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Cycles and Heat

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Clint Barton woke in his bed at Stark Tower, lifted his hands above his head, stretched – and stopped.

His lower back twinged painfully. Clint frowned and reviewed everything he had done in the past twenty-four hours that could have caused an ache like that. He’d done a little sparring with Natasha, there had been that incident with the drone beetles, but that was weeks ago, what – ?

His stomach gave a painful twinge. Clint closed his eyes as the reality of what was happening struck him. Oh, fuck. Why was this his life?

Clint sighed and rubbed a hand over his face. He lay in bed for half a minute before he forced himself up and into the shower. Tony had fitted the Tower with an amazing shower system. Maybe the hot water would make him feel better.

It did, actually. Clint stood under the spray and let the water pour over him. When he couldn’t delay it any longer, he reached one hand around himself and gingerly prodded at his hole. It was tender, and his finger came back smeared with blood.

Fuck.

Clint ducked his head back under the spray and let the pressure pound the tension out of his shoulders. He mentally counted back and grimaced, realizing it had been at least six, maybe even seven months, since his last cycle. It had been before New Mexico and Thor, and way before Loki.

That meant this cycle was going to be a doozy. Clint groaned and let the water cascade over him. He might as well get used to it. He was probably going to be spending the next five days in the shower.

Finally, Clint reluctantly turned off the water and dried himself with a towel. He patted his hole gently before rummaging around in his drawers for the box of tampons he half-remembered bringing over from his old apartment. He’d been planning to stay in his own place, but Stark had shown up, made fun of his couch, and then somehow moved him into Stark Tower. Clint hadn’t had time to grab a lot of stuff.

Not that he’d had a lot of stuff to grab.

Clint followed the eccentric billionaire because Coulson was still dead, and Clint’s entire life was basically in shambles. Coming to live with Stark had been less work than telling him to fuck off, so Clint had moved in. It had been another two weeks after that before medical revealed Coulson had been kept barely alive on twelve kinds of life support. Fury had been hunting for a possible cure, and had finally let the Avengers in on the secret when he had a lead on something. The team had been pretty pissed for a while, but the cure had come through. Phil had woken up and recognized them all, and Stark had promptly stolen him away from S.H.I.E.L.D. and moved him into the Tower.

It had been to “further his recovery” Tony’d claimed, and so JARVIS could keep an eye on the still healing agent. Natasha had agreed, and Fury had just rolled his eyes and gone along with it, which told Clint he’d been hoping for that exact reaction.

The team without Coulson had been… fragmented. As powerful as the Avengers were, they needed someone grounded to keep them together. Clint was pretty sure Fury had pegged Cap for that person, but he was still reeling from the whole “it’s not 1945” thing and hadn’t exactly stepped up to the plate.

It had been five months since Coulson had returned to them, and though he spent the first three months recovering and coordinating missions from the ground, he was now fully healed and back in the fight. Technically, he was the “official liaison to the Avengers Initiative”, but then technically Clint and Natasha were still S.H.I.E.L.D. agents on an extended op.

What it really meant, Clint knew, was that Coulson was no longer his boss. Clint had hoped that would change something between them, but it hadn’t happened yet.

Or rather, it had been starting to happen. Maybe. Clint liked to tell himself that, anyway. It was all for shit now, though, because Coulson always disappeared when Clint started his cycle. Clint had never asked him why, but he suspected it had something to do with the indignity of possibly losing control and lusting after someone he didn’t actually have feelings for.

Which was fine. It was totally fine. Clint understood that Coulson didn’t see him that way, and he was okay with it. Alright, he was dealing with it. He might have been lulled into a false sense of hope over the past five months, with the casual touches and the gentle leaning, but he should have known better. Coulson might have brought him pizza when Clint watched TV on the couch, or stopped by the range to watch him practice, but that was probably just a team thing. Clint knew that. He did. He just liked to dream, sometimes.

That was all over now. He’d be Coulson-less for at least two weeks. Clint usually cycled for about five days, and then he had a twenty-four hour break until his heat started in earnest. He wished he could go on the damn blues again, but that wasn’t an option.

Sighing, Clint dressed and made his way down to the communal kitchen. Half the team was there already – Natasha with her toast by the window, Stark at the counter making coffee, and Bruce steeping tea. Clint looked over at the table and crushed his inner sigh when he saw Coulson going through the morning paper, a toasted bagel and orange juice by his side.

Of course Coulson was already up. The man couldn’t sleep in for once like a normal person. He was going to catch scent of Clint any second now, and then he’d politely excuse himself and leave.

Just like every other time.

