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Imaginary Numbers

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The day begins as every normal day does, with a meeting. Phil is scrolling through his email on his phone, waiting for the Avengers to assemble. His lips twitch at a message and he texts two digits and sits back in his chair. Steve arrives first, disgustingly prompt.Tony ambles in a few minutes later, looking unusually sleek and self-satisfied. He sits down next to Steve, making sure his chair is close enough to keep their shoulders touching and their thighs pressed together under the table. Steve hitches his chair a fraction farther away and frowns. Tony raises his brows innocently and slides his chair closer.

Bruce is next, slightly harried as usual and tense with control. Tony would like to slap him and tell him to relax already, but that won't happen. Natasha follows, neat and nearly demure in black slacks and a white turtleneck, her red hair smoothed back in a ponytail. She sets down her mug of tea and sits next to Bruce.

Thor ambles in, amiable and huge. He kisses Natasha's hand, a move that would have a mere mortal protecting his balls, but Thor is a god and even if he weren't, he is so charming and sweet that even Natasha would be charmed. Instead she rolls her eyes and pulls her hand away before Thor can place a kiss in her palm. "Good Day!" Thor booms, making Tony wince. He claps Steve on the shoulder and sits between him and Coulson at the head of the table. "Son of Coul, you have news?"

Phil sighs. "It's just a meeting." He glances at his watch. Clint is running late, but before Phil can page him, he slides in the door and looks at Coulson. "One twenty-three," he says.

"Sit down," Phil writes something on a folder and slides it over to Clint. Bruce frowns at it. "One hundred forty-three? What's with the numbers?"

"You're the math genius," Tony smirks. "Figure it out." Bruce looks offended. "I need more variables."

"Yeah, yeah ... "

"Gentlemen, Ms. Romanov, can we quit speculating and get to work?"

The meeting goes as most meetings do when working with six highly intelligent and hyper-active adolescents. Only these are adults with superhuman powers and clashing egos. Phil's head hurts by the time the meeting is over. Clint writes on the folder and slides it down the polished table to Phil. "Two hundred."

Phil raises his brow. "It was that boring?"

"On a scale from one to five, this was a ten," Clint grins.

"One hundred seventy-five."

"I'm wounded." Clint dramatically covers his heart. "Going back to the range. If you need anything, call."

Coulson's face gives nothing away when Tony leans in and says, "If I didn't know you better, I'd say you two were flirting."

"You don't know me, Mr. Stark. Go polish your suit."

Tony snickers and bumps shoulders with Steve as they leave. Natasha frowns at him. Thor looks at Bruce as if he has the answer. "Perhaps it is some game of chance?"

"I wouldn't take odds on that."

Natasha gives a delicate snort of laughter. "I have a yoga class." She looks at Bruce. "Meditation is very calming."

"So is chemistry."

Thor, confused, leaves to find Darcy Lewis and Jane ... and food. Preferably something with coffee and sugar involved.

Phil texts something and leaves for his office. On the way he stops at the range and watches Clint shoot. He tells himself it is strictly to keep an eye on Barton's finely honed skills, but in truth it is to eye his finely-honed physique. The draw of his bow defines his arms, his back, the brace of his thighs. His lips kiss the string, his thumb rests alongside his cheek. Then his fingers release the arrow which flies unerringly to a target that seems very far away to Phil, but he doesn't think about that. He thinks about the veins in Clint's arm, the strength of his biceps, the flush on his cheeks. Clint looks up and sees Phil. He grins and gives him a thumbs up.

Phil just nods and leaves the range. On the way, he sends another text. Two minutes later, he gets a text and smiles. He's whistling as he heads down the corridor. Thankfully, nobody witnesses this.

The next thing they know, the world kind of explodes ...


Clint is firing arrows with explosive points at mechanical dragonflies -- not really, but that's what they look like -- and he's wondering if this is a ploy to take him out of the main event. He's aware that he's being backed to the edge of the roof, which has no guardrail because, seriously, nobody bent on suicide would go through six sets of bolted doors to get to where Clint is standing.

He's already been hit several times by the 'bots. Their razor-like wings have left deep cuts on his arms. The side of his face is stinging from a quick brush that could have taken out his eye. He is starting to feel a little dizzy and his fingers are sluggish as they nock his last arrow. There's no place to go but down ...

Weary, he takes one step back and falls into nothingness, hoping that his instincts and Natasha are in sync.

Stark! Natasha screams and points up. A gleaming gold bullet flies through the air and snatches the black sliver that is Clint Barton as he plummets towards the ground. The suit's repulsers gently lower Iron Man to a perfect soft landing on the broken concrete.

The fight is over. Hulk has decimated the Hydra forces who are the scattering like cockroaches fleeing daylight. Thor and Steve run up to the rest of the Avengers. They are dust-covered and Thor has a streak of blood across his forehead. Stark releases his helmet and kneels, setting Barton's still body on the ground before he takes off for the Avengers compound.

