No one likes anchovies
Phil shifted uncomfortably in the cheap rolling desk chair Fury had in his office for guests. He knew for a fact it had been heavily discounted at the mom and pop office supply store a few blocks over several years ago, when S.H.I.E.L.D had its first year in the black. For that reason, the hideous puce color, (though it may have been yellow once upon a time), the mass amount of blue duct tape holding it together, and the fact a rock would probably be more comfortable, were all forgiven, at least by Fury. It may have been intentional on Fury's part, as a way to deter prolonged visitation of the guests it gave the illusion of inviting.
But not Phil, nothing deterred Phil. Fury knew this.
Phil shifted again, favoring to lean sideways on his left elbow against Fury's desk. Phil concentrated hard on devouring his hour old, tough Chow Mein, with questionable chicken, as Fury lectured Phil on finding a mate or at least getting laid. This would make the third, no, fourth, no maybe fifth time this month.
"...and my Grandma’s penis ejaculates purple semen" Fury said, matter-of-factly with a stoic face as only he could do.
"Mmhmm, yes, you're absolutely right." Phil replied, while studying a piece of what claimed to be chicken, though looked suspiciously like cat. Unfortunately Phil knew what cooked cat looked like. More unfortunately, he knew what it tasted like (he could thank his years in the Army Rangers for that.) Most unfortunately, there was only one way to be sure. Down the hatch it went.
To his pleasant surprise it was not cat, just God awful chicken. Thank God for small mercies. At least, he would if he was sure one existed.
Phil's head shot up at the sound of the one nickname that made four-eyes sound like a compliment. He left what was most likely mutated chicken forgotten.
"I think the chicken might be cat. Or it used to be cat and was genetically modified to chicken. So much for no MSG and GMOs. "
"You haven't heard a word I said, have you?" Fury stated, with his trademarked one-eyed glare.
"No. Though I am sorry to hear about your Grandmother." Phil stated with his own trademarked 'agent face'. Phil was slightly relieved he still had mastery over that emotionless mask after all these years. "But I'd bet my favorite tattoo machine it was the same thing you said the other however many times you gave me this lecture this month."
"Phil, if you keep going the way you’re going, you’re going to look like you stole the left arm off a bodybuilder. " They both said in unison, as though it was rehearsed like a gospel song going out of style.
"Seems to me like you heard this before. Also seems to me that someone who has heard it more times than Taylor Swift's latest rendition of a break up song on the radio would have done something about it by now. " Fury declared, arching a brow at Phil.
Phil arched a brow back. "I have. I went on a date with that cellist's brother last month in Portland after the convention. Mark? No. Mathew. Wait. No. Yes!...No! Mikey! Anyway he ended it by thanking me for a lovely dinner but apologized for not having a ‘daddy kink’.” Phil sighed and abandoned the science project that was supposed to be their lunch, however late, on the edge of the desk. Phil wasn't in the mood for intestinal parasites or food poisoning today anyway.
"Face it, who wants to fuck, let alone date, an old man with a receding hairline? With the exception of those with a daddy kink. Which, at this point I think I could do actually. Welcome to reality, there's not many fish left in my sea. Or there are, and I'm just an anchovy and no one likes those,” Phil said completely deadpan. Only Fury could tell how defeated he really felt.
"Old? Yes. Balding? Yes. But you’re forgetting you’re also a tattoo artist. Tattoo artists are hot. At least that's what the tattoo groupies think. Hell, there's more of them then damn fish in the sea. Unless you want to fuck a fish. I won't judge, but I would rethink our friendship." Fury finished his rant with the tiniest hint of a satisfied smirk.
Phil was unimpressed and responded with, "Old tattoo artists do not have groupies."
"If you’re old, what am I?"
"An old bastard."
"A gorgeous old bastard." Fury corrected.
Phil turned to look in the mirror on the wall to his right. The one his oldest friend said was for inappropriate or dick art (Nick's own words) to be viewed in private. Though Phil had his doubts.
