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These Issues of Mine (They Know How to Shine)

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The thing was, Clint didn’t really trust people.

And sex required a lot of trust.

It didn’t used to be a problem – when he was younger, sex was something he looked forward to, got excited about. He was fourteen and in the circus, and there were always townies who wanted to get to second base behind the Big Top. Girls, mostly, but also a few boys. Clint would spot them in the audience or wandering about the grounds. They would look at him and smile, and he would duck his head and smile back – that smile had worked on orphanage nuns and social workers, but never on his father or on Trickshot.

It worked on the townies, though, and Clint would take them around to “see the elephant stalls” or “look at the lion cages”, which was funny because they didn’t have lions or elephants. Too expensive, Carson always said, and too much trouble to hire a vet to travel with them. Instead they had acrobats and sword-swallowers, trick riders and their own Bearded Lady. Marissa was one of the nice ones, and Clint liked her beard. It was soft and smelled like the apple cider she brewed in her caravan at night.

But Clint was fourteen and then fifteen, and he never got past second base. By the time he was sixteen and starting to consider going all the way, he was training eight hours a day, performing for another four, and then he still had to complete his chores, steal some food, and actually sleep for more than three hours. He was too exhausted to do more than plunk down in his cot at night, let alone make eyes at the townies who winked at him from the crowd.

By the time he was eighteen, Clint realized why Trickshot worked him so hard and it wasn’t for the glory of Tibolt’s Big Top. It was so Clint could guard his exit as Trickshot robbed jewelry stores all along the Midwest. Clint was a shitty thief, so Trickshot put him on a rooftops with his bow and an arrow to watch for cops and security officers, and thanks but no thanks – Clint wasn’t going to kill people.

His refusal lost him a brother and gained him two broken legs, not to mention left him bleeding in an alleyway in the rain. Clint escaped the hospital a week later, leaving his expenses under a borrowed name, then stole a bow from a hunting shop and realized he had no idea what to do with his life.

He might be a shitty thief, but he could steal enough food to eat. That wouldn’t get him far, though. He needed a job.

He had only one skill.

Clint learned how to kill people after all.

He had enough contacts left from Trickshot to identify the major players in town, and he quickly built himself a reputation. The key was not to charge too little – he had to be affordable, but elite. He was the best, after all, and people were going to have to pay for it.

He tried to avoid kill shots the first few times, but it couldn’t last. There was only one reason why someone wanted another person shot.

Clint spent the next several years vomiting in his bathroom toilet before he went to sleep, and his dreams were filled with blood and loss. He couldn’t summon an erection to save his life, and never even glanced at the pretty women who passed him in the street.

He got used to it, of course; some days, when he realized that, he’d throw up all over again in disgust at what he’d become. His kills started to break a hundred, and Clint wanted to stop keeping count, but he couldn’t. He practiced relentlessly and saved all the money he could. It wasn’t much – as an independent, he could only make so much. He’d get more if he swore allegiance to one particular gang or outfit, but Clint hated the people he worked for only marginally more than he hated himself.

But he needed to eat, and it seemed his body wasn’t willing to die on him yet. Clint kept working.

He soon lost whatever trust in people he had left. Every offer of sex, every wink or nod, was an assassin hiding in disguise. If the gangs couldn’t sign him, they’d off him, and Clint survived more than one attempt on his life by declining a bunk for the night.

He kept his head down and he did his job – and he did it well until the night he shot a man S.H.I.E.L.D. was after from three blocks away in heavy rain. He ran as soon as he realized his mistake – he’d heard of S.H.I.E.L.D. and he didn’t want to end up on their radar. There was only one reason why a government organization would be after him, and Clint still liked breathing.

He didn’t last three months. Maybe his body was willing to die, after all.

S.H.I.E.L.D. caught him. One of their suits put a bullet into his thigh as he jumped off a roof, and Clint’s graceful dive turned into a sprawling lunge that took him over the ledge of the high-rise he was on.

The man who caught him was the one who’d shot him, and Clint found himself hauled back to relative safety by a man with a calm expression and brilliant blue eyes.

Clint fell in love with those eyes.

He liked to pretend to himself, for years after, that he had joined S.H.I.E.L.D. because he was tired of running and getting shot and patching himself up with a sterilized needle in his motel room, but he knew it was because of a pair of blue eyes and a man saying, “My name is Phil Coulson, agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. We have a proposition for you, Mr. Barton.”

