"Barton?" This bathroom is filthy, and Phil is surprised at Barton opting to mess with his contacts in an environment like this. He can't actually see the process from inside the stall, but it sounds like Barton has dropped something.
"Technical difficulties, sir." Then the sound of running water, and Barton cursing quietly. He's still at it when Phil steps out to wash his hands, rinsing some small object in the cleanest available sink.
"Lose a lens?"
"You could say that. Shiiitt..."
"Why even change them here?"
"...Acclimation. I hate working when I've just changed."
"Fair enough." He glances over at Barton, standing there with his sunglasses on top of his head, and then stares. The object in his hand is way bigger than a contact lens. Also more spherical. And more metallic blue. Barton tips his head back and neatly pops the globe into his face. "...Why do I get the feeling there's information missing from your file?"
"Cause there is." He blinks hard, and his whole eye pops out of his head, landing like a boiled egg in his palm.
"Holy shit." It comes out fairly steady, if a little weak.
"It's cool if you can't deal." He drops his eye into a little case and puts in another shimmering blue one, turning to gaze at Phil with the inscrutable W-shaped pupils of a cuttlefish. "I know it's weird."
"Understatement of the year." Phil stares back in fascination, and smiles when Barton starts to fidget. "I'd like to hear all about this since it's not in your file, but I can deal."
It's a strange story, about a lonely boy born without eyes, who befriended something uncanny in the dark places other children were afraid to go. "I'd stand in the backyard of the orphanage after midnight, and whistle for him, real quiet. He always heard me, and would come up and get whatever I'd saved for him. He was real weak. Would've died without my help, so he gave me the eyes as soon as he was better."
"That's why Fury lets me in on the weird shit." He wriggles in his seat, pulling out one of what must be half a dozen of the little cases tucked into various pockets and rolling it nervously in his hands.
"I see." Phil swerves slightly to avoid a tumbleweed. "How many sets do you have?"
Clint does have a lot of eyes, and Phil slowly gets used to them. Hawk eyes, cat eyes, the cuttlefish ones, and a set of spookfish eyes that don't exactly fit right and that Phil will not hesitate to describe as fucked up. Extremely fucked up, even, and he tells Clint so very firmly when he sneaks up on him in the dark wearing them.
As the months go by, Phil realizes that there is only one way Clint can arrange his face that he hasn't seen. He supposes it makes sense that Clint wouldn't want the vulnerability of being blind (especially since he hasn't lived that way in over twenty years) but he can't help his curiosity about it. Especially since no one has ever given any satisfactory explanation of just how this stuff works.
Like a lot of things in his life, when Phil gets what he wants, he wishes he had wanted more intelligently. He would happily never know what Clint's eyeless face is like to spare him his panic, alone and blind in a HYDRA cell. He flinches in the dark when he hears Phil's footsteps.
"It's okay, Clint. It's me. I'm here to get you out."
"Did you find my eyes?" Clint whimpers.
Phil sighs, freeing him from his restraints. "Not yet, but we will." He can barely see a thing himself, but he's able to tow Clint out into the light. His face is the same as ever. There are smooth pits where eyes would be, with a curiously soft, slick quality to the uninterrupted skin that Phil can't really place.
"I know I look freaky like this," Clint mutters.
"I've seen a lot worse." He lightly touches the skin over Clint's left orbital bone, and isn't prepared for the sharp little noise he makes in response. Phil snatches his hand back. "Barton? Did I hurt you?"
He shakes his head, quivering slightly. "No." He doesn't elaborate, just lets Phil lead him. They get out easily enough, because if Phil can't keep his people from getting captured, he can damn well plan a good extraction. Clint goes to medical, bitching that his captors hadn't even had time to rough him up, that he's fine. Phil just reminds him that they need to check for microchips and god knows what else, and holds a case out to him. Clint almost snatches it from him, boxy shades slipping down a little and revealing his eyelessness. He turns the case over and over in clever fingers, and reads the little braille label on the side.
"I'm a little rusty, but I'm pretty sure that's the human set."
"It is." He carefully pops his human eyes into his head, that strange skin running like melted wax and reforming into completely normal eyelids, complete with lashes.
"Most people say disgusting." He shrugs. "I've never seen it."
