The first time it happens, Clint finds it sort of hilarious.
And by sort of hilarious, he finds it so funny, he spends a good five minutes giggling – giggling – into his wrist.
He and Coulson are on a mission in Sweden, tracking an organ trafficking ring that’s somehow managed to find its way onto SHIELD’s radar. There are whispers in the underworld that those involved have been specialising in mutant’s organs, that there are very rich, very stupid people out there willing to pay a hefty price for physical manifestations of power. They say that the very rich, very stupid people seem to believe that replacing their boring, everyday human organs with these shiny new ones will grant them the powers their
victim donor possessed.
Clint’s willing to bet they didn’t make their money as geneticists.
They’re there to gather intel, Coulson posing as a buyer, Clint keeping a wary eye on what’s going on around them.
Clint’s been enjoying watching Coulson at work. They’ve only been working together for six months but in that time, Coulson’s mostly been behind the scenes, watching Clint’s back. Seeing him like this, it’s easy to understand why SHIELD took him on.
Coulson doesn’t stand out, not in any obvious way, but he’s a master at his work. He weaves his story effortlessly, plays his part, completely transforms himself. The liaison he’s been interacting with has no reason to believe Coulson isn’t just a wealthy, if slightly pathetic banker who just wants telepathic abilities to catch his wife out. The incredible story seems completely credible coming from the older agent.
The liaison – who Clint suspects is actually the head of the organization – accepted the story, agreed to a meet with the head the following day. Coulson doesn’t show any sign of smugness, doesn’t give himself away at all, simply thanks the man in the same skittish fashion he’s been using through the whole op. Clint’s impressed, isn’t sure he could pull off a performance like Coulson could. He was definitely the right guy for the job.
It’s when they’ve met up back at the hotel, after Clint’s gone for the first shower, leaving Coulson sat out on one of the beds, writing down notes on the operation so far, going through all the variables that it happens.
Clint comes out of the bathroom, clad in grey sweatpants and an oversized SHIELD tee (for an espionage organization, they do like to have their insignia on a lot of clothing). He’s absently rubbing at his hair with a towel when he hears it.
“N-… no, they’re… no.”
Clint turns to look at Coulson, finds him leant back against the headboard, head lolling to one side, glasses still on. His eyes are closed and he’s mumbling something.
“No I… don’t… please.”
Clint knows he should wake Coulson, remind him of where he is, ground him and let him know he’s safe but the last time he woke a fellow agent during a nightmare, he got stabbed in the leg. He’s not too keen on repeating that experience.
He moves tentatively closer anyway, not particularly enjoying the sounds of fear coming from his handler.
And then he hears it.
“Not the… not marshmallows. No…”
Clint can’t help the laugh which bubbles out of him at that moment. It’s an almost inhuman noise, loud and high and he did not just hear that.
“No, the marshmallows, they… they’ll kill you… no!”
Clint can’t stop laughing. He’s keeping it muffled against his arm, gripping to the bedside table with the other to keep himself upright because this is just too ridiculous. It takes him a few minutes, during which Coulson continues to whimper about the marshmallows coming to get him, but Clint finally sorts himself out.
He taps Coulson on the shoulder, “Your turn.”
Coulson looks around, momentarily disoriented. He seems to settle when he sees Clint, a familiar face in more unfamiliar surroundings. Clint offers him a smile. Coulson doesn’t smile back, just nods in acknowledgement of Clint.
He puts his glasses to one side and clambers off the bed, heads into the bathroom, showing no sign of remembering anything that just happened.
Until he comes back from his long shower twenty minutes later and finds his bed covered in marshmallows that the reception desk had been very quick in finding.
The inhuman shriek Coulson releases is probably the greatest sound Clint has ever heard.
The next time it happens, it’s a few months later, Clint and Coulson have tied up their part of the harvesting ring, there are more agents in there now, deeper cover, trying to take it down from inside.