Steeling himself, Clint ignored his teammates and took a bowl from the cupboard. He rummaged around the cereal shelf and found a box of Cocoa Puffs someone had finished and put back empty. Growling, Clint ripped out the inner packaging and threw it into the garbage with more force than strictly necessary.

“Whoa!” Stark said, turning his attention from the now-humming coffee-pot. He watched as Clint attacked the cardboard box and stuffed it into the recycling bin. “Someone’s in a bad mood this morning.”

Clint shot him a glare and turned back to the shelf, fishing out the Lucky Charms instead.

Stark put his hands up in mock-surrender. “What, is it your quarter time or something?”

Clint sighed and turned to the fridge for milk. Behind him he could hear Stark sniff the air. “Ah shit,” the billionaire said, his tone shifting into something almost sympathetic. “It is, isn’t it? That’s crappy.”

Clint shrugged and drowned his cereal in milk. Stark was the only one on the team who really could understand. He and Clint were the only omegas, while Nat and Bruce were betas. Betas were fertile, though not to the same extent, and they didn’t get periods as bad as omegas did. Steve, Thor, and Coulson were all alphas. They didn’t understand this stuff at all.

“What are you gonna do, right?” Clint said to Tony as he put the milk back and set his bowl on the counter. He caught a stool with his heel and dragged it forward, then grimaced when his lower back twinged again.

Stark poured himself a cup of coffee and shrugged. “You could go on suppressants. That’d take the edge off, at least.”

Clint shook his head and bent over his bowl. “Can’t,” he mumbled around a mouthful of cereal. “Too many years on baby blues.”

Tony shot him a look. “Baby blues? You were on that shit?”

Clint shrugged. He wasn’t going to be ashamed of his past; it was over and done with now. “Twenty years.”

Bruce looked up from the table at that, concerned. Neither Tasha nor Coulson twitched, but they already knew Clint’s shitty medical history. “Twenty years,” the doctor repeated slowly. “No wonder you can’t go on suppressants. You have a contraceptive implant, though?”

Clint nodded and took another bite of cereal. It was too sweet and sugary – just the way he liked it when he needed comfort food. “Yeah, medical nearly had a fit about the blues when I was first recruited, because they can be dangerous if used for more than five years at a time. No one hires an omega assassin, though, and it wasn’t safe to go into heat.”

Tony and Bruce both frowned, but they weren’t idiots. They could figure out why it wouldn’t be safe to work outside the law as an omega. Even Natasha threw him a sympathetic look, and she knew his history best of all. Coulson didn’t move, of course. Clint sighed into his cereal.

“Anyway,” he said, “it means I just have to tough it out, now. You might not see me around tomorrow, depending on how bad it is.”

Tony winced. “No problem. Hey, you know your bathtub has that low-pressure jet system in it? I didn’t have time to tailor it personally, but I could adjust it now if you wanted. Make sure it hits all your sore spots. And we have massage therapist on staff – Agent, you probably know the best ones – they’re part of your physical therapy team. I think Tommy and Melissa are pretty good, but I don’t tend to go to them often. Just when Pepper makes me, which isn’t – ”

Clint cut him off with a tight smile, because Coulson looked uncomfortable. “The jets would be awesome, Tony, thanks.”

Stark nodded, but his eyes were far away. “You’ve been here for a few months already; I didn’t even notice you hadn’t gone into heat during that time. You’re pretty irregular, huh?”

Clint rolled his eyes at Stark, “You seriously want to sit around the breakfast table and discuss our cycles? We’re not twelve, Tony.”

Tony grinned at him, but it had an edge to it. “Yeah, well, I bet neither of us had friends to chat with about this shit when we were twelve, so.” He hopped up on the counter, cradling his cup of coffee. “Spill, Legolas.”

Clint shook his head and took another bite of cereal, but the sad fact was that Stark was right. Clint hadn’t been the only omega in the circus, but he had been the only one as young as he was. Barney had been a beta, and he never understood this shit.

“Yeah, I’m pretty irregular,” he said in a low voice, so the entire kitchen wouldn’t have to hear. “I think it’s ‘cause of the blues – I used to be like clockwork in the circus. Lasts about five days, and I haven’t had a cycle for about six and a half months now, so it’s going to be bad.”

Tony wrinkled his nose in sympathy. “You’re going be off the duty roster, then?”

Clint sighed. “Yeah, probably. I’ll swing by the Helicarrier later and sign the paperwork.”

At the table, Coulson finished his bagel and stood up from his chair. Clint told himself not to care, but he couldn’t help but watch as Coulson nodded politely to Bruce and Natasha and left the room.

Probably off to see Fury and request another “special assignment” in Nebraska or something.

