Phil reaches across his desk for what must be the tenth time in two hours and for the tenth time he winces painfully as his shoulder pulls in exactly the direction it really doesn’t want to go. It’s his own damn fault, he knew when he’d reached out that he wasn’t braced for the weight he was about to take and there was no way he was going to get braced by the time his arm was forced to take the brunt of a 200 pound agent in free fall. Even the intern that had checked him out after, having him carefully rotate as his steady fingers probed, and Phil made a note of that, steady interns led to great field medics, had handed him two instant packs and said to use both and get more before he went home.
Phil, dutifully, cracked the internal seal on the cold pack and sighed in relief as it hit the overly warm muscles near his neck and arm. Later he cracked the heat pack and did the same. Alternating as prescribed in the Pulled Muscle Memo of ’05. At least, he did for about 90 minutes, before being pulled into a meeting that would not end and his arm still felt pretty good when he escaped, so he let it go and moved onto his next task without stopping in his office first. It all seemed to go fine. He swallowed some Advil before bed because he was still and went to sleep.
The problem didn’t manifest until he reached for a clean mug the next morning. His fingers fell inches short as his arm abruptly stopped its rotation sooner than usual, a throb of unhappy pain accompanying it. That it’s his right hand is an issue he ignored as long as possible, but while he could compensate during his morning routine, his office is set up to his liking and meant to be efficient. He balks at the idea of rearranging his entire office and not just because he has a minor injury. Broken bones and gunshots are another thing entirely, he’s willing to make allowances for those.
Phil rolls his head in a familiar manner, born of years of sore muscles and PT instructions, but it doesn’t begin to touch the mass of frozen muscle on his right side. He checks the time, he’s waited too long, but he sends an email to the massage staff anyway, maybe there’s a free half hour. The answer comes back depressingly fast and Melissa, who is an amazing human being and is not thanked enough, offers a non SHIELD phone number that Phil can try. He debates for thirty seconds, pain throbbing at his side before shaking his head. The idea of being that vulnerable with a stranger at his back makes him tense up even more.
Still, the status quo isn’t working for him. Phil sighs and gives in, standing to remove his jacket, loosening his tie, unbuttoning his top button and rolling his sleeves up. There’s a free spot on his wall that he can use for leverage.
“Leave your S shaped thingy at home?”
A voice startles Phil out of his first stretch and his body curls into itself in pain. “Fuck,” he hisses, “Barton, what the hell?” Phil recognizes he’s being snappish and if it were anyone but Barton he’d have held it inside but Clint— Barton— makes him want to break out of his carefully maintained box.
Immediately, whatever insubordinate, sarcastic note that Barton typically carries disappears without thought. “Oh god, Coulson, I’m sorry.” Without a word he’s inside Phil’s office and closing the door behind him, casually locking it with a carelessness that tells of Phil’s bent rules when it comes to him.
Barton stops a mere foot from where Phil is recovering and goes white. “Tell me it’s not a heart attack.”
Phil is about to berate Barton for idiotic conclusion jumping and when he takes stock of how he must look. “No,” he says carefully, releasing the firm hold his left hand has on his right arm. It still hurts but Barton’s stark fear seems more important at the moment. “Totally different sign of aging,” he smiles wryly, waiting for Barton to breathe again. It takes too long and Phil eases himself back into his chair. “Also, I’d like to think that in the event of something that serious I’d actually go to medical.”
The color is finally starting to come back into Barton’s face and he manages to give Phil a look that says ‘you may be better about it than the rest of us but you still do your share of dumbass things when it comes to medical.’ Phil knows this look well. Fury uses it a lot. Phil uses it a lot. Maria uses it every day.
Phil is tired, in pain and at the end of his tether, Barton can unbalance him with nothing more than a glance sometimes, or at least that’s what it feels like. So Phil redirects the conversation to save his own skin. “Mine’s at home,” he’s referring to the S shaped massage tool the PT department handed out like candy canes a few years ago at Christmas, along with a carefully rendered picture of various pressure points that one might find useful. The S shape was so that it could be held in the front of the body, but dig into the muscles on the back, allowing the user enough leverage to help loosen up even the most stubborn of knots. It had taken only five minutes out of a planned twenty minute demonstration for Phil to happily promise to approve the line item that ordered SHIELD something like 20k of the item.
