Clint Barton tried really hard not to crawl around in the air vents in SHIELD HQ any more. He only did it … sometimes. He’d stopped eavesdropping on Hill – mostly – after she’d taken to throwing sleeping gas in the vents whenever she suspected he was in there, and he’d mostly stopped loitering in the crawlspace under Fury’s office after the one-eyed bastard had started shooting at the floor whenever he got pissed off, because there was no way on Earth he was going to be able to explain being shot to Coulson. He occasionally hung out in the vents above the mess, because Nat liked it when he brought her gossip – he was pretty certain she liked gossip just because now, rather than because she was collecting intel to help her blackmail her way out, but he knew that most of the junior agents wouldn’t really talk to her, because she had this tendency to swear in Russian and make idle comments about the best way to really get to a man’s heart. Even Hill had gone a funny colour the first time Nat had told her about the uses for a decorative wooden spoon.
Nat had threatened him several of the same uses when she’d found him in the vent with the best view of the women’s showers on the third floor, however.
All in all, he didn’t sneak about as much as he had done in his first years at SHIELD. He didn’t really feel the need any more, except for the vent above Coulson’s desk. That was a nice vent. He’d started out tucking himself away in there – where he could hear everything that was said – when Coulson had first become his handler, and he suspected he wasn’t being told everything (this was also why he’d gone hunting for a way to eavesdrop on Fury’s office). Then he decided it was also a handy place to overhear things, as people tended to come to Coulson when they’d fucked up and were scared Fury was going to grind their bones for bread (Clint wouldn’t entirely put it past him). After a year or so, once he’d really tested the hypothesis that Coulson wasn’t telling him everything – and had it roundly defeated – he told himself the gossip was better than what he overheard in the mess, and it didn’t smell as bad as the gym, but, if was honest with himself, he liked it. Coulson’s presence was … reassuring. Relaxing. So he hung out in the vent when Coulson locked him out of the weapons room, or the range, or Fury bitched him out, or Nat was away on a mission, and sometimes when he was just bored. Sometimes he actually just lounged in one of the chairs Coulson had in his office, but only when it was just Coulson there. He’d gotten A Look after interrupting one too many briefings with junior agents with some smart-arsed comment. He knew Coulson’s Looks. That one had implied that he’d been talking with Nat about spoons.
Today he was in the vent.
Coulson was doing paperwork during his lunch break.
And Clint was watching, not really focused on what he was doing, just tucked in the vent, where he could see Coulson at his desk, all but perched on his shoulder, watching him fill out paperwork, check emails, write terse memos (Coulson had clear, precise, tidy handwriting). Clint couldn’t see why Coulson spent so much time on paperwork, because Clint hated paperwork, but he liked watching Coulson write. It was soothing, the sound of Coulson’s preferred fountain pen on paper. Maybe something on the radio, Coulson liked jazz and the World Service, and shared Clint’s taste for noisy rock (Nat said it was just prancing men who wouldn’t know a tune if she hit them with one, but he’d caught her going to a gig with Hill and humming something about a rebel girl once, so he ignored her). But it didn’t really matter what Coulson listened to, because Clint was fairly inclined to like whatever Coulson liked.
Something about Coulson today was off, however. Not enough to worry Clint, but enough to make him curious. So he watched a little more than usual, trying to work out what was going on, because if he was honest with himself – or Nat got him drunk and punched him until he confessed – he was a little more interested in Coulson than was usually called for by the agent/handler relationship. Not that Clint would ever tell Coulson, because, well, he wasn’t, and there wasn’t a chance in hell of anything actually happening between them. So he carried on as usual, and the usual for Clint meant hiding out in the vent above Coulson’s desk instead of doing anything he should actually be doing.
Coulson was leant slightly over his desk as usual, not too much, a posture Clint knew he could maintain for hours – he must have been listening in one of those interminable health and safety lectures he had forced Clint to attend, at gunpoint – pen in one hand, but still on the table. His breathing was off. Faster. Not too fast, just not regular enough for a man doing paperwork at his desk. The rest of him was still, almost motionless.
Not motionless. Clint leant forward slightly, his nose almost pressing the grate slats. There. The right arm, in his lap. Not on the desk. Moving slightly.
Coulson’s breath hitched, almost silently, his head drooping forward on his neck for a moment.
Oh god. Clint stared. Oh god. Coulson didn’t do that. Not outside of Clint’s guilty, furtive imaginings, the ones he would never admit to on pain of death (or Nat with the potato masher). Not at his desk.
Except he was.
It was unmistakeable now, to Clint. He couldn’t really see anything, just the curve of Coulson’s neck, which he wanted to run his tongue over, the slight movement of his arm, and Clint ached to feel that same regular rhythm on his own cock. Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck. He felt his cock harden as he lay in the vent, not daring to move, unable to look away.
Coulson’s movements were quick, precise. Efficient. Getting the job done. Clint wondered if he fucked like that, if he’d bring his lover to orgasm in the same way he worked an op, thoroughly, totally focused on the task. The smart-mouthed part of him wondered if Coulson filled out paperwork when he wanked in his office. Fuck. He wanted to be down there, his hand where Coulson’s was, his cock in the agent’s hand. Damnit. He wished reaching his erection was possible in this position. He wished he could thrust against something other than vent metal. Oh, fuck. He ought to look away.
Coulson came suddenly, his breath hissing, neck muscles taught. Clint didn’t hear him groan, just that sharp release of air, saw his back go rigid for a moment, felt his own cock twitch in sympathy and need. A flick of a tissue into the waste bin, and Coulson cleared his throat, reached for his coffee mug (standard-issue SHIELD office mug, blue logo on white glaze, always on Coulson’s desk), sipped, and resumed writing. Clint wanted to sigh. He wanted hands on his cock, mouth and tongue and just a touch of teeth, he wanted to come and come hard. He didn’t dare move, even knowing that he could move without Coulson hearing him.
Coulson checked his watch (expensive, discreet, analogue, always exact), and put his pen down, closed the file, and stood. He rolled his shoulders briefly, the material of his neatly-tailored suit shifting (Clint knew nothing about clothes, but he’d overheard Sitwell making a comment to Hill about Coulson and Jermyn Street tailors, and he didn’t care enough to know more because he was pretty convinced Coulson could make a trash bag look like Armani). Clint watched Coulson’s arse as he left the office, the door locking behind him.
Then he sighed, and banged his head on the top of the vent, because fuck everything.
Clint avoided his handler for a few days, after getting a hard-on in a meeting about something tedious, looking at Coulson’s hands as he handed out memos. Coulson was convinced paper memos were more efficient than email ones. Hill had commented that he was single-handedly destroying entire forests. Clint tended to keep Coulson’s memos, in a pile in the room that passed for his office. He didn’t actually read them, but he kept them, as he kept the things Nat left behind (Hello, in French, several copies of People, and what he suspected was Harry Potter, in Russian), and kept the bits of broken bows in a drawer.
Clint knew he had a problem where his handler was concerned. Knew he’d been thinking about the shoulders under the suit, the hard curve of his arse, wondering whether Coulson ever relaxed long enough to swear and pray and mumble as he came. Clint didn’t usually fixate on a single person like that – with the exception of Nat, when he’d first brought her to SHIELD, and that hadn’t turned out so well, except the angry sex had been amazing. And then she’d decided that angry sex got boring after a while, and he decided that he might trust her enough to let her see him sleep, and he definitely loved her enough to worry when she was late for check-in during an op, or to put up with her thing for bad romance novels, and she might unwind with him enough to actually laugh, but they never seemed to do more than fight and fuck and fight again, but the fucking only made the fighting worse. So they stopped fucking, and kept fighting, but never actually tried to kill each other as a form of foreplay, and she still tried to read aloud the really bad sex scenes from those dreadful books (he kind of loved the word turgid), and sometimes he would fall asleep beside her on the sofa watching shitty detective dramas, and he still loved her, and she loved him, and it was safe and messily platonic and he still didn’t trust her with a spatula.
Coulson was like Nat, except worse. Because instead of fighting there was orders and earpieces and the unspoken promise that whatever Nat could do with a melon baller, Coulson could do it with his little toe, and there was definitely no fucking, except in Clint’s head. And sometimes with it, when Coulson was particularly annoyed with him. But now he’d heard him come, and now it was worse, because when he wasn’t thinking about what he’d like to do with Coulson’s solid shoulders and lean legs and maybe his silk ties too, Clint was thinking about what went through Coulson’s head, whether he had someone to make love to before breakfast, whether he thought of anyone in particular when he wanked, or whether it was just another task on the list (brief Fury on weapons tech in Thailand, write memo about live grenades in the indoor range, crack one out, plan assault on bioweapons lab in Mongolia).