Clint walled off his hurt and refocused on Tony. “I’ll be going into heat right after, so you guys’ll be without eyes-up-high support for a couple of weeks, at least.”

Bruce finished his tea and set the cup in the sink, coming over to smile gently at Clint. “You do much more than provide eyes-up-high. We’ll miss you on the team.”

Clint rolled his eyes and ignored the warm feeling in his chest. “You’ll just miss my Hulk-proof take-down arrows.”

Bruce smiled and Tony laughed. “Nah, I’ll redesign the suit to fire the tranq rounds. I might even need them – no one talks down the Hulk like ‘Birdie’.”

Clint couldn’t keep the smile off his face. Bruce just looked embarrassed. “I don’t know why he calls you that, I’m sorry.”

“It’s all good, Doc.” To be honest, Clint liked being the only one who could talk down the Hulk. Clint and Bruce were still learning their way around each other, but Clint and the Hulk had become pretty fast friends. The only one the Hulk liked more was Tony, and Tony wasn’t so good at the talking-down side of things.

Clint finished his cereal and rinsed out his bowl. “I’d better get to the Helicarrier before my scent gets too crazy. I’ll take the quinjet – anyone need a drop off somewhere?”

Everyone shook their heads.

“You sure it’s safe to head to the Helicarrier?” Tony asked, frowning. “It’s a pretty packed environment, and as good as their air-scrubbers are, they aren’t perfect.”

Clint shrugged. “It’s fine – I won’t be long. Most S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are betas anyway, easier to slip into areas without notice. There are a few alphas on staff, of course, and more than one omega, but everyone is mostly okay about it.”

He didn’t say that most S.H.I.E.L.D. agents were afraid of him more than they were about the fact that he might be in cycle. Tony already knew that well enough; the billionaire might be egotistical, but he was incredibly astute.

“Okay, just – be careful. I’ll get the bath tricked out and you can come home and do nothing but relax for the next two weeks.”

Clint smiled, “Thanks, Tony. I will.”

 

*

 

The flight to the Helicarrier was uncomfortable, but uneventful. Clint’s cycle was coming on hard; his lower back was already uncomfortable again, and sitting in the pilot’s seat of the quinjet didn’t help.

He went to medical first to declare his status, though more than one staffer looked up and sniffed the air before he’d even opened his mouth. Doctor Leslie brought him the proper forms and Clint filled them out.

He took the back corridors to the range after that. Clint had to pass more than one area still under repair – secondary and tertiary systems were still being worked on after Loki’s attack, and some damage from that firefight last week hadn’t yet been repaired – and avoided eye contact where he could. He’d rather have gone through the vents than brave the corridors, but he didn’t want to leave a scent trail someone else could follow.

Clint had more than one secret stash in the vents, and he didn’t want anyone else finding them.

The range was almost empty when Clint arrived, thank god. It was only after he had swiped his card and walked in, that the other person in the room turned around, and Clint cursed.

It was Swanson. Fuck.

The senior agent grinned at him, teeth glinting in the bright light of the range. “Well, if it isn’t S.H.I.E.L.D.’s little lost hawk. Come home to roost, then?”

Swanson was a dick, so Clint tried to ignore him. After a second, though, Swanson sniffed the air. “Fuck me,” he breathed, and took a deeper inhale. “You’re in cycle.”

“Fuck off, Swanson,” Clint growled, turning to his weapons locker and pausing for the retinal scan. “I’m here to pick up my bow and vanish for a few weeks, so back the fuck off.”

“Oh, I can back off,” Swanson said, his voice nearly a purr. “If that’s what you really want. But you’ve come to find me when you’re in cycle, so I bet there’s something else you’d like instead.”

The senior agent’s voice was getting closer. Clint turned as soon as the retinal scan was done and glared at Swanson, who had moved across the floor toward him.

“I don’t fucking want anything from you,” Clint growled. “It was a mistake last time, and I knew that as soon as the heat cleared.”

He didn’t want to remember it – the memory made his skin crawl. Clint had been on a wait-and-report assignment in the field with Swanson as his handler. It had been one of his first missions with S.H.I.E.L.D., long before he had ever been assigned to Coulson.

His cycle had run quick that time, only three days instead of the usual five to seven, and Clint’s heat had come on hard. Swanson had been one of the few alphas who had agreed to work with him back then, and he had seemed so perfect during those few days of cycle-induced neediness. He had looked after Clint, covering for him when S.H.I.E.L.D. demanded updates, and it had taken Clint years to realize that what Swanson had done was against regulations.