They’ve not spent too much time together since the mission and Clint’s got to admit, he’s a little disappointed about that. He doesn’t really get on with anyone else the way he does with Coulson. (By which he means he doesn’t enjoy annoying anyone quite so much. Nobody appreciates his level of genius in the same way Coulson does).
Coulson had been sent to debrief Tony Stark after his kidnap ordeal (and Clint may have made a few comments about how he wouldn’t mind debriefing Tony Stark and is pretty certain that’s why he wasn’t allowed to go along). Clint had been stuck dealing with Sitwell and Woo and whoever else Fury saw fit to thrust upon him and that’s been no fun.
He did enjoy meeting with his new weapons development team though. The head of the team, Rick, a one-time field agent, understood his preference for a bow over a gun, something very few people in SHIELD really did. He was a pretty fair shot himself as well, even if he did prefer a crossbow, like a heathen. When Clint hadn’t been sent on two day retrieval missions, he’d spent most of his time with Rick on the range.
But now Coulson was back and wanted to see him in his office and his standing appointment with Rick would have to wait, because Coulson.
When Clint arrives in Coulson’s office, the older agent is at his desk, papers strewn across it in a way that looks messy to the naked eye, but Clint knows from experience is exactly how Coulson likes it. His head is rested on the desk and Clint can tell instantly that he’s asleep again. He closes the door behind him, lest anyone see and start to spread rumours that Coulson’s actually a human.
As the door closes, he starts to hear the soft murmurs again. Clint creeps up to the desk, trying to tamp down the thoughts in his head about how he can mess with Coulson after his nap this time. (While the marshmallows were hilarious in his opinion, waking up with eggs – hawk, eggs, haha – in his bed wasn’t so funny).
He strains his ears to hear what Coulson’s mumbling this time, when there’s a loud cry of “shove form 21B up your ass, Barton…” followed by a soft snore.
And that? Well, that’s a surprise. Firstly that Coulson is dreaming about him in the first place, then that dream Coulson is showing such disdain for paperwork.
Clint peers across the desk, plucks out the form 21B. A weapons requisition form. Hm. He tucks it in the back of his pants, makes sure the header is sticking out so Coulson knows exactly what it is and shakes his boss awake.
Coulson looks up at him through bleary eyes and shit, is that a smile? Clint doesn’t have time to ask before Coulson’s back to his normal self, a perfectly bland mask of indifference. Clint can’t help but feel a little disappointed, he’d enjoyed the smile.
“You wanted to see me, sir?” Clint asks.
Coulson nods, is all professionalism again. He launches into a monologue about Clint’s inability to fill out anything properly if he’s not properly supervised, how haiku’s are not an acceptable way of completing a mission report and that the doodles are very nice but not necessary, especially when they’re anatomically incorrect.
Clint occasionally interrupts to insist that Coulson stop stifling his creativity, that in the future when the paperwork aliens from the planet Staples come and go through all their files, at least Clint’s work will give them a kick, but mostly he just lets Coulson talk. He likes listening to Coulson talk.
When Coulson’s exhausted himself – ending with a flourish about how he will bring back the magenta mini-dress the next time Clint ignores paperwork regulations – he looks as if he’s ready to fall asleep again. As much as Clint would love to be around for that, he figures it might be better to leave Coulson alone.
He offers him a smile, “It’s good to have you back, sir.”
Coulson responds with a hand wave, “Get out of here, Barton.”
Only when Clint turns to leave does he remember the form sticking out of the back of his pants.
He supposes the paper cuts he gets when Coulson rips it out at speed with a frustrated grunt are probably his own fault.
Apparently Clint is worryingly slow on the uptake.
A few days after the paper cut incident, he and Rick are back on the range again. They’re testing out the latest arrowhead Rick has designed for him, a shattering tip which houses a knockout gas. Apparently Rick is designing grenades that do a similar thing, but Clint isn’t allowed to know anything about that as it’s above his pay grade. (Rick doesn’t even know exactly what his grenades are being used for, only that they’re filled with a strange herb he’s never heard of before and they’re supposed to be dangerous to certain creatures).
