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In the backseat

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Clint isn't thinking of much, in that moment, other than the fact that there are four Ice Giants bearing down on him at speeds that make them blur faintly. It's pure instinct, really, no space for thought, consideration -- no time, either. He does the one thing he thinks--hopes--will keep him alive; he turns, sprints along the roof, trusts, like he has never allowed himself to trust anything (anyone) before in his life, and leaps out into empty space.

He twists in mid-air, three arrows leaving his bow in the space of a second, a fourth nocked as he lets himself notice his surroundings for the first time. Floors scream past, the first third of the journey to reacquaint himself with the asphalt gone by in a flash; he re-focuses and lets the fourth arrow fly, adds another body to the other three following him down in free-fall. He's done for now, mission accomplished, nothing more to do but wait and hope someone has his back; that someone will, for once, prove him wrong on the whole 'trust is for idiots' issue.

He notices with a detached sense of wonder that the fires below are tinging the air a pretty golden-pink, sending plumes of smoke towards the cloudless sky. Past the half-way point of the fall, he also notices a long banner running between two floors, cutting the building in half; if he twists just so and reaches out, there's still half a meter between his fingers and the edge of it that he's helpless to navigate, not without leverage. There goes the banner, and Clint's hopes of saving himself with it. He wants to scream with frustration, but he figures it's pretty pointless -- no one to hear him, anyway. His comm is long lost somewhere back on the roof, after one of those sentient lumps of ice had smacked him over the back of the head, knocking it right off and sending him into a spin that left him dizzy. He closes his eyes, feels the breeze rush by his face, thinks of all the things he's done, all the people in his life that he never expected, never imagined he'd have, and hopes that they won't make a fool out of him for his leap of faith.

Two-thirds of the way down now. He can't even tell them anything, no comm means no mic means no last words, nothing but a thought sent out into the aether, that he hopes they're okay, that it's not their fault that they didn't come for him, didn't see. It's not about him; this whole thing is so much bigger than all of them, especially the least important member of the team. He just hopes they won't take it too hard, in the end. He hopes it won't kill Phil, when he finds out. He wishes he'd said something, before; wishes he hadn't been such a coward, that he'd told Phil what he was coming to mean to him, slowly, day after day. But perhaps it's better this way? At least Phil won't have the weight of it pinning him down on top of the guilt.

Thirty feet to go. "Sorry, babe," he whispers to the air. He closes his eyes.

Strong, unyielding metal wraps around his waist; gravity hates to let him go, tries to hold fast before he's yanked out of free-fall and lifted away, a different kind of rush in his ears.

"What's the matter with you? Is your comm broken, couldn't you hear me shouting?"

Clint turns his head, looking at the side of the Iron Man mask. "Lost it on the roof," he yells, to be heard over the sounds of gunfire and explosions.

Iron Man turns to look at him, inscrutable. "So you didn't know I was coming?" he says through the speakers in the suit, all inflection lost to the booms of grenades going off behind them.

Clint shrugs; it's difficult to do, his back plastered to the armour as it is, but he thinks Iron Man gets the gist.

"Oh, man," Iron Man rumbles, manhandling Clint until he's got one foot braced on top of the armour, turned around enough to grab hold of Iron Man's shoulder for balance. "Don't ever do that again, Hawkeye. I think I lost hearing in one ear from Black Widow's and Cap's yelling."

Clint winces, thinking of what he's going to find on the ground if all of them do live through this thing. "They'll get over it. I did what I had to do."

Iron Man snorts. "Uh-huh. Tell Coulson that. I'm pretty sure he had a heart attack when you jumped, never heard him sound so pissed, not even that time when he thought I'd--fuck, I'll tell you later. Heads-up, I'm dropping you off here. Three headed your way, I'll take care of the two at the back, then I gotta go blow up that ship. You good?"

"Yeah, peachy," Clint says, trying not to wince even harder. Fuck, he's gonna be in for it tonight -- if there's still a planet left by then. "Drop me."

"Don't die," Iron Man says cheerfully, and lets go. Clint hits the roof of another building with a crunch of gravel and rolls, comes up aiming. One crisis at a time.


