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Phil smiled, leaning back in his chair. “Well I’m really glad I got time off to see you get married, Erika,” he said honestly. “I missed Bethany and Sandra’s weddings, so I’m glad I get to come to yours.”

Erika laughed. “Good job you got off because I already promised mom you were bringing your man with you!”

Phil nearly dropped the phone. “What?! Erika! I can’t- he won’t- we aren’t really-“

Erika cursed. “Phil! Did you break up with him?!”

Phil panicked. “NO! No, I’m not single, don’t tell her THAT, it’s just that he’s a busy guy, he can’t just take off like that, Erika.”

Erika sighed. “God, don’t scare me, Phillip! Just tell him it’s important! If he loves you the way you make it sound like he does he’ll be willing to do this.”

Phil groaned. “Erika…”

“Phil, please?” she whispered in a tiny little voice. “I’m getting married and mom is sad enough you aren’t married. Don’t come alone and let her think you’re losing the one decent person you’ve been with in years! She actually believes the BS story about being a recruiter, Phil. She won’t understand why you and your guy are too busy.” Phil cringed. Erika had figured out his secret long ago. She was the only one of his sisters that knew, but he suspected she was a little bit smarter than the rest of his sisters. “Unless he’s actually a super spy, not just a super spy’s boss, he has to be able to make time for this.”

Phil groaned. “I’ll see what I can do-“

“Phil, don’t do that, just say yes or no,” she interrupted and he once again cursed how smart she was.

Phil sighed and let his head fall to the desk, phone still at his ear. “Fine. We’ll be there together-“

“YES! I knew it, I knew you’d come through! Oh my God I can’t wait to see mom’s face! She’ll be so happy you found somebody, Phil. She barely believes you actually have someone! And Rachel can stop asking around about you every time we see her!”

Phil shuddered at the thought. “Look, Erika, I’ve got to go. I’ll talk to you before I head out, okay?”

“Alright, and really, I can’t wait to see you again and meet this ‘amazing’ guy you keep talking about. He’s almost too good to be true!” she trilled brightly.

After the hung up Phil sighed and let his forehead clunk to his desk. “If only you knew.”
Phil brought Agent Lang a coffee, earning a bright, welcoming smile when she sat across from his desk. “Coulson, what can I help you with?” she asked.

Phil cringed. “Alison, I’ve got a huge favor to ask you,” he said, biting his lip. “This is going to sound really pathetic- seriously pathetic- but do we have any junior agents good enough to go under and stay in character well and won’t ask too many questions?”

She frowned. “Why is that a pathetic and huge favor?”

Phil looked down. “It… isn’t strictly SHIELD.”

“How ‘not strictly SHIELD’ are we talking?” she asked and he sighed.

“I can write it off as a training exercise on their requirements but it’s completely personal and-“

Agent Lang groaned. “If this is another family thing-“

“Alison, I’m desperate here!” he admitted. He never showed his desperation with many people, but Alison Lang had been a friend for a long time. She’d been his field partner when he’d first come to SHIELD and had been promoted right alongside him when they became handlers. He’d known and trusted her for longer than most people in SHIELD had known him. Which was why he was asking for her help. “After this my only option is to hire an escort to pretend to be a loving and committed partner and convince my mother I’m not likely to die alone.”

Alison chuckled. “Phil, we just can’t. Even if you can write it off as a training exercise, something off-book will have to go through Fury and we all know he’s not going to let you do that.”

He sighed. “An escort for a full week won’t be cheap, even if I do get a discount for not actually wanting sex,” he offered glumly.

Alison grinned. “If you hadn’t told them you had a boyfriend, you could’ve convinced them you turned bisexual and I’d have gone with you. I’ve got some vacation time, but my lack of male features ruins that one.”

Phil leaned back in his chair. “Thanks for the offer,” he said with a rueful smile. “Oh well, I guess it is better to avoid the rumors a junior agent would spread around about me after meeting my family.”

Alison sipped her coffee. “So what’s the event this time? Last time was your sister’s college graduation wasn’t it? Then that time before was another sister’s wedding.”

Phil nodded. “Erika’s getting married.” He cringed dramatically. “Now I’m officially the only unmarried one.”

Phil heard a tell-tale thud just behind Alison and froze. Alison apparently didn’t hear the thump, though she definitely noticed when Barton suddenly dropped out of the air to land right beside her. “HOLY SHIT!” she cried, closing her eyes and growling. “Barton! I’ve told you a thousand times, my office is a place to let my guard down-“

“Sorry, ma’am, but Fury doesn’t know I’m not in medical and he was in the hall,” he said, handing her a folder. He glanced up and grinned. “And who’s Erika? I don’t know anybody in SHIELD named Erika and I know all the handlers and higher ups. And you’re totally not the only one unmarried, sir. I’d be willing to bet most of SHIELD personnel is unmarried people.”

Phil looked at Alison, back to his usual, reserved self. “So that’s where he was reassigned this time,” he said and Alison groaned, dropping the folder on her desk.

“I don’t know how you stand Barton, Agent Coulson,” she said. “None of the rest of us can stand him.” She turned to Barton, who was just smiling. She sighed and gave a little smile. “Alright, so you’re funny, Barton, but seriously,” she pointed up at him. “Follow orders better for the next person they foist you off on.”

Clint saluted, showing a newly stitched but on his arm that Phil was sure was meant to be bandaged. “Yes, ma’am!” he said, then stepped onto her desk so he could jump and catch the opening in the ceiling, pulling himself up and replacing the tile neatly. Now that he was listening for it, Phil could hear him crawling until he passed overhead and out into the air vent that went along the hallway.

Coulson raised an eyebrow as he looked back at Alison. “Following orders? Other than a little backtalk, I never have issues with him.”

Alison shook her head. “He’s a good field operative, he’s the best damn shot I’ve ever seen, but he has a mouth on him and doesn’t mind telling you that you’re wrong and then doing it his own way.”

Phil hummed. “He likes to make remarks, but otherwise he’s pretty cooperative with me.”

She shrugged. “Maybe you should ask Fury to assign him to you solely? The rest of us are sick of it. I think the only reason Mason didn’t knock Barton out is because he knew Barton would be too quick.” She stopped, then smirked. “Wait, you said he listens to you, right?” Phil nodded suspiciously. “Get him to do it! He’s off mission now, doesn’t have anything coming up, I’m sure Fury wouldn’t mind you borrowing Barton while his services aren’t needed.” She winked. “Plus with that ass you’ll have the hottest date at the wedding.”

Coulson laughed it off at the time, but it was only later that he realized it could actually work.
The problem with asking Barton to pretend to be his date wasn’t that he didn’t think he’d do it, it was a very different one: Coulson had always had issues with ‘improper favoritism’ regarding Clint Barton. He never made it obvious for fear of appearing less than professional, and he’d never admit it for anything, but the first mission Phil had with Barton in the field, he’d found his backtalk and chatter more amusing than annoying. It wasn’t even a matter of how attractive Barton was. Phil had been interested in men his entire life and many of the SHIELD operatives were attractive by nature. Between the physical rigors keeping their bodies in great shape and the necessity of a pleasant or average appearance for undercover agents, it wasn’t at all uncommon for SHIELD specialists and agents to be attractive.

If Phil possibly found Barton a bit more attractive than some of the others, it was only because he had a weakness for blue eyes. Otherwise, it was Barton’s witty remarks and quick humor that charmed him. It was against the usual rules, of course, but Barton always knew when Phil really meant ‘radio silence’ and he always followed orders when it counted, so it didn’t really bother Phil. Barton was rumored to be one of the most insubordinate specialists in the field, but Coulson had honestly never had him really talk back or ignore an important order.

In fact, in all the missions Coulson had worked with Agent Barton, only twice had he directly ignored orders. One was when he had been ordered to take out the assassin Black Widow and decided instead to bring her in, which had proven to be the better choice. The other time, Phil himself had been shot and captured and, rather than follow the order to evacuate and reassess the situation and evaluate the possible success of a rescue mission, Clint had ran directly into the line of fire, took out the driver of the van Phil had been loaded in, and carried Phil to a defendable area behind a flipped bus where he then held their position until they could be recovered. Nobody really blamed Barton for breaking orders to save his mission handler, especially when Coulson had been named third in command not long after that mission.

That situation had also definitely done nothing to help Phil’s attraction to Barton.

As the wedding date loomed closer, Phil became more and more desperate to find anyone besides Barton to be his false-partner. Phil wasn’t exactly sure how well he’d handle the stress of pretending to be a blissfully happy couple with the one SHIELD agent he was actually attracted to
Clint rolled his eyes as Natasha sat down and propped her feet on the table where he was trying to eat in the mess hall. “Tasha, I’m trying to eat my goo sandwich, if you please,” he said, pointing at her feet then at the floor. She just stretched, dropping some mud on his mushy fries, making him sigh. “Fine.”

She just grinned. “So, guess who is officially cleared for the field. I can take all your missions, Barton.”

Clint flipped her off. “I’m hoping they’ll give me a better handler for the next mission. I like Lang, I want her again.”

Natasha smirked deviously. “I know who you really want as your handler,” she said, wiggling her eyebrows. “Pretty sure you’d be really glad if Coulson was free to ‘handle’ you-“

Barton scoffed. “I do not-“

“Do toooo,” she sing-songed. “You like how he ‘handles’ things and wished he’d ‘handle’ you-“

“Nat, now you’re just being stupid,” he argued. “I just want a mission from a competent handler is all.”

“Well then, let’s hope I meet your standards of competence,” a voice interrupted and they both started, unused to anybody sneaking up on them. Agent Coulson inclined his head. “Agent Romanov.”

Natasha nodded to him then sent Clint a brief smirk. Clint cleared his throat and sat straighter. “Sir? You have a mission for me?” he asked as blandly as possible.

Coulson nodded. “I may,” he confirmed. “Come to my office when you finish your…” He trailed off looking at Clint’s plate and made a comical wince. “Lunch.” He nodded to Barton and Romanov before turning to leave just as silently as he came.

Natasha just whistled. “How does he move so silently in those hard-soled shoes?” she asked and Clint shook his head.

“I heard he used to be a field operative so I can only imagine he’s as good as most of the others,” he said and Natasha smirked.

“Not as good as us though,” she said, standing. “Alright, I’ll let you have a moment to get your panties untwisted, Barton. I’m sure Coulson is waiting.”
Coulson looked up when Barton knocked and ducked into his office only minutes after he got back himself. “Agent Barton, please come in.”

Barton walked over and sat on the couch rather than across from Coulson. “Please tell me this one’s good, sir. I like your no-bullshit attitude in the field when it’s a good one,” he said, grinning at him.

Phil cringed internally and turned to him. “You’re allowed to say no,” he started and Clint frowned, sitting up. “But I have more of a favor rather than an order,” he admitted, crossing his legs. “You aren’t a junior agent so I’ll be honest with you: as embarrassing as this is, I have my mother believing I’m in a serious, stable, genuine relationship and my sister is getting married next weekend.”

Barton looked confused. “Sir?”

Phil smiled tightly. “I’m expected to show up not alone.”

“And I come into this… how?” Barton asked curiously.

Phil gave him a flat look. “You’re not stupid, Barton. I’m asking you if you would take one for the team and use this as practice for undercover missions.” Barton stared and Phil began to worry he wasn’t being clear enough. “Barton, do you understand?”

Clint sat back. “Are you asking…?” Realization seemed to dawn. “Oh.” He sat up. “Sorry, I didn’t understand at first. So you’re asking me to pretend to be your… boyfriend, sir?” he asked, looking somewhat disbelieving. “I didn’t even know you had a boyfriend-“

Phil chuckled. “I’m forty years old, Barton, I think the term ‘boyfriend’ is better left for younger generations. But to answer you, I don’t have a partner, I lied about it so my mother would get over the fact that I’m the last of her children to be unmarried, not to mention her only son. You know how mothers are about their sons.”

Clint smirked suddenly. “This isn’t official business, so what’s in it for me?” he asked in a conniving tone.

Phil pulled a file off his desk. “It won’t come out of your leave even if you are off the clock for SHIELD and it will count as a training exercise, meaning you’ll get out of the next training exercise you’re scheduled for.” He offered a small smile. “And off the record, a serious amount of gratitude from me. I know I’m just one of a dozen handlers for field operatives but I’m desperate and I won’t forget it if you pull this out for me, Barton. I’ll owe you,” he admitted, cringing dramatically. “Unfortunately.

Barton hummed, clearly considering, flipping through the file. “So… what will this mission entail?” He looked up. “That’s me saying yes, by the way, sir.”

Phil deflated some, terribly relieved. “There’s a full cover for you in the packet. I need you to learn it. Your name can stay Clint Barton, nobody knows your name, but the rest is necessary because it’s what I’ve convinced them of.”

Barton flipped through the file then looked up with a skeptical look. “You told them your partner worked in HR?” he asked, then looked at himself.

Coulson smiled. “We’ll get you the right clothes, don’t worry.” He nodded. “They think I’m an army recruiter. Makes sense I’d meet someone else who worked in an office. They think you work in HR at an advertising firm on the floor above the recruitment center,” he explained.

Barton nodded, looking through. “Yes, sir.”

“Phil.” Barton looked up in confusion and Coulson gestured to himself. “My partner wouldn’t call me ‘sir’, he’d call me Phil.”