Omegas in heat were automatically put on suspension during their cycle, because the hormonal shifts made them vulnerable and at risk in the field. What Clint hadn’t known was that the suspension was in no way tied to performance – S.H.I.E.L.D. meant it when they said they didn’t care that he was an omega and needed a few weeks off every year. If Swanson had done his job and reported him, Clint would have been replaced in the field without condemnation.

Clint had been too new to understand that, though, and Swanson had cooed sweet nothings in his ear about how he would make it all okay. He’d told Clint he would cover for him, and that no one had to know. It hadn’t been Clint’s first cycle off the baby blues, but it had been pretty close. He’d been pretty freaked out that his cycle was going to get him kicked out of S.H.I.E.L.D.

So he’d listened to Swanson, and Swanson had taken care of him. He’d rubbed Clint’s back and his belly, herded Clint into the shower, and generally pampered him through his cycle. When his cycle had passed and his heat came on, the alpha was already there, his scent familiar and trusted.

Swanson had used Clint hard during the week he’d spent in heat, barely giving him time to recover before pounding into him again. At the time, Clint had welcomed it, encouraged it even – but after the heat had passed he’d been sore and exhausted, and almost hadn’t been able to complete his mission.

Clint had never said anything about it to medical. He’d washed away the evidence as best he could, and had ignored Swanson after that. He’d requested a different handler, and got Richardson, who was nice, but cool and standoffish. She’d never said anything when Clint woke from nightmares on missions, his dreams a confused tangle of Swanson and Trickshot, both alphas who had taken advantage of him during his times of cycle and heat.

It had been a year before Clint had pissed off his latest handler and got thrown to Coulson as a last resort. By that time, he’d buckled down on his nightmares and read up on the S.H.I.E.L.D. handbook. He spent the rest of his heats locked away in his apartment in the city, dealing with them himself with a self-knotting dildo and a helluva lot of lube. It took a lot of self-control not to go back on the baby blues.

Clint usually didn’t try to work through his cycles, but sometimes he’d spend at least the first day finishing off the paperwork he accumulated in the field. Clint hated being alone when he was sore and in pain, his body automatically craving the comfort only an alpha could provide. Clint had swallowed his pride a few times and gone to Coulson’s office once or twice, looking for the quiet peace Coulson always radiated, the only thing that stopped the nightmares, sometimes.

But Coulson always left, usually the day Clint started his cycle. Clint had curled up in his office on more than one occasion, catching a few hours of rest before his cycle came on in earnest. He always made sure to spray the pheromone-negating neutralizer Coulson kept in his desk when he left. It didn’t work very well, but it must have worked well enough, because Coulson never said anything about it to Clint.

After a while, Clint stopped bothering to look for Coulson during his cycle. He was never there, and Clint just had to suck it up and deal with this shit on his own. He started taking the full two weeks off from S.H.I.E.L.D. and curling up with Natasha if he needed a warm body.

And if he’d had fantasies of being on that mission with Phil instead of Swanson, of being taken care of and then used hard by someone he trusted, well – that was no one’s problem but his own. It certainly wasn’t Phil’s, who’d never shown any indication he wanted that kind of relationship with Clint, who went out of his way to avoid Clint during times when he might have been receptive.

Clint clenched his hands into fists and pulled his bow and quiver out of his locker. Swanson watched him greedily, but Clint shot him a glare as he hiked his equipment over one shoulder.

“I said no, dickface.”

Swanson only grinned. “I’d take your dick in my face. I’d prefer your wet hole, though. I bet it’s dripping and aching right now. I know I can make it feel better. Remember how I made it feel better?”

Clint shivered, half-remembered images swirling around his head – Swanson and Trickshot, hard men with hard fingers, pressing into his hole, forcing him to take it, to take them in.

“No,” he said, but his voice was shaking. “Stop.”

Swanson drifted closer, his scent near now, the acrid smell of the agent mixed with the deep, intoxicating whiff of alpha pheromones that Clint was genetically programmed to go to his knees for.

But he was only in cycle now, not in heat. He still had some control.

Pushing Swanson away, Clint dropped his equipment and swung hard at Swanson’s face. The senior agent’s head snapped back with the force of Clint’s hit. His expression twisted in sick pleasure, and he jumped forward to retaliate.

Clint was already down, though, ducking out of the way of the incoming hit, and he swung his right leg out to knock Swanson’s knees out from under him.

Swanson hadn’t become a senior S.H.I.E.L.D. agent by collecting bottle caps, though. He went down and rolled, coming back up on his left leg and kicking out with his right. Clint dodged the kick, but Swanson moved fast, diving in close.

