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Bad at Romance Or Five Dates Phil Coulson Didn't Know He Was On And One When He Did.

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The mission had been nothing exciting.  Just your average every day attack of giant earwigs covered with metal skins and breathing fire.  Clint was pretty sure he was never going to get the smell or the green goo off no matter how many showers he took.  His suit was going to need some serious soaking time or a trip to the S.H.I.E.L.D dry cleaners where it would be burned, covered in chemical solvents and finally written off as a total loss.  He really wanted to look good too.  He'd finally, after months of wheedling and making puppy eyes, talked Coulson into going out to dinner before the debrief instead of ordering in take out.  He was really hoping that debrief would have a double meaning by the time the night was over.  Either way it would be all good because sex was great, but going on a date with Phil was more than enough on its own.

The restaurant had been carefully selected from a short list provided by Natasha so it was intimate and classy without making Clint feel like he was completely out of his league.  Maybe he was, but Clint was all about upward movement.   She had also provided a tasteful outfit and an affectionate pat on the head which made him feel less like a man planning a date and more like a puppy.   But, he'd take what he could get in the support department since this was completely uncharted territory.  As far as he was concerned he was the Cortez of dating because, seriously, all the treasure of the lost cities couldn't begin to match how precious Phil was. 

Clint was pretty sure dinner was delicious.  Phil certainly seemed to enjoy it.  The company was definitely enjoyable even if Phil seemed surprised that it was only the two of them.  All in all it was a damn fine first date even if Clint didn't get a kiss.  Not even an affectionate handshake.  But Phil was an old fashioned guy and Clint had the patience of a world class sniper.  He'd heard more than once that anything worth having was worth waiting for.  So, he could wait.  He would wait.  Now if he could make Natasha quit giving him those looks.  If he didn’t know better he would swear she was laughing at him.

Central Park Zoo:

It was spring and a certain archer's fancy was turning lightly to love.  Well, dating, with an option for love if the other party was so inclined.  The siren song of romance was in the air and all the animals were snuggling or doing other more carnal things with their mates.  The zoo would not have been Clint's first choice for a second date, but Phil had recently waxed poetic about seeing the animals when he was a kid.  Plus, Clint was recovering from a bullet wound to his leg and his physical therapist had recommended walking as an exercise to strengthen the muscles.  At least that was what he told Phil.  Clint was pleased when he talked Phil into tasting some cotton candy because he was sure there would be sugary sweet kisses later. 

Clint tried to be subtle, really he did.  He just wasn't very good at it.  When accidentally bumping hands got him nothing but increasingly strange looks he decided that maybe he was pushing his luck.  After all it was only their second date and Phil was a very private person.  Holding hands in public might be a bit much to ask for.  Still, a kiss would have been nice.  On the other hand the smile he did get, honest and genuine, made it one of Clint's best days.  He grinned for a week whenever he thought about it.  Natasha didn't even bother to hide her amusement, but Clint was too happy to care.

S.H.I.E.L.D Medical:  

Intensive Care was not where Clint wanted to spend their third or any other number date, but sometimes life didn't give you what you wanted.  He especially didn't like it when it was Phil in the bed surrounded by machines that made various ticking, humming, whooshing and buzzing noises.  Reading the adventures of Captain America while Phil floated in and out of consciousness on the fluffy pink clouds of really good drugs probably wasn't really a date, but it was time spent together so Clint counted it.  In their jobs you had to think outside the box and not stand on convention.  Considering how much time Clint spent in medical over those few weeks it was probably the longest date in history.  It was probably a little weird and maybe a bit twelve that Clint was inordinately pleased to find Phil sleeping in the bed usually reserved for Clint when he doing time with medical.  Technically it meant that Phil was in Clint's bed even if he was mostly drooling and snoring. Not that Clint cared.  Phil was alive and going to heal and that was mattered. 

Clint even kissed Phil's forehead when he left to go home at night.  Phil was always asleep, but it was progress in a strange way.  It always made Phil smile no matter how deeply asleep he was, both with and without chemical aid.  Sometimes, Natasha would come and sit to keep Clint company.  She rolled her eyes at the more outlandish adventures and would ruffle his hair when she left.  At least she was no longer laughing at him.  Clint appreciated that.  The rest of the Avengers came to visit too.  They offered to spell Clint at first so he could eat, sleep or visit the archery range, but he refused. He needed to be there for the few moments when Phil was awake.  Plus, there was no way in hell he was letting Steve 'Phil's Boyhood Hero and Everyone's Wet Dream' Rogers hone in on his time with Phil! 