Barton smirked. “Hey, for all they know you like being called ‘sir’,” he said with wiggly eyebrows, ignoring the flat look he received. “Alright, Phil.” He paused. “You look like a ‘Phil’,” he determined and Coulson rolled his eyes.

“Thanks, Clint,” he said, earning a smile.

“Phil and Clint, that sounds pretty ‘office romance’-ish,” he decided. “Is there any background I need to learn about my cover?”

Phil shook his head. “I didn’t bother filling in a full history, just the current events. I guess edit your real background. Probably leave out the ‘professional assassin’ part, that sort of thing.”

Clint nodded. “So I can’t tell your family and friends that you’re a professional badass?” he teased and Phil fought a smile, refusing to show how amused he was. “What about background on the target-“ He chuckled. “I mean, background on your family, sorry.”

Coulson sat back, groaning. “My mother’s name is Marianne, my father passed away a while back, but his name was Greg. I have three sisters, Sandra, Bethany, and Erika. Erika is the one getting married. Sandra and Bethany are both already married. I’m the oldest, Sandra is the second at thirty-eight, Bethany is thirty-five, and Erika is by far the youngest at twenty-five. People actually thought I was her dad a lot when she was little,” he admitted.

“People thought you were a fifteen year old father?” Barton asked and Phil chuckled.

“I looked old for my age,” he pointed out. “Also, how many fifteen year olds have baby sisters, you know?” He thought for a moment. “In case you didn’t know already and it is mentioned, I was an Army Ranger before SHIELD got me.”

Clint looked up, clearly impressed. “That would explain the ninja-walking,” he said with a nod. “If they ask, I’m originally from Iowa, I had a normal childhood, let’s leave the circus out of it, and maybe breeze over the part where I never actually got a GED, okay?”

Phil frowned. “SHIELD didn’t give you time to get a GED?” he asked and Clint shrugged.

“You recruited me, sir. You know they put me on the fast-track in training. They’re lucky I know how to read and write, if we’re honest,” he mumbled, looking away.

Phil shook his head. “It isn’t that bad, Barton. I’ve seen you calculate angles while you were already pulling the trigger. Clearly you aren’t uneducated altogether.” He paused. “But yeah, I doubt they’d buy a position in HR if we don’t come up with a college alma mater.”

Clint hummed. “Can I just say ‘I went to State’ and never say which? I’ll forget otherwise.”

Coulson nodded. “That’ll work.”

Barton nodded. “So, what kind of relationship do they think you have? You said committed and stable, but I mean… just dating? Serious? Permanent-serious?” he asked.

Phil cleared his throat awkwardly. “Very serious but not living together yet. I never gave them a solid date, but the lie’s been going for at least ten months so I’ll just say we started seeing each other a year ago.”

Clint whistled. “A year, that’s pretty serious then.”

Phil looked up suddenly. “Oh, I should mention that Erika knows what I do.” Clint looked up and Phil flapped a hand, feeling flustered. “Not in detail, but she figured out I was lying and managed to get out of me that I work for a secret government agency. She calls me a ‘spy boss’ and thinks I do basically what I do- direct missions. She doesn’t know I was ever a field operative, she probably assumes I’m CIA, and she thinks you- my partner- is a ‘spy boss’ too.”

Barton nodded. “Uh-huh. Right.” He closed the file. “Alright, sir. When and where do I start?”

Coulson looked at his desk calendar. “The wedding is next Saturday but I’m going to drive out Monday and stay until Sunday.” He looked up. “Do you know where I live?”

Barton nodded a confirmation. “You told Natasha you would give her a safe-house last mission she had with you and said it was your apartment in the city.”

Phil nodded. “Meet me there Monday morning at 0900,” he instructed.

Barton stood with a smile. “Yes, sir. I won’t let you down, sir.”

Coulson nodded, watching Barton leave before he gave out a heavy sigh, sagging in his desk. “Oh dear God!”
Phil opened the door and raised an eyebrow as he looked Clint over. Clint was wearing snug but not tight, dark jeans, a dark burgundy long-sleeved shirt pushed up to his elbows, and a pair of brown boots that matched his brown belt. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in anything but tactical gear, Barton,” he said, letting Clint follow him inside.

Clint looked down. “Yeah, I wasn’t sure how you would expect me to dress so I brought options,” he said, patting his bag. He looked at Phil walking a head of him and swallowed hard at how his ass looked in jeans. “It’s very strange seeing you in blue jeans, sir,” he said and Phil led him into a living room with a laugh.

“I hardly ever wear them,” he said honestly. He looked around. “Right, I’m nearly done, just wait here.” He headed back into the hall and Clint was left standing.

He looked around, pausing to raise an eyebrow at the Captain America memorabilia scattered around the room. He walked closer to the shelves on either side of the TV and saw there were even photographs of Captain America in frames. “Well that’s kinda… strange,” he mumbled, dropping his bag on the couch before plopping down beside it.

Almost as soon as Clint had sat down Phil came back carrying three garment bags. “Here,” he said, laying them across the couch beside Clint. “I had three suits made for you. I figured you would probably wear normal clothes most of the time, but you’ll need a couple of these. At least one for the rehearsal dinner and the wedding itself. And possibly brunch earlier in the week with just my mother and my sisters and their husbands,” he added. “So yeah, three,” he finished, rubbing his hands on his jeans.

Clint raised an eyebrow. “How did you have suits made for me?” he asked suspiciously. “Even SHIELD doesn’t work that fast on clothing requisitions-“

“I can’t bill SHIELD for a personal favor,” Phil pointed out. “It’s no problem, I just had my tailor make them with your uniform measurements. Oh yeah, about that, they may be a little tight since your uniforms are fitted, but it should be alright.”

Clint rolled his eyes. “I knew you came from money, Coulson. Nobody wears suits like yours at SHIELD,” he said with a smirk.

Phil shrugged. “My sister is getting married at a country club, so yes, I guess you could say my family has money.”

Clint glanced at his clothes. “You sure I’m okay like this, then? I mean… I don’t want your family to think you’re slumming it,” he said and Phil snorted.

“Just because they have money doesn’t mean they think we’re better than everybody else, Barton.” He nodded. “You look fine. Besides, you’re young and athletic looking, pretty sure they won’t mind the clothes as much as the fact I magically have a partner that’s about ten years younger than me,” he pointed out.

Clint smirked as he stood. “You’re being pretty generous there,” he said and Phil raised an eyebrow as Clint picked up his bag and the garment bags, laying them over his arm. “I’m thirty-four.”

Phil just hummed as he walked to the hall, grabbing his own bags before leading Clint out the door. “I actually figured you were probably late twenties and just looked a little older from the life-style. Not that you look as old as you are.” He looked back. “How are you still in the field?” he asked, letting Clint out the door so he could lock up. “I got promoted at thirty-five but I hadn’t been in the field for SHIELD nearly as long as you have.”

Clint looked up when they got to the elevator. “You weren’t in the field long, sir?” he asked curiously.

Phil shrugged. “About seven years. I was a Ranger and then I got picked personally by Fury when I managed to take out my guards and make it out of an Iranian prison after being a POW for five weeks with no weapons. I think he was impressed by the fact I wasn’t even one of the top operatives in my missions in the Army. I was mostly backup and yet I did that. Nick liked something about me,” he admitted.

Clint whistled. “Damn, no wonder you got promoted so fast. I mean, sure most of us could do something like that, but we didn’t have that ‘it factor’ that got Fury’s direct attention,” he said. Clint looked up. “So wait, you were still a field agent when I started working for you?” he asked curiously.

Phil nodded. “I was given operatives to handle myself before I was officially promoted. I was still only part-time handler when I brought you in. Alison and I still had plenty of field missions.”

Barton looked up. “Lang? Lang was your partner? Wow, she looks so… not field agent-y,” he said sheepishly.

Phil shrugged. “Natasha doesn’t look like much either, does she?” he asked and Clint grimaced.

“True. She’s a tiny dose of concentrated death.”

He followed Phil out of the building and to the car park. He allowed Phil to open the trunk so he could put the bags in. When they got in the car, Clint fidgeted somewhat. “So we should probably teach me more about ‘Phil’ since I mostly know things like ‘Phil Coulson once killed a man with a paperclip’ and ‘Phil Coulson made time itself his bitch’-“

“Is that seriously what people say about me?” Phil asked with a small grin.

Clint smirked. “You did kill a man with a paperclip, I was there,” he said and Phil shrugged.

“Technically I used a paperclip to trip a trip wire and he blew up, it isn’t like I gouged out his eyes with it or something,” he pointed out.

Clint leaned back. “Still counts.” He crossed his legs, looking out the window. “So, where did you go to college?” he asked to start.

“Harvard,” Coulson said absently. “My favorite color is gray, if they ask I have a fish named Cap, and you ride a motorcycle,” he said, blushing just enough for Clint to notice around his ears.

Clint snickered. “You told them your partner who works in HR has a motorcycle?” he asked and Phil gave him a small glare at the stoplight. “No, it’s okay. I actually do have a bike so I can be convincing,” he said and Phil blinked, then turned back.

“Didn’t know that,” he admitted and Clint chuckled.

“Also, your favorite color is gray? Seriously? That’s boring.” He tapped his fingers. “Mine is purple. Also, is your pretend fish named Cap because you have a creepy shrine to Captain America?” he asked, fighting a full on giggle.

Phil tensed. “It’s not a shrine, Barton.” He cleared his throat. “I just… always kinda… liked Captain America, as a kid. I didn’t want my mom to trash my collectables so I put them up around the house when I got the place.”

Clint just grinned. “You don’t have to explain, sir. I can’t say much, I actually ran away to the circus as a kid. Clearly yours wasn’t that strange,” he admitted. “And besides, you’re my superior officer, pretty sure I could get benched for a month for teasing you.”

Phil smiled. “Nothing on the books this week. Clean slate, I promise. Besides, after spending a week with my family, you’ll probably have earned many favors.”
When they got to the Coulson’s house, Clint was a little relieved after the whole ‘Phil has money’ realization that it didn’t end up being a giant mansion. It was a pretty large house for an older woman who lived alone, but it was nothing more than an average suburban home. Phil shut off the car then looked up with a sigh. “Here we go,” he said, turning to Clint. “Alright, just… follow my lead and pretend you’re in love with me but don’t overdo it, okay?” he pleaded before opening the door to climb out.

Clint chuckled and nodded, opening his own door. “Sure thing,” he said, though secretly he couldn’t help but admit it wouldn’t be terribly hard to pretend to be in love with the man he’d had a stupid crush on for ages. Clint had just reached the back of the car to help with the bags when they heard the front door open and Phil tensed.

“UNCLE PHIL!” Phil deflated some, a genuine smile on his face when he walked around Clint, who looked up over the popped trunk, and watched as a little girl leapt at Phil, arms going around his waist.

“Annie, you’re getting tall,” Phil greeted, smiling down at the child.

“I’m taller than Matt!” she said proudly, glancing around Phil, only to duck and hide slightly, big blue eyes peeping around his waist.

Phil glanced back, then gave Clint an awkward shrug. “How about you go tell your mom and grandma that I’m here, okay?” he said and she nodded sheepishly, turning to run back to the house. Phil watched her go then came back, giving Clint a quickly panicked look. “Oh yeah, I forgot, I have two nieces and a nephew, Annie is eight, Chloe is four, and Matt is ten. Annie and Chloe are Sandra’s kids and Matt is Bethany’s. If anybody asks, I’ve shown you pictures but they’re old.”

Clint nodded. “Yes, sir,” he said, then paused. “Sorry, Phil.”

Phil let out a relieved sigh. “Okay, this will work. We can do this,” he said, passing back around Clint to grab the remaining bags Clint hadn’t gathered up himself. “We’re gonna do this.”

Clint chuckled in amusement as he followed a somewhat panicky Phil up to the house. They were just coming up the steps when the door opened again and a woman who, quite frankly, didn’t look nearly old enough to be Phil’s mother swept Phil into a hug, though his hands were full. “PHIL! My baby boy!” she cried and Clint bit back a snort as Phil’s neck turned red. “How are you-“ She looked over his shoulder and pulled back, eyes wide as she took in Clint. “Well now, Phillip, who is this?” she asked, giving him a smile.

Phil cleared his throat. “Mom this is Clint Barton, Clint, this is my mother, Marianne Coulson,” he said and Clint put down his bag to shake her hand, only to be swept into a hug.

“Oh my God, you’re the one my Phil talks about so much!” she pulled back. “And he’s so handsome, Phillip!” She turned and winked at Phil. “Better hang onto this one, I might just try and steal him away,” she said, making Phil roll his eyes.

“Mother, please-“

“Oh, I know, I know. Stop flirting,” she said, walking back inside. “You better hope your sisters don’t run off with him, you know how they are when there’s somebody new around,” she said, leading the way. Clint stopped in the entry hall when Phil did, only to have Marianne wave a hand. “Just drop your things, you can get them later. Come see your sisters!” she urged.

Phil glanced back. “Clint, maybe you can go ahead and take these upstairs? Might want to miss the full impact,” he said and Clint nodded.

“Sure, where?” he asked, shifting things so he could grab Phil’s bags too.

Marianne eyed him and whistled. “Big and strong, he’s probably tons of help around the house, huh, Phil?” she asked. “Phil’s old room. It’s the last room on the hall,” she explained and Clint nodded, starting upstairs.

