All things considered, Phil's life was going pretty well. Things with the Avengers Initiative were proceeding more or less as expected, Fury had increased his wardrobe allowance, and he was in a stable relationship, albeit with a vampire.
And then he got stabbed in the back.
As he left the bridge, there were a million things Steve could have been focusing on, a million things he could have been afraid of, but his mind had narrowed down to a point: find Loki and end this. He honestly didn't like to think about it as saving the world, but they were already clearly to that point, so why not? They needed to save the world.
The door to the isolation room opened. "Time to go," he told Natasha.
"Go where?" she asked, frowning.
"I'll tell you on the way," Steve said. "Can you fly one of those jets?"
The door to the bathroom opened, and Barton emerged; Steve immediately tensed, not sure whether he was about to have to fight Barton off. "I can," Barton said. He suddenly dropped the towel he was holding, his face going pale. "Phil. Phil's blood. You have it on you."
"I'm sorry," Steve said gently, even though he had no idea how Barton knew; there wasn't time for that right now. "Loki stabbed him. He didn't make it."
Barton put his head down, his shoulders rising and falling as he took a deep breath, but before Steve could look away, give him a moment, he snapped it back up. "No," Barton said firmly. "He's alive. He's not dead."
Steve had seen this before too many times, and the last thing he wanted was to have Barton go through it, especially now. "Barton, I-"
"No," Barton insisted. "Phil is still alive. Get the fuck out of my way."
Natasha sighed. "Clint, this is-"
"Natasha," he said, and Steve saw something pass between them, something he couldn't identify. "Give me five minutes, okay. Give me five fucking minutes. I'll meet you in the hangar."
"Go," Natasha said. Steve didn't contradict her, stepping to the side so Barton could pass. When he looked at her questioningly, she shook her head. "He has to tell you about it himself. It's not my job or my right."
Steve sighed. "Alright. Let's gear up."
Phil was thinking about JFK.
He had no good reason to be thinking about JFK. JFK died the year before he was born, so it wasn't like he had some "where were you when" story about it. But no, he was thinking about JFK's time of death. He'd read once that it had been faked, which seemed pretty fucking suspicious. Then he read somewhere else that it had been done because Jackie wanted him to get the Last Rites, and it didn't seem suspicious anymore, just sad. He thought about this poor man, big hole in his head, not dead just because people wanted so badly for him to be alive.
There were medics still working on him. He wondered what his time of death would say.
There was a commotion somewhere in the room, people talking in raised voices, the crash of a cart falling, but he didn't have the strength to lift his head. Suddenly the light was blocked out, the brightness of the OR intercepted by the man leaning over him.
"Clint," he said, mostly a cough.
"Hey," Clint said, and he sounded panicked. "Phil, buddy, um- I don't want to rush you, but I have places to be and a god to kill, so you have about two minutes to decide whether you'd rather be dead or a vampire."
"What?" Phil gasped.
"Yeah," Clint said. "You're only mostly dead, and mostly dead is slightly alive, but you need to pick if you want to be undead."
Phil looked up into Clint's eyes; he'd been wondering if he'd ever get to see them again. "If I decide it's the wrong decision, will you kill me?"
Clint ran his hand over Phil's hair. "No," he said reluctantly. "But Nat will."
Phil let his head fall to the side, baring his neck. "Do it."
"There's this whole ceremony, and it's a big deal, but we're just gonna have to do it later," Clint said apologetically. "This isn't gonna take long. I have to drain you, but to be honest most of your blood is on the floor anyway, and I don't-"
"Clint," Phil said feebly, shutting his eyes. "Stop talking."
"Right," Clint said. He took a deep breath. "Here we go."
It didn't hurt as much as Phil had always imagined it would. He had always pictured throats torn open, blood dripping, but Clint just leaned down and latched on. There was pain as Clint's fangs punctured his neck, but compared to what he'd been up to recently, it was really nothing.
Clint was right; draining him didn't take long at all. Phil kind of wished it had taken longer, because it was actually sort of nice. He was convinced he was still going to die, but it felt better to go out like this, Clint's lips against his neck, Clint taking him away, instead of just bleeding out on the cold floor.
Clint pulled away from him, and Phil made a lost noise, missing the contact. But then Clint raised his own arm to his mouth; Phil heard him hiss in pain as he bit himself, opening his arm just below the elbow. "Just drink," he said softly. "That's all you have to do. Just a couple gulps. Just do it for me."
Phil didn't know if he had the strength even for that, but when Clint pressed his arm to Phil's mouth, he sucked weakly, trying to do the best he could. Clint's blood tasted like pennies and worry, though Phil wasn't sure how he knew what worry tasted like. It was overwhelming and somewhat disgusting, but after a few sips he felt immeasurably better, good enough that he thought, for the first time in a while, he might actually come through this.