The arrowheads they’re using are free from the gas, they’re simply testing which of the designs fly better, which breaks best on impact before moving onto the next test phase. Clint’s rooting for the ones shaped like a more traditional arrowhead, Rick is more taken with the bullet shape.
They’ve spent a good hour wasting very expensive equipment trying to prove each other’s opinion wrong. Clint is making very valid points about being comfortable with the equipment, Rick is making equally valid points about aerodynamics and neither of them seem to be coming any closer to actually winning the argument.
Until Rick uses a devious, underhanded tactic, one Clint wishes he’d thought of first.
The bastard grabs Clint’s face in his big hands and leans down to kiss him. And okay, Clint hadn’t really thought about this being a possibility – except maybe once or twice in the shower and okay, nobody can judge him for that, because Rick is not exactly an unattractive man, all tall, sandy hair, bedroom eyes and a killer smile. He kisses back eagerly though, it would be rude not to and it has been a long time.
Clint makes a mental note to scare security into deleting any footage of what follows, Rick’s wicked mouth on Clint’s cock, bringing him to a delicious release. Clint returning the favour with a calloused, skilled hand.
“That went better than expected.” Rick huffs into his shoulder, kissing at his neck.
“I could punch you if you want?” Clint offers.
“Maybe save that for the second date?”
They don’t. Their second date is coffee in the SHIELD mess. Their third is a hasty make out session in Rick’s lab, while his minions are on their lunch break.
It’s only after their fourth ‘date’, life affirming , ‘thank fuck I’m/you’re alive’ sex in Clint’s assigned quarters after Clint gets back from a hellish mission in Brazil, that Clint realizes hey, maybe he’s kind of fond of Rick and would quite like to keep him around.
Clint likes to think they’re being fairly discreet about their relationship, ignoring of course the security drones who know everything but have been fairly well bribed by Clint – via coffee and donuts – not to say anything or upload the videos to XTube.
But Coulson knows. Because Coulson always knows. Clint also gets the feeling Coulson isn’t particularly pleased about the whole thing either, which is how he and Rick end up being called into Coulson’s office.
“This isn’t going to end well.” Rick mumbles, “I’ve heard Coulson has no soul.”
Clint nudges him, “Coulson has a soul.”
“He also has ninja skills. He killed a guy with a rubber band.” Rick adds.
“That’s an exaggeration.” Clint says.
He was there. There was also a pen cap.
“Well either way, they’re never going to find my body.” Rick says, “You’ll be fine, you’re his favourite, but –“
Clint looks over at Rick, “What do you mean I’m his favourite? Coulson barely tolerates me.”
Rick just gives him that look, one which somehow manages to be incredibly fond and incredibly exasperated at the same time.
As Clint is about to dispute him again, Coulson strides into the room and takes a seat behind his desk. He looks between both of them before looking down at the folder rested on his desk.
“Agent Salzburg, you’ve been reassigned.” Coulson says, handing a manila folder across to Rick, “Inside that folder are details of your new assignment and your new identity. You ship out tomorrow morning at 0800.”
“You’re back on active field duty now?” Clint asks, looking across at Rick.
Rick looks down at the folder in his hands, flips through the pages, “Wouldn’t call it active.”
Clint peers over at it briefly before a “Barton!” from Coulson causes him to jump and look back at his superior.
Coulson turns his attentions to Rick, “You can leave now, Agent Salzburg.”
Rick looks over at Clint, an apologetic smile on his face, before leaving the room. Clint’s pretty certain that’s the last he’s going to see of him.
“Agent Barton, you and I have been assigned to…”
“No.” Clint says.
“Clint.” Coulson’s voice softens.
“Don’t ‘Clint’ me, Coulson.” He snaps, “I get it, you don’t approve of fraternization. We’re breaking some SHIELD regs or whatever, but sending him away is a bit fucking extreme, don’t you think? And why did I have to see it?”