He couldn’t even sit in the vent any more, he spent the entire time with a deeply uncomfortable erection, hoping to see it happen again. Clint spent hours on the range, hitting the target repeatedly (he occasionally wondered if he could actually miss these days), flinging himself around the gym enough to pull a muscle in his calf, and sparring with Nat long enough to end up sneaking into the kitchens to steal ice to put on his bruised head. And he avoided Coulson, who would probably tell him off for at least one of those (Clint’s refusal to seek minor medical care voluntarily annoyed Coulson immensely), and he actually cleaned his and Nat’s tiny flat, away from SHIELD, with a vacuum cleaner and everything.
After three days of brooding (and, if he was honest, furious masturbation), Coulson summoned him for a mission briefing.
It wasn’t a particularly spectacular mission. Nat wasn’t going, just a gaggle of young-looking junior agents who would probably shoot themselves in the foot without Coulson being there. Clint was going as eyes and backup, and so he went, and sat in the briefing trying not to stare at Coulson (and instead managing to irritate everybody else by staring at them). After the briefing, Coulson demanded to know what had crawled up his arse and died – not in so many words, there was a quiet “is everything ok, specialist?” as everyone filed out, and Clint couldn’t think of anything to say except “no, sir”.
“Don’t make me make you go to psych,” was all Coulson said in response, although his tone was warm, gentle – he knew Clint hated psych, avoided it more than he avoided medical, but he also knew that Clint wasn’t himself (there had been no theft of doughnuts from his office, and no complaints of the lock on the range door being broken again), and he was mildly concerned.
“I’m ok, sir. Couple of sleepless nights, nothing to worry about. I’ll be ok for the op,” Clint tried to sound slightly more cheerful.
“Ok, Barton. I’ll see you on the flight.”
Clint tried not to spend the next six hours thinking about sitting on a SHIELD jet next to Coulson, their thighs touching in the half-light. He spent most of the flight trying not to think about anything, until he woke to the landing announcement with his head on Coulson’s shoulder.
“You snore like a bulldog,” one of the junior agents observed, as they stood on the tarmac of a tiny, unlit airport, and the jet buzzed away.
“You look like one,” Clint snapped back, although he thought that Junior Agent Jones was actually rather beautiful, with her wide cheekbones and tightly curled hair, cut so it haloed around her face.
“Enough, Barton,” Coulson said. “Jones, Alder, get going. Barton, report back when you have eyes on target.”
The op itself went smoothly, the goods retrieved quickly, only one body, in and out. Clint had fired the arrow, of course – he only needed one – and Jones returned it to him with a grateful smile, the neat lines of a butterfly bandage over her right eye stark white against her dark skin. Clint had tried to ignore the vague flicker of jealousy as he watched Coulson apply it, the faint note of concern in his voice when she’d gone down. If Clint was honest with himself, the jealousy wasn’t a particularly new emotion, when it came to Coulson; he wanted to be the only one the older man spoke to with that note of concern, of tenderness, but he knew that Coulson worried about all his agents, every person under his charge, and he didn’t have favourites. Clint wanted to be his favourite all the same.
The team waited for an hour for the jet to return; the landing strip was evidently in use during the day, and Clint tucked himself away in a tree and watched Coulson and Jones’ handler keep watch. Everyone else dozed, because nothing got past Coulson or Barton; they barely woke long enough to get onto the jet, and within moments of wheels up, everyone except Clint and Coulson was asleep; they were sitting next to each other, Clint determined not to snuggle up to Coulson, and Coulson apparently uninterested in anything except the paperwork in his lap. Every now and again he handed a piece to Clint, who took it, because he didn’t have anything better to do. With Coulson standing over him – or rather sitting right there – Clint even completed his own forms. Coulson corrected his spelling.
The debriefing was as uneventful as the mission; Hill didn’t nitpick as much as Fury (she preferred to read reports afterwards), and the junior agents were all anxious to shower and go tell the other junior agents about how brave and magnificent they’d been (Nat used to say they were like bees, except with less usefulness). Clint wanted a shower too, and he wanted to sleep, and he wanted to pretend he didn’t want to push Coulson up against the wall and grind his erection into the other man’s thigh, to see if he could make his breath hitch and his calm half-smile falter just a little. He considered watching Star Wars instead.
After cursing George Lucas’ inability to stop fiddling with perfectly good films, and wondering if he could persuade SHIELD to build an AT-AT (he was pretty sure Sitwell would be on his side, and probably Woo too), Clint concluded that watching all three films a second time that day was not going to help him fall asleep any more than it had the first time around. He turned the TV off, and dangled over the end of the couch to turn the radio on, then wrapped himself in a blanket and tried to focus on the radio. He considered texting Nat, but he’d returned to the news that she was in Japan on something that she’d no doubt refuse to talk about when she got back. He considered drinking, but remembered that he had nothing to drink in the flat, except for half a bottle of the premixed margarita gunk Nat tended to buy when she wanted to drink alone, because there was no way on earth he was touching it, except possibly to use as drain cleaner. He didn’t want to leave the flat, because he didn’t want to deal with people (Nat did not count as people, and nor did Coulson for that matter), and this meant that not only was he not going to get any booze, he was not going to try his other preferred method of curing insomnia, which was going to the nearest dive bar, picking up whoever would have him, and getting a substandard, no-strings-attached blowjob in an alleyway. It wasn’t particularly dignified, but it did work.
In the end, he did what he didn’t want to do, but had known what he was going to do all along, and called Coulson.
“Agent Coulson speaking,” the voice at the other end was only slightly tinged with sleep, but Coulson was alert. “What is it, Barton?”
“Can’t sleep sir.”
“And so nobody else should either?” Coulson sounded a little irritated. Irritated was good, it meant he wasn’t actually that annoyed; when he was actually annoyed, he sounded blandly cheerful.
“Sorry sir.” Clint relaxed into the sofa. Calling Coulson during a fit of insomnia was better than Nat, booze, or blowjobs. Possibly combined.
“You’re at home?”
“Yes sir.” Clint could feel himself unwinding a little more.
“You should go to psych, Barton.”
“But you won’t,” Coulson had put him on speakerphone.
“No, sir. I’ll keep it in mind though.”
“No you won’t. Go into the kitchen.”
“Do you have any tea, Barton?”
“Tea, Barton. It will almost certainly be in a cupboard, near whatever you have that you call coffee.”
“You’re a coffee snob, sir,” Clint grinned to himself, but hauled himself up and into the tiny kitchen.
“I know, Barton. And you have the underdeveloped palate of a child. Have you found the tea?”
“It says its berry, sir.”
“Yes, sir. And fennel. And mint. And something calling itself pumpkin spice, seriously, what is this?”
Coulson sighed. “Is there anything that says black tea, Barton?”
“No sir. There’s green and white and rooibos and gunpowder – the actual fuck, Natasha - and probably fucking purple with pink polka dots with a hint of lychee. And something with a man in a lab coat who looks like the guy in weapons testing with the ginger comb-over that calls itself Tetleys.”
“That one, Barton.”
“Yes, Barton. Now, find the kettle. You may need to put water in it.”
“I know how to boil water, sir.”
“Your talents never cease to amaze me, Barton.”
“Be nice, sir.” Clint grinned, and filled the kettle. Nat preferred an electric one, and so he switched it on. It bubbled cheerfully. “What next?”
“Do you have any milk?”
“Milk, Barton. It’s what you persist in putting cookies in.”
“You wound me, sir.”
“Barton, if I was to wound you, you wouldn’t be whining about not sleeping.”
This, Clint decided, was infinitely better than a drunken blowjob behind a bin. He didn’t even want to sleep any more. “I don’t think milk is supposed to be lumpy, is it, sir?” He eyed the bottle with misgivings. He drank his (cheap, instant) coffee black.
“No, Barton. It is definitely not.”
“Now what, sir?” Clint had put a teabag a clean mug (he’d sniffed it first, both mug and teabag), and he poured the boiled water over it as he spoke. The water immediately turned a rather uninspiring brown. “Can I drink it anyway?” He sniffed the liquid. It smelled like brown. And damp.
“Open the door, Barton.”
“The door?” Barton looked at the kitchen door. It was definitely open.
“Rectangular, handle about halfway down, I believe yours is painted green. It says ‘seven’ on the side I’m looking at.”
Clint scrambled towards the front door, keying in the code on the SHIELD-issue numberpad before he undid the bolts. And opened the door.