He aches everywhere. The muscles in his arms are actually sore from all the shooting; he's lost count of how many arrows he let fly today. The Avengers are sacked out in Tony's living room, each of them sprawled over a couch or a chair; Clint called dibs on the beanbags, they're the only thing that he can stretch over without hurting everywhere. Tony's got his head in Steve's lap; Steve's absentmindedly running his fingers through his damp hair, studiously avoiding the gash at the edge of his hairline from being thrown against a wall hard enough to jostle his head inside the helmet. Natasha has her head in Pepper's lap, eyes closed, the skin around both of them bruised dark purple. Clint watches them with half an eye, tries not to think too hard about the fact that everyone is there except Phil. He hasn't seen Phil at all, hasn't even heard his voice since he lost his comm, not even to tell him it's all over. Thor had brought that piece of news when he'd come to collect him off the roof, where Clint had held himself ready to fire at a moment's notice for over fifteen minutes, waiting for the next attack that had never come.

Thor, who isn't even looking at the TV, even though Tony had had JARVIS put on something dumb with explosions to let them unwind, and those were normally Thor's favourites. Thor, who is here with them in body only, his mind trapped in a loop of Loki, Loki, Loki. Loki and his stupid, demented plan that had backfired so, so badly; Loki, locked deep underground in a SHIELD facility while the governments of the world decided what to do with him. Thor would be useless there; worse, he couldn't say a single thing that would matter. Loki's fate is for the humans to decide now.

They have won, but the victory feels hollow with the losses they'd sustained, so many dead, most of them policemen, agents. Celebration is the farthest thing from anyone's mind; it's enough that they're all alive. Clint wasn't their only close call, even if he was the one within spitting distance of seeing what came next.

When Steve had seen him, after the fall and the catch, after it was all over, he'd gotten this look on his face -- pinched, almost pained. He'd gripped Clint's shoulder for dear life, breathing shallow, a tick in his jaw. "Glad you're still with us," he'd said, voice quiet, rough. Clint isn't going to ask. They each have their own demons.

Natasha had punched him -- a solid hit that would have laid him out flat if she hadn't punched him into Tony, who'd caught him (again), clapped a hand to his shoulder, grin a touch less bright than it might have been at any other time. Then she had hugged him, for 3.7 seconds, before pushing him back and stalking away. Clint had been warmed through and through by all that affection, unspoken but no less heartfelt. He was glad to be alive, no doubt about it; these people around him, it would have been tough to leave them.

All here but one, arguably the most important. Clint feels his absence like a rasp against his skin, an itch no one can scratch but Phil himself. Clint just wants to see him, touch him, make sure he's all right, that they've both made it through this. And if he's honest, he just needs Phil's hands on him, to remind him that he's still here, too; that the ground that had been rushing headlong towards him hadn't claimed him after all.

He's staring out into space, basking in the comfortable quiet of the room, thinking lazily about moving back to his room where he can try and pass out, try to relax enough to sleep (even if he knows he wouldn't, too wired, too strained, still reeling from that moment of realisation with the wind whistling in his ears), when he hears the front door open and close, so quietly that no one but him and Natasha catches it. Natasha doesn't twitch; she does open one eye, far too aware for the picture of relaxation she's presenting to the world, and fixes Clint with something between a glare and a warning, and a hint of understanding that doesn't really surprise him. Pepper and Phil have more in common than anyone is prepared to examine too closely.

He debates getting up and meeting Phil half-way, before he comes in and everyone sees him; but knowing Phil, he's going to want to see for himself that they're all accounted for, more-or-less okay. So he waits, and if his whole body tenses in anticipation, well.

Phil looks terrible. His face is gray with fatigue, and he moves much slower than usual. His suit is covered in concrete dust and soot; his shirt displays stains the nature of which Clint would rather not speculate on -- they don't seem to originate from Phil himself, and that's good enough for him.

Heads swivel when he walks inside the room and runs his eye over them. The expression on Thor's face is painfully hopeful, all the more heartbreaking when Phil merely shakes his head -- no news yet. He slumps dejectedly back into his chair, looking lost. Steve sends him a sympathetic glance, but doesn't say anything -- Loki isn't exactly anyone's favorite right now.

"All of you are on leave for the next week," Phil tells them, a rasp at the edge of his voice like he's been shouting.

"What about--" Steve starts to say, but Phil holds up his hand.

"This comes directly from Director Fury. Take it up with him."

Steve subsides. Clint waits, breath tangling in his throat. At long last Phil looks at him, something dark and detached in his eyes that turns Clint's insides to ice.

"Barton," he says with a jerk of his head at the door, nothing more before he spins on his heel and leaves the room. It's enough, anyway. Clint pushes himself upright, biting down on a wince when his sore muscles protest.

"Good luck," Tony says, wincing for him. The others echo the expression with various degrees of intensity.