Whatever the reason, S.H.I.E.L.D. was good for Clint. They gave him a roof over his head and all the food he could eat, then trained him as an agent and promised he would only have to shoot bad people. When they shot back, S.H.I.E.L.D. patched him up on their own dime.

It was a pretty sweet deal.

They also expected him to work as part of a team, and that was the part Clint had trouble with. The only partners he’d known were Barney and Trickshot, and neither had worked out well for him. He had issues with trust, even at S.H.I.E.L.D., and the only teams he’d seen together during his merc days got along either by fucking or fighting. Clint still hadn’t done the former, but he was pretty good at the latter. It didn’t earn him friends any within S.H.I.E.L.D.

That was okay – Clint didn’t need friends. He had food and shelter, and all the range time he could steal. Those were the essentials of life, right there.

Clint mostly rotated through handlers. He didn’t work well with any particular person, so S.H.I.E.L.D. tended to give him missions that put him on rooftops far away from the action, and that was good enough for Clint. They even let him use his bow occasionally, and that was heavenly. So he was fine – he was even having erections again. Life was great.

He went to a bar a few times and tried to pick up chicks. When that didn’t work, he tried to pick up guys. That mostly got him in fights Clint could have won, but didn’t really want to. He started avoiding bars again after that.

Clint knew he wasn’t very good with people. He tended to freak out and start looking for exit signs when they approached. He couldn’t shake the habit of regarding strangers like they were plants, and it was worse now because of the things he’d learned while at S.H.I.E.L.D.

The few times he managed to get past his own issues and fumble in a corner with somebody, it became immediately obvious that he had no idea what the fuck he was doing, and he promptly got the hell out of there.

The thing was, Clint realized, he was in his late twenties and everyone around him had done this before.

He could have just paid somebody for sex. He’d even come close, a few times, just to get it the fuck over and done with, but Clint had seen the sex trade from the other side. He hadn’t worked it himself, obviously, but he had run jobs for the people who did. It was a dirty business. Drugs and diseases, and girls kept in tiny little rooms like boxes and beaten if they didn’t please a customer.

Clint couldn’t be a part of that. So he worked for S.H.I.E.L.D. and he tried to kill the bad guys and he told himself he was making a difference in the world. That was enough for him.

If he jerked off sometimes – all the time – to the thought of a pair of blue eyes and a calm expression, well, that was a perfectly healthy coping mechanism.

Clint didn’t work with Coulson, ever. He saw him around S.H.I.E.L.D. sometimes, in the cafeteria or in passing in the halls. Coulson seemed to be off acquisition duty – Clint didn’t even know how he had pinged on the older man’s radar, since he was pretty sure Coulson was high enough up in the organization that he hadn’t done acquisition duty in years – and he mostly ran operations now.

Clint kept himself firmly on the low rung of command. He knew S.H.I.E.L.D. would eventually get fed up with him and let him go, but as long as they kept their promise and fired him instead of black-bagging his ass, Clint was fine with that. He tucked at least half his paycheck away in safe houses all around the world, and took a room at headquarters instead of springing for an apartment of his own.

It was a good system and it worked for years, but it all changed again in Bangladesh.

Clint still couldn’t work with a team, but he was the best sniper S.H.I.E.L.D. had. The mission was a kill objective on the infamous Black Widow, an assassin so famous even Clint had heard whispers of her back in his merc days. S.H.I.E.L.D. had tracked her to Dhaka and sent their best in to get it done.

Their best was Clint. And Coulson.

And fuck, wasn’t that just his luck? Because Clint and Coulson worked well together. Sure, Clint was still head-over-heels over the guy, and Coulson’s insanely badass skills got him hard in record time, but Coulson was also a genuine pleasure to work with. He didn’t micromanage and he didn’t fret. He let Clint choose his own perch and didn’t give him shit for jabbering on the comms. Coulson always had the best intel, and he blended into cover surprisingly well.

They synced well together. The mission started off without a hitch.

Then the Black Widow walked into Clint’s line of sight and stayed there, for a full minute, tying her shoe.

Clint couldn’t shoot her.

Coulson was in his ear telling him to take the shot, and Clint wanted to do what Coulson told him to do – fuck, he wanted to do what Coulson told him to do forever – but he couldn’t do this.

Because that look on her face? Clint recognized that look. That was the look that had greeted him every day in the mirror for seven years. That was the look of a person waiting to die.

S.H.I.E.L.D. had taken that look away from him. Coulson had taken that look away from him. Clint had to try and do the same.