Phil followed her, bracing himself for the full impact of all his sisters and their kids, but even he wasn’t expecting his mother to push open the swinging door to the kitchen and throw up her hands. “Erika, I change my mind, you’re not the lucky one as far as men go, your brother has taken the cake!” she said and Phil barely resisted slapping a hand over his face.

The girls all jumped up from where they were sitting at the dining table in the next room over, separated by a counter top, and Erika was the first to make it over, hugging Phil tightly. “Phil you made it!” she cried, pulling back. “And what does she mean about you having the best luck in men?” she demanded, looking past him pointedly.

Marianne smirked. “The man he’s brought home to meet us is what goes in the dictionary next to ‘man’,” she said.

Sandra got the next hug and smiled. “You told us you had a guy in your life but you never say much so I wasn’t sure you’d bring him.”

Phil chuckled. “Erika made me,” he said, then leaned past them to kiss Bethany’s cheek. “Hey sis,” he said, smiling.

Marianne wiggled her eyebrows. “For somebody who works in an office, he sure his big and muscular,” she pointed out and Phil sighed.

“Mother, why does the fact my partner goes to the gym matter? Really?” he asked and Erika smirked.

“Does that mean he’s hot?” she asked.

Phil started to speak, then paused when the door opened and Clint peeked in, looking for them. “Oh, there you are,” he said, coming in with a smile fixed on his face.

Phil couldn’t help but be amused when all three of his sisters looked between Clint and Phil with wide eyes. “Clint Barton, this is Erika, Sandra, and Bethany,” he said, nodding at each sister. “Guys, this is Clint,” he said, stepping back so that he could stand beside Clint, casually putting a hand on his shoulder.

Clint gave a warm, honest smile and nodded. “Hi.”

Erika was the first to speak up. “It’s good to meet you, Clint. I’m glad you were able to make it. I would’ve hated to have Phil be the only one alone at the wedding,” she said.

Sandra was next. “I’d love to say ‘Phil’s told us so much about you’ but I’d be lying,” she said pointedly. “Phil didn’t even tell us your name before now.”

Clint chuckled. “Well that’s alright, Phil’s a private guy, I understand not wanting to blab about his life all the time,” he said, moving to put his hand on Phil’s back.

“Clint, we were just having some coffee, would you like some?” Bethany asked, gesturing to the table.

Clint fixed a smile on his face and nodded. “I’d love some, thank you.” He patted Phil’s shoulder and gave him a look, following Bethany back over to the table. Marianne and Sandra followed, leaving Phil with Erika.

Erika waited until they were all sitting down then turned on him. “Phil, he even looks like a secret agent,” she whispered. “I thought your boyfriend was a suit like you, that guy is totally the muscle!”

Phil glared. “I’ve told you not to bring my real job up in the same area as mom!” he hissed. “We’ll talk later-“

“Or now,” she said, snagging his wrist to drag him out of the kitchen and back into the hall.

“Erika, really-“

“Don’t Erika me,” she said, crossing her arms. “He’s a spy and you said he was a suit,” she demanded.

Phil rolled his eyes. “So I lied about his real job, big deal-“

“You’re a good liar, Phil, but I know your type and he isn’t it,” she said pointedly. “Who is that and where is your actual boyfriend?” she demanded and Phil just stared.

“Erika-“ He stopped and sighed. “Okay he isn’t my usual type, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be my partner, you know?”

She rolled her eyes. “I know you. You wouldn’t be in a relationship with the people you command, Phil. I know you, you’re professional, you would never get involved with a spy when you are the suit in charge of them.” She raised a hand. “And how is your boyfriend comfortable with you taking a spy to play his part rather than just coming alone-“

“Damn it, Erika, I don’t have one!” Phil snapped, then sighed, shaking his head as he leaned against the wall.

Erika stared in shock. “Phil-“

Phil waved a hand. “Clint is what you said, one of the people I handle.” He bit his lip. “I just didn’t want to deal with mom reminding me I’m not getting any younger or fucking Charles pointing out that I’m ‘not exactly a catch’, again-“

Erika’s face fell. “Phil, Charles is just messing around and you know mom only wants you to be happy-“

“And I’m happy alone!” he stressed. “I have a very important, high risk, seriously all-consuming position. I’m not telling you another thing so don’t ask, but trust me, I’m a big deal!” he hissed. “I don’t want a partner because I’m too busy and it would be doomed to fail. I don’t date because I can’t be bothered wasting the time. I live and breathe my job, Erika,” he pointed out.

She sighed and nodded sadly. “And you can’t tell anybody so you can’t explain away being alone,” she finished, then shook her head. “God, Phil, who even is he, then?” she asked, nodding her head at the kitchen. “I mean… is he dangerous?”

Phil hesitated. “I can’t tell you anything, you know that.” She glared. “Just… he’s a specialist. I handle his operations. He’s good at what he does and I needed someone I could trust since this is totally leave time for us. He’s getting nothing out of this except a pretty decent favor in the future whenever he needs it,” he admitted.

She shook her head, but chuckled. “Well, you sure picked a hot one. He’s gorgeous.”

Phil chuckled and nodded. “No doubt about that. Anyone with eyes can see that one.”
Clint sipped his coffee, listening to the ladies’ conversation as he tried to get a handle on things, only to be still a little unprepared when the conversation turned to him. “So Clint, how on earth did you and Phil get together?” Sandra asked.

He threw on a charming smile. “Well, I work in HR at the recruiting office and we met at work.”

Bethany rolled her eyes. “Yeah but how did you end up with Phil,” she stressed. “I mean… no offense, but you’re…”

“Hot,” Sandra interrupted. “And no offense, I love my brother, but he’s… boring,” she finished with a small shrug.

Clint couldn’t help but be amused. If only they knew. “Well, one day my bike wouldn’t start, and he gave me a ride home, even though I live way out of his way in the other direction.” He shrugged a little. “He didn’t wait until a cab came, he didn’t offer to call someone, he just straight up offered to drive me home. There aren’t many people that nice out there anymore, you know?” He gave a sheepish smile. “It really caught my attention so the next time I saw him at work, I asked him if he would come to lunch with me and I really liked him pretty much as soon as I started to get to know him.”

Marianne sighed. “Awww, I’m so glad my boy has someone so sweet,” she cooed. “He’s lucky to have you, Clint. I worry all the time about that man.” She shook her head. “He’s getting to be too old to still be single. It’s about time he had someone important. I don’t think he’s had a serious relationship since… hell, I don’t remember.”

Sandra nodded. “I think probably Stephen, the trainer he dated not long after he got out of the Army. Remember him, Mom?”

Marianne winced. “Oh I remember that one. Goodness, it’s been ten years since Phil was in a serious enough relationship to tell us about it, then.” She smiled sadly. “I’m glad he’s got you now, Clint.”

Clint felt it click and barely held in his shock. He couldn’t help but wonder if ‘Stephen the trainer’ was the same man who ran field training for SHIELD. If so, he couldn’t believe that man was even gay. “Well, I didn’t date much either,” he admitted. It was the truth, he’d briefly had casual relationships with a few women in SHIELD, but nothing more than hanging out and having sex for a few weeks with any of them and not even that in over a year, since his missions got to be longer and more important. He hadn’t ever really had a serious relationship in his life. He’d thought for a little while at the start that he might be in love with Natasha, but apart from a little stress relief during one long mission where they were posing as a married couple anyhow back near the beginning of her involvement with SHIELD, they had only ever been friends. She was probably his best friend, but he definitely wasn’t in love with her.

“You didn’t date? With your looks, you’d think you wouldn’t have any problems,” Bethany pointed out.

Clint shrugged. “It’s just too much trouble most of the time. I never met anybody worth working so hard for before Phil. And with Phil we don’t have as much of the usual problems. We have time for each other because we work at the same place so we have the same schedules. And at least a couple times a week we’re able to take lunch together. Occasionally we can even take our breaks together and just talk and unwind for a few minutes. It’s always great on a stressful day to just head downstairs to the break room and sit and listen to Phil talk about his day. And we don’t really work together so it wasn’t a problem with our bosses.”

The last part was a lie, he was pretty sure SHIELD didn’t allow people to have romantic relationships amongst themselves, but the part about unwinding with Phil was actually pretty true. Agent Coulson was his favorite handler and it wasn’t at all uncommon for him to use his spare time to go take up a space on his couch in his office and just watch him do paperwork and ramble to each other about nothing much whatsoever. He knew Coulson would never admit it, but he seemed to decompress a little bit too when Clint offered him a slight distraction. Even in the field, there was just something about Phil that made Clint less stressed and more able to relax and breathe when things got tough. Clint figured it probably contributed to his stupid crush on the handler.

Not that anybody would ever find out about that, as long as he had his way.
When Phil came back into the room, he looked at the way his sisters and mother were all laughing at something Clint said and relaxed some, glad to see Clint’s completely relaxed and composed state displaying how well he was running his cover. Erika shot Phil a look, but went to sit where she had been sitting before. Phil took the empty space beside Clint and smiled. “What have you been saying about me?” he asked, and Clint gave him an innocent look.

“Nothing much-“

“Clint here was just telling us all about how you two get along,” Marianne interrupted. “I can’t believe some of what he says, I know you too well,” she joked.

Phil looked at Clint with a suspicious glint. “Oh yeah, what sort of things?” he asked and Clint gave a sheepish smile.

Sandra waved a hand. “All these sweet little things about how just listening to you talk about your day makes him able to relax when he’s stressed, and how you drove him home before you even knew each other. I didn’t know you had a ‘sweet’ bone in your body, Phil,” she said in mock surprise.

Phil rolled his eyes. “I’m a nice guy, everybody has always said so. Nothing special about giving someone a ride home.”

Bethany laughed. “Must’ve been to him if that was what made him want to know you better. Looks like it ended up for the best,” she pointed out. “How long have you guys been together?”

Phil cleared his throat. “About a year now,” he said, and Clint nodded, taking a drink of his coffee. “I figured if Clint could get the time, it was about time you all met him.”

“Awww, a year and you aren’t living together yet?” Sandra asked, pouting dramatically. “You’re getting on up there, bro, you better commit before Clint gets smart and goes looking for something better,” she teased.

Phil started to speak, but Clint interrupted, reaching out to slide his hand into Phil’s, leaning their shoulders together. “I just don’t really want to move,” he claimed, smiling over at Phil. “I like my place and Phil and I couldn’t both fit there. Besides, his fish might not handle the stress of moving very well,” he added. “I may be a little selfish, but Phil’s okay with it and we’re alright the way things are for now. We can look at a more suitable situation when the time comes but it doesn’t take away from a serious commitment because we’re not living together.” Phil’s barely contained smile was pretty genuine. He was impressed by how Clint was able to seem so honest without laying it on too thick. Between his wide blue eyes and his body language towards Phil, it was clear how the women were eating it up. “I trust Phil isn’t bringing home other men while I’m not around so it isn’t a big deal for us.”

Phil took the hint and squeezed Clint’s hand, giving him a warm look. “Trust me, the luck that got me you wouldn’t strike twice so I’d be stupid to mess this up,” he threw out, more than amused when his sisters and mother looked damn near giddy. “Speaking of men, where are the husbands and soon-to-be husband?” he asked, looking between them.

Erika groaned. “Trying to prove they’re ‘real men’. There is a football and the promise of grass-stains and possible injuries to come,” she said with a dramatic look.

Sandra snorted. “Charles is forty years old, the last thing he needs is to throw out his back trying to prove he’s still a ‘real man’.”

Bethany nodded. “Jake’s going to be complaining about his knees all night, just you wait. And even Evan will be feeling it, I’m sure,” she said to Erika, who smiled.

“I don’t know, Evan’s a young guy, pretty sure at twenty-one you’re still able to bounce back from muscle strain pretty well,” she disagreed. “Although that might just make it worse for Charles and Jake when they try to keep up with him.”

Phil smirked. “Twenty-one? You like ‘em young, huh sis!”

Erika gave him a pointed look. “It’s four years younger, compared to your ten-“

“Six, actually,” Phil countered. “And by forty anybody between thirty and fifty’s fair game.”

Bethany gaped. “You’re older than thirty?!”

Clint nodded. “Yeah, thirty-four.” He grinned and knocked his shoulder into Phil’s. “And hey, what’s wrong with some football at forty? I’m sure Phil could still play football still without trouble and he’s forty.”

Erika made a face. “Phil’s old, I highly doubt that.”

Phil shot her a glare. “Just because I’m forty doesn’t mean I’m a senior citizen. I’m still in pretty good shape. I may not be back at my Army level of fitness, but I’m still healthy.”

Clint smirked. “Damn straight you are, you keep up with me at the gym even without all the muscle I’ve got,” he said, being totally honest. He’d seen Coulson training and sparring occasionally without any real difficulty against agent’s half his age. Phil didn’t look like a badass, but he totally was.

Phil gave him a meaningful look. “Well I have to keep in shape to put up with you every day,” he said and Clint barely bit back a laugh at the hidden meaning he knew well. Coulson always told Clint he was going to be the death of him some day.
When Marianne went to kick Phil and Clint out so she and Erika could start dinner, Phil let Sandra and Bethany lead him out to continue their conversation before noticing Clint stopped and stood by the counter, looking at the two in the kitchen. “Hey, anything I can do to help?” he asked, trying to be as useful as he could be.