“And they’ve started hoarding the extras like chocolate,” Barton nods with a mournful air. “Okay then,” he digs around into one of his ubiquitous cargo pants pockets. Phil swears each new iteration of the casual uniform has more pockets. Barton pulls out a familiar tube of hand cream and waves it in Phil’s face. While it was hard to convince Barton that always wearing his protective gear was important when he first joined, Barton had come into SHIELD with experience attempting to work with dried and cracked skin on his hands.
“Let me give it a shot,” he says, shooing Phil in the direction of his desk. “I’m practically an honorary member of the PT staff with all those classes I took.” Barton’s brain is a sponge and if the topic interests him, Phil has learned to work it into his schedule, it both makes Barton happy and adds to the huge vault of knowledge that might one day save his life on a mission.
Phil blinks in response, completely flabbergasted at the idea, he can’t even figure out how it would work. Is he supposed to… lay on the floor?
Barton’s nimble hands wave the tube in front of his eyes. “Come on,” he says in a bright tone, “you look like a zombie and I bet you slept terrible on top of being in pain all day.”
Something snaps back into play inside of Phil’s head and he stifles a moan of happiness at the mere idea of someone’s fingers digging into his stiff muscles and mapping out all of his sore spots. “Okay, but no staining my shirt.” He says it only because he feels like there should be some sort of token resistance.
Barton makes more hand motions at him that Phil translates as a combination of ‘Would I fail you?’ and ‘Off with your shirt already’. “Come on Phil, this is my mission stash, it’s everything free and absorbs quickly, so in reality, not ideal for this, but it’ll do in a pinch.”
Phil almost loses a button, the way his fingers twitch at the use of his first name. It’s actually not the first time, but still it’s rare because so much of their time is spent on duty or in the halls of SHIELD itself. Coulson hasn’t been directly in charge of Barton for nearly two promotions, their command structure in the field is entirely artificial and only applies within the confines of an active op and their respective roles in it. If Barton feels the need to assert his authority, he has every right to question an order from Phil as long as it relates directly to his prevue. Unlike before, where Barton technically would have only had the right to request a change in mission parameters.
Not that Barton had any trouble making his doubts known before the promotion, with commentary, and pointed sarcasm about the original plans, with diagrams and stick figures in the AAR. Phil spent several years sure he was one Barton report away from an ulcer before it careened into a screaming match and eventually the tiny seeds of a solid friendship.
It feels weird, to settle backwards into his visitor’s chair as Clint dims the lights. His regular chair has a high back and would make this impossible. The weird part is that he’s shirtless and leaning against the low back of the chair, his arms crossed on the other side of the padded plastic. He feels more naked than he is. They’ve shared a common locker room for years, but this feels more exposed. Barton— Clint really, it’s a massage for god’s sake, glides in behind him and touches his aching shoulder with warm, dry fingers.
In the quiet, Clint helps Phil rotate his arm in various directions, mapping out where the muscle is tightest and which motions are the hardest. The hands disappear only to return seconds later, still warm, but newly slick with cream. The light touches that Clint starts with are already heaven, even if he hasn’t even begun to work the knots out.
Phil finds himself lulled into a false sense of security by Clint’s gentle beginning. It’s not that the pressure Clint is exerting skips a step and it goes from light to firm without any warning, but the first truly firm press into his nearly frozen muscle wrings a gasp out of Phil. It’s painful and electric at the same time, he can feel the entire muscle group twitch as Clint gently, but inevitably pushes on, following the natural contour of Phil’s body.
He concentrates on breathing, keeping his lungs moving at an even pace, collecting as much oxygen as possible before smoothly blowing it back out. Clint’s fingers become warm, slick instruments of release, slowly working out a series of tiny muscle cramps all clustered right on top of each other.
“Jesus,” Clint says in a low voice, “how were you upright?”
“With a lot of care,” Phil admits, his words come out in rough tumble, nearly tripping over his tongue. Clint’s hand seem to sink warmth directly into Phil’s body, helping sooth the deep, but sharp ache that side has taken on.
Phil falls into a quiet place inside his mind, only coming up when Clint needs his help moving his arm in one direction or another, but even then it’s not more than curiosity about what’s going to happen next than needing to help. Clint is strong enough to move him however he wants. At least, as long as Phil is amiable to it and he’s is, a lot.
Slowly, Clint digs into each and every sore spot, there’s no way for him to completely fix it, that’s what rest and anti inflammatories are for, but by the time he’s carefully taking Phil’s arm on a walk around 90% rotation, Phil is barely feeling any pain at all.