The next time Phil sees Clint eyeless is much, much better. They've been sleeping together for a while, and Phil has watched him clean his eyes as well as change sets many times. He generally sleeps with his human ones in. After all, they're like anyone else's once inserted. Phil has gazed into them many times and come to know them well. Tonight, though, Clint sits on the edge of the bed and takes them out. Phil watches, entranced as always. Eyeless, Clint turns to him, looking incredibly vulnerable and shy.
"S-so you said it wasn't disgusting, right?"
"Right," Phil murmurs, surprised when Clint blushes a deep red, taking his hand. "Clint?"
He opens his mouth, fails to speak, and shuts it again. Phil's breath catches as Clint guides that hand to his face. "So, uh. You asked before. If you had hurt me."
"You didn't." He strokes the pads of Phil's first two fingers along the edge of one eye socket, and shudders.
"Oh," Phil whispers, staring. "I.. How does it feel?" He asks softly, carefully tracing the edge of the socket, fascinated by the texture of that protean skin. It seems slick but actually isn't, just so soft and smooth that it feels that way despite being dry. Watching Clint squirm and whine at each small touch, Phil estimates that it's about as sensitive as a clitoral hood. It's this thought that makes him lean in and follow his fingers with the tip of his tongue. The cry Clint makes in response sounds almost scared, overwhelmed and helpless. He leans into Phil's arms, heart pounding. He writhes and cries out so much as Phil worships his eye sockets with fingertips and tongue that he starts to wonder if Clint will come without having his cock touched at all. And then he's not wondering anymore, because Clint is bucking and moaning, nearly thrashing his way out of Phil's arms in the grip of an orgasm so strong it's almost a seizure.
By the time the Chitauri have come and gone and everyone has moved into the tower, Phil has almost forgotten that there's anything weird about a man carrying spare eyes. He's watched Clint change more times than he can count, and seen him in mismatched sets and run tiny, smooth chips of ice around his naked orbits and watched him writhe. Natasha knows because Natasha knows everything, but as far as the rest of the team are concerned, Clint's sharp blue human eyes are the only ones.
And then he forgets. One of those terrifying lapses that only happen when you really trust. They're on the couch watching The Wizard of Oz again because Steve likes it and they like having the touchstone in common. Clint is leaning on Phil a little, with Natasha on the other side and then Bruce, Tony, and Steve. Thor is on the far end of their massive couch, bogarting the popcorn like always. They're beginning to worry that it may actually be a chemical dependency, but Jane assures them that he's the same way with Captain Crunch and that sudden cessation produces no withdrawal symptoms other than hunger. In short, things are appallingly domestic, and then Clint is cursing and rubbing at his eyes. Before Phil can say a word, Clint blinks the left one out into his palm, sighing with relief.
Bruce stares, frozen.
Clint remembers everything he hasn't told them. "…Oh. Shit."
"Yes," Natasha agrees, sitting up straight.
"Clint, are you—holy shit!" Tony yelps. Steve doesn't bother with the words and just makes a noise of pure animal bewilderment, and Thor slams the bowl down, glaring.
"And yet I am continually told there is no magic on Midgard! Verily, I am coming to resent it!"
Clint is just sitting there with his eye in his hand as Dorothy slaps the Cowardly Lion across the nose, the audio surreal in context.
"Storytime!" Tony chirps, his voice a bit cracked. He climbs over the back of the couch to fix himself a stiff drink, and gets out a second glass at Phil's meaningful gesture. Clint cringes a bit.
"Lemme wash this off and put it back and I'll tell you."
"Fair enough." Tony passes a cool glass to Phil, and sets himself up as bartender because Bruce is giving him that look that means he could really use some chamomile tea and doesn't want to ask for it, and Thor and Natasha don't hesitate to demand their respective poisons of choice while he's up anyway.
"So tell us of your eyes, friend Hawk." And bless Thor's heart, he just looks curious. Then again, his own father is supposed to have traded one of his eyes for knowledge.
Clint is settling in next to Phil again, eye back in place. "Uh… well. So I'm not sure if it's magic or alien gengineering or what. Nobody's been able to tell me." Thor nods sagely, and Clint tells him the story of the creature in the dark. Tony shivers, but brings everyone their beverage and a Coke for Clint because he likes caffeine better than booze.
Bruce finally speaks, handleless mug cradled in his palms. "How many sets are there?"
And Phil has to laugh, putting an arm around Clint as they answer their resident scientists' barrage of questions.