Erika raised an eyebrow. “You want to help us? Phil usually makes a break for it when we start cooking,” she said and Clint shrugged.

“I kinda just feel like I’m here for looking at so it would be nice to be useful,” he admitted, a little more honest than he even realized until the words were spoken.

Marianne smiled. “Can you use a knife?” she asked, setting a bowl of potatoes on the counter pointedly.

Clint grinned. “I can definitely show those potatoes who’s boss,” he said, going over to wash his hands and get started. He stood at the counter peeling the potatoes while the other two moved around getting other ingredients. “So, what are we cooking?” he asked casually.

“Well, even if this is supposed to be ‘my’ week, it isn’t often we get Phil home, so we’re doing his favorite,” Erika said with a small smile.

Clint nodded. “Potato soup and sandwiches. Did you get the thick bacon like he likes too?” he asked, only to hesitate when he realized he actually knew what his handler’s favorite meal was.

Erika gave him a suspicious look that he almost missed. “Yeah… you know how Phil likes his sandwich bacon?” she asked and Marianne smiled brightly.

“Awww, that’s so sweet!” She patted his shoulder on the way past. “And yes, I remember how Phillip likes his sandwiches. He always liked sandwiches. He would have lived off of BLT sandwiches when he was a teenager if I had let him. He had this phase where he’d eat one every day,” she said and Clint nodded with a small smile.

“He still has phases with his sandwiches. He’ll go weeks having a Cuban for lunch every day and then suddenly start eating something else for a while.” It wasn’t an exaggeration; Clint had observed Coulson eating Cuban sandwiches every day (that they weren’t in the field) for three weeks straight once. “What kind are we cooking tonight?”

Erika started slicing a loaf of some dark bread- Clint didn’t know much about bread, he just ate it- and gestured to where her mother was taking out thin-sliced meats in packages from the refrigerator. “When Phil came home to see us when I was growing up, mom always made him these warm sandwiches with turkey, bacon, ham, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and this creamy barbecue sauce served on toasted bread. He loved them. It was enough to give most people clogged arteries straight off, but he always wanted them. So, we’re making them for him now.” She smiled sadly down at the bread she was slicing. “Phil hasn’t been home in a good four years. We talk to him on the phone some, but it’s a big deal to get to see Phil, you know?”

Clint didn’t know. He had no idea Phil hadn’t seen his family in four years. “I know he’s pretty work-oriented, but I didn’t know it had been so long,” he said absently. He didn’t know what it was like to have a family, really, but he could only imagine it had to suck a lot to not get to see them in four years. “Wait, does that mean- Chloe…?”

Erika nodded. “He saw her when she was a newborn but she doesn’t really know him,” she said and Clint understood why she’d seemed so nervous when she and the other kids had been sent out when they joined the mothers in the kitchen earlier.

“I wish he could see you guys more,” Clint said softly, surprised by just how much he meant it. Erika looked surprised and Clint didn’t really know how to read that one either. “So! Potatoes, let me get these,” he said, setting to peeling the potatoes again. Once he peeled them all, he put them in the large pot Marianne had boiled water in, glancing over at the ingredients laid out along the counter next to it. He stood back and let her add in some chives, salt, pepper, and plenty of cheese. He looked into the pot and hummed. “Phil usually eats more pepper than that,” he said, looking at the faint flecks of black speckled throughout. He blushed. “Um, I’m not trying to tell you how to cook, I’m so sorry-“

His backtracking was interrupted by a laugh from Marianne. “No, you’re right, don’t worry,” she said, going to get the pepper. “And it’s alright, you know Phil’s eating habits better than we do and we told you this was a Phil-favorite meal. It’s perfectly fine to point it out,” she said.

“Clint?” Erika called and he walked over to where she was collecting the meat from where it had been warming. “Can you help me construct these so I can grill them? It’s harder to make them like grilled cheese when you have meat and I could use a hand in remembering how Phil does it.”

Clint hesitated. He hadn’t ever actually watched Phil cook a sandwich. “Well, what if you do the bread like you would grilled cheese, but just the bread, then put in the meat and vegetables and cheese really quickly so that it all melts like it would the other way?” he suggested. “Here, you do the bread and I’ll slice tomatoes,” he said, taking up a knife and the tomatoes. “And to help melt the cheese, maybe leave them in the oven to hold in the heat?

Erika nodded. “You’re a genius, thanks!”

Clint was just helping construct the final product sandwiches when Phil came walking in without Sandra of Bethany. “Well that answers ‘where’s Clint’,” he said, giving him a suspicious look. “Why are you in here still?”

Clint smirked. “Well you clearly didn’t miss me if you’re just now noticing I wasn’t there,” he said with a pointed look.

Marianne walked over and put a hand on his shoulder. “Phillip, you never mentioned your young man cooked on top of everything else!” she said, squeezing his upper arm. “He’s helping us get everything just right.”

Phil narrowed his eyes. “Since when do you cook?” he asked and Clint shrugged.

“Since I know how you eat your soup and they’re cooking it to your liking,” he said, grinning at him. “Just because I don’t cook doesn’t mean I can’t.”

Phil hummed, glancing at his sister and mother before lowering his voice, leaning across the peninsula counter so he could speak with Clint only. “How do you know how I eat soup?”

Clint placed another tomato and looked up. “We’ve eaten a lot of meals together in the time we’ve known each other,” he pointed out and Phil looked surprised.

“True, but you noticed how I eat things?”

Clint gave him a challenging look. “You didn’t notice how I eat?”

Phil gave him a sheepish look. “With way more salt than any human should ever eat,” he admitted and Clint smirked.


“No smoochin’ over the food!” a male voice called out and Clint and Phil both blinked, just noticing how it must’ve looked for them to lean close to speak privately. He looked up and saw a young man coming over to Phil’s slide. “You must be Phil’s guy, Marianne’s told us all about you,” the guy said, offering his hand. “Evan Masters,” he introduced himself.

Clint gave him a smile. “Clint Barton, but uh-“ He waved a greasy hand. “Probably better hold on the shaking.”

Evan smirked at Phil. “And he even cooks! I knew you had it in you, bro!” he said, earning a pained look that Clint knew too well.

“Evan, I’m nearly twice your age, please refrain from calling me ‘bro’,” Phil requested and Evan just grinned.

“I can see why Erika hasn’t let me meet you before now, man. You’re like a history teacher or something. It’s very amusing,” he said, patting Phil’s shoulder before heading off somewhere.

Clint snickered. “Phil, your soon-to-be brother-in-law is young enough to be your son-“

“Don’t make me kill you,” Phil grumbled. “He calls me ‘bro’ and ‘my man’,” he whispered almost fearfully.

Clint giggled. “Is it as bad as when I used to tell you that your suits were bitchin’?” he asked and Phil groaned.

“Never again, Barton. I’ll let Fury sell you into sex slavery like he suggested last time-“

Clint snorted. “Fury wanted to human-traffic me? That’s seriously underhanded even for him!” He smirked. “Besides, you’ve got a billionaire buddy, no need to auction me off for the funds for a new carrier-“

Phil rolled his eyes. “You wouldn’t fetch enough to buy a box of bullets,” he argued and Clint gave him a mock-hurt look.

“You clearly haven’t really taken a good, long look at my ass, Coulson, an ass like that would bring the big bucks in the sex trade-“

“Whoa!” Erika gave them a horrified look. “Walked in on the wrong part of that conversation!” She pointed at the tomatoes. “Finish up and don’t taint our sandwiches with your freaky talk,” she chastised and Clint smiled apologetically whereas Phil blushed.

When she walked off, he leaned close, mumbled with pink cheeks. “She knows the truth. That’s why she’s suspicious,” he said and Clint hesitated, feeling even more embarrassed for knowing so much about Phil.

“Not sure if that makes her walking up just then worse or better,” he muttered and Phil bit back a small smile, making it worth Clint’s while.
After dinner, most of the family went out onto the back deck, since it was a nice night and there were lights on, so that the kids could run around playing while the adults talked. Clint was in the middle of laughing at something Marianne said when Phil silently but quickly shoved Clint back a few feet, spinning around in front of Clint just as a baseball flew past them and hit the wall just where Clint’s head had been.

Marianne and Sandra both screamed and Bethany stood up. “MATHEW! Do not throw the balls at the house!” she shouted and Clint turned back to realize Phil was still holding his upper arms, standing nearly chest to chest as they both caught their breath. “I’m am so sorry!” She said, then smiled nervously. “Are you okay? It’s good Phil saw that coming,” she said and Sandra raised an eyebrow.

“You didn’t say a word, just pulled him out of the way,” she said, and Clint looked at Phil, noticing the way his hands were shaking from residual adrenaline.

He knew immediately Phil hadn’t thought about what he was doing, he’d seen a missile coming towards his field agent and knocked him out of the way on instinct, entirely forgetting their situation and where they were. “Oh!” Clint said quickly, grabbing Phil’s wrists to bring his hands down since he still seemed horrified by his natural reactions in front of his family. “I seem to be a magnet for flying things,” he covered with a big-eyed look. “In the time we’ve been together I’ve got clocked by a bottle falling off a garbage truck, an egg someone dropped off a balcony, and a soccer ball in the park. I think Phil’s starting to get a sixth sense to keep an eye out for things trying to hit me in the head,” he said with a convincing shrug. “I always joke about having a serious magnetism but I guess it’s starting to get a little extreme,” he said.

“Wow,” Sandra said. “No wonder you looked so spooked, Phil. I’d be pretty worried if things kept trying to knock my boyfriend out, too.”

Clint offered a convincing enough smile when Phil snapped back into his cover and slid his hands into Clint’s smoothly, so that it barely looked like Clint had ever been holding his wrists. “Well, the bottle knocked him out and we had to call an ambulance, I have a reason to be spooked,” he said, making a show of looking into Clint’s eyes. “Are you okay?” he asked and Clint nodded, throwing on a sweet little smile to earn a little more sympathy from the women.

“I’m okay, Phil. No worries,” he said, letting go of one hand so Phil could step aside, leaving them standing there holding hands. “Sorry, you were saying, Marianne?”

She gave him and Phil a smirk. “Well, I was saying I could get one of the boys to lend you a tie for brunch in the morning at the club, but I guess with Phil around, you always have a tie on hand.”

Clint grinned. “Yeah, I don’t wear a lot of nice clothes like Phil, I’m more of a casual dress kind of guy, but there are always ties around just in case when I’m with Phil. Even at work I don’t wear a tie but if I need one for a meeting I forgot, I can always run down to Phil and borrow a spare.” He squeezed Phil’s hand. “With Phil’s planning ahead, I’m set, but thank you for the offer.”

“And speaking of brunch in the morning, it’s getting pretty late, wouldn’t you say?” Phil suggested, and Clint looked at his watch, surprised to see it was already eleven fifteen.

Marianne nodded. “Probably is a little late. The kids should definitely go get ready for bed,” she said to Sandra. “Probably should get to bed myself,” she said, standing.

Phil nodded. “Clint and I were driving most of the day, we should get some sleep,” he said, nudging Clint towards the door. Clint obeyed and started walking, only to stop when Bethany and Sandra both smirked. Phil groaned. “Please don’t-“

“Just remember, we’re sharing the room next to yours,” Bethany said and Sandra giggled.

“So keep it down, alright?” she added.

Clint barely held back an evil grin at the pink color around Phil’s ears as he responded. “There is nothing in the world more affective at preventing anything more than practically puritan than knowing your sisters are sleeping in the next room over, trust me.”

Clint couldn’t help it. “Does that mean I have to wear neck-to-ankle nightgown to bed?” he asked, earning a flat look.

“It means one more word and you’re sleeping on the floor,” Phil said, shoving Clint towards the door. “Say goodnight, girls.”

“Goodnight!” they chimed, earning a wave over Phil’s shoulder from Clint before he was bundled inside.
Clint came out of the bathroom and smirked when he saw Phil trying his best to take down a photo of a little boy in a Captain America costume from the wall. It appeared to be welded on, though, going by the level of difficulty Phil seemed to be having. “Phil is that you?” Clint asked, walking over.

Phil turned around and leaned against the photo, putting his head in front of it. “No, I have no idea what you mean,” he said flatly.

Clint smirked and shrugged. “I’ll see it sooner or later,” he said, turning to head over to the bed.

Phil huffed. “Not if I can help it,” he grumbled, glaring at the frame before walking over. “Give me a pillow,” he said and Clint tossed him one, only to raise an eyebrow when he pulled blanket out of the closet.

“What’re you doing?”

Phil shook out the blanket without looking up. “I’ll take the floor,” he said simply.

Clint sat up, staring. “Seriously?”

Phil shrugged. “It’s only a full,” he said and Clint snorted.

“Coulson, we slept in the same sleeping bag in Switzerland, we can share a bed-“

Phil gave him a pointed look. “It was the Alps and it was a blizzard, that was for survival, not comfort-“

“Yeah but my point is that we’re both used to less than comfortable conditions,” he pointed out. Clint laid back against the padded headboard and wiggled pointedly. “And this is totally comfortable. So what we’ll be up close and personal? We were nearly naked in that sleeping bag, dude. Trust me, there’s no reason to fear for your virtue all of a sudden when we’re fully clothed,” he teased.