So Clint told Coulson he didn’t have the shot, and he packed up his rifle – too long distance for a bow, too much fly-time for the situation to change, and damn it, Clint had agreed – and shimmied down the building’s drain. He found the woman – the Black Widow – and got her free of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s trap.

She resisted, but she didn’t care enough to put up much of a fight. That was proof enough for Clint that he was right.

He waited a full twenty-four hours before taking her back to Coulson. He didn’t call first, but Coulson was waiting for them his hotel room. He looked perfectly calm, no weapon in sight, and accepted Clint’s explanation regarding events. He spoke to Natasha – she was Natasha now – alone, and then escorted them both back to S.H.I.E.L.D.

On the way home, Clint prepared himself to die.

He knew this violated his contract. He doubted Fury would limit himself to firing his ass now. Clint was getting black-bagged but good.

Except he didn’t.

Instead of being shot in a back alley like he had thought, Clint was disciplined with house-arrest for three months. Then he was paired with Natasha once he was back on active duty, and they were given the only handler who had the clearance to handle her and, apparently, Clint.

Coulson.

They were working with Coulson.

Clint laughed so hard that he started to cry. Because god fucking damn. Wasn’t that just his life?

The thing was – it was good. It was really fucking good. Coulson was just as badass as ever. He seemed to know how Natasha and Clint thought, how they fought. He put them on missions as Strike Team Delta, and they got shit done.

It was awesome.

It was torture.

Because Clint got to know Agent Coulson as well as he ever could have dreamed. Worse, he slowly, insidiously, got to know Phil, and by the time that happened, Clint was completely in love with the guy. Agent Coulson might be badass and have a pair of orgasm-inducing blue eyes, but Phil had a deadpan sense of humor, a wicked twinkle when he insulted you to your face, and for some unfathomable reason, he couldn’t stand chicken wings.

Clint wanted to do dirty, filthy things to the man.

The problem was, it wasn’t mutual.

Oh, they got along. They talked a lot, and Coulson knew things about Clint that no one else on the planet knew, except for Natasha. He knew about Tibolt’s and about Barney, he knew why Clint winced when it rained too hard, and the story behind every scar that was visible when fully clothed. But he wasn’t interested in getting past the whole fully clothed part of things.

Coulson never touched him, not unless he absolutely had to. Clint went to bed every single night dreaming about the guy, and there was never any hint that Coulson felt the same.

It was frustrating, but it was fun, too. They still worked well together, and with the addition of Natasha they were unstoppable.

Natasha figured things out, of course. She was far from stupid, and she was still reeling from this new world Clint had dragged her into. She tried to seduce Clint, the first night they were together in the field. She came to him in his motel room, wearing nothing but one of his t-shirts, and eyed him from across the room.

“What are you doing, Tasha?” he asked, because she still hated the nickname then and Clint needed to gain a measure of control.

She only smiled at him, soft and seductive, nothing like the dangerous beauty he knew her to be. She slipped across the floor towards him, noiseless as a cat. Clint felt his dick go instantly hard in his pants, because damn every person he had ever not slept with, Natasha was hot.

“Stop this,” he told her. His voice absolutely wasn’t shaking.

“You want it,” she purred at him, lifting her slender, beautiful, deadly arms around his neck, and damn it if that wasn’t the hottest thing anyone had ever done to him. “You want me,” she whispered.

Clint swallowed and reached up to remove her hands from where they had laced behind his head. He wasn’t able to stop her from arching against him, but he gritted his teeth as her hips grazed his overactive groin.

“I do,” he admitted, because he could hardly deny it at this point. “I’m pretty sure I’m mostly gay, but I’m breathing, so yeah – I want you.” He closed his eyes and pushed her away.

“But you don’t want this and you don’t want me. You’re playing a game to put me in your control, and you’ve got to see that you don’t need to, Natasha. I already risked my life to save you once, and that was before I even knew you. You’ve got me – you don’t need to do this to keep me.”

She froze at that, and Clint gave her space to think. He stepped back and watched her, ignoring the pulsing in his dick, the surge of overriding want that threatened to drag him under. Because god damn if Tasha wasn’t an attractive woman, and he had never been touched like that, not in his life.

But he wasn’t going to start like this. In her own way, Tasha was like the whores he had walked past on the street corners – she wasn’t doing this because she desired him, she was doing it because she felt she had to. She needed to gain some control over her life, and Clint understood that. He wouldn’t take advantage of it.