Coulson was standing on his doorstep. He was wearing an impeccably-cut navy suit (clean, not the one he’d been in at the briefing), and carrying what looked like a travel mug in each hand. One was SHIELD blue (the exact same colour as Coulson’s suit), with a white SHIELD logo on it. The other bore a picture of Captain America, and was definitely not SHIELD issue. Coulson quirked an eyebrow at him.
“You may hang up, Barton. And, if you wish, you may let me in.”
“Sir.” Clint stared.
“Indeed. The phone, Barton.”
Clint hung up. The light on Coulson’s earpiece flickered off. Clint continued to stare at Coulson.
“Is there a problem, Barton?”
“Um. No. Sir. Come in, um, sir. Please.”
“You might find it necessary to stand to one side, specialist.”
“Sorry sir. Come in, sir.” Clint shuffled to one side. The door beeped at him. He shut it behind Coulson, and it stopped beeping.
“Tea, Barton.” Coulson held out the SHIELD travel mug, and, for want of anything else to do, Clint took it. He sniffed it. It smelled of brown, and a bit damp, and warm, and a bit like Coulson first thing in the morning, and there was sweetness and bitterness and definitely brown and Coulson. He decided he liked the smell of it.
“Thank you sir.”
Coulson nodded briefly, and there was a faint smile on his face. “You may drink it. You might want to add sugar, judging by the terrible things you do to coffee.”
“Sit down, Barton.”
Clint blinked, and caught himself before he sat down on the floor. He stumbled over to the sofa, and moved the blanket out of the way before sitting down. Coulson sat next to him. There was a large heap of floor cushions, and a rather battered leather armchair, but he apparently preferred the sofa. Clint didn’t blame him. The armchair was covered with books and magazines and arrows.
“Nice blanket,” Coulson said dryly.
Clint looked at the blanket. It was garish, the colours all clashed, and the squares were apparently supposed to look like flowers, but Clint wasn’t convinced. “Um, thanks, sir. It’s Natasha’s. Specialist Romanov’s. She made it.”
“My mother knits.”
“It’s crochet, sir. Natasha says it’s different. It appears to be important to her.”
Coulson smiled. “Is that so.”
“I can’t tell the difference, sir. She said she’d show me, and I tried to listen, sir, but it doesn’t make much sense, really, something about hooks and sticks. She keeps trying to make me a bow cozy. And hats. Apparently hats are important, but the one she made me is hideous and green, and I keep losing it but she always makes me another” Clint realised he was blathering, and tried to shut up.
“Drink your tea, Barton.”
Coulson sipped his tea, and watched Clint over the edge of his mug. Captain America watched too. Clint drank his tea. It was good, and it tasted like brown and bitterness and just enough sweetness to make the bitterness wonderful. He smiled.
“Thank you sir”, Clint murmured, feeling more relaxed than he had done since he’d loped away from Coulson on the airfield, since he’d started avoiding his handler. He sighed, and stretched his legs out.
“You don’t want to add sugar?”
“I’m sweet enough, sir,” Clint grinned.
Coulson swiped the back of his head good-naturedly. “Idiot.”
“What, Barton, are you doing with a book called Bath Tangle, or do I not want to know?”
“Nat’s, sir. It was there. I thought I’d try it.”
“Is anything in this den actually yours?”
“The arrows, sir. And the TV. And the chair. Nat’s messy, sir.”
“I’ve seen your quarters at HQ, Barton. I’m sure this isn’t all Specialist Romanov’s.”
“Nat’s really messy, sir. And she keeps her books in here, and she has a lot of books. I think she likes having things that are hers. There are also a lot of shoes.”
Coulson nodded, and sipped at his tea. Captain America watched Clint from his mug. Clint drank his tea, and settled further into the sofa. The tea was definitely soothing.
“How long is Specialist Romanov away?”
“Don’t know, sir. She doesn’t tell me these things.”
Coulson nodded. Clint took that as encouragement to keep talking.
“It used to annoy me – I wouldn’t know where she was and if she was ok – but she always leaves a message and if she’s not with us it’s nothing to worry about, because it’s just a milk run. So I just get to wait, which I hate, but I can’t do anything about it, because she always hated when I’d ask her when she’d be home, so she never told me just to make me angry, so I stopped asking.”
“I will tell you, if you ask.”
“Thank you sir. It’s not really that, I know if something happens, I’ll find out. I just like knowing she’s ok, and where she is, and how long I can watch It’s Me Or The Dog reruns in peace,” Clint smiled, and settled his head against the back of the cushions. “And like I said, if it’s something really dangerous, we’ll be with her.”
Coulson murmured something. Clint kept talking, rambling really, his voice starting to slur as tiredness eventually caught up with him, as he relaxed enough to succumb to the need to close his eyes and sleep.
Clint woke up warm, wrapped in the gaudy granny-square blanket (it was warm, even if it was hideous), his feet curled beneath him, a warm weight on his shoulder, his head pillowed on something warm. Clint blinked. Warm had a pulse. Warm was not particularly soft, and it smelled of tea and wool and navy blue and soap.
Clint had woken up with his head in Phil Coulson’s lap.
Fuck. Everything. Fuck.
Phil Coulson had an arm resting on Clint’s shoulder. His fingers brushed Clint’s hair. He was snoring softly. Clint noticed that he’s taken his shoes off (highly-polished black brogues), and Coulson was wearing bright pink socks; his jacket and tie were laid neatly on top of the armchair. Clint didn’t want to move. Fuck. He was comfortable. He was so fucking comfortable, and warm, and Coulson really did smell of navy blue and it was amazing and god damn it, he was getting hard under his blanket, and he should move, but the hard muscles of Coulson’s legs was the best damn pillow he’d ever had, and fuck, the man smelled amazing.
Coulson moved slightly, no longer snoring.
He swore under his breath, and then flung off his blanket and launched himself out of the room. And locked himself in the bathroom.
He turned the shower on, and stood underneath it, until the water ran colder than he could stand, and he was forced out, shivering. He took ask long as he could drying himself, shaving, slathering himself in Nat’s moisturiser (she was going to kill him, fuck). He wrapped a towel around his waist, and stuck his head out the door. Silence. Clint dashed across the hallway, into his bedroom. Flung clothes on. Fuck. Turned his tshirt the right way out, and put it back on. And walked slowly back out.
“Sir?” Silence. “Agent Coulson, sir?”
The flat was empty. There was a mug of coffee on the worksurface in the kitchen, and a freshly-washed mug beside the sink. Clint wrapped his hands around the coffee (it was nearly cold, but it was black and tooth-achingly sweet) and tried to ignore the emptiness.
There was fresh milk in the fridge.
Natasha came back after a few days, and Clint stopped moping about the flat, and turned up for training again (after Coulson left him a voicemail threatening him with paperwork about unapproved leave). He mostly avoided Coulson as much as he could bear to, and wound Hill up, and earned a stern “do not make me put you in my diary, specialist,” from Fury, which was enough to remind him that he and Coulson were not the only people on the planet, and so he started faking it, on the grounds that if he faked it enough he could make it, because god knew he’d done it before.
Nat said he was a dickhead. She said some other things in Russian, but he wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction of knowing he understood her (she knew he did).
He made a junior agent cry, and Fury told Coulson not to try pawning his responsibilities off on others, so Coulson locked him out of the range and confiscated his bow, and that was just plain insulting.
Clint was halfway to his office before he remembered about the whole “not talking to Coulson” thing, but went anyway, because it was nine in the morning and he wanted to shoot something full of arrows and maybe try it blindfolded or upside-down and Coulson was like a fucking magnet to him. He got in a full thirty seconds of yelling before Coulson put down his pen, raised an eyebrow, and asked him if he’d like to talk about his insomnia.
Clint told him to fuck off.
“Take some leave, Barton. Or talk to psych. Or Assistant Director Hill.”
“She’ll only try to shoot me, sir.”
“And I would understand her completely, specialist. Talk to someone. I’d suggest you talk to me, but you appear to be avoiding me. Talk to Fury if you have that much of a problem, I’m sure he could find you another handler, although if you keep making them cry like you did Agent Lee, he will probably let Hill shoot you as much as she wants to, and then let the probationary agents practice field first aid on you. Take three days off. I don’t want to see your face, or hear a single complaint about you, for two whole days. Go home. Now.”
The flat was empty, and Clint couldn’t fucking sleep. Nat had disappeared somewhere (he suspected she was doing something unspeakable somewhere with someone, and he didn’t want to know, and she would just call him names if he asked) and it was him, the TV, a small library of romance novels, and the sofa. Clint drank a lot of tea. He put anchovies in pasta sauce (Nat hated anchovies) and drank more tea, until he was pretty certain he was turning into a teabag. And he still couldn’t sleep. He briefly considered actually going to see SHIELD’s psychiatrists, until he remembered the last mandatory review session when one of them had started suggesting he talk about his parents, and fuck that noise. Clint didn’t need to be laid on a leather couch to know he had issues there.