Phil raised an eyebrow but shrugged, tossing the blanket aside. “Alright, but I offered,” he said, walking around to put his pillow back before sliding into bed. “Seriously though, we’re grown men and this is a full, not a queen-“

“We can spoon if you’re seriously worried about fitting,” Clint said flatly, earning an amused look as Phil laid down. Clint wiggled pointedly. “See? We’re not even touching really. And I’m dressed more than usual. I’m wearing boxers and sleep pants. I usually sleep in just my boxers. Your virtue is safe with me,” he said solemnly, hand over his bare-chest.

Phil snorted and rolled onto his back. “I’m a forty year old man, trust me, there’s definitely no worries about my ‘virtue’,” he said with a snicker.

Clint smirked. “You sure? I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen you leave your office before eleven other than missions in the whole time I’ve been with SHIELD. Doesn’t seem like your social life is hopping and you’re way too professional to hook up with the junior agents,” he said and Phil chuckled.

“I’ll admit to having a pretty dry social life. And maybe I haven’t had many dates in the time you’ve been with SHIELD, but there have been some. Just not many repeats after the third or fourth failure to actually make it to the future dates,” he said honestly. “Jesus, I haven’t had a boyfriend since Stephen.”

Clint perked up. “Your sister’s mentioned a ‘Stephen’… surely not the bald guy with SHIELD,” he said, turning to look at Phil. “The trainer.”

Phil groaned, flinging an arm over his eyes. “He had hair when we dated,” he admitted and Clint gaped.

“He’s an asshole, though!”

Phil laughed. “Yeah well, I was ten years younger than I am now, we were both field agents, he had long blonde hair then, a great smile, a nice chest, and at the time I thought his personality wasn’t too bad if it meant I was in a real relationship after realizing being a spy ruins any chance of a love life.” He sighed. “We were together for three years-“

“Holy shit, you really were delusional, huh?” Clint said brashly, and then cringed. “Sorry, I just mean… Jesus, that guy’s such a dick,” he groaned in disbelief.

Phil sighed. “Yep. He really is,” he said with a nod. “Three years of putting up with him putting me down and then countering it with a ‘babe’ to keep me from getting pissed and I didn’t even get to be the one to dump him for being horrible just because I was getting more missions than him.”

Clint gaped. “He dumped you?!”

Phil nodded. “For a junior agent named Jessica with bigger breasts than a standard uniform could contain,” he said in a dejected voice. “Three years and I got dumped for a twenty-two year old woman.”

Clint chuckled. “I’m not sucking up when I say this, sir, but his loss.” Clint linked his fingers under his head, looking across his bicep at Phil. “You’re a good guy, Phil. I’m not kissing your ass, but you’re the one person I trust most to be the voice in my ear on missions. You don’t treat me like a bad kid, you listen to me when I have something to say and you always tell me why if you don’t agree with my assessment. I don’t know if that same thing translates into your personal life, but it probably does, and if being a rational, level headed guy wasn’t worth more than a pair of nice tits, that guy didn’t deserve you.”

Phil smiled over at him, a small, honest smile. “Thanks,” he said softly. “Oh well, it’s not a big deal anymore,” he admitted. “I prefer my job over a relationship. I knew when I joined the army that I couldn’t ever have a proper relationship. I was willing to give up that aspect of life to be a soldier so I can deal with it now that I’m a handler for secret agents.”

Clint nodded. “I know the feeling. Although I didn’t know you were gay. I mean, even with this we’ve got going, I figured you just liked both men and women. But the ‘army’ thing makes it sound the other way.”

Phil chuckled and nodded. “Definitely gay. It isn’t an issue that concerns anyone though so I guess it makes sense nobody knows.” He glanced over. “I’m kind of glad you didn’t take issue with that and ruin this idea because I couldn’t have used anybody else and trusted them to get it right undercover otherwise. Natasha wouldn’t work and I don’t trust anybody as much as you two to get a job done and not ask too many questions.”

“I ask tons of questions,” Clint argued, looking at him with a grin.

Phil fought a smirk. “Yeah but you ask the right questions, not stupid ones.”

Clint hummed. “True enough.” He yawned. “And if you haven’t figured it out before, sir, I like men and women so your being gay wouldn’t have bothered me even if I wasn’t pretending to be your boyfriend.”

Phil chuckled, shifting to get more comfortable. “Of course you wouldn’t care what’s in somebody’s pants, you couldn’t stand being anything but contrary and picking one wouldn’t cut it,” he teased lightly.

Clint rolled over onto his side, back to Phil. “Of course not,” he said, then hummed tiredly. “Besides, an ass like mine would be wasted if nobody got to fuck it.”

Phil’s eyes flew open and his jaw dropped as he stared at the back of Clint’s head. “I… pardon?” he asked, sure he had heard wrong.

Clint just made a humming sound. “G’night, sir.” His goodnight was punctuated with a soft sigh as his breathing evened out.

Phil just closed his eyes and cursed under his breath, turning his back to Clint as he tried not to imagine what Clint had said. Phil focused very, very hard on his sisters in the next room over until he finally fell asleep.
Clint finished his tie and smoothed down the lapels of the suit to take in his reflection. “You know, Coulson, your tailor is pretty damn good at-“ Clint stopped as soon as he glanced up and spotted Coulson adjusting his cufflinks. He saw Phil in a suit most every day but clearly his work suits weren’t nearly as flashy as his personal-use suits. His dark charcoal suit was three-buttoned, not two like most of his work suits. His shirt was lavender, not white or blue like usual. His tie was silver, even. Also, what appeared to be diamond cuff links definitely made his suit much more refined than usual. “Wow,” he said, then fixed a smile on his face when Phil looked up. “Lookin’ good!” he said, walking over.

Phil smirked. “Thanks,” he said, then looked Clint over. “Nope, that’s not gonna work.”

Clint frowned. “What? I think I look pretty sharp-“

Phil stopped him tugging on his sleeves and reached up. “You can’t tie a tie for shit,” he said simply, undoing the tie. “Hold still,” he warned, glaring at him slightly before readjusting the length of the black tie Clint was wearing. His suit was a lighter gray, the shirt was a crisp white, and the black tie really made him look pretty clean cut. “You can’t wear a four-in-hand with a thin tie like this. You aren’t going to work, you’re going to brunch.”

Clint blinked. “There’s more than one way to tie a tie?” he asked, and Phil gave him a look that was borderline offended. “What?!”

“You’re hopeless,” Phil said, fingers deftly working at his tie. There was a knock at the door and Phil didn’t even glance up before replying, “Come in.”

The door opened slightly and Clint looked up and offered a smile to Erika before Phil yanked him back. “Ow, ow, fine!” he whined, pouting at pointedly at Phil’s forehead, since Phil wasn’t looking up.

“You guys about ready?” Erika asked, raising an eyebrow.

Phil chuckled. “Yeah, sis. Would be better if somebody knew how to tie a tie,” he said, finishing the tie with a little wiggle of the knot. He flatted Clint’s lapels and looked him over. “There, better.”

Clint glared, fidgeting with how tight the tie was. “I still think you’re making the ‘different knots’ thing up,” he said and Erika let out a laugh.

“No, trust me, Phil knows his tie-knots,” Erika said, then whistled. “Damn, Phil, did you have to get him pants that tight?” she asked, and Clint looked down at his slim-fit pants. “Oh, no, not complaining,” she joked.

Phil looked at the door to be sure then lowered his voice. “His uniform is fitted and that was the only measurements I had for the tailor,” he defended. He looked his sister over and smiled. “You look nice,” he said, then elbowed Clint when he passed by.

Clint quickly looked at her pale pink, lacy looking dress and nodded. “Yep, look great,” he said and she snorted.

“You look like you wouldn’t know if I looked good if your life depended on it, don’t sweat it,” she said with a grin. “Come on when you guys are ready,” she said, leaving the room.

Phil came out of the bathroom and shot him a look. “Good job, Clint.”

Clint huffed. “WHAT?! I mean… she was… not fat?” he said and Phil glared. “Well what else should I say?! Pink is… girly and frilly? She didn’t look like a whore-“

“Hey, that’s my baby sister!” Phil snapped and Clint held up a hand.

“I said didn’t look like one!” he defended. “I don’t get clothes okay?! You’ve seen me! I wear blue jeans and tee-shirts when I’m not in my uniform!”

Phil grabbed his wallet. “Barton, you stare at women all the time, you know how their clothes make them look-“

“And I know if I checked out your little sister’s ass, not only would it be grossly inappropriate due to the fact she’s getting married, but also you would kill me,” he whispered fearfully. “I know better than to ‘look’ at your sister. Otherwise, she looks… like how girls dress. Pink. And in a dress. And… not like men.”

Phil just snorted. “You are hopeless,” he said, only to groan suddenly. “Shit.”

“What?” Clint asked, picking up his wallet and sunglasses.

Phil gave him a grumpy look. “I’m that kind of gay. I’ve never even realized it before.” Clint gave him a confused look. “The kind that understands women’s fashion almost as well as men’s fashion. I’ve never thought about it but you not getting it made me think… straight guys really do just look at the women in the clothes, not the clothes, don’t they?”

Clint raised an eyebrow. “I look at the everybody in the everything, but yeah. Trust me, I don’t even think Natasha knows more about fashion than what compliments her boobs the best so she can distract marks.”

Phil cringed. “I’m a fashion-loving gay man. Great. This may be more traumatic of a discovery than when I was fourteen and realized I liked boys,” he said, earning a smirk from Clint. “Hey, you told me I looked good, you were just kissing my ass,” he said with an annoyed look.

Clint smirked and headed towards the door. “No way, I mean you look sexy in a suit, Coulson. Now come on! You heard the not-fat, not-whorish lady!” he said, giggling when Coulson glared at his remarks.
Clint pasted on a smile as he held the door for Marianne before falling into step with Phil when they walked out onto the patio for brunch. Phil put a hand on his back. “Your fake smile is horrible, you look constipated,” Phil said and Clint shot him a look.

“Sorry, I’m surrounded by old, rich people. The smell of money and Brut, it’s alarming,” he mumbled and Phil rolled his eyes, nudging him.

“Don’t knock the money when you’re wearing an eight-hundred dollar suit,” he pointed out, earning a slack-jawed look of shock.

“Jesus Christ, you wear these things in the field! They get set of fire on a bi-weekly basis-“

“And SHIELD pays for them, stop judging me,” Phil said, nudging him ahead some more. “Get my mom’s chair,” he instructed, earning a playful glare before Clint fixed on a smile and touched Marianne’s elbow.

“Let me get that for you,” he said, pulling her chair out for her.

Marianne gave him a delightfully surprised look. “Well aren’t you such a gentleman!” she said, sitting. “You should’ve brought him home long ago, Phil. He’s a sweetheart!” she said, and Clint smirked as he stepped back.

“Want me to get your chair for you too, babe?” he said earning an amused twitch to Phil’s lips.

“No thanks, dear, I can manage,” he said, sitting before Clint could do something more. Clint sat and shared a small smile with Phil. “You’re such an asshole,” Phil whispered while the sound of chairs sliding covered his voice.

Clint smirked. “According to your mother, I’m a ‘gentleman’, and a ‘sweetheart’,” he countered, immaturely poking his tongue out at him before anybody could catch his childish gesture. When everyone was settled the waiter came to take their drink orders and Phil saw the panicked look Clint sent him and put a hand on his leg to calm him.

“I’ll have an Earl Grey spritzer and he’ll have an agua fresca,” he said and Clint raised an eyebrow. Phil lowered his voice. “You’re driving so it’s just water with fruit in it.”

Clint shot him a look. “Rich people start drinking at ten in the morning?” he asked and Phil chuckled.

“At a place like this, with all these upper class housewives socializing before tennis while their husbands are out golfing, you pretty much always drink something with alcohol with your meal. Either wine or a cocktail almost every time. Ten bucks says my mom’s tipsy by the time this is over,” he mumbled just as Clint heard Marianne tell the waiter to ‘keep the mimosa’s coming’. “See?” Phil asked and Clint snickered.

“You say upper class housewives, I say unembarrassed alcoholics,” he replied, earning an eye roll.

“And what are you two over there whispering about?” Sandra asked from her spot beside her husband.

Clint turned a happy smile and curled his hand around Phil’s on his leg, pulling it onto the arm of his chair. “Not much, just talking about how nice it is to be away from work together,” he said, giving Phil his cheekiest smile.

Phil rolled his eyes. “Why all the focus on Clint and me? This is Erika’s big week,” he pointed out.

Erika laughed. “Evan and I have been around this while time though, we never see you!”

“Besides,” Charles offered. “In all the years I’ve been married to Sandra, you’ve never mentioned anybody else that I heard about and here you are bringing one home with you. I think the girls had months to be excited over Erika and Evan.”

Bethany nodded. “Erika gets her big day, we can spare a few on you and your man,” she teased.

Erika gave them a knowing look. “Yeah, Phil. We’re all really happy that you found somebody to make you happy,” she said and Clint felt a spike of guilt when Phil winced, hand twitching in his.

Clint tightened his hold and leaned into Phil some, trying to make it clear that he was sorry that Phil had to feel that way.

Clint came out the back door and smiled when he saw Phil standing at the column, talking to Erika where she sat in a rocking chair, watching the kids playing in the yard. Clint walked over and leaned against the rail beside him. “Soooo, your mom is still totally tanked,” he said as he hopped onto the rail. “Is this a wedding week tradition?”

