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The first time Phil had put his face on, it had taken an hour. Now he can do it in fifteen minutes. Twenty, if you count his hands.

The phoenix tattoo that spread up his neck and around one ear disappeared in easy strokes of makeup, blended flawlessly into the rest of his skin. As did the red and black letters LIES on his left middle finger, and the blue and black TRUTH on the right one. The piercing in his ear and eyebrow came out, tucked into his shirt pocket for now.

His glasses going on is the last step and he put them on, checking himself in the mirror before looking at Natasha. "Well?"

"I wouldn't know the difference." She replied.

"I hate it." Clint said, in his typical boots jeans and purple tank top, arms crossed with his drumsticks in one hand. He was wearing eyeliner. "I get why you do it, but I still hate it."

"You've taken great pride in corrupting me." Phil patted his shoulder on the way by, listening to the first band that was still on stage.

"That's because the more I do the hotter you get."

"Boys." Natasha rolled her eyes. "I'll go get Steve and Maria. We should be on in fifteen."

Subvert wasn't exactly normal even for their own genre. They had been slanged 'punk metal' before, in spite of Phil's grumbling that that wasn't even a thing, they're somewhere between hard rock and metal depending on the song dammit.

For starters it was the ages of the band members and their backgrounds. Phil was lead singer, fifty and only recently joined the music scene, having taken early retirement from his employ with an unnamed government intelligence agency which he still occasionally consulted for.

Clint had contracted for said agency and had known Phil when he was still 'straight-laced and boring.' He'd gotten Phil into the scene but had been stunned when Phil rebelled all at once and dove straight into the deep end. Tattoos, body piercings, all well and good, but the fact that Phil could sing and play piano? Well, so could Clint, as well as drums. Clearly, this meant something.

From there it was just collecting band members. Steve was base guitar; Natasha and Maria were lead and rhythm guitar, respectively. They'd been part of another band before their lead vocalist and drummer had "fucked off back to Scandinavia", in Maria's words. All three had been very leery of Phil, who looked "like my high school history teacher" in Steve's words.

Until Phil had picked up a towel, dumped a bottle of water on his head and was makeup free about fifteen seconds later, staring at their expressions with a bit of a smirk.

So, Subvert, then.

That transformation, from a figure of authority, a black suit and white shirt that was nearly the antithesis of the scene, to a tattooed pierced smirking singer, became part of the stage show. Phil always wore a suit and tie out onto the stage and he walked out without the rest of the band, and he'd grab the mic and start singing something classic. His favorite was Sinatra. He wasn't quite ol' blue eyes, but it was passable enough to render people who'd never seen them into shock. Their growing fans got it of course, and they'd whistle and cheer as he sang, then his voice would drop into his real register as the rest of the band came out and grabbed their instruments to jump in.

Because Phil's croon was passable, but his 'real' singing voice was oil spilled over gravel, dark and somehow simultaneously rough and smooth. He could growl and snarl, or sing in register. Instead of courting upper scales he courted lower ones, baritone into bass. Compared to other singers, his voice was a nightmare rumble.

They hadn't had any big breaks, but in this age of the internet they had a following. Their Bandcamp page was popular, as was their YouTube. Phil had paid their way into a professional recording studio, so their first album was available for an easy five bucks.

Their concert shirt was a bird of prey motif that was half bald eagle, half phoenix.

Which is kind of how Phil felt about his life, these days.

This show was kind of a big deal. A signed band had lost their opening band temporarily (entire goddamn bus had strep throat, apparently), so they'd asked the venue to find them local bands. So after some frantic arranging they had two opening bands (one of which was Subvert), 45 minutes a set, and opened the venue doors slightly earlier than had been intentionally planned.

"Sold out. Three thousand people." Steve remarked to Phil.

"Relish it." He replied, shooting his cuffs as they stagehands stripped the previous band's set. They'd actually shared a stage with them before, and Phil had nothing but respect honestly. They were called Wire Armor and the lead guitarist had laughingly told Phil once they called themselves 'Tesla punk.' Whatever, they had psycho Dragonforce style drums and a violin, more power to them.