It's not like he needs it. Phil isn't going to do anything to him -- this is Clint's job, both their jobs; they know perfectly well what they signed up for.

That's not what Clint's dreading.

He's dreading the look on Phil's face when (if) he lets his mask down. Because no one knows better than Clint that Phil isn't a robot. He isn't just his job; there's a man underneath the suit who's funny, and caring, and can be hurt just as easily as everyone else, he just hides it better. Clint has slowly been coming to terms with the idea that he's one of those things that can hurt Phil; he wields that power, because Phil gave it to him.

Clint doesn't want to hurt him. But it's a catch-22 -- he'd die before he hurts Phil, but nothing will hurt Phil as much as Clint dying. Which, in light of recent events, makes him re-evaluate his stand on the whole life-death 'you win some, you lose some' thing.

Phil leads the way into Clint's room, walks to the end of the bed and stops, back to the door. Clint follows him in, closes the door softly behind them. He doesn't know what to say, what to do.

"You okay?" he asks at last, for lack of anything less idiotic.

Phil grunts. It sounds painful. "Am I okay?" he repeats, voice completely flat. Clint folds his arms over his chest, shrugs even though Phil isn't looking at him.

Phil takes a deep breath, his back expanding with it, lets it out in a carefully controlled exhale. "Come here," he says.

Clint walks closer without question. Phil's still facing the bed, doesn't turn around.

"Strip off your clothes."

Clint arches his eyebrows, but complies. He's willing to give Phil this, to wait and see where it's going. Compared to today's show of trust, this is nothing -- and Phil didn't let him down today. Won't let him down, ever, Clint knows it in his bones. And if that's what Phil needs to pull himself back together after what happened...

His pants land on the chair in the far corner of the room; his t-shirt follows, so do his boxers. He's stark naked now, waiting for Phil's next direction.

"On the bed, on your back."

Something clenches in Clint's gut, something sharp, hot. Something that screams 'yes' with every step that brings him closer to obeying. He climbs on the bed, turns to fall on his back, raises his arms when Phil tells him to. Phil watches, eyes dark and almost violent where they trail down his body, skin that is livid with bruises all over. They'll get worse before the night is out, when the blood gets a chance to settle, but they're plenty dark already. Phil's fist clenches by his side.

Clint waits. It's something he's good at, lying patiently and waiting for an order. He can't keep all of himself still, though, not in the face of the leashed fury in Phil's stance. His cock fills, half-hard already, lying across the top of his left thigh.

Phil reaches inside his pocket, withdraws a small ball of something. He unwinds the end, slowly enough for Clint to see it's a rolled-up leather cord, soft from the looks of it, but probably strong enough not to snap. Phil doesn't ask his permission; the question is implied in the slowness of his movements, the hint of hesitation in his steps when he walks towards the bed. Clint doesn't say a damn thing, because fuck, yes.

The leather is a pleasant touch on his skin, smooth where it wraps around his arms, secures them to the headboard rail. Phil's eyes might be hard, but his touch is careful, and he braces himself with a knee on the mattress so he doesn't jostle him. Not that Clint would mind, but it's something so like Phil to do, wordlessly make sure someone's taken care of.

He flexes his arms when the cord is tied off and Phil moves up from the bed. It's criss-crossing his skin, the whole of his arms, from the biceps down. It's tight, secure without pinching. His cock is fully hard now, still across his thigh, inches from the indentation Phil's knee left on the sheets.

"Not that I don't appreciate your skill set, because I really do, but I feel I should warn you, bondage doesn't usually work for me," he drawls, testing the restraints and relaxing into the bed when they don't give.

Phil's eyes snap from his arms to his face.

"Did I say you could speak?"

Oh, fuck. His gut leaps, and so does his cock. But he's Clint Barton, okay, and all he knows is how to push back until something snaps.

"I'm not saying I don't like it, I like everything you do to me, and I'm going to enjoy myself as much as always -- but that's about all you're getting from me, I hope you know that."

Phil stares down at him, a glint in his eye that might as well spell out 'challenge accepted'. "We'll see about that."

Clint swallows fitfully. Phil stares at him a moment longer, then slowly reaches up, slides his jacket off his shoulders. His fingers are quick on the buttons of his shirt, baring skin and chest hair that Clint loves to trail his fingers through, scratch at a little until Phil sighs beneath him. This time all he can do is look. It's starting to dawn on him that he won't be much of an active participant in this; he'll just have to take what Phil decides to give him, hope it's enough to push him over. He bites at his lip when the thought hits, gut clenching with need.