It was three in the morning on the second day of Clint’s enforced leave, and he knocked on Coulson’s front door, in a small block of flats only two blocks from his own, and lent on the doorframe so much he nearly fell in when Coulson eventually opened the door.
“Come in, Barton.”
Clint staggered in.
He stared at Coulson. The older man’s hair was rumpled, his face had a pillow crease running over one cheek, and he was wearing a dressing gown with a SHIELD logo on the right breast. He was the best thing Clint had ever seen, and he had to resist the urge to fling both arms around his neck and either cover him with kisses or hug him. Or possibly both. He wanted to do both.
“Shoes off.” Coulson sounded irritated. Clint did not fling both arms around his neck, but he did stagger over when he kicked his boots off. Coulson caught him. “Are you drunk, specialist?” He asked, although Clint was pretty certain Coulson knew he wasn’t drunk, because he was pretty certain Coulson knew every thought in his head. “I’m not a mind-reader, Barton. I know you’re not drunk because you don’t smell of alcohol, but you stink.”
“Was I talking out loud?” Clint was horrified, and his words were slurred with tiredness.
“Yes. Come on. Into the shower.”
Coulson’s bathroom was small, and tidy, and tiled in white and blue, and his shower was very hot, and efficient (of course), and his shampoo smelled of Coulson, and his soap smelled of soap. Clint was vaguely relieved that there was only one toothbrush sitting beside the sink, but there was one in a packet resting on top of the towel Coulson had shoved in his hands (the towel was huge, and fluffy, and slightly warm, and Clint vaguely realised Coulson had a heated towel rack). He brushed his teeth with Coulson’s toothpaste, and blinked at himself in the mirror. He looked like shit. He stumbled out.
Coulson thrust a pair of SHIELD blue sweatpants at him, and he pulled them on, vaguely aware that he’d been standing in front of the older man stark naked, and he felt himself blushing, even though he knew Coulson had seen him naked before, when he’d dragged Clint out of a prison cell in Bolivia, and the time he’d taken a shower with the door open in a motel in some tiny town in Ohio, singing Born To Run loudly, just to piss Coulson off, and probably half a hundred times besides, but this was different, somehow.
But Coulson was here, and he was relaxing, and whatever it was that had been wound so tight and stopping him from sleeping was unwinding rapidly, and he was embarrassed and barely awake.
Coulson was smiling, faintly. “Bed, Clint,” and he steered Clint into a bed, with rumpled sheets and a granny-square blanket in hideous colours, and a heavy, warm duvet (black, not navy), and it was only as his head hit the pillow that Clint realised that he was in Coulson’s bed, and Coulson had climbed in beside him and then Clint was asleep.
Clint woke to warmth against his bare back, a faint glimmer of light creeping around the edges of heavy blinds, and he rolled over and slid his arms around Coulson’s waist, pressing his face into his shoulder, and he dozed, and tangled his legs through Coulson’s, and he felt Coulson relax into him, and he smiled in his dozing, and inhaled the smell of Coulson, of navy blue and tea.
When he woke again, slowly, Coulson’s arse was pressed against his erection, and he dopily nuzzled against his neck, pressing back, stroking the inside of his arched foot against Coulson’s surprisingly hairy calf. Still half-asleep, he kissed his way across Coulson’s stubbled jaw, and Coulson twisted in his arms and captured his lips in a sloppy, sleepy kiss, a hand coming up to brush through his hair. They kissed slowly, tongues brushing against tongues and lips languorously, Clint’s hand stroking the firmness of Coulson’s stomach through his t-shirt, Coulson’s hands in his hair, then gripping the waist of his sweatpants as Clint thrust softly against his thigh.
It was only when Coulson moaned ever so quietly, and slipped long, strong, gentle fingers under Clint’s waistband, brushing the skin at the small of his back with curious, tentative warmth, that Clint really woke up. Woke to his lips tingling with the touch of Coulson’s stubble, their legs tangled together, his cock hard against Phil’s leg, Phil’s erection pressing on his thigh.
Oh, fuck, no. Fuck. What is he doing, this isn’t his bed, not his sweatpants, oh sweet merciful jesus Phil is touching his arse, when the fuck did Phil become Phil and stop being Coulson and oh fuck fuck fuck this is bad runaway runawayrunawayrunaway.
He’s locked in the bathroom before he really knows why. This is apparently starting to become a habit, except it’s not his bathroom this time, and he wants to cry and he wants to run back out there and bury his head in Phil’s shoulder, and kiss him until the kissing becomes groaning and thrusting and sweat and stickiness. But instead he slumps down against the door and bangs his head against it, gently.
“Clint, don’t,” Phil says from the other side of the door.
Clint says nothing, but he stops. There is a faint rustling and a couple of thumps; he can almost feel Phil leaning against the door.
“I’m sorry,” Phil says, and Clint definitely wants to cry into his neck at this point, but he can’t move, he’s busy shaking and panicking and definitely not thumping his head against the door again, no matter how much he wants to.
He realises Phil is talking softly, apologising still. He is telling Clint it’s ok, that he isn’t angry, that he just wants Clint to talk to him, but Clint doesn’t say anything because he doesn’t trust himself. And eventually, Phil falls silent.
Phil listens, and eventually he hears Clint’s breathing slow, soften. He stands, and rubs his hands over his face, and he goes and makes a cup of tea. He makes one for Clint, and leaves it outside the bathroom door, which is still locked. He drinks the tea, and splashes water on his face standing over the kitchen sink, and dresses in a shirt and tailored trousers, and tries talking to Clint again, but gets no response. After several hours of sitting on the floor, leaning against his unmade bed, he tries the door again, and it is open. And Clint is gone, and the bathroom window is open.
Phil makes the bed, and puts on a tie, and puts Clint’s clothes in the washing machine, and answers emails while the machine spins through a quick wash cycle, and phones Sitwell about taking Specialist Romanov off the Harrisburg mission. The other agent tries to talk to him about football, but Coulson hates football, and he cuts Sitwell off, feeling guilty. He puts Clint’s clothes in the tumble dryer. He answers yet more emails, and listens while Fury rants his way through a phone call about Alder and Hughes inability to pass basic Arabic, and arranges for the two agents to see one of the CIA’s tutors even while Fury is busy inventing new swear words. He promises the CIA agent that he will take a look, personally, at the transference application from one of his juniors. He forwards the application to Hill. He folds Clint’s clothes carefully, and packs his shoes and the clothes into a bag, and he walks the three blocks to Clint’s building, and Nat lets him in with a sigh. He pretends not to see Hill’s jacket thrown over the armchair, and Nat ignores his pretence and carries a third mug of mint tea into her bedroom and laughs at Hill and at Coulson.
Nat doesn’t say anything when Clint eventually returns home, two days later, at close to midnight, grubby and barefoot still, except he’s found a too-small threadbare hoodie somewhere, and he is aware that she is very definitely not saying anything (Nat has very expressive nostrils, and right now, they are pinched and white and this means she is furious with him), and she has only glanced at the pigeon shit in his hair once. He slinks into the bathroom, and cleans up. He tries to ignore the feeling of panic and affection when he sees his clean clothes on his bed (Phil has not cleaned his battered boots, but they smell much better than they did). Clint doesn’t make eye contact with Nat, but he does walk into her bedroom after knocking, and Nat kicks him in the shoulder, and then hits him with a pillow. It hurts (Nat could probably disembowel someone with a pillow, and probably has, so Clint ducks her next blow, and sits down next to her on her bed and curls into her, and she sighs, and ruffles his hair (and hits him again, before tucking the pillow behind him). She kisses the top of his head, and tells him to go to fucking sleep, in Russian, and he does.
Clint follows Nat around the next morning, eating and drinking what she shoves into his hands, and he waits for her while she dresses (Nat slammed the bathroom door in his face when he tried to follow her in). He follows her to SHIELD, and she kicks him around the ring at the gym. This seems to wake Clint up a little, and so he goes to shoot some arrows on his own. Hill is there, and she watches him. Clint will never admit it, but he finds Hill’s scrutiny a little unnerving at times; she is nowhere near as unflappable as Coulson, but she doesn’t steamroller over everything the way Fury does, and he suspected she knew far more than she let on even as she pretended to be completely above SHIELD politics. Hill asked him to do a little rifle practice, and he acquiesced, and she leaves him to collect his arrows and his bullets, telling him that Fury wanted to see him when he was done, but before midday. She smells of Nat’s expensive moisturiser, and Clint tries to scrub that image from his head, although it also solved the mystery of where the redheaded assassin disappeared off to, and Clint isn’t jealous, because he loves Nat and wants her to be happy, or at least laid, because he knows from experience that Nat is grouchy as fuck when she is only getting battery-powered action, and a grouchy Nat is one that is much less likely to follow up on the threat involving the potato peeler.