“What if I want to,” she asked finally, but it was a statement – not a question. She was watching him to see his answer.

“I wouldn’t want to,” he told her gently, because no matter what his dick was telling him, it was true. He didn’t want her like this. “If you come to me later, maybe in a few months or years, when I know it’s your own decision and not made out of fear – maybe. But not now. Not tonight.”

Natasha watched him for a moment more, and then nodded. She left to pull on a pair of jeans and then joined him again in his room. They lay down on the bed together, and there was nothing sexual in her touch now. It was a relief, and it was so frustrating Clint could scream.

Natasha seemed to need the comfort, though, even if she hadn’t actually said anything since getting dressed. So Clint held her in his arms and rubbed her shoulders and told her stories about the circus.

In the morning, before they got up to meet Coulson, Natasha looked at him again.

“You’ve never done it before,” she told him, and Clint winced, because he had been hoping it hadn’t been that obvious. “I could have sex with you just once, to make it easier for you. If you wanted.”

Clint honestly thought about it, because it would be an easy way out of this whole ‘virginity thing’. Sex with Natasha would certainly be good, probably better than his first time would be with anyone else. They’d never have to do it again, and then Clint would be able to say he had sex before. It would be easier for him.

But Natasha would be doing it as a friend, not as a lover. Despite himself, Clint couldn’t help but think of a pair of blue eyes and the man in the next room.

“Thanks, but no thanks,” he said finally, turning back to look at her. “Maybe one day, but not now.”

She gave him a slow, sad smile. “Still waiting?”

Clint shrugged, but didn’t deny it. He didn’t think he’d ever have a chance with Coulson, but he hadn’t died of blue balls yet. He had a little more time to hope.

The next few years were good years. The three of them worked well together. Natasha became like a sister to him, and the talk of sex never came up again. They slept in the same bed whenever they were on missions together, and he knew most people at S.H.I.E.L.D. thought they were a couple. Clint didn’t bother to correct them, mostly because Natasha never did.

Clint suspected it kept people from propositioning her, which made Natasha relax. Clint still didn’t know a lot about her history, but he wondered if sex had always been about the job for her and never about the pleasure. He wasn’t sure she’d ever really wanted sex, not with guys anyway. Maybe she was asexual, or gay, or something. Whatever it was, it was the one thing they never talked about.

Clint didn’t realize that Phil had bought into the rumours about him and Natasha until they were on a mission in Brazil and there was an extremely dangerous warlord making doe-eyes at Clint. Coulson decided the only way they were going to get close enough to the target was if Clint went in to seduce him and assassinate him from there.

Clint refused the assignment.

He never flat out refused to do something Coulson asked of him. Coulson clearly didn’t know what to make of this.

“I’m sure Natasha wouldn’t mind,” he tried, uncharacteristically fumbling. “It’s for the mission, and you wouldn’t actually have to – “

“No.” Clint said again, breathing hard, and then he clenched his fists when he realized he’d actually have to explain himself or Coulson would keep pushing at it. Natasha was smirking at him over the comm, he could tell.

“It’s not that I wouldn’t do it for the mission,” Clint tried to explain to Coulson. “It’s just that – Listen, this guy is going to expect someone who knows what they’re doing, and I don’t – “

Phil had drawn himself back into his calm, collected Agent Coulson persona again. “Agent Barton, I understand you probably don’t have any experience with gay sex, but I don’t think – “

“It’s not that I don’t have any experience with gay sex,” Clint interrupted him. “It’s that I don’t have any experience with sex at all, and I’m pretty sure this guy is going to notice.”

Coulson stared at him.

“What?” he finally asked.

Clint hated himself for it, but he blushed. “I’m a virgin.”

Coulson had to blink a few times. Then he shook his head. “No you’re not. You and Natasha - “

“Have never been together,” Clint finished for him. “Ever. I know what everyone says about us, but I thought you knew that, sir. We’re not together. I’ve never had sex with her. I’ve never had sex with anybody.”

He could see Phil trying to parse through that. Clint had to laugh and run his hands through his hair.

“It’s definitely not the gay sex thing – I’m pretty sure I’m gay, at least in theory. Maybe bi,” he admitted, thinking of that night with Natasha. “But this guy is going to notice, there is no way he wouldn’t. We’ll have to find some other way to get to the target.”