Phil sees it, of course he does. The slow slide of a smirk over his mouth is a thing of beauty. Clint loves it when Phil's in control, even when he loves fighting him for it all the more.

"So, what have you got planned for me tonight? Are you going to fuck me, make me take it? Or are you going to ride me, make me service you until you've come all over yourself?"

Phil shudders, hard. Clint basks in it, the proof of the kind of effect he has on him. "I haven't decided," Phil says. His voice is low, threaded through with a hint of a rasp, pupils dilated until his eyes are almost black, a tiny ring of blue around them. His pants follow his shirt off his body; he's hard already, Clint sees, cock distorting the cotton of his boxer-briefs. It's the hottest thing he's ever seen, and he used to sleep with Natasha on a regular basis. Phil's breathing fast, shallow; he makes a visible attempt to slow himself down. His hands are steady when they push his underwear off, though, leaving it pooled on the floor while he toes off his socks. Before he moves to the bed, he reaches inside the pocket of his suit jacket, and takes out a bottle of lube and--

"God," Clint groans, biting his lip. "Tell me you walked around SHIELD HQ with that in your pocket. Tell me it wasn't in your car and you just fetched it."

"I sat through my debrief with Director Fury with it in my pocket," Phil says, sending him a loaded look. He throws the lube and the cock ring on the cover next to Clint's hip, climbs on the bed after them.

Clint's gasping for breath already, the image seared behind his eyelids. "Fuck me."

The smile that curls Phil's lips is dark, full of intent. "Oh, Clint," he says, just this side of patronising. "You haven't even begged me for it yet. It's going to be a long time before we get there."

Phil crawls towards him, and Clint's so ready for that touch he's shaking with it. Phil doesn't touch him, though, just makes his way past to the nightstand on the other end of the bed. He opens the drawer, rummages inside until he finds what he's looking for, the butt plug with a flared head that Clint favors. He throws it next to the other items, sits back on his heels and just looks at Clint, who's close to writhing shamelessly by that point.

The pressure builds, and builds, like nothing Clint's ever felt. "Just--fucking hell, just touch me already," he demands, baring his teeth. Phil's mouth twitches, but he doesn't move, only tilts his head curiously. "Goddamn it, Phil."

"That's 'sir' to you, Specialist," Phil snaps out. Clint would think it's embarrassing that he's about to go off without a hand anywhere on him, but he's too far gone by that stage.

He doesn't come, which is a surprise, he'd been sure he couldn't survive those words in that tone from Phil's mouth. There's something ruthlessly contained about him tonight, a part of him that's still like deep water, just as deadly. It's such a turn-on that Clint can barely breathe.

The touch comes at last, miles from where he wants it. It's a hand on his shin, mid-way between knee and ankle, perfectly innocent except for how it's really not. His teeth dig into his lip. Phil's hand travels higher, over the knee, up his thigh that twinges from today's exertion, hesitates over a bruise from where he fell after the Ice Giant hit him. Then he presses on it, hard. Clint sucks in a lungful of air, lets it out on a groan. He doesn't think his cock could get any harder; it's aching already, much worse than the bruise.

Phil hushes him, softly, leans closer until he's speaking in his ear. "I am going to take you apart, until you can't remember who you are, or what you did today. Until all you know is me. And you're not going to come until I tell you to."

The words huff tiny shivering breaths against his neck; he's shaking, he realises dimly. "Is that right," he whispers, a last-ditch attempt at preserving some kind of control.

"Yes," Phil murmurs, pressing into the bruise again.

He can't get enough air. His insides are on fire; he flexes his arms, not from any desire to get free but to feel the restraints holding him down. Who knew it could be like this? Phil hasn't so much as touched his cock, his ass, and Clint is already on the verge of losing it. He feels too hot, skin too small for him, tight, like it's going to crack at any moment. He closes his eyes, tries to breathe through it. Phil's hand on his chest is the only thing that anchors him, and a moment later even that is gone.

Then -- the press of a thumb against his left nipple, just that single point of contact. He jerks, hips snapping up without thought. The touch is firm, even pressure, perfectly dry. It lingers there and then lifts away; he tries to chase after it, but the leather holds him fast. Long moments pass, and then it comes back, on his right nipple, the flick of a nail this time. He moans, long and loud, can't even think to stop it. The hand lifts again.