Phil cringed dramatically. “There’s something about the women in my family and alcohol, I think. You should have seen Sandra and Bethany as teenagers.”

Clint smirked and nudged Phil with his knee repeatedly. “Oh yeah? What about you? I’ve never seen you even go out for drinks after work.”

Phil grabbed his knee to stop him hitting him. “I don’t have time to go drinking. And I had a drink this morning without getting…” He waved a hand at the door and Clint smirked.

“Totally smashed?” he teased. Clint winked at Erika. “Is your brother a drinker?”

Erika chuckled. “Not really. At least I don’t think so.”

Phil lowered his voice. “You both know I can’t afford to be.”

Clint perked up. “Oh yeah! You know!” he said, turning to Erika. “Dude, Phil is a badass. I’m sure it was an accident but I’m totally cool somebody knows how bad of an ass Phil really is,” he said eagerly. Phil raised an eyebrow and Clint shrugged innocently. “You’re kind of the coolest person I know, Sir. It’s so unfair you have a family that thinks you’re got a boring job when you’re in control of super spies!”

Erika smiled. “Awww, Phil you have a fanboy,” she teased and Clint blushed slightly. “What about you? Anybody in your family figured out your super-secret identity?” she asked.

Clint stiffened slightly and Phil squeezed his leg. “He can’t really talk about it,” Phil said, covering for him. Clint nodded, forcing a smile.

“Yeah, but it’s okay. It’s a cool job as long as my boss isn’t annoying. Most of the time I only get handled by Phil so that’s pretty cool,” he said with a shrug. He started to speak but stopped when the soccer ball the kids were playing with came bouncing over the rail beside him.

“Uncle Phil, can we have our ball?” Chloe called out, falling over as she ran towards the porch.

Clint grinned and hopped down to grab the ball before jogging off the porch over to where she’d fallen. “Hold on, sweetie,” he said, picking her up to put on her feet. He knelt down and picked up the ball he’d dropped to hand to her. “Here you go. Tell your sister to not kick it so hard, okay? If it hits you it might hurt you,” he said and she gave him a pretty angry look for so small a child.

“I’m not little!” she argued and Clint raised an amused eyebrow.

“Well excuse me, I was terribly wrong, you’re a big girl!” he said, standing up. “Still… you want some help?” he asked, nodding at Matt and Annie. “You’re only one little girl-“

“BIG girl!” she corrected and he snickered.

“You’re only one big girl against two older kids. That doesn’t seem fair, huh?” he asked and she looked at her sister and cousin then looked at Clint and held up the ball.

“You’re on my time,” she said decisively, giving him a glare when he hesitated to take the ball. “Come on! We don’t have all day,” she complained and Clint laughed, taking the ball.

“Alright, how about you get past them and I’ll pass it to you, okay?” he asked and she nodded.

“You got it,” she said and Clint couldn’t help but laugh again, thoroughly amused by such a little child’s big attitude. She was definitely related to Phil, he decided.
Phil and Erika sat for a while talking and watching as Clint helped Chloe out against her sister and cousin, both more than twice her size and age. “I should’ve known Clint would be good with kids. He’s practically a six year old most days anyhow,” Phil said in a low, amused voice.

Erika shot him a look. “Tell me something, Phil. How fake is this fake boyfriend thing?” she asked, eyes full of suspicion.

Phil frowned. “What do you mean? I told you, he’s one of my-“

“You just sat there for a few minutes with your hand curled around his thigh, Phil.” She nodded to the rail where Clint had been sitting. “Only me around, you were talking to me about your super-secret life, and you were holding his leg.” She snorted. “C’mon, Phil, the only people who casually grab each other’s thighs are those having sex.”

Phil flushed. “I have not had sex with Clint, if that’s what you’re suggesting,” he said flatly.

She raised an eyebrow. “So you want to have sex with Clint?”

“NO!” He groaned. “Erika, no, he’s my agent, a friend, but still my agent. Nothing more. He can’t be anything more. Which I don’t want him to be,” he added.

Erika raised an eyebrow. “Sure he knows that? He seems pretty hero-worshippy about you.”

Phil shrugged. “I’m the only one who works with him without giving him a hard time. That’s all,” he denied.

Erika just smirked. “I think you’re wrong. I think you have the hots for your sexy young agent and he thinks you’re the bees’ knees-“

Phil glared. “How old do you think I am?” he grumbled and she smirked.

“Clearly not too old to have a crush on the cute boy at school,” she teased, ignoring the glare of death her brother gave her.
Clint came out of the bathroom, tugging on his tee-shirt, only to frown when he saw Phil already in the bed with a tablet on his knee. “Hey, no work this week,” he said, sliding in bed next to him to peek. “Uh-oh, is Stark in trouble again?”

Phil pulled it away and set it aside. “You aren’t meant to be included in Tony Stark’s status in relation to SHIELD, sorry.”

Clint poked his tongue out at Phil. “Well fine then!” He grinned and wiggled under the covers. “Dude, your mom totally snuck a grab of my ass after dinner.”

Phil groaned, reaching over to turn off the lamp. “She had more wine didn’t she?” he asked and Clint nodded.

“Oh yeah,” he laughed. “She had a big glass while I was helping wash up. I’m pretty sure she just stood behind and watched my ass while I was doing the dishes with your sister, actually.” He shrugged, smirking over at Phil. “Not that I blame her. Drinking and staring at a sweet ass like mine sounds like a great end of the evening activity.”

Phil shot him a look. “You definitely have no lack of self-confidence, Barton.”

Clint shrugged. “Good looks aren’t really something I worry about so I guess I don’t have any doubts about being attractive.” He looked across his bicep at Phil. “Now my shooting has to be perfect. I have to be in peak physical shape and I have to be perfect every time. I get anal about even a slight-miss. I mean, an inch to the left of bull’s-eye and I have to shoot for hours.” He shot him a glance. “I guess you could say that I don’t really place much worry on my looks, I accept I look good, and I worry about my skills. I get seriously self-conscious when I mess up on an op.”

Phil nodded. “I get that. It’s kind of like how I don’t care much for what I look like as long as I do my job. I mean, I like my suits, but that’s just for me. People don’t need something to look at, they need somebody competent.”

Clint smirked. “Your competence is sexy,” he teased and Phil snorted, rolling over.

“Go to sleep, Barton,” he said, then hummed. “Oh yeah, careful with the cuddling thing, okay? I nearly broke your fingers this morning before I realized you weren’t attacking me.”

Clint frowned. “Wait, huh?”

Phil chuckled. “You cuddle in your sleep. I woke up and an arm was around my waist and my first thought was somebody was grabbing me and then when I really woke up I realized you were just sleep-snuggling.”

Clint scoffed. “I don’t cuddle!”
Phil woke up with a heavy arm around his waist and a leg slid between his own. He chuckled and shifted, elbowing Clint. “What was that you said about ‘not cuddling?” he asked hoarsely.

Clint moaned fitfully, only to stop when he slowly woke up. “Wha- oh.” He sighed. “Damn it, I’m sorry, Phil,” he said, pulling away. Phil rolled over and raised an eyebrow at Clint, who looked sheepish. “I’m just used to Natasha,” he said innocently.

Phil frowned. “Is there something I should know, Barton?” he asked, then sighed, flopping onto his back. “Damn it, do you know what kind of-“

“NO!” Clint said quickly. “No, we’re not- I mean okay there was a time-“ Phil gave him a dark look. “Okay, Tasha and I did sleep together some but at the beginning. But no, what I mean is that I don’t sleep well so a lot of the time, when we’re both off mission or on mission together and don’t need to sleep in shifts, Natasha sleeps with me- just next to me, not sleeps with me- because I-“ He flushed and looked down. “I think I can sleep when I feel safe and if Natasha’s there I know I’m safe.” He shrugged, giving Phil an apologetic look. “Guess I know I’m safe here and I think you’re Natasha?” he tried and Phil chuckled.

“I think you’re just trying to feel me up in my sleep,” he teased as he slid out of bed.

Clint grinned. “Oh trust me, I know better! I look but don’t touch, definitely. I know you’ll kill me,” he said, wiggling his eyebrows as he watched Phil cross the room.

“You should probably watch your eyes, Agent,” Phil said coolly and Clint smirked.

“With legs like those, I can’t help it!” He giggled when Phil shut the door, flopping on his middle. He wiggled into the warmth Phil left and sighed, humming happily at the warm, clean scent his brain identified as safe, and trust, and home. Most of all, it was just plain Phil. Clint’s heart fluttered as he closed his eyes and clenched his hand in Phil’s pillow. He knew he was seriously fucked when his brain identified Phil’s scent as ‘home’, but that wasn’t exactly a new development.
Clint was still straightening his shirt on the way down the stairs when he heard his name. “Yeah, Phil’s partner, Clint.”

“Phil has a partner?” an unfamiliar voice asked. “How the hell did you score that, Phil! Aren’t you a CPA or something? With that hairline and your job I wouldn’t think you’d get anybody this late in life.”

“Ha ha, just as funny as last time, Lee,” Phil droned, though Clint could hear the hurt in his voice.

Marianne spoke up. “Lee, leave your cousin alone. Phillip’s got a gorgeous man and you have gone through three girlfriends in as many months-“

“Yeah, because I can get three girls in three months. Phil never did attract the boys,” Lee- it would seem- teased. “You know I’m just joking, Phil. It’s good you found somebody! It would suck for you to die alone.” Clint’s jaw dropped, shocked at the tactlessness. “He a pencil pusher too? Probably a bit thicker than you, huh? You’re looking pretty good for your age, Phil. Not many men in their forties stay slim, you’re lucky to find anybody so don’t be ashamed if he’s fat-“

“Yeah, thanks, Lee,” Phil interrupted. “That’s nice of you to say I’m thin.”

Clint scoffed, shaking his head. Of course Phil would be nice. Clint, however, couldn’t help the devious decision he made before stripping off his shirt and tossing it back up over the landing rail before jogging down the steps and around into the hall. He walked through the swinging kitchen door, faking an embarrassed look when Marianne, Erika, and Sandra all turned and gaped, eyes flying wide when he walked in. “Sorry, sorry,” he said, ducking his eyes. “Phil, I can’t find any short-sleeve shirts, did you see which bag they were in? It’s a little warm for sweaters and I don’t want to mess up one of my good shirts on accident,” he said, going to stand next to Phil, leaning on the counter so he could ‘accidentally’ flex his arms some.

Phil gave him a flat, knowing look, but Clint could see the glint of amusement in his eyes. “Probably in the bottom of your bag. Just look better,” he suggested.

Clint gave him an exaggerated smile and sighed. “Yeah, you always are better at packing, I should leave efficiency matters to you,” he said, sliding up behind him to hug him, pressing a kiss to his cheek. “Thank you, babe-“ He looked up and ‘noticed’ the younger guy sitting across the counter from where Phil was helping crack eggs. “Oh! Sorry, hi, I’m Clint,” he said, waving over Phil’s shoulder. “You must be Phil’s…. cousin?” he tried and Phil nodded.

“Lee, this is my partner Clint Barton.” He turned and tipped his head at the door. “Go put on a shirt, Clint. You can find them if you look harder. I know you,” he stressed pointedly and Clint smirked.

“Yes, sir,” he said in a flirty tone, wiggling his eyebrows at Phil as he pulled away, throwing a shit-eating grin at the shocked expression on Lee’s face as he left the room, purposefully flexing his chest on the way past him.
Clint watched Phil walk out into the living room with Bethany, Sandra, and their kids and husbands before standing. “Let me help,” he said to Erika, gathering dishes to carry over to the kitchen.

Marianne chuckled. “You know, Clint. I think you’ve jumped at the chance for every single household chore since you’ve been here,” she pointed out. “You’d think you enjoyed housework.”

Clint smiled sheepishly. “I never really get to do the cooking and cleaning myself. I mean, obviously I have to clean my house, but I’m not at home very much since I travel a lot for work and I never cook or eat off of dishes other than glasses and forks, so I don’t really get to do this. It’s fun to try something new,” he said with a shrug.

“I just really don’t get you,” Lee interrupted as he brought his glass over to put in the sink.

Clint raised an eyebrow. “What about me?”

Lee rolled his eyes, leaning against the counter. “You’re young, attractive, apparently you travel a lot, and you enjoy washing dishes. What the hell are you doing with Phil?” he asked bluntly. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, Phil was always a pretty good guy growing up, and he’s the family war hero for being special forces and stuff when he was younger.” He shook his head. “But now he’s a middle aged pencil pusher. What’s a body like yours doing with a hairline like his?” he asked and Clint’s jaw dropped.

Clint saw Erika gaping from behind Lee and he closed his mouth with a snap. “Look, I don’t know what your problem is. Who are you to try and rationalize your cousin’s relationship?” he asked tightly.