Avenger's Tower:

Movie night was technically a group activity.  However, since Clint personally invited Phil and made popcorn the way he liked it with extra butter and almost no salt it could be, and was, classified as a stay-in date.  Because he was generally considerate to the people he cared about, Clint also made sure that Phil had pillows to support his back, plenty of water and his pain pills in case he needed them.  Sitting up for long periods of time could be tiring though Phil tried not to let it show.  It was a good movie or so Tony said when the final credits were rolling.  Clint hadn't really paid much attention to what was going on because he'd lost the flow of the plot pretty early on.  It was rather difficult to focus when Phil was right next to him with their arms and knees touching, lightly at first then more solidly as the number of people occupying the couch increased.  It made Clint want to kiss him.  A lot.  Especially since Phil was fresh out of the shower wearing pajama bottoms and a t shirt.  He looked amazing in a suit, but something about casual clothes turned Clint into a mass of hormones like a horny teenager.

Clint felt his heart skip a beat when he felt Phil relax against him, his head slowly coming to rest on Clint's shoulder.  He didn't even glare much when Tony took a picture and gleeful texted it to Pepper.  The end of the movie came much too quickly and he felt the loss of Phil's warmth acutely when he woke and excused himself to go to bed.  Back in his room Clint found a text from Natasha with a candid shot of Phil sleeping on Clint's shoulder.  He made it the background on his phone and slept with it next to him on the pillow.  It wasn't Phil, but it was something.

The Archery Range:      

It might have been a little immature, but Clint was feeling more than a tad bit intimidated by the way that Phil turned into a gushing (for Phil) fanboy every time Steve Rogers walked into the room.  Clint didn't necessarily want that kind of a response, but he did want to be an important part of Phil's world, valued and acknowledged for himself and not just his abilities.  Fortunately Steve was exactly what he appeared to be:  a decent person with more humility than a normal person could carry.  It kept him from having a lot of accidental encounters with sharp pointy things.

Clint knew the invitation was totally an excuse to show off and he didn't care.  He had new arrows courtesy of Tony and since there was no way Phil would accept anything that Clint won in a shooting game, the range would have to do.  Clint wore his tactical gear because the suit was molded to fit him like a second skin and made his ass look good.  It showed off his arms too and Clint knew they were easily his best feature. 

Feeling Phil's eyes on him, Clint shot arrow after arrow, nailing every target dead center of even the moving and obscured ones.  Paper terrorists, aliens and bad guys of all shapes and sizes were felled in an impeccable display of speed and power.  Clint was breathing heavily and his arms were trembling slightly when he finally set the bow down.  There was a speculative look in Phil's eyes and a small curve to his lips when he nodded to Clint before sending him to the showers.  

Clint let the heat of the water massage his complaining muscles.  He was beginning to wonder where this relationship, if it was one, was going.  He was going to have to work up his courage and broach the subject with Phil.  Maybe he'd talk to Natasha first.  If he could find her.  She'd been disappearing a lot lately. He had an idea where she was going, but he was willing to wait until she ready to tell him.  Or maybe he'd ask Thor the next time he came to visit.

The Christmas Party:

Clint adjusted his tie and rubbed one of his freshly polished dress shoes on the back of his pants-leg before knocking on the door to Phil's office.  Without waiting for an answer he turned the knob and leaned in far enough to see that Phil was still seated with a file open on his desk.  “The party is starting in forty five minutes.  Tony said we needed to be there in time to greet guests or else.” 

Phil looked up from his file and blinked.  “Contrary to what he thinks I don't take orders from Tony Stark.”  Amused annoyance infused his normally bland tone, but he closed the folder then locked it in the top drawer of his desk.  “Shall we go?  I wouldn't want to keep Mr. Stark waiting.”

Clint grinned and stepped back to allow Phil to move past him once he'd turned the lights off.  Hand still on the knob Clint pulled it closed behind him, automatically checking to verify that the lock had engaged before letting go.  As they neared the elevator he sped up just enough to make sure that it was his finger that pushed the button to call for the car.  Neither spoke on the way down, but Phil stayed in Clint's personal bubble despite the fact that they were the only two passengers.

 The limousine that Tony had promised to send was waiting out front and Clint sped up again  so that he could open the door for Phil before sliding in beside him.  The driver pulled smoothly into traffic and Clint leaned back against the seat enjoying the decadent luxury.

“You came to collect me.”  Phil turned slightly in his seat so he was facing Clint.  “And you held the door open. Twice.” The speculative look was back and Clint felt a thrill of pleasure run through him.  Next to casual Phil, thoughtful Phil was his favorite fantasy fuel.  “Is this a date?”

“Yes sir.”  Clint smiled, nervous and excited at the same time.

“It's not our first is it?” Phil returned the smile with a self-deprecating shake of his head.   


Phil quirked an eyebrow and let the surprise show on his face.  “Really?  Sixth and we haven't kissed yet?  That oversight needs to be corrected.”  Using Clint's tie to tug him close Phil thoroughly and efficiently did just that.