It surfaces on his neck next, long, thick fingers circling the skin, tight but not uncomfortable, almost like there's another piece of leather there. A collar. A sob tears out of his chest, helpless; his eyes fly open, but they're unfocused, and he can't get a fix on a single thing.

There's a sharply indrawn breath from next to him; the fingers flex, but lift away. Clint hates it.

"Next time," he hears Phil whisper, close, comforting. Next time. Okay.

His vision is edged with white. It ought to freak him out. It would, under normal circumstances.

There's nothing normal about this, right now, though. And Phil's there. Phil would take care of it, if something happens.

Hands on his chest now, his stomach. They bypass his cock, and Clint can't even complain; he's still breathing too fast, too shallow. A hand lands on top of his left thigh, slides between them.

"Open for me," Phil whispers, and Clint's legs are spread before he even realises he needs to send them the signal. A single digit touches the spot between his cheeks, wet and cool from the air. It slips inside him, and he whimpers. It doesn't hurt; it's far too small, not what he wants there at all. A second finger; a twist.

His whole body comes off the bed, braced on the soles of his feet and the tops of his shoulders. He moans something loud, incoherent, doesn't even know if there are words threaded through the sound.

"Easy," Phil says, rubbing inside him, fanning his fingers to make way for a third. He tries to rise up again, to impale himself on them, but there's a hand compressing his stomach just so, firm pressure that matches the stroking inside him until he's sobbing with every breath. It feels like there's a fire building in his gut, threatening to devour him whole.

"What," he gasps, trying to lift into both touches simultaneously and inevitably failing.

"External prostate massage," Phil murmurs, clinical terms that shouldn't make Clint's cock want to explode.

"I can't," he says, it's too much, he can't hold back, he has to come.

"You can," Phil tells him. "You can and you will. You'll take it, for me."

His whole body shudders, hands clenching tight on the rails. He fights for breath when Phil's fingers pull out, to be replaced by the blunt head of the butt plug. It's not what Clint wants, far from it; he wants Phil's cock, the warm, living steel of his shaft, the way it pulses inside him when he bottoms out.

"Phil, please," he grunts. He feels his ass spreading, taking the stretch of the plastic pushed insistently into his channel. The breath is punched out of him again; he lets out a pleading moan.

"It's okay," Phil says, dark, controlled. "I've got you. Take it, Clint."

Clint takes it. He makes his muscles loosen, accept the intrusion, close again around it.

"So good," Phil tells him, "you're doing so well. Look at you, that's it, yes. Perfect."

Clint latches onto the sound of his voice, chest aching with holding back something close to a scream. The plug breaches him all the way up, until the base of it fits against his ass, heavy and implacable.

"Phil," he whispers; he doesn't recognise his own voice.

"I've got you," Phil whispers back. "I'll always have you. Always. Do you believe that?"


"Do you trust that I'll always have your back?"


"I love you. Do you believe that?"


A mouth on his neck, over his pulse point. It follows the path of the vein down his chest, closes softly on the nipple, leaves a careful bite behind before kissing the spot where his heart beats below his ribs.

"Are you here with me now?"


"Will you let me take care of you?" It's a plea, no matter the tone of voice.

"Yes. Yes."

There are many bruises on his body. The right side of his ribcage is one giant tender spot; fingers press into it, tracing the edges, making it theirs. There's a scrape against the side of his arm, over the skin unprotected by the armor; warm lips touch it softly, a tongue laps up a drop of blood that the bindings have raised. There isn't a spot on his body right now that doesn't feel loved, cherished. His legs are pushed apart, and the tongue is back, over the tight skin of his balls, nudging at the ridges of his entrance, held open by the plug. Fingers flex on the backs of his thighs; one of them digs into the vicious bruise a bad landing left behind. He doesn't understand why that helps him breathe easier, doesn't know why it feels like a hit of pure oxygen, but his chest expands, the harsh pants taper off into deeper breaths, slow, filling him up.

"Oh," he thinks he says; his body is there but not there, hard but soft, aches yet drowns in pleasure.

"Yes," Phil whispers, "yes, there. You're doing so well, so perfect."

He breathes, floating. Fingers close around his cock, but they're inconsequential; he isn't going to come. Not until he's been given permission.

There's a hitch in Phil's breathing somewhere close by. He can't see anything but white now; it's not important. Phil's here. He has him.

"God, Clint, do you even realise," Phil whispers. There are hands stroking him again. The tongue is gone, and he doesn't like that, but then there's a kiss over his lips, soft, sweet. "Good boy." It spreads warmth through him; he feels like he's done something wonderful.