Clint is not numb enough to really consider pissing Fury off (or at least pissing him off more) by being late, or not turning up, so he cleans his rifle quickly, and turns up outside Fury’s office, being given the eye by Fury’s dour assistant, Berry, who waves him in. There are new bullet-holes in Fury’s carpet, and Clint winces, knowing that Fury only shoots up the place when he’s really, really pissed at Clint, so he says nothing, and lets Fury chew him out for his disappearing act for a good twenty minutes, keeping his comments to himself (he’s not really putting his heart into it, mostly sticking to “that’s what she said”) and not really listening. He deserves this, deserves worse, and feels guilty as hell (hence not making comments about Hill’s arse, or the fact that she tends to take too long over each shot), and he flinches as Fury smacks his desk, and resists the urge to run away and hide in the smallest, highest space he can find, as that was what got him into this in the first place. Clint is used to being yelled at, and he finds his body still expects blows and worse as Fury carries on bawling at him, but he knows Fury won’t actually hit him (or shoot him anywhere important), so he stands there and takes it, almost wishing that the massive director might actually punch him a few times, because Clint understands violence better than affection (this did not help his relationship with Nat, who is worse than him and really, really sucks at emotions, while Clint only sucks a lot). Fury’s rage burns out after a while, and he tells Clint, in That Tone of Voice, the one which means “I will let the junior agents use you for target practice and then lock you in a room with a shrink for a week”, that he is to report to Agent Coulson at fourteen hundred hours, and he expects to hear that he has attended his medical check this week before he finishes the mac and cheese the mess will undoubtedly be keeping warm for him (Fury is the only person Clint knows who actually likes the mac and cheese the mess produces, without fail, every Thursday). Then he dismisses Clint.
Clint goes to medical. They prod him here, and poke him there, and a pretty nurse, who is new, takes his temperature and flinches when he swears at her, because Clint really fucking hates having the cold thermometer stuck in his ear. He apologises, because he tries not to yell at new nurses, and besides, usually they never let new nurses near him. She apologises when she sticks a needle in him to remove some blood for his bank, and he tries to flirt with her, but she is less than receptive, and he gives up, feeling irrationally crushed, even though he is usually rebuffed by nurses (except for Nurse Barker, she flirts back, even though she’s over twice his age and barely five foot tall, and married, and she tells him about her grandson, who is three, and has her hook nose). Clint actually likes Nurse Barker, but the new nurse says she’s helping put Agent Hutton back together after an accident in one of the labs.
Clint eats alone, and picks at the mac and cheese (he sees Fury, who nods at him, and shovels pasta and violently yellow sauce into his mouth), and Nat is eating with Hill, who is giggling, and trying to read something on her tablet while Nat is chattering in Russian at her. He tries not to be looking for Coulson, and is trying not to think about Coulson at all, except he can still feel his lips tingle with stubble and feel Phil’s fingers in his hair. And he is definitely looking for Phil. So he eats, and ignores the doughnuts for desert because whenever he looks at them all he can see is Phil licking powdered sugar off his fingertips as he drove through the night after an op in Miami while Clint pretended to be asleep in the passenger seat.
He is not so anxious to see Phil that he doesn’t put off knocking on the heavily frosted glass of his office door until his watch flashes exactly fourteen hundred hours.
“Enter,” Phil calls out, and he hears the agent’s chair slide back from his desk, and Phil is standing behind his desk when Clint closes the door behind him and looks at him, not meeting the other man’s eyes.
Phil looks, frankly, dreadful. His eyes have heavy shadows under them, heavier than after a week-long op on almost no sleep, heavier than the time he took a bullet to the lung in a town outside Frankfurt and woke in an army hospital after having lost several days and too many pints of blood. The lines around his eyes are tight, and his tie is slightly crooked, and he has a dent on either side of his nose, where he’s been wearing his reading glasses for too long, which is a sure sign of stress, because Phil never spends a moment longer on paperwork than he needs to. Clint feels utterly dreadful, and he slumps, looking at the floor, shuffling his feet and looking more like a kicked puppy than he has all day (he is not aware that Fury described him to Hill thusly, and the new nurse has echoed the sentiment and Nat has already threatened six junior agents with dismemberment with a biro for calling him “Dorkeye”, although she is keeping that one for the next time she wants to wind him up).
Phil sighs. “You’ve been to medical?”
“Yessir,” Clint mumbles, and continues to stare at the toes of his boots and fiddle with a loose thread on his fingerless gloves.
“It’s ok, Clint,” Phil crossed from behind his desk, and laid a tentative hand on the younger agent’s shoulder. Clint leaned into his touch, even though he clearly wanted to run.
“Clint.” Phil tried not to shake him, but settled for tightening his grip on Clint’s vest, and resisting the urge to hug him. “You terrified me. But it’s ok. You’re here, and you’re safe, and I’m not angry with you.”
“Sorry sir.” Clint was definitely not on the edge of tears at the note of concern in Phil’s voice, low and gentle but rough with tiredness. He fiddled with his gloves some more.
“And if you run like that again, I will let Natasha hunt you down, and I will let Hill tie you to a fucking perch in this office, and I will give serious thought to making you train junior agents no matter how much you make them cry.”
“To which part, agent?”
“I try, sir. Not to run.”
“Oh –“ and Phil sighed, and let go of Clint’s shoulder and clipped him on the back of the head (very gently), then because his hand was there, he pulled Clint’s head down and kissed him, firmly, on the lips. Chastely, his lips still closed, and gently, but with a firmness that indicated that Phil was having none of this shit, he was done letting Specialist Clinton Francis ‘Hawkeye’ Barton make a complete fucking fool of himself over a very requited crush.
The air rushed out of Clint’s lungs, and he grabbed at Phil to stop himself keeling over, or falling into him, or just plain old going out at the knees, and he dug his fingers into Phil’s suit jacket (navy, wool, soft and stiff under his fingers) and he refused to let go, and then he was falling into Phil, lips opening and kissing him like he was drowning, like he’d die if he stopped, like kissing Phil was better than breathing, like he could never, would never, didn’t want to stop, and Phil was all that existed. Phil kissed him back, pulling his tongue into his mouth, hand stroking the back of his neck (Phil had a definite thing for the soft bristles of Clint’s hair at the nape of his neck), the other hand fisted in his shirt, and he nipped at Clint’s lower lip and smiled into the kiss at Clint’s gasp, and fell back to tonguing him, because Clint tasted fantastic, if slightly of mac and cheese, and his lips were chapped and firm, and Phil had spent too many hours definitely not thinking about making out with his specialist since Monday morning that he knew he’d think Clint tasted fantastic no matter what, but he tasted fucking fantastic. They kissed hungrily, messily, knocking noses and bumping teeth and too hard, months and years of lust and love condensed into a clash of tongues and lips.
Phil pulled Clint with him, backing into his desk, the wood pressing into the back of his legs, helping him stay upright as his knees threatened to buckle, and he was pretty certain that Clint wasn’t going to stand unaided, and collapsing on the floor in a heap was not only undignified, it wasn’t particularly conductive to his ongoing attempt to make sure he knew exactly where Clint Barton was at all times by fixing their faces together. Eating would present a problem at some point, but Phil knew he was a practical man, and a SHIELD agent, and he could kill a man with … with ... with a thing, but right now, Clint was sucking on his earlobe, and so Phil clutched at his arse and tilted his head back and moaned, pressing himself up against the taller man, and pressed one leg between Clint’s thighs, rubbing the other man’s erection with a complete lack of delicacy.
And then the phone on his desk rang.
It kept ringing, even if both of them did their best to ignore it, so they broke apart, breathing heavily, and Clint leant his forehead against Phil’s, and reached for the phone, and held it to Phil’s ear.
“Agent Coulson,” Phil said, sounding unsteady. He did not let go of Clint’s backside, but took the phone with his other hand, and did his best not to gasp when Clint slipped his hand under his jacket and pressed his palm to the small of his back, kneading the muscles there.
“It’s me,” Sitwell said, sounding distracted. “You’re needed in tech, something to do with whatever you brought back last week.”
“Twenty minutes ago. Sorry. I’d have called you earlier, but Fury’s been shouting and I was busy standing between him and Jones.”