“You’re a fucking asshole sometimes, Coulson.” Clint snaps, before storming out of his handler’s office.
He spends long hours on the range, shooting arrow after arrow, concentrating on the calming influence of the familiar. Nock, draw, release. Nock, draw, release. Nock, draw, release.
When he does finally return to his quarters, there’s a manila folder of his own on his bed. Clint doesn’t want to read it, wants to tell Coulson where to stick his mission, but the post it on the cover catches his eye.
Fraternization isn’t against SHIELD regulations. Giving you the details of where Rick’s been assigned definitely is. So this is for your eyes only. Let it get lost in your usual paperwork void.
Clint picks up the folder and is about to open it, certain that Coulson’s screwing with him before remembering Coulson doesn’t joke. Not like this.
He tucks the folder under his arm and heads to Coulson’s office. Clint would knock but he’s still just mad enough to invade Coulson’s privacy without warning. He pushes open the door, sees that the only light in the office is from the small desk lamp on Coulson’s big, dark wooden desk. Clint can’t help but smile a little when he sees that Coulson’s fallen asleep on his paperwork. Again.
He’s torn between leaving him to it and waking him up in a spectacularly loud and obnoxious fashion. Clint figures his evil side has worn out – sweet, sweet revenge - before he hears a soft little snuffle coming from Coulson and a mumbled sentence.
“Say what?” Clint asks, sneaking ever so slightly closer.
And it happens for the third time.
“Didn’t like Rick.” Coulson mumbles.
Clint kind of figured that part.
“Wasn’t good enough for you.”
And suddenly, everything has changed.
The fourth time Clint hears Coulson’s nocturnal mumblings is the first time he wishes he hadn’t.
It’s a few months after Rick was sent away (Clint didn’t look at the folder, but he’s heard he’s somewhere in Virginia now), and a few months after Clint discovered that Coulson thought Clint was too good for a guy with a Masters degree. Clint’s starting to think maybe he is Coulson’s favourite after all.
He and Coulson had been assigned to New Mexico to deal with an alien artefact. Coulson was keeping tabs on the thing, Clint was keeping tabs on the people around it. Clint had barely had chance to annoy Coulson, the other man had been kept so busy. So it had been fairly boring, at least for Clint, until a giant blonde beast of a man had come in and tried to steal the giant hammer SHIELD was guarding so intently.
There’d almost been a shootout, Clint had almost had fun. Instead Coulson had called him off and Clint had gone back to being bored again.
Something he made sure to tell Coulson on their drive to the airbase in New Mexico. Of course Coulson wasn’t exactly conscious at this point. Clint had even tried waking him up by driving like a psychopath, but Coulson wasn’t biting.
“You’re a worryingly sound sleeper for a secret agent.” Clint tells his sleeping form.
“Dad…” Coulson mumbles.
“Clint.” Clint corrects.
“Don’t… Dad, don’t go.” Coulson says.
His voice sounds younger somehow, as if he’s not dreaming, more reliving a memory. And Clint knows all about bad memories.
Clint doesn’t want to hear anymore, it’s too voyeuristic, something he doesn’t think he wants to know. He pulls the car across to the side of the road, parks it up and turns to face Coulson. There’s sadness and confusion written all across his face. Clint often wished he’d see Coulson rattled, just a little, but never like this.
“Coulson.” Clint says, raising his voice, reaching across and shaking Coulson’s shoulder, “Phil.”
Coulson wakes with a start. He looks lost, a little frightened, something Clint’s not used to seeing. He tries to fix his face back into its usual mask of indifference, but it’s not working.
“You okay, sir?” Clint asks, slipping back into formality to try and make Coulson forget he’s just used his first name.