Clint got a whiff of pheromones and hesitated, just for a split second. That second was all Swanson needed to shoot a quick jab at Clint’s kidneys, then follow up with an uppercut to his abdomen. The achy cramps of Clint’s cycle flared into outright agony at the hit, and Clint went down hard.

Swanson followed him, catching him and cradling him close, whispering dirty promises into his ear. Clint head-butted him to make him stop, then twisted and jabbed at Swanson’s ribs. The senior agent rolled and came up on top, leaping forward before Clint, disable by pain and foggy with pheromones, could raise a proper defense.

Swanson crowded in close to him, and his dick was full and hard, pressing into Clint’s left hip. He bit Clint on the neck, teeth bruising, and Clint howled in shock and pain.

A sharp whistle pierced the air, and then Swanson was pulled off of him. Clint looked up to see the senior agent’s bloody face and manic grin twist in sudden fear as a looming, angry presence swooped in to Clint’s defense.

“Agent Swanson, you are hereby put on indefinite leave pending an independent review of your actions here today, according to Code 24 of the S.H.I.E.L.D. rule of law and ethics, which states very clearly that coercion of an omega in cycle or heat will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

Swanson pulled himself to his feet, radiating anger and outrage. Clint coughed as a wave of alpha pheromones rolled over him, Swanson trying to push for dominance.

But the presence before him stood implacable, and a moment later Clint breathed a sigh of relief as he got a lungful of that other presence. The pheromones were deeper, richer, and Clint recognized them instantly.

Coulson.

Clint blinked his eyes to clear them, and was rewarded with the sight of Phil Coulson standing before him in the protective stance of an alpha, his feet planted and hands clenched in as public a display of rage as Clint had ever seen from the senior agent.

Clint lifted a shaking hand to his neck and pressed on the bruise there, thankful when it came away clean. Swanson hadn’t broken the skin, then. Good. It would heal in a couple of days. Clint watched as Swanson literally shrank before Coulson’s presence. He handed over his gun and badge without another word, and then left the range with his shoulders hunched. If he’d been a dog, his tail would have been between his legs.

Clint watched it all with a savage grin. Served the fucker right.

Coulson never moved, his eyes following Swanson until he was gone, nearly vibrating with barely contained rage. Finally, he turned. Clint met his eyes and swallowed – he’d never seen Phil this angry before.

Phil looked like he was holding himself together with every ounce of willpower he possessed. He unclenched his jaw to swallow, and then ground out, “Agent Barton, do I have your permission to approach?”

Clint blinked at the formal request of an alpha to tend to an omega during a time of hormonal stress, but he nodded. In an instant Phil was kneeling at his side, hands coming up to gently cradle Clint’s face.

Clint sighed and relaxed into the familiar scent, the tension leaving his shoulders with a suddenness that made him dizzy. Phil caught him when he swayed, and peered into his eyes.

“It’s okay, he’s gone. What do you need? Tell me what you need.”

Clint closed his eyes and breathed in, Phil’s alpha scent surrounding him. “Nothing. You. I need – ” he took a deep breath, and then realized what he was doing. He was sitting here sniffing Phil!

Clint shook his head and leaned back, trying to clear his head. “It’s okay. I’m sorry, sir. I’m okay.”

Phil actually growled. “You’re not okay. That fucker assaulted you. You need to go to medical.”

“No!” Clint shook off Phil’s hands and leaned away. “No, not medical.” Medical would ask him about this, would want to know if it had happened before. Clint’s emotional control was down when he was in cycle – it was another good reason why omegas in hormonal stress shouldn’t be in the field. If medical asked, he wouldn’t be able to lie.

“I’m fine, sir. Really. He just got in a few good shots. I’ll be okay.”

Phil stared at him, assessing his injuries, and then slowly, reluctantly, nodded. “Okay. No medical. And it looks like you got in a few good shots of your own.”

Clint bared his teeth. “S.H.I.E.L.D. can dock me for it, I’m not fucking apologizing.”

Phil growled again, low in his throat. “No, you are absolutely not. Don’t worry – the video footage will bear it out. He was the clear aggressor.”

Fuck, the video footage. Clint felt himself pale just thinking about it, and of course Phil noticed.

“What? Clint, what is it?”

Clint shook his head. “No, I’m – I’m fine. It’s just – ” he swallowed. “Could we, maybe, just ignore the formal charges? I’m in cycle – I shouldn’t have come to the Helicarrier. I’m not saying it wasn’t Swanson’s fault, it totally was, but,” he sighed. He felt ashamed to admit it, but he didn’t want anyone to know he had been Swanson’s bitch, even if it had been years ago. “I really don’t want anyone to watch the video footage.”