“Give me a couple of minutes,” Phil said, and hung up. He continued to grip Clint, and thought, very seriously, about ringing Sitwell back and announcing that, actually, he’d be a while, because he was going to make out with Clint for the foreseeable future. But Phil was a responsible man, and he was a dutiful man, and he reached up and touched Clint’s cheek, and smiled. “If you even … just … just don’t go anywhere. Promise me. Stay here. I will be back. I don’t want to go. I want to talk about this. Us. ”
Clint swallowed, and nodded.
“I will be back. We will talk. Or not talk. Stay. Here.”
“Clint, I believe at this point, you can stop calling me sir.”
“Yes, sir. Phil. Sir.”
Phil smiled, properly, and the skin around his eyes crinkled and Clint kissed him, because Phil smiling, really smiling, was his favourite thing ever. And Phil was pushing him backwards, gently, and he let go of his grip on his jacket (and holy fuck, his hand hurt) and Phil kissed him, tenderly, and Clint straightened his jacket, or ran his palms over Phil’s shoulders, if he was honest, and Phil adjusted his tie and smiled at him, then ghosted out of the room.
Clint did not run. He sat, carefully, on Phil’s office sofa, and sighed, and relaxed a little, and adjusted himself, because his work trousers were not cut for hard-ons, and he dozed a little, and dozed a little more. He definitely did not want an angry Nat coming after him, and he wondered idly if Phil really would let him teach junior agents, because he actually liked that bit, he just needed to work on being more patient when they didn’t hit the target, or bickered about who had missed the most shots. He could work on that. After he’d worked on kissing Phil for a bit more.
When he woke (this was starting to become a habit), Phil was sitting behind his desk, humming, and writing something, and smiling, and Clint didn’t move, just watched him, the small, quiet smile playing about his lips, the curve of his neck over his work. Phil looked more relaxed, less tightly-wound than he had earlier. He’d taken his jacket off, and hung it over the back of his chair, and his shirt was a soft blue that Clint rather liked, and hadn’t noticed earlier, for once. Eventually, Phil looked up, and smiled at him, eyes crinkling and dancing, and Clint basked in it.
“You snored,” Phil replied, capping his pen, and standing up.
“I do not snore.”
“Clint, you snore. You have snored your way through every flight we have taken together in the last two years, several of Fury’s best briefings, and every health and safety seminar you have ever attended. You snore, and it is adorable, but you snore.”
Phil rolled his eyes. “When asleep.”
“You think I’m adorable.” Clint grinned.
“I’m rethinking my position.”
“You said I’m adorable. You can’t take that back. You can’t kiss a man like that, tell him he’s adorable, then take it back! I think it’s banned under the Geneva Convention. It’s cruel and unusual punishment, sir. I could cry.” Clint wobbled his lower lip, and gave Phil his best sad-puppy eyes.
Phil raised an eyebrow.
“I’m definitely adorable. I’m the most adorable thing in this room, and possibly in the entire building. And you said it.”
Phil grabbed at Clint’s shirt, and pulled him to his feet. “If I’d known kissing you would have brought you back to normality, I’d have done it weeks ago.” He kissed Clint swiftly, and stepped away, turning to his desk.
“Have you been thinking about kissing me for a while?” Clint admired Phil’s arse. He considered grabbing at it. He did, and Phil tapped him on the head with a file, but otherwise ignored his groping. “You’ve definitely been thinking about it. You think I’m adorable, you wanna kiiiiiiss me,” he sing-songed, helping himself to a generous handful of backside, and tugging on Phil’s tie with his other hand. “You’ve been thinking about kissing me, sitting behind this desk.”
Phil’s ears had gone pink at the tips. Clint kissed the ear nearest him, and smiled.
“You, Phil Coulson, have been having some very bad thoughts.”
“I was definitely not thinking about kissing,” Phil replied, and his voice was as calm as ever, but his ears were still pink, and he might possibly have been blushing, just a bit, except Agent Coulson did not blush, ever.
“You’re adorable,” Clint murmured, and kissed his jaw.
Phil twisted, and trapped Clint against his desk, and Clint arched against him, palms spread against the desk, and grinned.
“If you are very, very good, Specialist Barton, I will one day tell you exactly what I was thinking about,” Phil pressed himself against Clint, and ran his hands over his arms, enjoying the sensation of muscle under skin, “and if you continue to be very, very good, I will not leave you in the vent next time.”
Clint decided at that moment, he was going to be very, very good indeed. “Yes, sir.”
“Idiot.” Phil kissed his neck, and stepped back, but shackled his fingers around Clint’s wrist. “Bring my jacket. We are leaving before someone else blows something else up.”
“Yes, sir.” Clint decided that he was probably not going to stop grinning, ever, and he snagged Coulson’s jacket with one long arm, and let the smaller agent tow him out the door.
Phil let go of his wrist, with a caress that Clint could definitely feel on his cock, and he followed Coulson happily.
His grin unnerved a couple of junior agents, in particular the one who’d come up with “dorkeye”, and several others wondered exactly who Clint was going to shoot to make him grin quite so maniacally. Nat, who was perched on the edge of Hill’s desk in the main office, making paper darts and throwing them at anyone who caught her eye (which was everyone, but mostly Hill, who gave her a stern look that didn’t quite reach her eyes), waved cheerfully. She hopped down, and scribbled on a post-it, which she stuck to Hill’s computer screen. Hill frowned, and Nat removed it, handed it to her, and slipped away. Hill read Nat’s scrawl, and hoped like hell she wasn’t blushing (she was, and Coulson winked at her).
Clint didn’t notice, because he was too busy looking at Phil’s arse.
As they reached the subway station, Clint grabbed hold of Phil’s hand again, and slowed Phil to walk beside him. Phil smiled, and twined his fingers through Clint’s; Clint, who had previously derided hand-holding as something for children, decided that holding Phil’s hand properly, like this, not in a terrified moment in a med bay, or as a help out of something, was quite nice (not that holding Phil’s hand in a med bay was unpleasant, but it was nice to not be high or in pain). He was slightly disappointed that nobody had invented a Star Trek style transporter in the hours since he’d gotten up that morning, because while riding the subway with his hand in Phil’s was nice enough, he really wanted to get home and spend several hours making his handler moan, and maybe try for a scream or two. He had considered kissing Phil, but a raised eyebrow told him exactly what Phil thought of public displays of affection, and that he was pushing his luck with this hand-holding thing. So Clint rode the subway, and held Phil’s hand, and grinned. Several people changed carriages.
Clint dragged Phil up the stairs to Phil’s flat, and hopped about impatiently while Phil unlocked the door. He was perfectly capable of waiting patiently, still as a statue, for hours on end, but he didn’t want to, and he wanted Phil to know that he was very definitely looking forward to being in a place where Phil would kiss him again, so he hopped from foot to foot until Phil shooed him inside, at which point he grabbed hold of Phil’s silk tie and hauled him in, then pushed him up against the hall wall (he also kicked the door shut, just to make a point).
He had discovered a fascinating point on Phil’s throat, just below his ear, where he could feel a pulse flickering beneath his lips, and he was also making some progress with undoing Phil’s tie, when Phil pushed him back, gently, and Clint did try, really quite hard, not to make quite such an indignant squawking noise, or to look quite as disappointed as he did.
“I just want to make it very clear, Specialist Barton, that you are not to go disappearing,” Phil said, calmly, although he was definitely looking a little pink.
“Sir?” Clint fiddled with Phil’s tie.
“You are not to run away. Not now, not in a few hours, not in the middle of the night, not tomorrow morning …”
“You’re planning on me being here all night?” Clint felt rather better about the kissing being halted.
“No running, sir.”
“I am planning on this being a recurring theme in both our lives, there will be paperwork, but I am not drunk, stoned, being blackmailed by anyone, forced by anyone, or indeed, half asleep.”
“Wouldn’t you say you weren’t being blackmailed even if you were?”
Phil smacked him on the back of the hand, gently. “Clint, be serious.”
“Yes, sir. Phil. I understand. I’m …” Clint ran a hand through his hair, and fiddled with Phil’s tie a bit more, staring at the floor between them. “I’m definitely hoping for a theme. I’d like that. I’d really like that.”
“Good. Running away and hiding will not help. And I want you to tell me when you’re worried,” Phil caressed Clint’s face, and tilted his chin up, so he could look him in the eye. His eyes were warm, and reassuring, and very familiar to Clint, and Clint trusted Phil, had trusted him with his life for so long that he knew that Phil was honest, and he cared, and so he tamped down the wanting to run, and nodded, and smiled.