The low lighting, the warmth in the room, only partially temperature based makes his head muzzy. The lack of pain, even muzzier. Clint’s hands wander, nothing untoward, but they do leave the relative vicinity of Phil’s complaints and onto neighboring aches. His forearm is rolled with strong thumbs, his his mid-back gets a rolling of knuckles against the tight muscles holding his ribs together and his neck gets two hands curving gently around it, working their way around the tight cartilage and flat muscles that always take a beating. Phil smiles a little, imagining letting a stranger that far around his neck and immediately dismisses it. Clint is one of the only people he’d stay relaxed for that.
“How’zit feel now?” Clint rumbles from behind him, still rubbing firmly along one muscle or another.
“S’nice,” Phil slurs, only vaguely worried about having to make it home. “Thanks,” he says letting his cheek rest against the hand rubbing his shoulder. “Like pudding,” he murmurs, letting his nose rub across Clint’s knuckles, his lips following, pressing a gentle thank you across smooth skin.
It takes longer than it should to realize what happened. It takes longer than it should to figure out why it happened. Too much pain, too much relaxation and Barton, always Barton. Behind him Clint has frozen, his hands are still on Phil’s skin and to his credit they’re mostly relaxed, but Phil can feel the body standing behind him frozen solid through the few inches that separates them.
“Clint—“ Phil has to clear his throat, “Clint. I—“
Clint’s hands flex. It’s not meant to hurt, just interrupt Phil’s train of thought.
“No,” Clint rasps, “I mean. Don’t— if you— if I—“ Clint breathes out hard and then takes on shaky step closer, letting his body drift into contact with Phil’s. Heat sears through the fabric of his t-shirt and into Phil’s back. “Can we just—“ Clint stops and breathes again, his fingers squeezing Phil gently, more rubbing than anything. “Can we stop pretending?”
It’s a plea if Phil has ever heard one and he really wants to grant it. An ache, bone deep and old makes itself known and Phil takes a shaky breathe. He can’t remember why he’s been keeping his distance. Was it just fear of rejection or was it because this thing is so big he can’t even comprehend it himself and he’s had years to try. Years. What it might become if he let’s Clint in scares him.
In his silence, Clint has come closer, draping himself on and around Phil, forearms on his breast bone, holding him inside a cocoon of Clint’s strength and it should feel suffocating, it should suck all of the air out and leave Phil gasping like a fish out of water. Clint is everywhere and all Phil wants is to get him closer.
Slowly, his hand moves, inching towards where Clint’s rest on his collar bone. It takes only the hint of touching for Clint’s fingers to spread, making room for Phil’s to slot into place. They’re both quiet for a long time, Clint stays where he is, his free hand drawing pointless patterns on Phil’s skin. It takes Phil some time to absorb their decision. From the way Clint holds him, half clenched tightly, half like a precious jewel, Phil assumes Clint needs time as well.
They need to move eventually, Phil knows this, but the idea of having to face Clint with all of this in the open, with all of it on his face is absolutely terrifying. Clint breaks the deadlock by kissing the back of Phil’s neck. His shiver takes over his entire body and it feels like Phil can feel each line of Clint’s lips where they press into his skin.
“I really need to take you home and tuck you into bed,” Clint finally says, sounding rusty. “And then spend ten hours alternately resisting staring at you in your sleep and trying not to wrap you in cotton and put you someplace safe.”
That gets Phil’s brain moving again and he coughs out a disbelieving laugh. “Me?”
“Shut up,” Clint says, a playful hint coming back to his voice, “you’re the hurt one this time, take your medicine like a good agent.” He makes no move to let go, but there’s another gentle kiss that makes Phil smile.
“Agent, huh?” Phil asks carefully.
“Person,” Clint corrects, fingers twitching, “person who means— I—“ his words get tangled again and Phil has pity because it’s not like he’d do any better.
“Yeah,” he says, turning his head just enough so that Clint can meet him in the middle. It’s not a great angle for anything more than a soft, closed mouth kiss, but it’s enough for both of them. Phil’s eyes remain shut for long seconds after they pull away, he doesn’t move, caught in the impulse to do it again and not stop.
The room is still charged, heavy with emotion and unsaid things and Phil needs a minute before he can change gears enough to head home. Then Clint’s body slides down and perches on the last few inches of the chair. Phil’s visitor chairs are actually quite comfortable, Fury likes that kind of mind game, Phil likes people to stay long enough to tell him what’s going on.