And suddenly Coulson’s mouth is on Clint’s and oh, that’s what everyone means by him being Coulson’s favourite. Clint feels like he should probably be more weirded out by the whole thing, but Coulson – Phil’s – hands are in his hair and pulling him as close as is possible in the cramped confines of the car and Clint just can’t bring himself to care.
Clint’s hands are at Phil’s tie, tugging it free from its knot, his fingers fumble with the buttons of Phil’s stupid, expensive shirt and his hands are finally touching skin and okay, how long has Clint wanted this and not known it?
His lips move across Phil’s face, kissing and nipping at Phil’s perfectly square jaw. Phil’s repeating his name over and over, Clint, please… and Clint is certain his name has never sounded so good, until he realises Phil is asking him to stop.
“Clint, we can’t…”
And that’s not what Clint wanted to hear, because now he’s had a taste of this, he’s not going to be told he can’t have it.
“We can.” Clint says, surging forward for another kiss, which Coulson expertly avoids, “I’m not going to mess you around, Phil, I swear. I want this, I didn’t know I wanted this, but I can assure you I want this.”
“In the car.” Coulson finishes.
“In the car.” Clint repeats, “On the plane?”
Coulson smiles. An actual smile. Clint almost wishes he had a camera, he wants to document this, to prove this is a thing which actually happens, but then he also wants to keep this as his little secret. He doesn’t want anyone else to see this directed at them, even if it’s just on film.
“You find somewhere away from the prying eyes of the techs and the security, we’ll talk.”
“Oh sir,” Clint just smirks at him as he starts the car up again, “you forget who you’re talking to.”
Clint does find them a quiet spot on the plane, but Coulson vetoes any kind of sex in the air ducts. (Doesn’t stop Clint adding it to his bucket list, once they’ve done the whole romance thing, it’ll happen).
Once they get back to the SHIELD base, things are out of control and they barely see one another for a good week. Coulson’s pulled into meeting after meeting about the artefact, about the guy that chased it down (a God apparently, who knew?), the ‘thing’ that he and Clint brought back to the base.
Clint’s spared 90% of the hard work, which he’s thankful for as Natasha’s been brought back onto the base, and Clint’s finally allowed to see her again. (There had been an incident in Budapest, where they’d accidentally – and everyone ignored that part – blown up half a town during a routine fact finding mission. Since then, they’d been banned from working together or seeing one another, just in case. Fury seems to have taken pity on them both and the ban on spending time together has been lifted.)
Five minutes into their coffee date in Coulson’s office – because Coulson has the best coffee – and Tasha comes out with it.
“So, when did you and Coulson finally get your heads out of your asses?”
Clint’s not even going to lie, “Few days ago.”
“About time.” She says, sipping on her coffee, “I don’t have to tell you not to hurt him, do I?”
“Shouldn’t you be telling him not to hurt me?”
“He’s not an idiot.” She points out.
“You know what I mean. Something will happen, you’ll decide you’re not good enough for him, you’ll push him away and you’ll hurt him.” She says, “So, I’m telling you not to. Or you’ll wake up in the morning with your testicles on your pillow and you won’t even know I was there.”
Clint smiles at her, “I’m glad we’re on the same side.”
She smiles back, “For now.”
“So. Tony Stark.” Clint starts.
She lets out an exasperated moan, “Oh, we are not on the same side anymore.”
They sit and talk for what seems like days before Coulson finally returns to his office. He doesn’t bat an eyelid at the fact both Clint and Natasha are in there, drinking his coffee, simply nods to Natasha.
“Hi Phil!” Clint chirps, the product of too much coffee and giddiness at seeing his… Coulson for the first time in far too long.
He’s impressed that Coulson doesn’t rolls his eyes at him. Or kill him with his shoelace. He looks almost fondly at him, before turning his attention to the redhead.
“Good to see you again Agent Romanov. I trust you didn’t kill Mr Stark?”
“I didn’t.” She confirms, “Though I was tempted briefly to let him do it himself.”
“We’ve all been there.” Coulson agrees. He looks over at Clint before looking back to Natasha, “I imagine I’ll be tempted again before the end of the night.”
