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"Sir, with all due respect, if you ever try to fight a hostile without wearing your field suit again, I will personally break into your house, fill your TiVo with bad vampire romances, and replace every bottle of aged single malt with Lipton iced tea."

The other Avengers turn to Clint and stare. Coulson just gives a long-suffering sigh from his hospital bed. Then he winces. Clint shoots him a glare to convey and if you keep exacerbating your giant fucking chest wound by making sounds, I will gag you with no hesitation. Except that it probably doesn't successfully convey that, because the juxtaposition of "Coulson" and "gags" occurs a lot more frequently in Clint's mind than, he suspects, in anyone else's, let alone Coulson's.

"So first of all, I entirely endorse this plan and the sentiment behind it," Tony says. "But second, 'field suit'? What is it, why weren't you wearing it, and why didn't I design it myself?"

Everyone turns back to Coulson, who opens his mouth to reply before Clint muffles him. (He tries to ignore Coulson's returning glare, not to mention the disappointment that it's not accompanied by a swipe of his tongue.) "Did nobody else hear the part about avoiding stress to his lungs, seriously? To answer your questions, Stark, Coulson has a field suit for combat that's designed to resist things like, for instance, getting impaled. He wasn't wearing it for reasons that might just have to do with lack of time during the emergency, even if he is also irrationally fond of his Dolce and Gabbana." And I'm guessing the reason you didn't design it was because you only started liking the guy when Fury made him a martyr.

He doesn't say that part, just like he doesn't examine the way that Coulson's lips feel on his palm. Some things are less painful when left alone.


. * .


Three weeks later, Coulson steps into the communal lounge of the Avengers Tower, where all six of them are assembled. So to speak.

He's wearing the first prototype of Stark's field suit: a thick, navy blue jumpsuit that'll keep out a hell of a lot more than bullets and spears, accented with gray accessories that'll do everything from store extra ammo to amplify a comm signal all the way to the West Coast. That part doesn't surprise Clint. What does surprise him is how damn sexy Coulson looks in it. The jumpsuit hugs his ass and sculpts his pecs, the armbands emphasize just how much muscle is hidden in Coulson's biceps, and to top it all off, there's a big silver pull ring at the top of the suit. Clint's brain can't decide whether it reminds him more of the O-ring on a leather collar, or of how easy it'd be to unzip Coulson with a single swift tug. Both possibilities are sending all his blood rushing downward. Clint realizes, too late, that he's licking his lips.

When Clint can force his eyes away from Coulson for a minute, he sees that he's not the only one affected. Thor's nodding in impressed approval, Nat has a disturbing gleam in her eyes, and Tony -- well. Tony isn't even pretending that he's not raking his eyes over every inch of Coulson, lingering on each sculpted muscle from shoulders to thighs. With every moment of appraisal, his eyebrows rise higher, until he whistles slow and low. "You sure clean up nice, Agent," he says with a grin, and Clint's pretty sure that the flat, deadly look in Coulson's eyes is the only thing keeping Tony from slapping him on the ass.

Clint takes a breath. Another. He makes himself look away from Tony -- Coulson's a grown man, and a damn scary one at that; he can fend off his own sexual harassment -- and instead he looks at the others. Bruce has his eyes averted, mouth twisted in a small, bittersweet smile. Steve's doing something close to a facepalm, but there's less humor in his eyes than one might expect. Interesting.

(And maybe if Clint watches them carefully enough, catalogues the ways that Tony's bright charisma attracts people to him like moths to the sun, he'll stop thinking about how much it unbalances him to see that charisma directed right at Coulson.)

One more steadying breath, and Clint looks back at Coulson -- to see Coulson watching him, eyes narrow and thoughtful. That look rarely means good things for its recipients, but Clint can't help the way that regaining Coulson's attention makes him glow a little.

"Fine garb indeed for a warrior, as befits the Son of Coul," Thor declares at last. "Yet I maintain, Man of Iron, that a flowing mantle would but enhance his virile form."

Tony rolls his eyes. "We went over this already, Pert Plus. No capes. Speaking of which, we really need to show you The Incredibles. Anyway! What do you think, Agent?"

"It's a little ... snug," Coulson frowns.

"This from the guy who designed my suit?" Steve says, raising an eyebrow. (Clint's so proud that Captain America's learning to snark.)

"Yes, but you --" Coulson cuts himself off, and he's honest to God blushing now, the way only Cap can make him. "Not the same," he finishes.

Clint takes mercy on him. (That, or he gets sick of Tony's gaze continually settling on Coulson's chest, like a frat boy who hasn't learned the basic glance-and-blink-up.) He grabs Coulson by the elbow and shepherds him back into the bathroom, and he forces himself not to linger on the way that the snug fabric lets him feel the muscled contours of Coulson's arm.

When the door's securely shut with Coulson on the other side, Clint turns back to the others. "Jesus, Stark. How about trying to make it a little less obvious that you're hot for handler?"

"Oh, so sorry," Tony smirks. "Am I infringing on your territory there?"

Clint glares, says nothing, and stalks from the room, flicking his wrist as he goes. He doesn't look back.

"Son of a bitch," he can hear Tony exclaim, followed by a rip of fabric. "Who the fuck keeps spare throwing knives in their jeans?"


. * .


Coulson and Tony come to a compromise, Clint discovers later. Coulson's final field suit ends up being even more form-fitting -- on the condition that Tony refrains from making any remarks about it, ever.

Really, everyone wins.