"Okay," Clint said, pulling his arm away when Phil reached for him. Clint sighed in relief. "Okay, that's enough. The next few hours are gonna be completely horrific, no lie, but I'll be back soon, and everything will be okay. Okay?"
It didn't escape Phil's attention that Clint hadn't told him about any potential horrors until after they'd already finished. He licked Clint's blood from his teeth, swallowing. "Okay."
Clint kissed him on the forehead. "Gotta run, don't eat the junior agents."
He heard Clint barking orders, felt himself be lifted onto a gurney and moved, but only indistinctly. He was already passing back out.
It had been a fucking hell of a day.
"Day" in this case meant about thirty-six hours so far, but at SHIELD, that was more-or-less an acceptable length of time for a day to be. On any normal day, Silva and Markham would be in the infirmary or in bed; this was, however, maybe the least normal day that any of them had ever had. They were both slightly wounded and completely exhausted, but by current standards, "fit for duty" meant "physically capable of standing."
Silva didn't actually know what duty they were doing, but whatever it was, it was deeply creepy. This was not the day you wanted to be standing in front of a locked door listening to what sounded like someone trashing a room and screaming. There was definitely blood on the window, and Silva pointedly did not look at it. There was some shit she just didn't need to know, and when she had the luxury of not knowing that shit, she was going to enjoy it.
They were there an uncomfortably long amount of time before footsteps approached. They drew their sidearms, preparing to defend whatever it was from whoever it was, but Silva relaxed as Agent Barton came around the corner. Barton was on the list of people authorized to be here; actually, the list consisted of only Director Fury and Agent Barton, but still.
"Stand down," Barton said, stepping between the two of them to look through the window into the room. Silva holstered her weapon, waiting for orders, hoping those orders would be "Go away and don't come back."
"You're dismissed," Barton said, already pressing his thumb against the scanner beside the door.
"Agent Barton," Markham said hesitantly.
"What?" Barton snapped.
"Are you really sure you want to go in there?" he said, like an idiot.
Barton grabbed Markham by the shoulder, yanking him down until they were eye-to-eye. "If you are not out of here by the time I count to ten, I will personally kill you, and I will not make it quick." Barton let him go. "One."
Silva did the smart thing; she got the living fuck out of there, because whether or not Barton was actually talking to her was immaterial. She stopped when she got around the corner. Markham followed, throwing himself back against the wall next to her. She lifted a finger to her lips, signalling for quiet. There was the sound of the door opening, the sound of snarling. It sounded like something was about to attack, and Silva hoped like fuck that Barton knew what he was doing.
"Stop," someone said, and it sounded like Barton, but it also sounded nothing like Barton at all, some kind of weird resonance to it that made Silva's skin crawl. Instantly the noise stopped, everything going still. "Come."
"Yes, sire," a voice answered; it was hoarse and broken, but it was Phil fucking Coulson.
Silva and Markham ran.
Clint was driving way too fast. He was aware of this fact; it was just that getting where he was going was way more important than anything else.
New York was understandably more than a little ripped up, but thank god the safehouse was out of the way of the worst of the damage. It was near the blood bank- the other blood bank; the place was in chaos, full of wounded, hungry vampires who didn't have the heart to feed on the dying, but walking up to the counter and saying "Got a fledgling in thrall in the car, help" opened things up a little.
There were, quite understandably, no cops to stop Clint, even as he roared through a 35 doing 70. He slammed to a halt in front of the safehouse, jumping out of the car and grabbing the box of blood bags before opening Phil's door. "Get up," he said, and Phil fumbled his way out of the car. "Follow."
Clint walked up to the door, leaning over to use the retinal scanner; the door opened, and he ushered Phil in, slamming the door shut behind him. Clint finally allowed himself a deep breath. They were here. They were okay. If nothing went wrong in the next two hours, everything would be fine.
If anything went wrong in the next two hours, well, they would be dead. But he was relieved anyway.
Clint really, really, really hated having to put Phil in thrall; it drained Clint and didn't actually do anything to help Phil. He had to do what Clint said, but inside he was still in pain, his mind still roiling. He was in grave danger; he was a tough son of a bitch and having Clint nearby helped, but he could lose himself completely to hunger and pain if Clint didn't help him soon.
Clint steered him into the bathroom, setting down the box on his way and taking out a single bag. "Strip," he commanded, turning on the shower and peeling out of his uniform. The danger was paramount and everything, but Phil was still covered in blood and wearing tatters of a suit, not to mention the grime of battle still covering Clint. What they were about to do could last a day and a half. Three minutes to rinse off was probably fine.