Natasha touches the side of Clint's neck. "Sir," she speaks into the comm link. "We need an extraction and medical at the scene. You'd better bring Agent Coulson with you."

Dazed-looking citizens are emerging from buildings. The police have arrived in force, calming panic. Miraculously, there are no civilian fatalities. A helicopter arrives for them and Coulson, in his impeccable suit, is kneeling in the dirt next to Barton. Clint opens his eyes briefly. "Three hundred fifty-three," he whispers.

"Three hundred ninety-seven."

Clint smiles. "Liar." Then the medic pushes an IV into his arm and he slides away.


He wakes up in medical. His mouth feels like cotton-wool from whatever drugs he's been given. His arms are neatly bandaged and some sort of herbal salve has been spread on his cheek. He has no interest in moving, but he turns his head to see Phil sitting at his bedside, his phone in his hands.

"Five hundred five," Clint says, "But it could be more. I'm sure I was thinking about it while I was out."

Phil's smile is soft, his eyes shadowed with concern. "Seven hundred and one."

"You can't prove that."

"I don't have to prove anything just yet." Phil stands, clips his phone on his belt. "We'll talk about this when you're out of medical."

Clint sighs and settles his head deeper into the pillows. He can't deal with imaginary numbers right now.


When he is released two days later, the first place he goes is Coulson's office. He leans on the doorframe looking at Phil as he works. He's always liked Phil's hands; sensitive, long-fingered, deft. His mouth is serious. He's absorbed in what he's reading; and Clint shivers, thinking of all that concentration and sensitivity focused on him. He clears his throat. "One Thousand one hundred and fifty."

"That's cheating. You've been unconscious for two days."

"I wasn't unconscious. I was asleep. I dreamed."

"You dreamed you had sex with me one thousand one-hundred and fifty times?"

"I thought about having sex with you one thousand one-hundred and fifty times. There is a difference."

Phil looks at his watch. "Close enough." He turns off his computer, turns off his desk lamp. "Let's go."

"W-where?" Clint stammers, his mind racing ahead to add an impossible number to his total.

"Home. Where I have a bed. I don't care how often you think about having sex with me, it is not happening on my desk." He yanks his tie off, loops it around Clint's waist and pulls him in for a quick, hard kiss. "Home. Bed. Now."

"Yes, sir."

They make it to the garage and Phil's car before he's spun around, pinned, and ruthlessly kissed. Phil's knee is jammed between his legs, he's pressing his cock into Clint's pelvis. Numbers fly out of Clint's brain because Holy fuck , this is really going to happen. No more flirting, no more imaginary numbers, no more guessing and waiting ... "I thought we were going to your place," he gasps, trying for some sort of control where there really is no control.

Phil backs off. He wipes his mouth, passes a hand over his eyes. "I'll drive."

Clint snorts. "Yeah, I got that." He slides into the passenger seat and rests his head back, closing his eyes as Phil corners a bit too quickly down the ramps in the parking garage. He never thought Coulson would be the kind of driver that he is; there is nothing conservative about the way he maneuvers through traffic, skirting the edge of recklessness with an intensity that makes Clint lightheaded.

"Are you all right?" Coulson asks when they come to a stop in another parking garage, this one at Phil's apartment.

Clint is having a hard time controlling his breathing; the razor-edge ride seems to have set fire to his nerves. It feels like the first arrow he nocks in a firefight. "I'm fine." He opens his eye and pulls Phil close across the gearshift. He kisses him with lips, teeth, tongue, trails kisses down his throat and leaves a mark on Phil's neck with his teeth. "Let's go," he says.

Phil arms his car alarm and they walk quickly to the exit. He slides his keycard across the lock to the stairwell. It slams shut and Phil pushes Clint against the wall, his hands rucking up Clint's sweater and t-shirt, fingers finding and rolling his nipples into hardness. His tongue strokes into Clint's mouth when he gasps in shock.

Coulson could fuck him into the wall and he wouldn't give a damn, just beg for more. Phil steps back, breathing as hard as Clint. "Two flights. Can you make it?"


Somehow he makes it up the stairs without passing out from sensory overload. Phil opens his door, and out of habit, Clint shoves him back and goes in first, coding the room instinctively. Phil closes the door. "I take it we're clear?" There is faint amusement in his voice.

Clint stops dead, realizing what he had been doing. He gives Phil a sheepish shrug. "Force of habit. Fury would kill me if something happens to you."

Now that they're inside, their urgency has slid away into something sweeter and hotter. Clint takes off his shoulder holster and waits for Phil to remove his. He moves in and unbuckles Phil's belt. He tugs the tails of his shirt out of his trousers. The cotton has lost most of its starch, but it smells like Phil -- masculine and faintly herbal from shampoo and soap. Wordlessly, Phil holds up his wrists and lets Clint open the cuffs. He's wearing his father's gold cufflinks. Clint removes the cufflinks them and sets them reverently on the hall table as if he senses their value to Phil. His deft fingers work the buttons open, even as he whispers kisses across Phil's jaw.