The pressure in his ass intensifies, then slides away. He doesn't like that, either; he whimpers.

"Shhhh," Phil tells him, "shhhh, it's all right."

Pressure again; something thicker, softer. "Oh," he breathes again. At last, that's what he's been needing. This is what was missing. Phil sinks inside him without pause, a smooth glide. He sighs, happy, completely at peace. Waves of bliss fill him, buoy him when Phil moves, easy, assured, comforting. Phil's breathing is harsh, panting, but he tells him he's doing well, and he believes it.

"Now, Clint," he's told, "come for me, now."

He flies apart.


There's a hand in his hair, warmth surrounding him, spread over his side, his front. Lips press against his forehead. Dim light bathes his closed eyelids. The soft scratch of blunt fingernails against his scalp feels divine.

"Hi," Phil breathes from right beside him, quiet, soothing. He tries to rise, but gentle hands press him down again. "It's okay."

"What," he tries; his throat is dry. Some of the warmth leaves him, which he doesn't like, but it's back a moment later with a bottle of water nudging at his mouth. He drinks deeply, then curls closer into the warmth -- Phil's chest, he realises that now, he'd recognise his scent anywhere, the feel of Phil's arms around him.

His whole body aches exquisitely; there's a warmth humming inside him, a kind of contentment that feels foreign. He didn't think he could ever feel like that, like everything is absolutely perfect just the way it is.

"What happened?" he says softly. He doesn't remember anything past the butt plug being pushed inside him.

Phil clears his throat; he makes to move away, but Clint clings to him with a desperation he isn't used to feeling, yet can't deny. After a second, Phil settles against him once more.

"You slipped into subspace," he says, cautious.

Clint frowns. "I don't even know what that is. I've never--"

"You don't have to know how to do it for it to happen," Phil interrupts gently. "You just have to, uh. Trust. The other person, unreservedly." He sounds uncomfortable.

Clint spends a long, painful moment wondering if it's because Phil's uncomfortable with the idea of Clint trusting him. Then a ghost of conversation floats up from his subconsciousness, 'Will you let me take care of you?' He smiles. "That would explain it, then."

Phil remains a little stiff against him, like he's waiting for the other shoe to drop. Clint sighs, exasperated.

"Phil, I trust you. I've always trusted you."

He opens his eyes, lifts his head to look at Phil's surprised face. "You idiot," he adds. "I don't have a death wish, you know. I trusted you to catch me when I jumped."

"But I didn't," Phil croaks. He sounds pained.

"Sure you did. Or do you think that Iron Man only has eyes for me?"

Phil's arms tighten around him unconsciously. Clint smirks.

"I never thought this would happen," Phil confesses. "That's why I brought the cock ring, I thought maybe you'd let me... I wouldn't have done this without asking you first, if I'd known it was a possibility."

Clint thinks he probably ought to be pissed. It's a bit hard, though, considering nothing that occurred could have happened if he hadn't wanted it. He decides to share this insight. "'S all right. I'm pretty sure I came like a freight train, so I think that means I enjoyed myself."

Phil huffs a laugh. "Yeah, you did. I think I have come in my hair." He sobers up, bites his lip in an unprecedented show of uncertainty. "I'm still sorry."

Clint shrugs. "I'm not. Listen, when I was falling--no, listen," he insists over Phil's instinctive flinch. He gets that this is hard for Phil to talk about, but he's going to say it whether Phil likes it or not. "When I was falling, there was only one thing I could think about. That I never told you. I fucking love you, Phil. I love you, and I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, or a week from now, but I've never believed in being too chicken-shit to admit something and regretting it for the rest of my life. So here it is. I love you. Take it or leave it. But, uh. I'd really like it if you decide to take it."

Phil's staring at him, mouth hanging open a little. It's the most unchecked expression Clint has ever seen on his face.

"Jesus Christ," Phil says, and before Clint can even think about how to respond to that, he's being kissed, a tongue pressing at the seam of his lips, slipping inside when he opens for it. "Please don't do that again," he says when he pulls back.

Clint frowns. "What, the 'confessing my feelings' thing or--"

"The 'nearly dying' thing, you ass. The other you can do as often as you like, provided you only say it to me."

"Possessive," Clint says approvingly.

"Get used to it."

"That's going to be such a hardship, I tell you now."

It's a bit difficult to kiss when they're both laughing madly, but all things considered, they manage.