When they were out, Clint slit the blood bag open, holding it to Phil's mouth, and Phil drank greedily, draining the bag in an instant. Clint pressed a quick kiss to his mouth before pushing him back into the bedroom.
The windows in the house were all blacked out; the only lights in the bedroom were dim and red, but Clint turned them off anyway. He'd prepared this place specifically in case he was gravely injured, if something happened that blood wouldn't fix. Right now it was just going to have to do for a den, because there was no other choice.
Clint climbed onto the bed, laying back against the pillows. This was probably going to hurt, possibly a lot; he'd never actually turned someone, but people talked about it kind of like they talked about tattoos- some vampires said it hurt like nothing else, some vampires said it was no worse than a pinprick. There was no time like the present to find out, though.
"Come to me," Clint ordered, and Phil started towards him. A thought suddenly occurred to him. "Stop."
Clint reached over, pulling out the nightstand drawer. He hoped like fuck- right, yes, there was lube, thank god, because just because this place was for recovery didn't mean Clint wasn't going to get bored and horny eventually. He poured it over his fingers, reaching down and prepping himself quickly. There was a good chance things were gonna go that way, and Phil wouldn't have the presence of mind to do it himself.
"Come, childe," Clint said, and Phil got into the bed, crawling towards him. Clint took a deep breath, letting it out slowly.
Then he ended the thrall.
Phil's face changed. He locked eyes with Clint, and Clint had just enough time to be terrified and wildly turned on before Phil attacked. Clint really hated being bitten, and as a fledgling Phil had no finesse at all, his teeth tearing into Clint's throat; as long as Phil didn't literally bite his head off, it was okay.
Phil sucked hard; he was going to have to learn not to do that, but Clint could withstand it, the way a human couldn't. It felt different, though, different from being fed on had felt, different from feeding. He could feel Phil through it, feel his mind, his scattered thoughts, the terror and the desperation.
"That's right," Clint said gently, stroking Phil's hair, though it was a little hard with fangs in his throat. "Take what you need. Just take it."
Phil fumbled in between them, getting his hand around his cock, and Clint spread his legs, encouraging him. He pushed in too fast, but it still felt great, another point of connection between them. Phil rocked into him hard, over and over, and Clint let him have it, everything he needed. That was what Clint owed him, what he'd offered; not everybody got it like this, from someone who actually cared, actually understood the gravity of the situation.
Clint sure hadn't.
He could feel Phil starting to come out of it by degrees, his mind settling. With any luck he could figure it out before he killed Clint, but Clint was hopeful. For his part, Clint was feeling slower, sluggish, like he was beginning to lose it, but he could feel Phil getting stronger, better, turning into something new. It was worth it.
Phil suddenly let go, throwing his head back and gasping. Clint felt him coming, buried all the way inside, pulse after pulse. He leaned down, kissing Clint hard, his fingers tangled in Clint's hair.
"Lick the marks," Clint said quickly when Phil pulled away, and Phil looked at him in confusion. "You have to close them." He sighed as Phil lapped at his neck, the gashes from Phil's teeth knitting back together. "And for fuck's sake jerk me off, I'm dying here."
Phil laughed against Clint's skin, wrapping his hand around Clint's cock. It didn't take much, not after all that, even though Clint still felt weak and unstable. "Get some of the blood out of the box," Clint said, closing his eyes. "I want to cuddle and shit, but we have to worry about that first."
"Yes, sire," Phil said, getting off the bed and reaching into the box. Clint accepted a bag and tore it open, drinking quickly.
Phil looked at the bag quizzically. "How do I do this?"
"Open the tube thing and suck on it," Clint told him, reaching for another bag. He drank slower, trying to pace himself.
Phil raised an eyebrow at him. "The 'tube thing'?"
"Do I look like a nurse to you?" Clint said. "It's a thing that looks like a tube. Shut up and drink."
"Yes, sire," Phil said, opening the bag and drinking. "It feels really creepy to say that, by the way, and I don't know why I'm doing it."
"It wears off," Clint said. He sighed, stopping himself halfway through the bag. When Phil had finished, Clint gave him the rest. "A bag and a half is enough for now. Don't get overambitious."
"Yes, si- goddammit," Phil said, and Clint smirked at him. He let Clint take the blood bags; Clint dropped them on the nightstand before pulling him close. "Is this the time for 'cuddling and shit'?"
"Oh yeah," Clint said, kissing him. "Maybe ten minutes of that, then passing out and sleeping until the end of forever. Not literally, if you were wondering. More like sixteen hours."
"That sounds amazing," Phil said, sighing. Clint pulled him closer, holding him tightly.
Everything was okay. Everything was going to be fine. Nothing was going to crash and burn, at least for a while, at least until they left this place.
Well, there was the fact that Phil was considerably less alive than he'd been this morning, but whatever. It worked for Clint.