Lee shrugged. “I’m not trying to sound negative, I’m happy Phil has somebody, it’s just that-“

“It’s just that clearly you think everybody is as shallow as you?” Clint suggested. “Look,” he said, face heating as he held back anger. “I don’t know who you are to try and judge me, but I fell in love with a man, not his hair or his job or anything else that superficial. Besides, we work the same job, basically, he’s just higher up.” He paused. “Also, who gives a shit if Phil’s hair is thinning? He’s seriously gorgeous, especially for a man his age who works in an office. He’s tall, athletically built for a man in his forties, and has beautiful eyes. Being younger and decently attractive doesn’t mean I’m too shallow to appreciate that the man I love is attractive in his own way, especially since I’d probably still be in love with him if he wasn’t attractive by most people’s means.” He finished with a pointed glare. “You’re just an asshole, Lee.” He paused and blushed as he looked around to Marianne and Erika. “I’m sorry for my outburst,” he said softly, grabbing a towel to dry off his hands before stalking out half-angry and half-embarrassed.
Phil walked into the kitchen to bring his and Bethany’s glasses back, only to raise an eyebrow when Erika and Marianne stopped whispering. “Why do I feel like how you sometimes walk in a room and know everybody was talking about you?” he joked and Marianne sighed dramatically.

“Phillip, you are such a lucky man,” she said and Phil raised an eyebrow.

Erika smirked at him pointedly. “Your boyfriend really let Lee have it, Phil. It was great.”

Phil froze, then groaned. “Oh no, what did Clint do? Where are they? He didn’t hit him, did he?” he asked quickly.

Marianne beamed. “Oh sweetheart, he is so in love with you! It’s so sweet and you are so lucky.” She shook her head. “Lee is never living that one down.”

Erika chuckled. “Lee asked Clint what he was doing with someone like you- like he has any room to talk about someone’s hairline with a gut like his-“ she pointed out. “And Clint just went off! It was great!”

“Oh it was so sweet! He said something about how he fell in love with you, not your hair, and then pointed out that you’re still a very attractive man for your age. He even said you had ‘beautiful eyes’! He really is a keeper, Phil,” Marianne said, then glared playfully. “You keep this one, Phillip. That poor boy loves you so much, I might beat you myself if you break his heart one day.”

Erika smirked at Phil, who fidgeted uncomfortably at her knowing look. “Yeah, Phil. You better not screw up the best chance you’ll ever get,” she said meaningfully.

Phil rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I’m not crazy.” He started out, pausing to whisper to Erika. “Like you are.”

She smirked. “Whatever, you both want each other so bad,” she whispered back, shoving him towards the door with a grin.
When Phil walked into the bedroom, Clint was sitting on the edge of the bed, hands clasped with his lips pressed to them as he stared into space. When Phil walked in, Clint looked up and blushed, standing up. “Look, Phil, I’m really sorry I blew up like that-“

Phil waved a hand. “Ah, Lee’s an ass,” he said, then walked over to sit on the bed Clint had just vacated. He watched Clint pace and raised an eyebrow. “Care to tell me what that was about?”

Clint turned and burst out, throwing his hands up. “I just can’t STAND it!” he cried, then clapped a hand over his mouth, looking mortified. “I mean- I just…” He sighed and ducked his head. “Shit, Phil, I’m just not used to this,” he said simply. He crossed his arms. “I’m not used to anything outside of SHIELD. I’ve never had to do a double life type thing and I’ve never seen you off the job,” he added. He gestured. “You’re Agent Coulson!”

Phil nodded leaning back with his hands on the bedspread. “Okay, and?”

Clint scoffed. “You’re legendary, Phil! You’re revered, you’re hero-worshipped, you are feared by many junior agents even. You don’t get questioned, you don’t get laughed at, and you definitely don’t get teased like you do in this side of your life. It doesn’t happen. Even if someone did start to, some newbie with no idea of who you are, they would either get taught a lesson by Fury or the sense beat into them from Natasha.”

Phil hummed. “You aren’t used to seeing a human side of the robot, huh?”

“What? No!” Clint groaned, rubbing a hand over his face. “Phil, you are human. You’re our Agent, of course we know you’re not a robot. It isn’t like that, I just mean-“ He sighed. “It’s hard to see you not being respected the only way I know you to be,” he mumbled, walking over to look out the window.

Phil stood up and raised an eyebrow as he walked closer. “Look at me,” he said and Clint turned. “What do you mean ‘our’ agent?”

Clint cringed and rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. “Um… so, maybe Natasha and I kind of… claim you?” he admitted. “Okay, before you get mad, you’re the only one we trust. It’s just that. You’re the only agent who really respects me and Tasha so you’re one of the only ones we have much respect for. Definitely the only one we trust without question.”

Phil snorted. “Agent Romanov may respect me, but you’re insubordinate all of the time, Barton. You’re walking insubordination-“

“No, I joke with you and you joke back,” Clint argued. “I respect you, sir. There is no question about my loyalty to you or my trust to your judgment. I’m insubordinate to everybody, but you know when I’m messing around and when I’m really being insubordinate and you have to know it’s only jokes with you. I trust you to listen to me when I need you to and to have my back. Nobody else lets me offer my suggestions and judgments, they just treat me like an extension of their arm. You understand that field ops give the person on the mark a different perspective and you let me help you make decisions with my intel and I’m never honestly insubordinate. I know when to stop. I know when you have reached your humor-limit and I follow your orders. I only go as far as you let me.” He shook his head. “You know me, Phil. You know I trust you and respect you. You earned my respect a long time ago.”

Phil smiled sadly. “That’s just it, though, Clint. Nobody on the outside can know I did anything that makes me ‘legendary’, as you put it.”

Clint sighed. “I know. I get it, I really do. I just can’t get used to it.” He groaned. “I couldn’t help myself. Your cousin just pissed me off so bad, Phil,” he said, leaning back against the windowsill, hands on his face. “If he wasn’t a civi I’d have probably dropkicked him,” he admitted and Phil laughed, startling Clint into looking up.

“Dropkicked him?” Phil asked, smiling. “Clint, he just called me old and boring. To them, I am.”

Clint looked up and shrugged. “But to me you aren’t,” he said simply. “You’re my handler. You’ve been the voice in my ear for years, Phil. I get it, I get why they think you’re just some forty year old desk worker. But that doesn’t give him any right to say that shit and insult you.” He shrugged. “I just lost it. I’m sorry.”

Phil took a shaky breath and nodded. “It’s okay. And I guess it worked in character too. Especially the part about me having nice eyes,” he teased, nudging Clint’s foot with his.

Clint smirked. “You do have nice eyes, though,” he said, winking exaggeratedly. “And a sweet ass too,” he said, standing to brush past Phil.

Phil caught his wrist, stopping him. “Clint,” he said, looking into his eyes when Clint turned to him, worry in his eyes. Phil gave him a small smile and nodded. “Thank you for trusting me.”

Clint shrugged, ducking his eyes. “You earned it,” he said simply.
Clint sighed, looking at the mess of a knot he’d made of his tie. He gave up and pulled it off, turning around to stalk across the room and pout as he held it out to Phil. Phil finished his own tie in front of the mirror and raised an eyebrow. “Yes?”

Clint huffed. “I can’t do it, you do it. I hate ties. They suck.”

Phil chuckled and turned, taking it. “Come here, watch me.” He pushed Clint in front of the mirror and put the tie around his neck, stepping behind him to see his hands over Clint’s shoulder. “Okay, you watching?” he asked and Clint nodded. “You take this and do this-“ He began to make the loops, doing it slow so that Clint could see clearly what he was doing. Clint focused, but it was hard to pay too much attention to the tie-tying with the way Phil was pressed against him, breath tickling his neck. “And then, there,” Phil said, patting his lapels down after he finished. “Got it?”

Clint turned to look at Phil, inches from him, and nodded. “Um, yeah, I- I think so.” Phil rested a hand on Clint’s back and gave him a look and Clint smiled. “Seriously, I have it, want me to prove it?”

Phil chuckled and resting his chin on Clint’s shoulder. “You’re good.” He smirked slightly. “I trust you,” he said in a low voice, earning an amused grin.

“I’m going to regret admitting that, won’t I?” Clint asked jokingly. “You’re going to hold that one against me-“

“Boys! Are you two ready?” Marianne walked in, then paused when she saw them before grinning. “Awww, look at you,” she cooed. Phil and Clint shared a look then they both seemed to notice their position- faces inches apart, Phil’s hands on Clint’s back and waist- and stepped apart.

“Um, we’re coming, Mom,” Phil said, quickly turning to get his jacket.

Clint looked up and saw Marianne smirking. “Don’t get shy about it; it’s great you two are still in such a sweet, happy phase in your relationship!” she said brightly. “Who knows, maybe Clint will be the next addition to the family,” she teased, making them both turn bright red before she walked out.
Clint smirked at how uncomfortable Phil looked as people he didn’t know shook his hand as they walked around, introduced to Evan’s family by Erika. Eventually Erika wandered off, leaving Phil to introduce himself to random people. Clint mostly got to hang back and smile occasionally, since he was just Phil’s date. The best part came when Evan’s mother came up with Erika on her arm and gasped. “My, I thought your mother looked young, honey, your father doesn’t look a day past forty!” she said, then pulled Phil into a shocked hug. “It’s so nice to meet you, Mr. Coulson. Erika is the nicest girl!”

Erika burst out giggling. “No, no, this is my brother!” she said, leaning into Phil’s side as he stared in shock. “My father died years ago, sadly. This is my brother, Phil,” she said, grinning up at him. “Phil, this is Mrs. Masters.”

Phil smiled and shook her hand. “Thanks for saying my mom looks nice,” he said and she chuckled. “And you weren’t wrong, I’m forty, so it makes sense I look it.”

She laughed. “Ah well then. I just knew you were the one giving Erika away so I figured you were her father.”

Erika shook her head. “Nah, but he’s close enough.” She tugged Clint from half-behind Phil. “This is Clint, Phil’s partner.”

Clint smiled and Mrs. Masters shook her head with an amused look. “Of course a man as handsome as your brother would have a boyfriend. That’s just how it is, huh?” she said, before seeming to spot someone she knew and excusing herself.

Clint smirked at Erika. “I like your in-laws,” he said, sliding his arm though Phil’s. “They acknowledge how sexy your brother is.”

Phil glared. “Clint.”

Erika just laughed. “Shut up, you do look handsome in that suit, Phil. Let your pseudo boyfriend be proud,” she teased, winking at Clint as she walked off.

Phil groaned. “I’m going to shoot you both one day. You and Erika get along way too well,” he said and Clint smirked.

“Come on, you won’t shoot me,” Clint said, smiling up at him playfully. “You’d hate that much paperwork,” he teased.

Phil narrowed his eyes then chuckled low enough that nobody heard and bumped their shoulders together. “You’re lucky I love you, Barton.”

Clint nudged him back, only to freeze when he realized what Phil just said. Phil similarly went still, both of them barely breathing. Clint turned to look at Phil, who was staring straight ahead with a somewhat petrified expression. “Phil?” Clint said tightly, pulling his hand free to touch Phil’s shoulder. “Did… did you say-“

“Dinner is served,” a voice called and everybody began moving towards the dining room. Clint looked at Phil, who glanced at him fearfully before turning to follow the others. Clint took a breath, fighting to keep his racing heart contained as he too followed the others.
All through dinner, Clint wanted to take Phil aside and ask him about what he said. However, since he was part of the wedding party, Phil sat at a different table than Clint. He more picked at his food than anything as he thought about Phil’s slip. What if he meant it? What if what he had been feeling hadn’t been all on his side?

Clint really just wanted to know one way or another.
Unfortunately for Clint, he didn’t get his wish to speak to Phil until they got back to the family’s home. Phil and Clint had driven Marianne to the rehearsal dinner so they weren’t alone in the car on the way back. When they got back, it was another hour before Phil finally went up to bed and Clint could follow him. Phil was just coming out of the bathroom when Clint walked in, undoing his tie. Phil didn’t meet his eyes when he passed him, heading over to his bag to dig out is tablet. “I’m gonna get some work done,” he mumbled, heading over to the desk in the corner.

Clint watched him, shuffling as he undid the top few buttons of his shirt and then started on his cuffs. “Phil?” he asked softly. “Can we talk?”

Phil sighed, putting his head in his hands. “I’d rather not,” he said simply, voice lacking any real inflection. “Look, I’m trying to get a little work done, okay?”

Clint sighed but nodded. “Okay,” he said, heading into the bathroom, unbuttoning the rest of his buttons. He pulled his shirt off, then huffed and turned around and came back, throwing it across the chest at the food. “Actually no, it’s not okay,” he said, stopping beside the desk. He squatted down and looked at Phil, who still wasn’t looking at him. “You can’t expect me to ignore what you said-“

The lines around Phil’s eyes deepened and his mouth tightened. “I expect you to leave me alone, Barton.” Clint opened his mouth but was cute off. “That’s an order.”

Clint stood up, glaring. “Fuck that, Phil, we’re not on SHIELD time. I’m not here as your agent, I’m here as your friend, you don’t get to give me orders. Even if you did, I want an answer, Phil-“

“What is there to talk about?!” Phil snapped, standing up so abruptly the chair fell over. “Fuck, Barton, I said something, it’s out there, I can’t unsay it, fine! Now let me be mortified in peace! What is there to even talk about about it-“

“Was it true?” Clint interrupted, voice small and nervous. Phil fell silent, staring at him blankly. Clint swallowed and rolled his eyes. “Come on, Phil,” he laughed weakly. “You can’t say something like that and just… pretend it away. Give me something, here.”

Phil snorted, shaking his head. “I just don’t understand what you want to hear, is all, Clint. What? Do you want a transfer when we get back? Fine, I’ll sign one. I don’t expect you to work with someone emotionally compromised like this-“

Clint sucked in a breath. “Phil,” he said weakly. “No.”