The shirt slides to the floor. Coulson's cotton t-shirt shows off muscles that are usually hidden; strong shoulders and biceps, hard pectorals and strong forearms. He has the spare body of a warrior, not a desk-jockey; Clint isn't surprised by that. He sets his mouth against the crown of Phil's shoulder and sucks the knob of bone, just rimming the clavicle with his teeth. He feels the vibration of surprise and arousal clear through Coulson's body.

Coulson, no pushover in life or in sex, drags Clint away from making love to his bones. He tugs Clint's T-shirt over his head, somehow managing to be both savage and gentle. He pulls it down, trapping Clint's arms in the knit and kisses him.

Lord, the man knows what he's doing. Clint breathes into Phil's mouth as Coulson's hands stroke down the plane of his stomach. He opens Clint's jeans and slips his hand inside his briefs.

"I thought you were gonna take me to bed," Clint gasps as Phil's thumb glides over the moist head of his cock. He bites his lip to keep from coming at the reality of Phil's hand on him, his thumb making small slick circles on his flesh while he tongues Clint's throat, working his way down to his nipples. The shock of it makes Clint crazy. He grabs Phil's shoulders and pushes him away. "Bedroom, or I swear I'll fuck you right here."

Phil smirks. Who knew that was in his repertoire of expressions? "We could fight over this." He tilts his head up slightly.

"I'll win," Clint says, even though he's not completely sure of it. He's seen Coulson in a fight and the man's no pushover. Clint changes tactics. His voice drops to a whisper as he pulls Phil in close. "We're wasting time." He gently nips Phil's lips and is gratified by the intake of breath.

It's the truth. They don't know when their phones will ring, when the next call will come. This could be all they have. Clint, in a life filled with loss, can't bear losing one moment with Phil now that they've finally gotten to this point.

Phil nods once. They stumble to the bedroom and hit the mattress. They strip off the rest of each other's clothes until there is nothing between them but skin and air and heat. Skin has never felt so good, Clint thinks as their bodies align. He stretches out Coulson's arms. They are strong, sinewy. His scent is masculine and Clint can smell the musk of his sex. He kisses down Coulson's chest, the line of hair from navel to groin, and finally takes him in his mouth.

Phil's body arches as Clint hums his satisfaction. He feels Coulson's hands on his head, the nape of his neck, holding him there as he sucks him off. It doesn't take much for Phil to come, for Clint to take him deep and swallow. When Phil stops shuddering, Clint releases him and moves up to rest his chin on Phil's shoulder, looking up at him. "I always hit my mark."

Coulson's huff of laughter raises his ribs and Clint lies back, his hands behind his head. He aches for Phil's touch, craves it. Phil's hand rests on his cock, cups his balls. "My turn," Phil says. His finger strokes down the sensitive skin. Clint's hips jerk up at the touch. Coulson pulls away. "Wait," he says to soothe the sound that is wrenched from Clint's throat at his abandonment. "Wait."

There is lube and a condom in the drawer. Clint's eyes widen as he watches Phil slide on the condom and slick up his hand. "Are you okay with this?" he asks. He is hard again. Strong.

"Touch me," Clint says. His pupils are dilated showing only a faint rim of blue iris. He draws up his legs, exposing himself fully. Phil slides his lubricated fingers down Clint's ass and carefully penetrates him with one finger, then two, stretching him; watching for pain or tension. There is none. Clint grabs his hand. "Do it," he rasps.

Phil licks the bead of come from Clint's cock as his fingers hook deep inside, pressing against Clint's prostate. Clint writhes and jerks; he is open and Phil slides in stroking deep, hard and sure. Clint's hips snap up to meet his thrusts. When he comes, his ejaculate smears between them, hot and slick. Phil collapses on his chest, almost giddy with release.

Clint opens his eyes and sees only joy in Phil's. It's the best thing he's ever seen. He smiles. "Not bad for an old man."

Coulson slaps the side of his ass. "I'll give you 'old man.'"

"And I'll take it every time."

Phil withdraws, ties off the condom and pitches it unerringly into the wastebasket. They lie side by side, fingers entwined as sex cools on their skin. When Clint shivers, Coulson gets up and starts the shower.

They clean up, exploring their bodies, learning contours and touch, kissing under the stream of water. After they're dry and dressed, Clint pauses as he puts on his boots. "Six," he says.

"Are we starting that again?"


"Fine. Ten."

Clint grins. "It's the weekend. When we get to one hundred, I think we need to reset the counter."

Phil cocks his head slightly. "So ... that means we'll be resetting this in about an hour?"

"If not sooner."

"I think I'd better order Chinese." He wraps his arm around Clint's waist. "Or ... we could just imagine the numbers and eat our fortune cookies in bed."

"In bed makes every fortune sound better." He bends his head and kisses Coulson. They might not have all the time in the world, but they have enough.

The End