Phil Coulson was not the type of person who lost sleep when his significant other was in danger. He didn’t stop eating, or get distracted at work, or stare at his phone. If you were in love with an agent of SHIELD and did those things, you’d be worn out and run down in no time.
If you were in love with Clint Barton and you did those things, you’d be either hospitalized or fired inside a month.
So when Clint and Natasha went undercover in the Symkarian embassy, Phil finished his paperwork, put in an hour and a half on the range, and went home.
When they missed their midnight check-in, Phil finished putting the dishes away and ironed the next day’s shirt. He fell asleep within minutes, lying squarely in the center of the bed.
When Tasha was found unconscious on the last car of a 7 train the next afternoon, Phil worked the computer one-handed and dialed contact after contact with the other. Hill hesitated in the middle of handing him a report and started to say something; Phil raised an eyebrow at her and dialed another number.
When Clint appeared out of nowhere at SHIELD HQ, sporting two black eyes and one zip-tied double agent, Phil took his report, gave him a list of forms to fill out, and waved him out the door. Yesterday’s paperwork remained stubbornly still finished, and Hill took custody of today’s over his half-voiced protest.
“Unless you have an emotional attachment to it?” she asked in a tone that was not entirely sarcastic.
He shrugged into his suit jacket and made sure the precise half-inch of shirt cuff was visible before leaving his office. Clint’s raised voice could be heard in medical as Phil passed by, keeping his eyes straight ahead.
Phil closed the apartment door behind him. His keys went on the hook by the door, his shoes on the mat by the closet, his suit neatly on a hangar. He tugged on jeans and a T-shirt with careful, efficient moves.
He laid out the makings for salad with the same silent efficiency. He picked up a tomato and a knife...and set them down again, pressing his palms flat on the cutting board. The tremor was still barely noticeable in his fingers.
His phone buzzed. On my way, Clint’s text read. Phil looked around the kitchen a little wildly.
When Clint walked in the door, Phil was elbows deep in dishwater, washing an assortment of bowls and glasses pulled from the cabinets.
Clint perched on the far counter and watched him, silent and still.
Phil rinsed the last bowl and wiped his hands dry. “Are they letting Natasha out tomorrow?”
“That’s the plan,” Clint said.
“You two should put in some extra range time this week. Keep her mind off sparring until they clear her.”
“We can always use the practice,” Clint said, his voice still quiet and calm. “You could come with us, too.”
“Maybe I’ll try to fit it in. Evaluations are coming up.” Phil walked over to stand in front of Clint. He put his hands on Clint’s thighs and looked up at him.
Clint leaned forward and kissed Phil, a quick familiar brush of lips and tongue. “I’m sorry.” He wrapped his arms around Phil and kissed him again.
“Don’t,” Phil said. “I’m just glad you’re home.” He added “...safe,” softly into Clint’s shoulder as he leaned in.
Clint smiled into Phil’s hair. “Didn’t worry about me at all, did you?”
Phil leaned back and raised steady hands to cup Clint’s face. “You know I’m not the type.”
“Yeah,” Clint said, reeling Phil in for another kiss. “I know your type, Agent Coulson.”