’t even askew.

“Good work today,” Fury said. He handed Phil a manilla envelope. Phil wiped his fingers off on a nearby tablecloth—it wasn’t like SHIELD would be getting their deposit back—and took it. 

“You can look at that later,” Fury told him. “You and Barton are due for mandatory downtime. Pick your husband out of the crudités and go home.”

“Very funny, sir,” Phil said, but hurried over to where Clint was looking somewhat mournfully at the pile of purple carrot cole slaw and mini meatballs that, if Phil remembered correctly, Natasha had judo-flipped Anton into when he came after her with a champagne bottle.

“Fury says we’re on downtime,” he said. “You want to blow this joint before someone decides we need to debrief again?”

Clint rubbed the back of his neck, then made a hilarious face as his hand came away covered in chocolate. “I need to shower for five hundred years and then burn these clothes,” he said. “And then I don’t want to put on pants or hear the word ‘bro’ for at least a week.”

“Sounds good to me,” Phil said. “I, ah…” he rubbed at an itchy spot on his cheek, but only managed to smear whatever it was onto his nose. “I wouldn’t mind doing that. With you. If you wanted, I mean. Of course I understand if you need some alone time, after—”

“Of course I meant with you, dumbass.” Clint mercifully cut him off before he could embarrass himself even further. “I’m not letting you out of my sight until we make it to Tahiti.” He smiled at Phil, sweet and a little wistful, and it was all that Phil could do not to grab him right then and kiss him until they had each other atop the shattered remains of Garrett’s disco ball. He settled for taking Clint’s hand, warm and rough and only moderately sticky, and he held it all the way back to his apartment—his real apartment, the one that Clint kept most of his stuff in but carefully never referred to as “home.” Phil wondered if that would change, now that they were fake-married.

Maria had sent Agent Services to tidy the place, turn up the heat and restock the fridge, so the apartment was warm and inviting when they finally got there. Clint headed straight toward the master bath while Phil detoured to the kitchen to collect a trash bag for their clothes. Most of the suits were a loss, he thought, but wardrobe could probably re-use the kevlar.

He tossed Fury’s envelope onto the dresser and started extracting himself from the remains of his suit, rescuing the shirt studs, cufflinks, and tie tack before dropping the rest into the bag. His watch was in desperate need of cleaning, and so was the ring on his finger, though he found himself oddly reluctant to take it off for that purpose. He wondered if SHIELD would demand the rings back, or if they’d let Phil buy them at cost. They had a certain sentimental value, after all. 

Deciding to leave the ring on for now, he padded naked into the bathroom, where he scooped up Clint’s clothes from the floor and added them to the garbage bag. He noted Clint’s own pile of jewelry on the edge of the sink, and his stomach fluttered when he didn’t see the ring there; a quick search of Clint’s laundry revealed that it wasn’t in any of the pockets.

The bathroom was full of warm steam, and Phil could see Clint’s blurry outline moving around behind the frosted glass door.

“Mind if I join you?” he called.

“Sure, if you don’t mind helping me get frosting out of my ass,” Clint replied. “I think Piotr shoved a piece of cake down the back of my pants.”

“He did take the whole thing really personally,” Phil said, opening the shower door and scooting in as quickly as he could so as not to let in too much of a chill. He leaned against Clint’s broad back, kissing the knob of his spine. His dick, finding itself in proximity to Clint’s perfect—albeit frosting-smeared—ass, twitched.

“None of that, now,” Clint said, his voice gone smoky. He turned in Phil’s arms; Phil noticed, a little smugly, that Clint’s own dick was not disinterested in the proceedings. Clint leaned his forehead against Phil’s, sighing.

“I’m never going to be able to watch 9 1/2 Weeks again,” he said. “Eating food off your lover’s body seems hot in theory, but right now I just feel sticky and disgusting.”

“Well to be fair, I don’t think Kim Basinger had to cope with gunpowder residue,” Phil said, then brushed a kiss over Clint’s nose, which was too close to not kiss. 

“The cordite does add a certain something,” Clint agreed. He straightened, sighing a little as their bodies separated. “This is so unfair,” he said. “My fake wedding night, and I can’t even enjoy it.”

Phil squeezed Clint’s shoulders, then let his hands trail down Clint’s arms, lacing their fingers together. Clint was still wearing his ring, too, and Phil couldn’t help lifting their clasped hands so he could see it better. “I suggest we get clean very quickly,” he said, “and then we go back to bed and get dirty very slowly.”

“You always have the best ideas, boss,” Clint said, grinning wickedly at him.

Despite the temptations inherent in the situation, they managed to shower off efficiently after that, though if certain touches lingered a bit longer than were absolutely necessary, well, it was understandable given the circumstances. 

Once he was satisfied that his person was free of all undesirable foreign substances, Phil got out of the shower, pulled on his thick terrycloth robe, and wandered back out into the bedroom. While he waited for Clint, he picked up Fury’s envelope and opened it, wondering idly what couldn’t wait until he was back on duty. It was a small stack of forms, with a post-it stuck to the top.

“It’s legal if you want it to be,” the note read, in Fury’s angular scrawl. Phil leafed through the papers, heart pounding: a copy of the priest’s credentials, an application for marriage license in the names of Phillip Joseph Coulson and Clinton Francis Barton, the marriage license that they had signed that afternoon during the pictures, signed by the priest and witnessed by Natasha. How had he not noticed it was in their real names?

“Clint—” Phil said, and he must have sounded bad, because Clint practically teleported over, naked except for a damp towel slung around his shoulders, hair still dripping. Phil held out the papers, noticing distantly that they fluttered a little.

“I—” Phil said. “Would you want— dammit.” He took a deep breath, forcing himself to look up and meet Clint’s concerned eyes. “It could be real,” he said. “If you wanted. I mean, I know that you probably wouldn’t want a heroin ring at your real wedding, and I know we talked about Tahiti, but—”

“Phil,” Clint interrupted, drawing the stack of papers out of his hand, “Gimme a minute to catch up, okay?” He flipped through them quickly, eyes flicking down the pages, and when he got to the end he let out a little whine of breath and looked back up at Phil, eyes shining.

“It was real?” 

Phil nodded. “If we want it to be.”

“That’s all I wanted the whole time,” Clint whispered.

“You aren’t disappointed? I mean, not to have a real wedding?”

Clint chuckled, stepping closer; Phil wrapped a hand around the one of Clint’s that was holding the papers. “What’s disappointing?” Clint asked. “I mean, all our friends were there. We had the colors and the flowers and the dancing and the cake and the purple champagne. And then, to make it extra us, we took down some bad guys and made the world a little safer.” 

Phil licked his lips, which had suddenly gone dry. “Then will you, Clint Barton, join me in ratifying this not-fake-after-all-marriage license, bearing in mind that all our friends but especially Natasha will make fun of us about it for the rest of time?”

“Fuck yeah I will,” Clint said, “but there’s a few other things I want to do first.” He laid the papers carefully on the dresser, and then tackled Phil onto the bed, kissing him like they’d been apart for a year, tugging open his robe so they were skin-to-skin. Phil writhed luxuriantly under Clint—under his husband—and gave himself up to it, love and passion and humor and faith and the lingering smell of frosting here and there.

A happy ending, after all.

 

Chapter Text

This amazing illustration comes from the fantastic and talented zappedbysnow. Please let her know how amazing it is! (Click to embiggen)

Clint and Phil, disheveled, are holding hands and smiling at each other as they stand in the wreckage of their wedding reception.