Phil looked surprised. He licked his lips, and then laid a careful hand on Clint’s shoulder. “Would it – would it help if I watched it first? Get a sense of what – ”

“No!” It slipped out before Clint could restrain himself, and he winced. “Not – not you, sir. Please. Especially not you.”

A flash of hurt speared across Coulson’s face, but it was gone before Clint could comment on it. “Okay,” he said. “But I can’t just ignore this, Clint. His behavior was completely unprofessional – and illegal. I don’t have to watch the video footage, but somebody will.”

“Fine,” Clint agreed, exhausted now. So long as it wasn’t Phil who knew what Clint had done with Swanson, that he could be manipulated like some stupid omega. “Fine, can we just leave it for now?”

Phil clearly wasn’t happy about it, but he nodded and stood. He hesitated a second, and then held his hand out for Clint. Clint thought about refusing, but he really didn’t want to. He took Coulson’s hand and winced as he stood up.

Phil was at his side again, close and familiar and untouchable, the moment Clint sounded like he was in pain. Clint took one deep breath to steel himself before he carefully stepped away, backing out of Phil’s near-embrace.

“I’m okay, sir. I’ll get someone to fly me home.”

Phil let him stand on his own for a second, his eyes watchful and concerned, but he finally nodded. There wasn’t a lot else he could do – he wasn’t Clint’s alpha. He wasn’t even Clint’s handler, anymore.

“Okay. Look after yourself, Agent.”

Clint managed a grin. “Always, sir.”

Phil snorted, because it was a complete lie, but he let him go. Clint forced himself to walk away.

 

*

 

The trouble was, Clint realized three hours later, that there was no one around to simply “fly him home”.

The quinjet he had brought to the Helicarrier had been refuelled and was waiting, but Clint was honestly unsure if he was safe to pilot it in his state. His cramps were coming on hard, and the waves of nausea had started. He wanted to say he’d be fine for the fifteen minutes of flying time he’d need to get back to the Tower, but he couldn’t be certain of that. He’d looked around for other pilots who could help him out, but everyone was busy doing something. Clint didn’t want to be a bother, not when half the pilots were still helping to repair the damage he’d done to the Helicarrier aircraft bay. He’d tried to call the Tower, but everyone was out. No matter how sore he was, he didn’t want to text Tony or Bruce while they were out doing other, more important things. He thought briefly about calling Steve, but as good as the super-soldier was about times having changed, he could still be a little too ‘alpha’ for Clint, even when he wasn’t on his cycle.

Clint sighed and slumped to the floor in an unused corner. He’d have to suck it up and call Natasha, then. He wasn’t sure what she had been planning to do today, but she’d be able to get a ride here, somehow, and then fly him home. They’d have to leave the quinjet on the ‘carrier, and though rationally Clint knew it wasn’t that big of a deal, it still made him feel like he was being a bother to the team.

He was just steeling himself for the upcoming conversation during which Natasha would likely call him an idiot – not that Clint could disagree with her, this time – when a familiar set of footsteps came around the corner and paused. Clint grimaced and looked up to find Phil frowning at him.

“Are you still here?” he asked, concerned.

Clint held up his phone with a pained smile. “Just calling Natasha now, sir.”

Coulson didn’t look convinced. “Is she on the Helicarrier?”

Clint shrugged and looked away. “No. She’ll come get me, though.”

Phil didn’t say anything, and finally Clint looked up. Phil was staring at him, his mouth pressed in a thin line. Clint sighed and looked away. He didn’t understand why Phil was still here, and he hated the reminder that Phil didn’t want to be around him right now. A moment later, Phil surprised him by saying, “You don’t have to call her – I can fly you home.”

Clint’s heart gave a twist at the words, but he covered it by asking, “You have clearance to fly the quinjet, sir?”

Phil’s lips quirked in a smile. “Yes, Barton. I’m not authorized to take aircraft solo over the Atlantic, mind you, but I can fly you to the Tower.”

Clint nodded absently, delaying while his mind raced. He really didn’t want to be in a closed environment with Phil right now, because he didn’t trust himself not to lean into the older man and take whatever comfort Clint could steal from him. On the other hand, he really didn’t want to hang around the Helicarrier longer than was necessary.

Phil was freely offering, after all, and Clint could grit his teeth and bear it for the few minutes it would take to get him home. Making a decision, Clint held his hand out for Coulson to help him up from the floor. It was a pretty sweet corner he’d found, but he doubted he’d use it again when he was able to travel through the vents.

“Why do you let Nat and me fly everywhere, then?” he asked to keep things from becoming awkward as Phil led them back to the deck.