Coulson nodded mechanically at that, and they turned back to the files to try and find some other way into the compound. They got the warlord eventually – Natasha blew a building up off base, and Clint shot the guy when he left with his cronies to investigate – and Clint hoped that things wouldn’t change between them after what he’d said.

They changed anyway.

Phil became nervous around him. Clint didn’t want to admit that was true, but pretty soon it was undeniable. He flinched whenever they happened to touch, and he avoided Clint’s eyes when they were alone together. Clint tried to ignore it as much as he could, but it turned his stomach every time. He had never guessed Phil would turn out to be a bigot – he had seen him negotiating easily with people of every faith and creed in existence – but here the man was practically avoiding Clint like he had the plague.

It had to be the gay thing, not the virginity thing. Clint cursed himself and his big fat mouth for spilling the beans.

But it was better to know that Phil – that Coulson – felt this way, wasn’t it? Clint could finally get over his stupid infatuation now. He could move on and find someone who would like him back, maybe someone he could actually have sex with. Phil Coulson was an idiot and a bigot, and Clint didn’t have to be in love with him anymore.

Only he was.

Still.

Fuck his damn life.

It came to a head one day in Phil’s office. Clint was there later, filling in paperwork while Coulson typed out reports. Clint had been trying to avoid Coulson as much as Coulson had been avoiding him, but his paperwork still had to get done, and it was always easier if they did it together. There were fewer inconsistencies that way and Clint got called in to Logistics to explain himself less.

It was still pretty hard to sit beside the man, though, because Clint was stupidly in love with him despite everything. So when Clint reached for his pen after putting it down to stretch, he fumbled it, and Phil picked it up and handed it back to him. Their fingers touched, and Phil – flinched.

Clint couldn’t take it anymore.

He sprang up from his chair and threw the pen across the room, then turned to Phil and spat, “I fucking thought you were better than this, you fucking bigot.”

He left his paperwork, his report, and fucking Phil and went to the archery range to clear his head.

Clint shot arrows into targets for hours. He jumped and jogged, unstrung and restrung his bow from cover, and never missed a shot. He worked himself until he was shaking, until his eyes started to cross and he stopped thinking about anything but the crisp lines of the bullseye staring at him from across the room.

When he finally had enough, it was late. Long past the time when everyone else in the building would have left and gone home. Clint packed up his equipment, unstrung his bow, and left for his billet.

He found Coulson in the hallway.

The man had obviously been waiting for him. He had sat down outside the range to wait for Clint to finish, and he must have fallen asleep. Looking at him, Clint could see the lines of stress around his eyes and mouth. Coulson obviously hadn’t been sleeping well.

Clint sighed and nudged him with his foot, and Coulson’s eyes flew open. Clint swallowed as they came to rest on him. He still loved those baby blues.

“Go home, Coulson,” Clint told him, as gently as he knew how. “Get some fucking sleep.”

Coulson blinked at him for a moment before running a hand over his tired face. He shook his head and got to his feet. “No, Clint. I’m sorry. But we need to talk.”

Clint made a face, because he really wished they didn’t, only it was obvious they did.

Neither of them was in any condition to drive and Clint didn’t want to have this conversation in the hallway. He led Phil back to his bunk on base, and made space for him in his closet-sized room.

“I’m sorry for blowing up at you,” Clint began, because he wanted to get the ‘I think you should request a different handler’ bullshit over and done with as soon as possible.

Coulson held up a forestalling hand. “No, Clint. Wait.” He took a deep breath, in and out, his eyes on the floor. “I’m the one who should be apologizing to you. I know the impression I’ve been giving hasn’t been a good one, and I’m sorry for that.” Phil lifted his gaze from the fascinating beige carpet and met Clint’s eyes.

“You’re right to think that I’ve been uncomfortable around you, and that is my problem, not yours.” He shook his head at Clint’s open mouth, and went on. “I’m not a bigot, Clint. I don’t have a problem with you being gay. The problem is – well,” Phil’s lips quirked in a humorless smile. “I’m attracted to you.”

Clint stared at him.

“I realize that just because we share an orientation, that doesn’t mean that you are attracted to me,” Phil hurried to say, putting up both hands. “And I know that, Clint,” he said quickly. “I really do. I am trying not to let it affect me, but I realize that,” he blushed, “I, well, I haven’t been too successful. I apologize for that. If you just give me a little more time, I can – “

Clint had to cut him off then. He lunged forward, wrapped his hands around Phil’s face, and kissed him.

It was perfect.