Phil knew Clint was tamping down on the running, and trying, so he didn’t say any more – Nat had told him that the running and hiding was as much a reflex as the pull and release of shooting to Clint, so Phil was trying not to take it too personally. And he’d stopped kissing Clint, and Clint hadn’t run, which was progress, so he hugged him, wrapping his arms around him, and burying his face in Clint’s neck, and it was a few seconds before Clint relaxed, and hugged him back, slightly too tightly, burrowing into Phil’s hair, and taking several deep breaths.
They stood like that for several minutes, until Clint, who was showing an alarming propensity for fidgeting, started running his lips over Phil’s ears, with the air of one who was quite determined to kiss every inch of the other man; he was utterly delighted to find that Phil’s ears were both ticklish and erogenous, and set to nuzzling him with a will, while holding the smaller man tightly as he wiggled and chuckled.
“You are a terrible person,” Phil huffed, twisting out of Clint’s grasp and trying to look stern.
Clint grinned at him. “And you turn red when I tickle you. This. Will. Be. Epic.” He crowed, and advanced towards Phil, who looked deeply unimpressed, but didn’t move. He tried stern again. Clint laughed, and launched himself at Phil, picking him up and carrying him into the living room, where he dumped Phil on the sofa, and straddled his hips, then kissed him firmly for good measure, nipping at Phil’s lips and tonguing him, his weight pushing the smaller man deeper into the leather, while Phil pulled him closer and kissed back.
Fucking hell, but Phil was a good kisser. Clint loved kissing, loved how kissing changed with mood and need and urgency, and Phil kissed really, really, really well, so well that Clint wanted to open the window and scream it into the afternoon, and tell complete strangers that Phil Coulson was awesome at making out, except he didn’t want to stop kissing Phil – wasn’t sure he could stop, to be honest, because he’d been wanting to kiss him for the best part of about two years, ever since he’d watching Phil take down two heavily armed men in a butcher’s shop in Shanghai, and twitched his suit back into place and turned to Phil and asked if he was coming, just like that. He’d even left the shopkeeper some money for the chop. Clint had been hopelessly smitten, even though Phil wasn’t his type, even though he thought it was possibly the stupidest thing he’d ever done (and he’d definitely done stupid things before), and he had been convinced that Phil never even looked at him as nothing more than an specialist, an asset, a pain in the arse, and he was just starting to get to the point where he was considering he should probably try to get over it, but now he was on the sofa in Phil’s living room, making out like a hormonally-addled teenager. For a day that had started out as shittily as it had, it had definitely taken an upswing.
It wasn’t the only thing, and Clint started to move his hips, grinding his cock against Phil, against Phil’s erection, and he managed to get Phil’s tie off (Clint flung it to the other side of the room, earning him a disapproving nip, which only made him more determined to get the rest of Phil’s clothes off, because Clint liked being bitten). Phil groaned, and ran his hands over Clint’s trouser-covered thighs, gripping at his hips at a particularly sweet moment of friction, and Clint started to wonder if he was going to come in his pants, which was taking the hormonal addling just a step too far. He moaned into Phil’s mouth, and started trying to get Phil’s jacket off.
Phil pushed him up, sitting up to work his shoulders free, nipping at Clint’s throat, and dumped his jacket on the floor.
“Fuck,” Clint murmured, because usually Phil hung his jacket up carefully, he never just left it places. “Why is that the hottest thing you’ve ever done?”
Phil raised an eyebrow. “Do you have any particular perversions I’ve somehow missed?”
Clint grinned. “Says the man who is so attached to his suits he dresses up to go the cornershop.”
“You’ve never worn the right suit.”
“Phil, sir, I am not a suit person. I don’t like ties. I look like I’m playing dress-up.”
Phil smiled. “Says the man who once announced that head to toe black wasn’t cool enough.”
“It needed something. I’m awesome. I should look awesome.” Clint puffed his chest out and struck a pose.
Phil hit him with a cushion, which Clint took as encouragement to start stripping, shrugging his vest of, and hauling at his t-shirt, which he somehow managed to get tangled up in, so Phil took advantage, and ran his fingers over Clint’s scarred torso, lines of hard muscle crossed with scars, some old, newer ones jarringly white, and Phil traced each of them, remembering long nights of worry, whirls of excitement and danger and heart-stopping fear, moments that stretched forever waiting to hear Clint’s “I’m ok” when he fell, when he disappeared, when he charged recklessly after Natasha. Clint freed himself from his shirt (classy, Barton, way to impress him), and gasped as Phil ran a curious finger over his nipple; Phil smiled, and brushed his thumb across it, feeling it harden. Clint ground down against Phil’s cock, and Phil lifted his other hand to run short nails over both nipples, a faint flicker of concentration in his eyes, and Clint decided that he really did approach sex like an op, and it was definitely as hot as hell. Hotter, possibly, because Clint knew he’d never go into the field again without thinking of Phil like this. He sucked air in through his teeth as Phil gave one nipple an experimental tweak, and grabbed at Phil’s shirt.
“Fucking buttons,” he muttered, and Phil laughed, a huff of amusement, and pushed him back, undoing the buttons himself with quick, deft movements, while Clint stared, then dived for Phil, running hands and tongue over hard muscle. Phil was muscular, more than he looked (Clint knew this already, had watched him train and fight and – memorably – get the snot kicked out of him by a Ukrainian heavy somewhere in Uzbekistan), and Clint traced faint scars through wiry chest hair, and ran his tongue over Phil’s flat nipples, causing Phil’s hands to tighten in his hair and his cock to twitch. Clint nipped at Phil’s side, where a jagged scar traced a thin white line towards his hipbone, and shuffled further down the sofa, straddling Phil’s legs, sliding a finger under the waistband of his trousers, kissing a line across his hard stomach, feeling Phil twitch beneath him.
Clint looked up, and Phil was watching him, cheeks flushed, lips slightly open, and he smiled up at him. Phil stroked his cheek, and Clint leaned into it, pressed a kiss into Phil’s palm, and sucked on his finger; Phil drew him up, and kissed him properly, his tongue moving slowly against Clint’s, his arms wrapping around him.
“I need you to slow down, Clint,” Phil murmured, drawing his head back, even as he twined his legs through Clint’s. “Please.”
Clint blinked at him. “Sir?”
“Sorry. Habit. What’s wrong, Phil?”
“Um…” Phil blushed, properly blushed.
Clint smiled. He kissed Phil, because a blushing Phil was adorable, and irresistible, and kissable. But swiftly, because Phil did not say “um” and look confused and nervous (irritated, amused, tired – these were all familiar emotions on Phil’s face, but nervous was not one of them, and Clint was touched and nervous too).
“Um,” Clint prompted, and resisted the urge to kiss Phil again, and leant up on his elbows, not breaking contact, just enough to look properly into Phil’s eyes.
“Um. This is, um. New. To me. Sex.”
Clint blinked. “You’ve never had sex? I know you’re married to the job, Phil, but that’s a little extreme. Even Hill gets laid. Even Sitwell, and he’s had the same glasses since forever.”
Phil’s lips curled with amusement. “With men. A man.”
Clint grinned. “You mean that I, Clinton Francis Barton, have made you gay? You’ve gone gay for Hawkeye?” He grinned wider.
“I AM A GOD. A SEXY, SEXY GOD OF SEX AND COCK,” Clint shouted, and jumped up, pirouetting in the middle of the living room, and jumping onto the back of the sofa. “I HAVE TURNED A MAN GAY WITH MY VERY EXISTENCE.”
“This was not the reaction I was hoping for,” Phil observed, watching him.
“I am THE FUCKING WINNER.”
“I’m feeling straighter by the second.”
“Not a fucking chance of that, sir,” Clint whoops, and slithers down the cushions to kneel over Phil, grinning like a lunatic. “I am fucking sexy, sir. I’m so sexy I make nice, sensible, straight, straight-laced agents like Phil Coulson go all gooey and rainbow-coloured inside. I’m the gay-maker.”
“I think Specialist Romanov would definitely agree with you.”
“Low blow, sir. Low. And that’s just Nat. She’s not picky. I’m not picky either.” Clint waggled his eyebrows.
“I think I preferred it when you were trying to run away,” Phil sighed.
“Nonsense.” Clint grinned, and kissed him, hard. “I thought we were sharing.”
Phil looked amused. “Shut up and kiss me, Barton.”
“Sir, yes, sir.”
Phil would definitely have to file paperwork for this. The first time Clint had ever obeyed a direct order without moaning or sarcasm.