"An old tattoo artist." His own words echoed in his head. How did he even get here? A tattoo artist at the age of 42. Doing a job meant to be done by a 20-something-year-old stud, in a too-tight wife beater and baggy jeans barely hanging on his hips with a goatee. Not a middle aged man in slacks and a tie, clean shaven with a tidy hair cut. Phil fiddled with his cross hairs tie clip. He never could shake some habits after his years with S.W.A.T. Even after his epic failure.
Phil frowned slightly. He knew how he got here. It was all Nick Fury's fault. It always was although a part of him couldn't find it in himself to mind. Maybe more of a part than he'd really like to admit. Even to himself.
It was after almost 2 years of art school. After almost 8 years in the Rangers where he met Nick. After giving 5 good years as SWAT captain, Fury had already made it to police chief. After the incident that ruined Phil for the team. After he... No, he wouldn't think about it. Not now. At least, not without a good stiff scotch in his hand and the bottle for back up.
After all that, in 2003 Nick Fury opened the doors of S.H.I.E.L.D., Fury's very own tattoo shop. (He said he left his high position because he was "too old for that shit"). Of course, he offered the first position to be filled to Phil. He said he still needed his "one good eye." It was as Nick’s apprentice, though only for a year or so, for technicalities and legalities he said. Though this was nothing new to them.
Nick was a few years older than Phil and had been a tattoo artist since he was 19. He had started his apprenticeship young as a way to get out of a bad home situation. Even a few years later, after he felt the call to serve his country (just as Phil had in the middle of art school) he still kept tattooing all throughout his years in the Rangers and Chicago PD. He pushed himself and excelled in tattooing just as he had in the army. He even taught Phil. As the years went on, Phil's skills flourished under Fury's tutelage. Fury slowly handed the torch of main tattoo artist, and somewhat manager to Phil, as he focused more on the business matters. That worked well for them. That's how he got here.
They later added others including Bucky Barnes, and Melinda May as artists. Both veterans, though it wasn't planned that way. It just happened that's who Fury attracted. Even the receptionist, though not a vet, was a Navy brat.
"Yo! Agent K! Got one for you!" Speak of the devil. Darcy's shrill voice rang out through the shop, through the slightly ajar door of the office and right into his ears. Phil suspected he would be hearing ringing for the rest of the evening.
Darcy Lewis was their receptionist and piercer. Not someone he would ever refer to as a gentle soul. Her favorite, and well used taser could attest to that. She was a spirited young woman, that's for sure. And that's just how they liked it at S.H.I.E.L.D. Phil stood with a sigh. He needed to stop that, it made him feel so pathetic. He moved to open the door, but stopped at the sound of Fury's voice.
"Loosen your tie! Open the top couple buttons! And for crying out loud, roll up you damn sleeves and show some ink! Maybe if you look less like an undertaker and more like an artist, they'll actually stick around."
Phil snorted, rolled his eyes and stepped out. As he walked to front desk where his 17:00 appointment waited, the sight that met his eyes stopped him dead in his tracks.
Never had he seen a more gorgeous man in his life. Dark blonde hair, blue eyes that would make the clearest waters in the Caribbean jealous, and his arms. Oh, those glorious arms. What it would feel like to be wrapped...No, not here. Not now.
Phil was in trouble. His pants felt a bit too tight suddenly and it had nothing to do with ordering take out for dinner all week. Time for 'agent face.'
"Phil Coulson. You two must be my 5:00." He greeted them simply.
"I'm Natasha, this is Clint. We're here to get the matching hands." The red headed woman next to the Adonis spoke. Phil hadn't noticed her until then, but she was just as gorgeous. She eyed him critically. Though to be fair, he had barely taken his eyes off the man with a god-like figure yet.
The man gave him a slight nod of acknowledgement and a smile. Oh, that smile, or was it a smirk? Whatever it was, Phil felt it in his bones, and his groin. Even better, because according to the man's companion Phil will get to ink him, mark him. That fact both excited and terrified him.
He was in so much trouble. But at the moment, he really couldn't find it in himself to care.