Phil took a second to get with the program. His mouth went slack under Clint’s in surprise, and Clint gave him a moment, biting and nipping at his lower lip until Coulson’s amazing, brilliant, beautiful brain got with the picture and he started kissing back. Then it was everything Clint had ever imagined – all wet heat and powerful tongue. It was incredibly hot, and Clint felt his dick straining at the steams of his pants in a sudden, powerful burst of lust.

He panted into Coulson’s mouth, knowing that at the slightest touch he was going to come in his pants, and he was completely okay with that. “Let’s move this to the bed,” he suggested.

Coulson nodded against his mouth, then stopped and shook his head. He pushed Clint away. “No, wait,” he said.

Clint growled and crowded Phil against the door. “If you tell me that you don’t want this, or that there is some stupid regulation that – “

But Phil was shaking his head again. “No, I want this,” he admitted, and then laughed a little. “I really, really want this. There is a regulation, but it mostly involves paperwork.”

Clint leaned forward and licked his way back into Phil’s mouth. “You’re good at paperwork,” he breathed against Phil’s lips.

Phil’s mouth opened under his. “I am,” he gasped, “I am very good at paperwork, but that’s not – that isn’t – ” He kissed Clint for a moment more before pulling back again.

“I’m going to come in my pants if we keep doing this,” Phil admitted shakily to him. Clint just laughed.

“Yeah,” he agreed. “Me too.” He gave Phil a wry grin. “As you know, I don’t exactly have a lot of experience with this.”

Phil blushed then, and leaned forward to brush his lips against Clint’s for a moment. “Yeah,” he said. “Me neither.”

Clint kissed him until the words started making sense. It was difficult, because the blood his brain probably needed seemed to be pooling in his dick, but he finally pulled back enough to look at Phil and ask, “What?”

Phil’s blush darkened. “I’m a virgin,” he said slowly, apologetically, stepping as far back from Clint as he could while backed against the door. It wasn’t very far.

Clint stared at him in shock. “No fucking way,” he said. “You? Phil Coulson? The baddest-ass agent in all of S.H.I.E.L.D.? No way someone hasn’t tapped that before.”

Phil quirked an eyebrow at him. “Was that supposed to be a compliment?” he asked wryly. “Either way – no, I haven’t. They haven’t. Whatever.”

Clint groaned and leaned forward, his mouth finding Phil’s. Their hips brushed together, and Clint gasped. “Fuck. I still don’t believe you,” he said into Phil’s mouth.

“Me?” Phil argued, thrusting his tongue against Clint’s lips. Clint swore and sucked on it for a second. “Look at you,” Phil went on when he had pulled his tongue back again. “You’re the hottest person I know. You have women and men on every continent staring as you walk past. You’re loyal, funny, and good. How have you never had sex before?”

Clint tried to blush, but all his blood had been redirected to his dick. He wanted to argue with Phil, but he couldn’t think past the haze of want in his mind.

“Let’s say we get horizontal, and then rub off against each other until both of us come. Then we can sit down and talk about this like actual adults, but right now I want you so bad I can’t think, Phil.”

“Fuck.” Phil agreed into his mouth, and then pushed back until Clint’s knees hit the bed and he went down. Phil crawled on top of him, biting at his neck, and it was so hot Clint nearly came right then and there.

He managed to hold off until Phil started grinding against him, both of them in their pants, before the pressure built and it was too much. Clint came when he was, still fully clothed.

Phil went still against him, and Clint knew he was coming too. The two of them lay like that, plastered against one another, until their individual spasms had stopped.

Then Clint rolled them over onto their sides and put their foreheads together. “Fuck.” He breathed. “That was hot.”

Phil kissed lightly at the bite marks he had left on Clint’s neck. “Yeah,” he agreed. “It was.”

Clint leaned back and looked at him, his hair tousled and his face flushed. “That was seriously your first time?” he asked.

Phil nodded and bit his lower lip. It was a tell he never showed in the field. He looked at Clint. “You too?” he asked.

Clint sighed, but nodded. He leaned their foreheads back together. “You first?” he asked.

Phil shook his head. “First, let’s get out of these clothes,” he said, and Clint had to agree. They both toed their shoes off, then peeled away their shirts and pants, ditching their messy underwear. Clint blushed, and Phil matched him, and with a laugh they both reached for Clint’s drawer.

With a clean pair of boxers each, they settled back onto the bed together. Clint manhandled them under the covers. “Okay,” he said again. “You first.”