Clint did move a little more slowly, after that. He shifted, so he and Phil lay face-to-face, his back pressed into the leather of the sofa, Phil no longer beneath him; this obviously had nothing to do with making it easier to help himself to a generous handful of Phil’s arse, which he squeezed appreciatively. He toed his shoes off, and shifted a leg between Phil’s thighs, which was rewarded with a soft moan, and pulled him a little closer. He could very definitely cope with kissing. Even a little petting. Maybe some groping of Phil’s deliciously hard backside. But he didn’t push, because after years of pining, just kissing was definitely enough; he’d spent so long wishing to get this far alone, that he wanted to be pinched just to make sure he was definitely not dreaming. Phil’s skin was soft beneath his hands, and he smelled so fucking good, of navy blue and tea and soap, with a hint of sweat, of excitement and lust, and Clint inhaled him, tasted him (soap and tea and salt), and revelled in him.
It was Phil who decided to move things along, sliding a tentative hand between them, over Clint’s hips, brushing careful fingers over him, and Clint held his breath, because he was trying very hard not to make a complete mess, and he let it out with a slow “fuuuuuck”, and kissed Phil hard as Phil smoothed a palm along the length of his cock, grinding gently into his hand, and Phil murmured something into his mouth, and Clint clung to him, trying very hard to remember simple things like days of the week and his own name. Phil smiled. Clint moaned again, and pulled Phil against him, and Phil experimented with palming his cock, and slid a thumb over Clint’s hard stomach, feathering above his waistband, curiosity and lust in his eyes.
“Fuck, Phil,” Clint panted into his neck. “Fuck. God. Phil. Fuck.”
Phil took his inarticulate profanity as a good sign, and slid his thumb under Clint’s waistband, fiddling with the button of his fly. Clint wiggled his hips, because he wanted, needed his trousers off right now, and he moaned loudly when Phil’s cool, strong hand wrapped around his cock, thrusting against his hand, and buried his face in Phil’s shoulder, and groaned out the other man’s name.
“Phil. Fuck. Gonna come. Fuck.”
Phil smiled, and looked down, because this was definitely easier than he’d thought, and better, so much better; Clint’s cock filled his fist, hard and heavy and hot, and Phil felt his own answering hardness, but he needed Clint, needed his pleasure. He kissed Clint’s face, and wrapped his free arm more firmly around him, smoothing across his scarred back, and fucked Clint with his hand, pumping in sure, firm strokes, and he murmured reassurance and love, and Clint growled his name as he came, hard and fast, into Phil’s hand and over both of them, thrusting blindly.
Clint kissed him, hard, desperate, moaning still, and reached to unwind Phil’s fingers from his cock, and he licked them clean, which made Phil gasp, and then he kissed Phil again, tasting his own come and Phil’s mouth, wrapping both arms around Phil, and sighing, and moaning a little as his cock twitched from the contact with Phil’s trousers.
“For a man who has never touched another cock in his life, you are fucking fantastic. Actually, you are fucking fantastic anyway,” Clint murmured into Phil’s hair. “You’re incredible. I am so sticky. Fuck.”
Phil laughed, and stroked his hand across Clint’s shoulder. “You’re adorable. And that was amazing.”
Clint grinned, and pushed himself above Phil, and wriggled out of his trousers. Phil looked up at him, smiling ever so slightly, flushed – Clint decided that the way his chest blushed too was definitely amazing – and touched the puddle of Clint’s come on his stomach. He licked his finger, experimentally, and raised an eyebrow at Clint, who was staring.
“You are … fuck. Just … fuck. I mean. Fuck.”
“Words, Clint. They help immeasurably.”
Clint was not very good with words, so he settled for licking his own come off Phil, and tonguing him deeply, before attacking Phil’s suit trousers with a determined expression. He yanked at Phil’s shoes, not bothering with the laces, and hauled his trousers down, leaving Phil in a pair of neat, navy jersey boxers – the front stained wet with pre-come – and a pair of socks. They had little Captain American shields on them, which made Clint smile.
“Gonna have to get you some Hawkeye socks. Little arrows. Purple. Make everyone know who you really love,” Clint knelt on the floor, and removed the socks, carefully, running a slow thumb tenderly over the arch of Phil’s foot, and pitching the socks into each shoe. He sucked experimentally on one of Phil’s toes, which made Phil laugh and flinch. “Awesome. Ticklish feet.” Clint kissed his way up Phil’s leg, pulling Phil towards him, tickling the back of his knees with a devilish grin, and nipping softly at the inside of Phil’s thighs. Phil groaned, and flopped back, stretching his hands to play with Clint’s hair.
Clint brushed kisses over Phil’s legs, rubbing the soft skin covering hard muscle with the stubble on his cheeks. He ran his fingers lightly over the edges of Phil’s boxers, over the tenting fabric that covered his cock, feeling the tightness of Phil’s balls under the heel of his palm. Clint loved this, loved the feeling of Phil’s hands in his hair – desperately trying not to clench at him – and the soft moans Phil was making, he loved the smell of Phil here, of sweat and sex and Clint’s come, and the need in Phil’s heavy-lidded eyes, the concentration that showed in the set of his mouth, the same concentration that showed when Phil took aim with his pistol during an op. Clint smiled, and ran his mouth over Phil’s erection, lips firm on fabric.
“Fuck!” Phil’s hips bucked against Clint, and Clint chuckled.
“You want this, sir?”
“Fuck, Clint. Yes. Yes. Please.”
“You sure?” Clint pressed another open kiss to the very tip of Phil’s cock, the fabric wet and slick, Phil’s cock jerking against his lips. Clint hooked a finger over the waistband of Phil’s boxers, and paused.
“Please. Yes.” Phil moaned, and clenched his thighs around Clint’s shoulders.
Clint grinned, and tugged slightly on the elastic. And paused, he couldn’t help himself.
“Please what, sir. I’m not sure what you need.”
Phil moaned, and his cock twitched again. Clint could get used to this.
“Use your words, sir.”
Phil kicked him in the ribs. “Fuck, Clint. Touch me. Please.”
Clint rubbed his palms over Phil’s thighs, and brushed them over the base of his cock. Phil groaned, and thrust towards him.
“Need you. Need you so much,” Phil babbled. “Please, Clint. Need you.”
Slowly, far slower than he wanted, Clint slid Phil’s boxers off, sliding them down his legs, then wrapping his hand around Phil’s cock, smiling to himself, liking the weight and width of it. Clint had never considered himself much of a size queen, but he decided then and there that he was about to become one. Or maybe just for Phil’s cock. He pumped his fist slowly, making Phil groan and thrust up, so he stilled the other man’s hips with his free hand, and fondled his balls carefully.
Phil was definitely babbling now, groaning Clint’s name, swearing, pushing against him, running hands over Clint’s head and neck.
Clint ran a damp finger from the tip of Phil’s erection, over his balls, and across his perineum, twitching to reach Phil’s hole, caressing the edges, not putting any pressure on, just stroking, softly, while he pressed gentle kisses along the length of Phil’s cock, flicking with his tongue, swirling around the head as he echoed the movement with his finger. Phil moaned incoherently, pressing against Clint. Clint pressed his finger against Phil as he took him in his mouth, spare hand holding Phil’s cock steady. Clint took him in, slowly, torturing himself, making Phil moan loudly, humming around Phil’s cock, then slowly drawing back; Phil clutched at his hair, pushed against his finger, and Clint would have smiled, but instead he began to suck, firmly, regularly, revelling in the taste of Phil’s cock, the smell of his need, better than anything he could have imagined. Phil bucked into his mouth, and Clint heard him moan again, crying out Clint’s name, and he increased the pressure of his finger, not wanting to push too far, just enough, pressing into muscle and feeling it give, just a little, and he cheered inside his head as he slipped the tip, the very tip, of his finger inside Phil, and fucked Phil with his mouth and his finger. Phil cried out, fingers digging into Clint’s head, pushing his cock deeper into Clint’s willing mouth, yelling as he felt himself release, as Clint swallowed and sucked until Phil sunk into a wordless, moaning heap, his legs boneless.
Clint smiled, and pressed a kiss to the inside of Phil’s leg, feeling Phil’s fingers twitch nervelessly, and he moved to lie with him, wrapping his legs around Phil’s naked length, and kissed him again.
“You’re beautiful,” he murmured. “Shh, it’s ok.”
Phil huffed into Clint’s chest. “Fuck, Clint.”
“We did,” Clint said gravely. “And I’m Clint.”
Phil chuckled weakly. “I’m not that far gone.”
“I’m taking that as a challenge,” Clint kissed him, seriously, and Phil tasted his own come on Clint’s lips, and he smiled.
“Shut up, Phil. Before I start on that challenge.”
Phil prodded him in the ribs, the smoothed his hands over Clint’s side, snuggling closer. “No running,” he murmured into Clint’s neck, kissing his collarbone dopily.
“Yes, sir,” Clint replied, and he meant it, and they slept, wrapped in each other.
Nat made them a blanket, in purple and grey and blue.