The low hum of arousal that he’s been ignoring for a while swells and Phil’s back arches into Clint’s front. Clint just melts into him, curving around him perfectly, helping Phil’s hips lift just enough to resettle in the cradle of Clint’s lap. Phil spends long seconds luxuriating in the press of skin when he realizes he doesn’t remember Clint taking his shirt off.
“I thought you were taking me home,” he rasps, rolling his head so Clint’s mouth has access to the sensitive skin on his neck. “Something about being wrapped in cotton?” It’s not that he wants to stop, on the contrary the urge to tug Clint’s hands down to his aching cock is the strongest thing he’s felt in a long time.
“That can wait,” Clint kisses his jaw, nuzzling against the slight stubble, before rocking them together softly and shuddering. “Don’t wanna let you go yet.”
A hot, hard length makes itself known through Phil’s suit pants, pants that feel remarkably thin and restrictive at the same time. He can’t help but to shiver in response. “I know the feeling.” He moves their hands, the ones not holding onto each other tightly, down, pushing Clint’s fingers, still soft, but no cream left on them at all, into his lap. “Okay?” Phil whispers, stopping their decent a hairsbreadth from the tip of Phil’s straining erection. His pants are doing nothing to keep it down and tucked away, the fabric taught over it, giving him just enough friction to be frustrating.
“So much okay,” Clint breathes out hotly, “more okay than anything else really.” His hips twitch, rolling against Phil’s ass perfectly.
Clint’s hand moves carefully, but with a purpose and Phil finds his belt undone and his pants unbuttoned all while he’s distracted by Clint’s warm and pliant body doing amazing things next to his. Clint’s hand doesn’t go right for it, after clearing the way his hand shifts, cupping Phil through his pants, outlining his cock with greedy strokes. It’s already too much and Phil has to hold onto Clint’s thigh to feel grounded enough to enjoy it.
When Clint’s hand finally slides into the open V of Phil’s pants, skimming over the soft material of Phil’s boxers he shudders, pressing a sucking kiss into Phil’s neck. “You’re so wet.” Clint mumbles, hips rocking slowly.
“Been a while.” Phil almost whines, Clint’s fingers are so warm through the material and so close. Phil wants more, so much more but he feels pinned to the moment, afraid to break the tableau too much for fear of it shattering. The heat of Clint’s cock pressing into the seam of his pants is more than enough for him, Clint doesn’t even have to move his hand at this point Phil is so turned on. The noises Clint makes, hot, panting, shuddery grunts, every time Phil moves with his rocking motion tells him that maybe Clint is that far gone too.
When Clint finally does reach for Phil’s cock, it’s more tenderly than Phil is prepared for. It makes his breath shake and his mouth dry up. He was sure it wasn’t possible to feel this way. Maybe it’s been too long. Clint pumps him carefully, firm but slow. Maybe it’s just Clint.
Phil’s reserved nature tends to follow him through all aspects of life. His life makes it difficult to open up with another person in the room, but suddenly everything is different. There are sounds coming out of his mouth, quiet ones, but constant and needy.
It feels like he’s never been so hard in his life and when Clint finally releases his right hand only to gently tug on his balls the surge of pleasure is brain melting.
“God it really has been a while for you, hasn’t it?” Clint says breathlessly. “I’ve got you, let me take care of you.”
Tears prickle his eyes as Clint carefully wrings a long, breathtaking orgasm from his body. There are aftershocks that feel almost as intense as the original and it leaves Phil uncoordinated and shocky. “Jesus,” he gasps after, still catching his breath.
Clint is still holding him close, his careful rocking has become sharper and faster, but he doesn’t seem desperate. Phil finally relaxes back completely, his head lolling on Clint’s shoulder.
“You’re amazing,” Clint whispers, staring down Phil’s body, where his hand is still holding him.
Phil wonders exactly what he sees, but it’s still hard to pull his thoughts together. “You’re still hard,” his mouth says and if he weren’t already in the middle of a full body flush he’s sure there’d be a blush all over his face.
“Mm’good,” Clint shakes his head, his cock twitching in betrayal, but his hands stay gentle and careful as they tuck Phil back into his pants. “Just need to—“ he gestures vaguely to his hand, a pool of Phil’s come cupped neatly inside.
Phil blinks and focuses down into his lap. His head is still spinning but he can make out the complete lack of stains on his pants and if that’s not impressive, Phil doesn’t know what is. It derails the idea of just encouraging Clint to rub until he comes just how he is, because that must have been hard work, Phil resists laughing at his own bad pun, and it feels a shame to ruin such a success.