“It’s not much of a story to tell,” Phil admitted with a sigh. “I was the Captain America geek in high school, and I enlisted right after. I volunteered for the Rangers and then got recruited into S.H.I.E.L.D. Realized I was gay back when I was eleven, and was too chickenshit to do anything about it then. In the Army I wasn’t sure how to approach people, and didn’t know if I even wanted to. I loved being in the service too much, and my dick just wasn’t worth it.” He shrugged. “Since being at S.H.I.E.L.D. I’ve fallen back onto old habits, I guess. Kept myself busy and tried not to think about it. Lots of things are more important than my sex life, or lack thereof.”

“I get it,” Clint told him, realizing that he did. “Kind of the same story here. I fooled around a lot as a kid, but I was too young back then. By the time I hit the age when I could actually do something with the townies who tried to pick me up, I didn’t have the time. Too tied up with Trickshot and the circus, and then too busy running for my life. Being a merc kept me fed and everything, but,” he shrugged, uncomfortable, and Phil reached a hand around them to rub at Clint’s back. “Let’s just say I recognized where Natasha was coming from, that day I saw her in my scope,” he said.

Phil nodded against him, his hand kneading at Clint’s shoulders. “I really thought you and Natasha were together.” Phil explained, softly. “You are both so beautiful, and you’ve always understood one another. I never considered you weren’t sleeping together.”

Clint shook his head. “She tried, kinda, but we’re better friends. She’s like a sister to me, a really hot sister I sleep in the same bed with, but I don’t think she’s interested in sex with anyone. Maybe women, I don’t know, but we bunk up together on missions. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that you didn’t know.”

Clint dithered for a second, then figured this was a night for confessions. “I’ve kinda had a ... thing ... for you,” he said finally. “For a long time. Natasha likes to tease me about it.”

Phil tipped his head back and looked at him. “Really?” he asked, wonder in his voice.

Clint nodded, blushing. “Yeah. Since you first brought me in, maybe. I used to jerk off thinking about your eyes all the time.”

Phil stared at him, and then they were kissing again, hands fumbling at each other’s shoulders, so much glorious, beautiful skin that Clint never wanted to stop.

“Oh god, me too” Phil confessed. “All the time, at night, in my apartment. I would think of you here, so beautiful, and I would imagine coming over to headquarters and knocking on your door to ask about something stupid. I don’t even know what, it changed every time. You would answer and smile and say something flirtatious, and in my fantasy I always knew exactly what to say back. And then you’d kiss me, and I’d pretty much go off like a rocket just from that.”

Clint chuckled into Phil’s mouth, because he couldn’t help himself. “So you’re easy, eh?”

Phil laughed, then groaned as Clint trailed a hand up his chest and brushed his nipple. “For you? Apparently.”

Clint followed his hand with his tongue, because that was always something he’d figured would be hot. Phil groaned and arched against him. “We have a lot of time to make up for, is what you’re saying.”

Phil twisted and put his mouth on the side of Clint’s neck. He sucked a bruise along the bite marks there, and Clint felt himself growing hard again. “So much time,” he echoed, sucking kisses along all the skin he could reach. “I’m sorry I was such a bastard these past few weeks.”

Clint leaned back and waggled his eyebrows at him. “I know a way you can make it up to me,” he grinned.

Phil laughed and chased him, kissing him senseless. “Does that line ever actually work for you?” he teased, knowing the answer.

Clint groaned and sucked his tongue in, giving him the answer anyway. “No,” he said into Phil’s mouth. “At least, not yet.”

 

*

 

They had sex again that night, though it was mostly rutting against each other in bed. They left their boxers on, and woke up smelling of sex and sweat the next day. Clint thought he could easily get addicted to that smell. They had to go back to work after that; luckily, Phil kept an extra suit in his office.

Clint watched him walk around all day and marvelled that it had actually happened. He’d had sex. He didn’t feel different, precisely, except in all the ways he did.

He was pretty sure that was because of Phil and not because of the sex.

Or well, because of the sex with Phil, more than just the sex. It made sense in his head.

He spent a few hours in R&D trying to distract himself, then gave up and camped out in the vents above Phil’s office. He fantasized about all the things they were going to do together once Phil got off work.

That night, they went to Phil’s place, which Clint had been to once or twice before. Phil ordered pizza and they ate about half a slice each before abandoning it in favor of making out on the couch like teenagers. Or like they assumed teenagers made out on the couch – neither of them had actually done it before.