Coulson shrugged, “You and Agent Romanov enjoy it more.”

Clint waited for more, but apparently that was it. “Really?”

Coulson looked over at him, and smiled. “Yes, Barton. Really.”

“Huh.” Clint thought that over as he located the quinjet he had flown over and confirmed that it was properly fuelled. Phil did the pre-flight check and strapped in. Clint winced, but tucked himself into the co-pilot seat.

Phil looked over at him. “I really am qualified, Clint. You can lay down in the back, if you like.”

Clint sighed and unbuckled his belt. Sitting down seemed to make his cramps worse, and it was a relief to stand. “Yeah, thanks, sir. I think I will. It’s coming on hard today.”

He expected Phil to blush or look away, but the agent only nodded and refocused on his controls. Clint went to the back and lay down on the floor. His lower back instantly relaxed, and the decrease in pain was heavenly.

“So, you’re on your way out then?” Clint asked before he could think better of the question. “Fury find a solo mission for you?”

Phil glanced back at him once before responding to Command and lifting off from the deck. They were in the air and flying steadily back to New York before he replied.

“No solo mission. I’m taking a personal leave of absence, actually.”

Clint nodded. That made sense. “Going up north to visit your folks?”

Phil looked upside down from where Clint lay on the floor, but he could still see him shake his head. “No, I’ll be staying in the Tower.”

Clint frowned. “You’re feeling okay, though, right? You’re not sick again?” Coulson had picked up a ventilator-assisted pneumonia during his time in medical, and he’d been plagued with respiratory issues for the first few weeks he was at the Tower. He’d seemed healthy lately, though.

Clint could almost hear the smile in his voice. “No, I’m fine, Barton.”

Clint was confused. “Then, why are you taking some personal time?”

Phil sighed and refocused on the controls. “Let me land this thing first, okay?”

Clint looked over Phil’s shoulder and saw New York Harbor in the distance. He kept quiet as Phil maneuvered them over the busy streets and landed, with only a slight jolt, on the roof of the Tower.

Phil was frowning as he unbuckled himself from the pilot’s seat. “Not my smoothest landing, sorry.”

Clint winced as he sat up from the floor. “It’s okay, sir. My back is pretty angry, anyway. The floor felt good though, thanks.”

“You can sit for a moment, if you like,” Phil said, his voice soft. He came and lowered himself to the floor beside Clint. Clint looked over in surprise, but Phil wasn’t looking at him.

“Um, okay,” he said. Phil never sat this close to him while he was in cycle.

They sat in silence for a minute, before Phil abruptly chuckled. Clint looked over at him in surprise. Phil gave him a wry smile. “I’m terrible coward,” he admitted. “I keep sitting here thinking the words will come, and of course I’ve got nothing but white noise in my head.”

Clint frowned, feeling his heart rate pick up. “Words, sir?” Was Phil dying again? Was that it?

Phil nodded and shifted so he sat cross-legged. “Yes, words. You asked why I was taking a personal leave, and the answer is, well…”

Clint caught his breath at the scared but hopeful expression on Phil’s face.

“It’s because of you.”

Clint stared at him. He heard the words, but they weren’t making any sense. “Because of me?”

Phil nodded. He looked away again. “I know that – I mean, I guess you’ve noticed that I tend to, well… run away… when you start to cycle. I’ve tried to be subtle about it, but I guess that hasn’t been working.”

Clint shrugged and scraped at the deck with his nail. “Yeah, well, it’s okay. I get why you wouldn’t want to be around me.”

Phil swallowed and gently asked, “Why do you say that?”

Clint blew out a breath. “I get it, I mean – I can kind of get it. Cycles and heats and all of that,” he waved a hand in the air, trying to encompass the whole ‘everything’ of their biology. “It’s a mess and it can screw around with your emotions.” He hitched a shoulder. “I guess it would be pretty weird to suddenly have different, you know, feelings, for someone you don’t normally see that way. I can get why you’d want to avoid that.”

Phil didn’t say anything for a moment, and when Clint looked over, his eyes were closed. “I mean it’s okay!” Clint hurried to say. “You don’t have to, I mean, you don’t – ”

Phil interrupted him. “Do you see me that way? Agen – Clint.” Phil swallowed but met his eyes. His gaze was steady. “Do you want me that way?”

Clint stared at the older man and knew he couldn’t lie to him. He swallowed. “Yes.”

The air hung still between them. Clint scrubbed a hand over his face. “Fuck, yes.” he confessed. “Of course I do, ever since you called me ‘Agent’ and asked for my opinion in the field.” He broke Phil’s startled gaze and took a deep breath to steel himself.