"You going to take your portion of the pay this show?" Maria wanted to know.

"No." And that said, he walked onto the stage, whistling.


Phil got a lot of shit. Even his own band accused him of being a hobbyist. His former job had him comfortably living, maybe for life. He let the rest of the band take all the profit, though they had insisted on paying him back for the recording studio.

He'd never had to struggle to survive on music and was now trying to make sure his bandmates didn't have to. He had no formal training, unless you counted piano lessons as a child (which was enough to write sheet music down for his vocals and keyboards).

So some people loathed what he seemed to stand for, older white guy with money, middle aged and playing at a hobby. Others, and happily it was a larger number than the first group, loved what he was trying to do.

And Phil had enough confidence that he didn't care either way. Which only sold the bit better, really.

He got called into work for a week, and luckily there weren't gigs scheduled. He covered the tattoos meticulously, took out the ear piercing, but left his tongue and eyebrow piercing in. The tongue piercing was a dark bar, only visible if you were looking or he was playing with it (and oh the looks he got from the younger generation when he did that). The eyebrow piercing was designed to look like a purple arrow, tiny fletching and all. It was custom.

Clint had fucked his brains out twice in one night after the first time he'd seen it. Mission accomplished.

So he wears it with pride and a little bit of a smile around his eyes as he walks back into the lobby, well aware it's a crack in a now carefully constructed visage. Nick was waiting for him so he stepped over, clasping his hands and nodding by way of good morning.

Nick gave him a look up and down. "How much are you hiding?"

"A lot. Don't worry, I go on stage like this all of the time. I won't be scaring the senators."

He snorted. "How's Barton?"


"Good god, Cheese."

"You asked. Shall we?"

Nick sighed and handed Phil his work ID back. "When are you going to stop pretending you retired?" He asked as they walked, Phil falling into step with him.

"I am retired. New interesting hobby, new friends. Keeping busy." Phil replied. "You're the one in denial. Miss me?"

Nick said nothing.

All of the senators clearly noticed the eyebrow ring, but none of them asked.

"Nick thinks you're using me to fulfill a fantasy." Phil was still sprawled on his side, eyes shut, following the feeling of Clint's fingers as he traced the lines of Phil's tattoo work.

"Can't say I'm real comfortable with him contemplating our sex life." Clint replied.

"Nick and I work in intelligence. And you didn't address the statement, which means you are."

".. yeah, guess I am." He admitted, continuing to stroke over Phil's skin, smiling when the older man hummed in contentment. "I kinda grew up rough. Hating authority. All that shit that men in suits with badges represented."

"We met at work."

"I'm a sniper, not a badge, negotiator." Clint snorted. "Bein' attracted to that which I hated was jarring as all hell you know." He leaned down and kissed Phil's shoulder. "But I got to do the ultimate punker fantasy. I got to corrupt a suit."

"I am a willing victim of this corruption." Phil's voice was drowsy.

"Of course. That makes it even better." He worried at where he'd kissed lightly. "You should write a song called Studded Suit Jacket."

He snickered. "I'll think about it. Nick said if I didn't stop writing songs about work he was going to find a way to write me up."

"Wait he downloaded the album?"

"Mm. Jasper did." He rolled and tugged at Clint. "Come here."

Clint laughed and shifted to straddle him. "I'd joke that you should write a song about your libido but that might horrify some of the audience."

"Clearly I should then." Phil stared up at him, running his hands up his legs then his sides. "What should we call it?"

He considered, then grinned down at Phil. "Tower Defense."

He laughed. "Rigid Resistance."

"Let's go old school. Joystick."

"You win. Now play with it."

"Oh fuck you'll take any opening won't you?"

Phil grabbed him and rolled on top. "I'll take your opening." He barely got it out before laughing, only to be cut off by Clint kissing him to shut him up.