Phil frowned. “No? What do you mean-“

Clint closed the gap between them in two steps and slid his hands to Phil’s shoulders seconds before their lips met. He slid one hand up to cup the base of Phil’s skull as he kissed Phil hard, putting everything into it. “No, I don’t want to talk to you about a fucking transfer.” He kissed him again, sliding his fingers into Phil’s hair. “No, you don’t have to stutter like an idiot.” He kissed Phil again, moaning weakly when Phil kissed back this time. “No, don’t stop,” he breathed and Phil finally seemed to catch on, hands sliding to Clint’s waist as he pulled their bodies flush. Clint moaned weakly as Phil held him close, causing Goosebumps to erupt on his skin as Phil’s fingers slid along his lower back. “Jesus, Phil,” he gasped when they broke to breathe, foreheads pressed together.

Phil panted out a laugh. “Barton, what the hell?” he asked, eyes still shut. “Not complaining, but I’m really confused right now.”

Clint giggled, unable to stop himself. “Phil, you asshole, I’ve loved you since Guatemala,” he said and Phil frowned, pulling back to look at him.

“The three days of recon?”

Clint narrowed his eyes. “The first Guatemala,” he corrected. “I got shot from my perch and you didn’t just send a rescue team, you fucking came in yourself to lead the rescue. I mean, I thought you were pretty awesome before that, but if anything was gonna win my heart, it was going to be the G-man leading a body-armored rescue team in an Armani suit and aviators,” he said with a small laugh.

Phil went still, fingers twitching on Clint’s hips. “Clint…” He looked into his eyes. “That was three years ago,” he whispered in shock.

Clint shrugged with a sad smile. “I was okay with loving you from a distance?” he offered.

Phil shook his head. “Clint, I had no idea. There was no reason to even consider-“

“Do you really think I would agree to this week for just anyone, Sir?” he asked in a fragile voice. “Do you think I would trust someone with my life so easily?” Clint shook his head minutely. “There are two people in the world that I would trust with anything. You’re one and I love the other one like a sister. That’s it.”

Phil reached up to cup his cheek, heart breaking a little when Clint pressed into it with a gasp. “I’m sorry.”

Clint’s eyes opened. “What? No, no sorry. Don’t be sorry. What are you sorry for?” He turned and kissed his palm. “I knew it couldn’t happen, okay? Even if I wanted it, even if I love flirting with you, I knew that you were everything I’ll never be and it couldn’t ever happen.”

Phil’s breath caught and he shook his head. “You’re everything I could want, why would you possibly want me?” he asked.

Clint smiled and leaned in. “Because you’re my Phil,” he said playfully, leaning in to kiss Phil, who met him eagerly. Phil pushed at his hips and walked Clint back until he hit the desk. He shoved everything off, not caring what went where, and lifted Clint up onto it, pushing his way between Clint’s legs without breaking the kiss. Clint moaned, wrapping his legs around Phil’s waist and twisting his fingers in Phil’s hair as Phil’s hands skated along his back and thigh. Clint whimpered when Phil pulled their bodies flush, giving only the slightest pressure between their hips. “Fuck, Phil,” he panted, dropping his head back when Phil’s lips slid to his throat. Clint gasped, nails digging into Phil’s shoulder and twisting at his hair. “God, Phil,” he breathed.

A cleared throat and a tap on the door interrupted. Phil jerked back just as far as Clint’s arms and legs let him, both of them freezing as the turned to the door. Sandra just smirked from her spot in the doorway with her arms crossed. “The door was open, boys,” she said, winking when they both flushed. “Might wanna close it if you’re gonna get it on,” she teased. “And seriously, keep it down, we’re next door. I do not need to hear that,” she said as she turned to head on down the hall.

Phil pulled away with a huff, going to shut the door and lock it. “Jesus Christ,” he groaned, letting his head fall to the wood.

Clint slid off the desk and giggled as he started picking things up. “I can’t believe we left the door open,” he said, looking up when Phil came over and picked his tablet up, turning it off to put away.

“I can’t believe my sister caught me with a boy in my bedroom when I’m forty,” he said and Clint smirked.

“I can go out and climb in the window if you want to fully recreate the fantasy,” he offered, earning a stern look. Clint smirked. “What?! You know you’d like it.”

Phil chuckled. “I really would but we really can’t,” he said softly. “She’s right, my sisters are sleeping one room over,” he said pointedly.

Clint shrugged. “Oh well, I guess that’s too bad,” he said, earning a surprised look from Phil. “I was hoping we could fuck, but I guess sharing a shower isn’t exactly a letdown,” he said simply, winking at Phil as he walked to the bathroom, dropping his pants outside the door to continue completely naked into the bathroom. Phil stared for a few seconds before quickly stripping off his shirt on the way there. He shut the bathroom door just in case and quickly shed his pants, eyes already on Clint’s silhouette in the shower. He climbed in behind him, grinning when Clint turned around and tugged him closer. Phil kissed Clint deeply, hands sliding all over Clint’s hot, wet body as he pushed him against the wall. Clint moaned, curling his arms around Phil to hold him close.

“God, you’re so gorgeous,” Phil whispered against Clint’s lips, rocking their hips together. He kissed a row down Clint’s neck, from his ear down to his shoulder. He pulled Clint closer, earning a gasp as he sucked on the thin skin stretched across his collar bone.

Phil reached down between them and caught their cocks together in his hand, earning a stilted whine from Clint. “Oh God, Phil!” Clint whimpered, hanging on tighter. “Yeah, like that,” he moaned, turning his head against Phil’s head as he clung to him. Phil twisted his wrist on the upstroke and Clint whined, lips right next to Phil’s ear. “Jesus, who knew a hand job could be this good?” he groaned.

Phil chuckled, pulling back to kiss him. “Who knew I’d ever end up naked in my childhood shower with an equally naked secret agent?” he asked and Clint smirked, kissing him lightly. “God, Clint,” he moaned when Clint reached and curled his hand around Phil’s.

Clint caught his lips in a kiss, moaning as he got closer and closer. “Phil, fuck,” he mumbled between kisses. “God I’m gonna come, shit.” He let his head drop back, the fingers of the hand not wrapped around their erections slipping on Phil’s wet, slippery back. “Phil-“

“Oh fuck,” Phil grunted, kissing Clint hard as he came, hips jerking into their fists. Clint whimpered, nails digging into Phil’s shoulder as he followed moments after, head falling back against the shower wall with a thud.

“Phil, fuck,” he groaned, ears ringing as he clung to Phil to stay upright. “Mmmmm, Phil.”

Phil chuckled hotly against his throat, kissing his shoulder lightly. “Mmmm, you’re so beautiful,” he mumbled, kissing up to his earlobe. “That was great.”

Clint giggled. “Hell yeah it was.” He turned and kissed Phil, who kissed back, holding him tightly. “You’re amazing. Fuck me, I have had sex with Phil Coulson now, how is that possible?”

Phil chuckled. “Clint, I’m naked right now with one of the most gorgeous men I’ve ever seen.” He pressed a quick kiss to his lips. “Pretty sure I’m the lucky one here.”

Clint shook his head, smiling as he kissed Phil again. “Nuh-uh, I am.”

Phil smiled a warm, gentle smile and kissed Clint tenderly. “Let’s get finished and go to bed. Tomorrow’s a busy day.” Clint just nodded, shifting around to let Phil hand him the shampoo while he took the body wash, wordlessly working together as if it wasn’t the first time they had ever been in the shower together.
The day of the wedding was not the most ideal day for Clint and Phil to be somewhat ridiculously happy and in love. Between wasting time sharing sleepy kisses and then ‘helping’ each other get dressed, they ran late and had to speed to the wedding. The only time Clint and Phil managed to stop sharing long looks and smiles when they caught each other was when the ceremony actually started. Even when the usually-composed Phil Coulson was fighting not to tear up as he gave away his little sister, Clint still thought he was beautiful.

After the ceremony, they weren’t much better than they were that morning. Phil was supposed to go meet his mom and sisters for photos after the ceremony and before the reception, but ended up showing up late and slightly ruffled after he and Clint got caught up making out like teenagers in the car after they parked. Once everything was said and done, however, they managed to settle back into their ‘roles’ as long-term partners, not two men so new in their passion that they could barely contain themselves for the reception.

Phil kept catching sight of Clint from the corner of his eye as he danced with Erika, only to be brought back when Erika stepped on his toe pointedly. “Hey, I’m the happy bride, pay attention to me, not your boy-thing,” she said and Phil looked back, blushing slightly. Erika smirked up at him. “Soooo. Sandra said she caught you two getting it on with the door open,” she said with a pointed eyebrow wiggle.

Phil rolled his eyes. “It was just kissing, it isn’t like she walked in on us half-way to bed,” he defended and Erika gave a triumphant laugh, throwing up a hand.

“Wooo! I knew you had it in you!” She smiled. “But really, I told you!”

Phil sighed and looked down. “Look, I’d been in love with him for a while,” he admitted. “He’s been in my life for years. But he was younger, more attractive in every way, and I knew better than to mess up the working relationship we had because nobody else likes to put up with him long-term.”

Erika smiled. “And it worked out anyways,” she said and Phil chuckled, but nodded.

“God knows how.” He shook his head. “Seriously, what does he see in me?” he asked.

Erika grinned. “That you’re awesome,” she said, standing on her toes to kiss his cheek. “Face it, I’ve got the coolest big brother ever. It’s about time somebody recognized it.”

Phil smiled and pulled her into a hug, rocking with his arms around her rather than dancing. “Evan is a lucky man,” he said, pressing his lips to her forehead. “I’m proud of you, sis. You’ve grown up good.” He pulled back and gave her a devious look. “And if he ever hurts you, I can actually make him disappear,” he promised, earning a loud laugh. “Seriously, say the word and he’s gone-“

“Who are you trying to ‘disappear’ now?” Clint’s voice asked and he materialized at their sides. “Mind if I cut in? Your husband’s looking for a dance,” Clint said to Erika, who automatically beamed, positively glowing as she turned and left with a wave.

Phil shook his head, watching Erika and Evan. “Swear to God, if that bastard hurts her-“

Clint snorted. “Yeah, yeah. Disappear forever,” he said, tugging Phil around, slinging his arms over his shoulders. “He seems like a good kid, give them a chance,” he said, then tugged Phil until he started dancing. “There you go, about time.”

Phil turned his attention to Clint, eyes softening as he curled his arms around the other man’s waist, holding him close. “Hi.”

Clint chuckled low in his throat. “Well hello to you, too.” He sighed happily, brushing Phil’s hair with his thumb. “This week has been…” He shrugged. “It’s been great. I mean, besides the obvious,” he gestured between them. “I’ve just been really calm. I never really had a full week of peace. It’s different.”

Phil nodded. “It is, huh? I bet we have three or four missions in a row when we get back Monday.”

Clint swallowed, looking down. “About that,” he started, nervously not meeting Phil’s eyes. “What’s going to happen when we get back to real life?” he asked.

Phil hummed. “You mean about us?” Clint nodded, looking away. “Clint,” he said, softly, reaching up to cup his cheek, turning his eyes back. “I love you.”

A blush bloomed across Clint’s cheeks and he smiled. “Yeah, I love you too,” he said almost breathlessly. “But really, are we even allowed? Is this something we’ll have to hide or will you even break rules like that? I’m justified in being afraid-“

“I’ll fill out the appropriate paperwork and turn it in to HR. We’ll be fine.” He nudged their foreheads together. “I’ve got some sway with the boss, remember? We won’t even be reassigned other agents and handlers. Everybody knows you work best with me in the long-term.”

Clint nodded, closing his eyes as they leaned together, noses and foreheads touching. “Can you be okay with this though? Will it be a stress on your judgment to direct me in the field?”

Phil chuckled low in his chest. “Clint, I don’t feel any differently than I have for a long time. I’m always terrified when things go wrong and you’re there. I’ve always had to force my judgment not to prioritize you. Thankfully, that isn’t a big problem. You’re a major asset to SHIELD so you’re generally one of the most high-priority operatives in the field. Nothing will be different just because I know I get to touch you and make sure you’re not hurt with my own eyes and hands when you get back.”

Clint grinned. “Sounds hot. Can you be my personal medic for minor wounds now? Ida the nurse likes to feel me up in Medical,” he disclosed.

Phil tilted their lips together, smiling when Clint kissed back just as softly. “Now why would I steal Ida’s fun? I can do a much more thorough examination of your body than she can. I may as well let her have her fun ‘accidentally’ touching your chest and arms.”

Clint giggled. “I’m not sure if that was creepy or funny or what, but it’s proof I’m gone for you that I’m laughing anyways,” he said and Phil smiled, shaking his head as Clint shifted closer, laying his head on Phil’s shoulder. “Mmmm, this week was good. Glad I agreed to help you.”

Phil took a breath, thinking about how different things would be, then let it out slowly. “I’m glad you did too.”
It only took Natasha about thirty seconds of looking at Clint when he met her in the training room to smirk with realization.

“About fucking time you two grew some balls,” she said, then punched Clint in the face when he least expected it. “Mind off your Agent, next time I won’t pull it.”

And just like that, everything was back to normal.


Well, as normal as it got around SHIELD, anyways.