Natasha smiles at him, before hopping down from his desk, “Then I’ll leave you two to it.”
When she’s gone, Coulson approaches Clint.
“Normally, I’d love to have the chance to wear you out and get all the coffee out of your system.” He says, his hands moving to rest at Clint’s hips, “But I’ve been dealing with Fury all day and, contrary to popular belief, I’m not a robot. So I need to sleep, but you’re more than welcome to join me.”
Coulson leans in to kiss Clint, the first time they’ve touched like this since New Mexico. Clint hums in approval into Coulson’s mouth, “I like that idea.”
“To sleep.” Coulson clarifies.
“I can do that.” Clint insists.
Maybe this will be the fifth time?
Twenty minutes later and Clint’s hands are fisted in Phil’s bed sheets, as Phil moves into him at a punishing pace. In the end, Phil had been the one who’d given into temptation, though Clint’s pretty certain he’ll be blamed in the morning.
Phil’s mouth is at Clint’s neck, alternately kissing him and chewing him out for being such a goddamn tease all the times they’ve worked together. Clint would normally have a smartass comment for him, but he’s too lost in the feel of Phil in, around, on him. How didn’t he realise how much he wanted this?
Phil’s hand is at his dick, bringing him closer to his peak. He’s stroking him in time with his thrusts and how is it that Phil doesn’t lose control like a normal person and can do even this with perfect rhythm? Phil’s name is on Clint’s lips as he reaches his release, Phil following close behind, with a mumble into Clint’s throat.
He pulls out, pulls off the condom, ties it and throws it expertly into the small trashcan by the desk in his quarters. (And only Phil would squeeze a desk in his quarters).
He then collapses across Clint, muttering “I hate you” into the pillow next to his head.
“So, shower sex in the morning?” Clint offers.
Coulson half-heartedly slaps at him. Clint chuckles to himself and disentangles himself from under Phil, heading to the small bathroom to clean himself up.
By the time he returns to the bedroom, mere minutes later, Phil is already snoring softly and mumbling to himself.
Clint slides back into the bed next to him, rolls onto his side and just watches him for a long moment.
“Never thought you’d want me too.” He mumbles, “Not good enough.”
Clint’s heart clenches at the words and he vows to himself there and then to spend every moment they have together, making sure that Phil knows he’s more than good enough for him.
Of course everything goes to shit. Because this is Clint’s life, so why wouldn’t it? Loki happens and the Chitauri happen and Coulson…
And Clint doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do, because Coulson isn’t there for him to turn to and ask. He wants to ask Natasha what he’s supposed to do but she’s just as lost as he is. Her relationship with Coulson may have been different, but he was still her friend, one of the few people she truly trusted. She puts a better face on it, manages to remain professional and get shit done while she’s out in the field, while Clint is put on ‘house arrest’ due to being ‘suicidal’. (He isn’t, but he won’t deny he’s being more reckless than usual).
A few days after finding out about Coulson, he gets an anonymous letter from an address in Virginia he doesn’t recognise telling him that Rick’s (he’s dropped the k now, inventive alias) died as well. There’s an expensive bottle of bourbon with the letter and Clint goes through it in a matter of hours.
The same evening the bourbon is delivered, Natasha breaks into his room, cursing a blue streak. Russian, French, Spanish, some English, some languages Clint doesn’t recognize. Anyone else he’d tell to stop, but she’s Tasha.
He pulls himself to his feet, catches her arms as they’re flying around and looks her in the eye, “Tasha, what is it?”
She takes a deep breath, “Coulson’s alive.”
She’s talking to him, explaining exactly what’s happened but Clint can’t hear a word of it. He’s stuck on the part where Coulson’s alive.
“Can I see him?” He asks, no doubt interrupting something important about how Coulson’s alive.
“You know I’ll get killed if I break you out of here.” Tasha tells him.
“I’ll say I forced you into it.”