Sex that night was good – was great even – again, but they didn’t go much farther than the night before. They were both pretty nervous, but that was easier, because neither of them knew what they were doing. Or at least, Clint assumed it made things easier. He realized after a week that it might have been nice if one of them had any kind of experience with sex, because his fingers stuttered to a halt after trailing along the edge of Phil’s boxers in bed.

Phil lifted his head and looked down at him, quirking his lips up to one side. “I guarantee that whatever you do, it’ll be the best I’ve ever had,” he told him, and Clint had to bury his face in Phil’s thigh and laugh at that, because – yeah. Good point.

Clint’s first attempt at a blow job didn’t go so well. He touched Phil’s cock hesitantly, and had just started to lick up and down the sides of it when Phil groaned, wrapped a hand around himself, and came.

Clint got a facefull of come and wasn’t too gracious about it. That kind of thing was supposed to be hot, but it was mostly just bitter and gross. Phil apologized profusely.

After that, they switched positions. Phil took him down in one go, obviously trying not to make the same mistake, and Clint suddenly knew what Phil’s problem had been because holy shit, that felt awesome. He managed to paw Phil away with one hand before his came down his throat, which was something he gloated about endlessly, after.

Phil just rolled his eyes and said, “Yeah, yeah, you give more irresistible blowjobs than me. Good for you,” and Clint just smirked and agreed that yeah – he did.

They both got better at it, with time. They watched some porn together for tips, and then tried to duplicate what the guys did on TV. Sometimes it worked out great, but mostly it didn’t.

Porn did not much resemble real-life, they quickly realized. After that they pretty much gave up on it and focused on learning what they liked together in bed. Or on the couch. Or, once, on Phil’s desk in his study at home.

But only once, because Phil had this no-sex-at-work rule, and apparently Clint jerking himself all over Phil’s chest on his desk at home was too hot for Phil not to think about at work.

Clint gloated about that, too.

Clint really liked Phil’s hands on his head, they realized, and Phil really liked having his nipples played with. It took months, but Phil’s hands finally skittered around to Clint’s asshole one night.

“Go for it,” Clint said shakily.

“You’re sure?” Phil asked him, kissing his shoulder blade. His fingers ran in hesitant circles around Clint’s ass. Clint nodded, letting his head fall forward into the pillow. “I’m sure,” he said.

Phil had done his research, only it seemed paper wasn’t much better than TV. Phil’s finger felt huge in his ass – and not in a good way.

“Ow, ow – ow!” Clint yelped.

“Sorry, sorry!” Phil sounded about as shaken as Clint. They stopped and Phil held him until his ass stopped spasming.

It took them a while to try again. Clint spent some quality time in sex shops researching every different kind of lube that existed, and came home to Phil’s apartment one night with a plan. Phil had obviously been doing some more research of his own. That night they got far enough for Phil to stick two fingers inside of him, and Clint came like a bottle rocket in bed.

A little while later, they tried the same on Phil. It was good for him, but even with practice he didn’t enjoy it in the same way that Clint did. Clint quickly learned that he loved having Phil’s fingers, and later his cock, in his ass. It was hot and delicious, and Phil learned just how to push and thrust to hit Clint’s prostate every time.

They used condoms a little, but they were each other’s first and it wasn’t like they could get pregnant. They each got tested, just in case, because STDs were weird, and both of them wanted to make absolutely sure they wouldn’t get the other sick. They learned how to keep themselves clean – and wasn’t that a fun lesson – and generally worked together to figure this whole sex thing out.

It was awesome.

They still had a ton of other issues, of course. Clint was still bad at trusting people, and Phil was surprisingly insecure. Clint could finally see – after the fourth argument they had about the fact that Phil thought Clint could do better – the scared, skinny nerd who thought no one would ever want to have sex with him.

Phil already knew not to surprise Clint when he was distracted, and he understood what Clint looked like when he was vulnerable, but apparently sleeping with someone was more difficult for Clint’s psyche to get behind than he had thought it would be. Natasha used to complain that he kicked in the night, but it seemed she fought back, because Phil regularly woke up with bruises she never had.

They figured it out, though. They were good together. And while Phil might sometimes go quiet and insist that Clint was too good for him, Clint knew the opposite was true. He wanted Phil, and only Phil. He always had.

He wasn’t going to give him up now that he had him.

Besides, the sex just kept getting better. Phil wanted to try hand-cuffs next. Clint was definitely down with that.