“You’re great,” Phil agrees, his filter still completely befuddled, “and I have extra have an extra suit stashed in my closet.”
Clint briefly freezes in the middle of cleaning his hand with a tissue, there’s a box on Phil’s desk. Phil can feel the throb, or at least, he imagines he must because Clint’s breathing goes hard for a few breaths.
“I wasn’t sure if I would,” Clint starts, voice husky and distracted, “you know, through two layers of clothing, but I didn’t want to—“
“It’s fine,” Phil interrupts, as his head clears, his need for Clint to come surges back with surprisingly strength. His arms are still jelly though, so he’ll have to help Clint along in… other ways. “When we stopped pretending, you became more important than my dry cleaning bill.”
Clint kisses the back of his neck firmly and then shudders, his hips finally showing some sign of losing control. “That shouldn’t be hot,” he says, warm breath on the back of Phil’s neck.
Phil files that away for later, visions of letting Clint wrinkle him thoroughly dancing in his head. “Imagine what might happen if I put some thought into it?” He asks innocently, moving the hand that he has had braced on Clint’s thigh since the beginning. Being in Clint’s lap means that it’s a short reach back to Clint’s perfectly shaped ass and Phil makes more plans, ones that involve examining that ass in minute detail.
“C’mon,” Phil says, letting his lethargy seep through, letting Clint hear how affected he is. “I want you to.” He rolls his head so that his lips can find the skin of Clint’s jaw. Rough and soft at the same time, Phil’s lips find it instantly addicting.
“F-fuck,” Clint stutters, his rocking finally losing all rhythm only to rediscover it seconds later with tight, firm pushes against Phil’s own backside. “You feel so good Phil, better than I ever thought, I can’t believe I—hrnn”
Clint loses it when Phil’s hand squeezes and then moves with his ass, pushing into the move so that Clint’s thrust has a tight roll at the end. Clint curls around him tightly, seeming to need to hold him harder the closer he gets. One hand splayed on the inside of Phil’s thigh, the other wrapped around his torso, keeping their skin plastered together.
Phil murmurs encouragements as Clint’s rocking starts to move the chair, if it weren’t butted directly up agains his desk, they’d have a problem, as it is Phil needs to use his free hand to brace against the edge so they don’t accidentally topple anything, or themselves.
When Clint comes, it’s just as quiet as the rest of it, soft, high pitched whines hit Phil’s ears just as Clint’s muscles twitch and the throbbing against Phil’s ass grows and twitches. “Phil,” Clint moans, “god, Phil.”
When Clint finally slumps bonelessly against Phil, still wrapped around him, but loser, Phil takes a few minutes to just enjoy the entire situation. Clint is sweaty and sated behind him, clutching at him like he’s the entire world and Phil can feel a happy hum under his skin. It’s a feeling he hasn’t had in a long time.
Phil strokes at whatever bit of skin he can reach while Clint comes down and eventually a rusty chuckle vibrates through both of them and Phil couldn’t tell you who started it but it ends with both of them giggling quietly.
“I can’t believe that happened,” Clint says between snorts making no move to peel away from Phil’s sweaty skin.
“You can’t believe it? It’s my office.”
Clint snorts and then hides his face in Phil’s neck. “I bet paperwork is gonna be a lot more interesting now.”
Another laugh bubbles up in Phil’s throat and then another and a third until they’re both laughing again. “I think I have achieved giddy.”
“You’re welcome,” Clint says solemnly and then finally sighs deeply and begins pulling away. “I should clean up.”
There’s a spark of something deep inside of Phil’s chest, a nascent fear that there’s a misunderstanding, that this wasn’t— that the lie wasn’t—
Clint kisses his shoulder. “Can we go back to your place?” He smiles against Phil’s skin. “Don’t get me wrong, this answers a lot of questions but I’ve learned that if the talking doesn’t happen before the sex, it really, really needs to happen after and I want to make sure you know how I feel about you. Even if I have trouble saying the words.”
It’s suddenly incredibly important for Phil to see Clint’s face. He gets them standing, even if his legs threaten to give out on him before steadying and gathers Clint close. Clint’s arms wind around him like they’re made for it and it only solidifies the knowledge in Phil’s gut that this is what they both want, what they both need.
“Clint,” he says slowly, “I would like nothing more than to take you home and figure out how to keep you there for the rest of your life.”
Clint blinks at him, eyes wide with shock before a smile slowly erupts over his whole face. “Yeah,” he says quietly, leaning in for a proper kiss, their first proper kiss, “I’d like that.”