“Because Fury’s going to believe you can make me do something.” Tasha teases.
“Come on, Nat.” Clint says, “I’ll let you hit me in the face to sell it.”
Natasha smiles at him a little, “If they catch us, then I’ll hit you.”
“Deal.” Clint says.
It takes them fifteen minutes and one sleeper hold – and Clint hates that Tasha won’t teach him how to do that – to reach the medbay where Coulson’s being held. There’s security, of course there is, Coulson’s a level seven SHIELD agent, there are plenty of people who’d like the chance to take him down while he’s weak. Clint and Natasha are trying to figure out – through charades – a way of taking them out, when one of the officers rounds the corner.
“Agent Romanov, Barton.” He says, “If you’d like to come this way.”
Natasha reacts on instinct, punching Clint in the face.
Clint grabs his nose, “Fuck, Tasha.”
“You said I could if we got caught.” she says stalking after the security officer. Clint follows after her, still clutching his nose, surprised to see they’ve been lead to the door of Coulson’s room.
“Director Fury said this would happen, said we were to take you to Agent Coulson.” The officer explains, “He also said you have ten minutes and that under no circumstances was Barton allowed to engage him in strenuous activity. Not quite in those words. There was definitely a motherfucker in there.”
Clint’s about to ask what words Fury actually used when Natasha thanks the agent and turns to Clint, “You go. I can wait til he’s officially back on the grid. Or I can break in without you later.”
“I can punch you again.” She offers.
Clint holds his hands up, “Okay, you can see him later.”
She smiles at him, pulls open the door and pushes him inside. He’s thankful she did, chances are Clint would have stood staring at it for a few hours otherwise. He’s painfully aware of how badly he smells of bourbon, that his clothes are dirty and he generally looks like death. But then Phil’s not looking much better.
He looks pale and gaunt. There’s a large bandage across his shoulder covering the place Loki’s spear impaled him. His eyes are closed, he’s snoring softly and he’s hooked up to what seems like thousands of machines. There’s a chair by the bed, which Clint slinks across to. He sits down and looks across at Coulson. He looks like death, which Clint supposes is probably an after-effect of dying, but he’s alive and Jesus, Clint has never felt a level of relief like this before.
Clint rests his arms on the edge of the bed, rests his chin on them, starts talking to him, “Tasha hit me.”
He almost starts laughing, because of everything that’s happened, that’s what he choose to lead with? He’s not seen Phil since everything, since Loki mind whammied him, since the Chitauri flattened half of the city, since he died and he tells him that Natasha hit him.
He sighs, tries again, “I’m sorry, Phil. For everything. This is all my fault, if I hadn’t, if he hadn’t taken me, you wouldn’t be here, wouldn’t have been dead and I’m so sorry.”
Phil doesn’t respond. Clint comforts himself by focussing on his snoring, on the steady beep of the heart monitor, the rise and fall of his chest.
He just sits and stares at Phil for what is easily longer than the ten minutes that Fury had allegedly allotted him. He makes a note to thank Natasha, as doubtlessly she had a hand in everything, as his eyes drift closed.
He doesn’t realise he’s fallen asleep until he’s woken up with a hand on his head. Clint blinks his eyes, rubs the sleep from them. He sits up and fuck, he is too old to be sleeping in positions like that.
“So,” a gruff voice says, “you know you talk in your sleep?”
Clint stretches himself out and looks over to Phil, who’s smirking at him.
“Look who’s talking.” Clint says, “How do you think I know about your marshmallow fear?”
Coulson narrows his eyes, “You tell anyone that and I’ll make sure they never find your body.”
“Noted. So, I talk in my sleep. You going to tell me what I say?”
“I don’t think I am.” Coulson says, “I work for an agency which deals with secrets. I think I deserve a few of my own.”
“You’re going to hold whatever I said over my head, aren’t you?” Clint says.
Coulson’s lips quirk in a half-smile, “This is going to be fun.”