“But you don’t, and that’s – that’s okay. I’ll deal with it.” He huffed out a broken laugh. “I’ve been dealing with it for a while now, so it doesn’t have to you, you know, change things or anything.”

Beside him, Clint heard Phil take in a deep breath. “What if I want things to change?”

Clint closed his eyes, the blood draining from his face. Of course Coulson wouldn’t want anything to do with him, now. Fuck, he should have just left when Phil brought this up. He could have made up some kind of emergency.

“That’s…” Clint swallowed. “That’s fine, of course. I mean, I won’t ask you to stay, or anything. You want to go – well, you know Fury’ll give you whatever assignment you want. That isn’t –”

Coulson interrupted him again. “No, I mean – Clint, I mean: what you would say if I wanted things to change in a different way? On a personal level?”

Clint looked up from the deck to stare at Coulson. “What – what are you asking?” Fuck, he was so confused.

Phil took a deep, long breath, and looked at him. “What I’m asking is, Clint Barton, would you do me the great honor of spending your cycle and heat with me?”

Clint stared at him in shock.

“What?”

Phil licked his lips. “I said,” he repeated, “Would you, Clint Barton –”

“No, I heard you,” Clint interrupted. Fuck, he felt like some stupid omega in a rom com. “But I don’t understand. Are you – do you – feel that way about me? Really?”

Phil’s serious express cracked slightly. He smiled. “Yes. For a long time, now.”

Clint’s mouth fell open. “But you never said anything! You ignored my cycles – you left. For years!”

Phil’s gaze never wavered. “Yes. I was your handler, and it was inappropriate.” He held up a hand to forestall Clint’s objection. “I know exceptions can be made, and I probably should have made them.” Phil sighed and closed his eyes.

“I’m not good about asking for the things I really want, Clint. I’ve wanted you for years, and I never said anything. I know that was wrong. I was afraid, desperately afraid, that you’d use me for heats and nothing else. I wanted so much with you – I wanted everything. I was worried that if I offered, and you said no, if you left, especially for another handler – ”

Phil shook his head. “I didn’t think I could survive that. I thought I’d die.”

Clint hardly dared to breathe. “What changed your mind?”

Phil quirked a smile. “I died,” he explained dryly. “I gained a little perspective about the things I could survive, and the regrets I left this world with. Not spending a heat with you was the biggest regret I had.”

Clint stared at him. Phil waited, his expression patient, and Clint finally realized he wasn’t dreaming. “I…” Clint coughed, cleared his throat, and tried again. “Yes, Phil Coulson. I would be honored if you would spend my cycle and heat with me.”

Phil’s smile was bright enough to power Manhattan. They stared at each other for a moment, and then Phil said, “I’d like to kiss you now.”

Clint nodded shakily, and Phil pressed close. They both inhaled deeply, letting the other’s scent fill that aching, needy hole that was being generated by Clint’s cycle, and then Phil gently pressed his mouth to Clint’s lips.

It was a dry, steady pressure, and it was so good Clint felt himself melt. He groaned, and then Phil licked his way into his mouth, and by god, that was even better.

Phil kissed him steadily, thoroughly, letting his scent wash over Clint and fill him, until Clint leaned forward to deepen the kiss and stopped when the pain in his back flared.

“Ow, ow, oh fuck,” he cursed and broke away from Phil, leaning away and putting a hand on his lower back.

Phil moved closer into Clint’s space, his hands coming up to frame Clint’s lower back. His thumbs pressed at two points on Clint’s spine, and the contrasting pressure helped immensely. Clint couldn’t help but groan and let his head fall forward onto Phil’s shoulder.

“Fuck,” he breathed, “that feels good. Where did you learn how to do that?”

He could hear Phil’s smile. “My sister,” he said. “She’s an omega and has had bad cycles since she was about fourteen. I used to take time off school to stay home with her and massage her back to get her through the worst of it.”

“Mmm,” Clint said, interested as always in stories of Phil’s childhood, but distracted by the wonderful pressure of Phil’s hands. “That feels awesome.”

Phil kissed his shoulder, lightly. “Let’s get you up and into the bath,” he said. “It’ll make you feel even better.”

Clint nodded, then blushed as Phil helped him stand up. “I don’t, that is, I’m pretty sore, but – ”

Phil smiled and pressed close. “It’s okay, Clint. All I want to do right now is take care of you, all right?” His hands came up to rub at Clint’s shoulders, and his tone was sincere. “Right now that means a hot bath and a good rubdown afterwards, and then we’ll take things a day at a time, okay?”

Clint nodded and smiled, feeling better as Phil helped him towards the quinjet door. “Okay,” he said, leaning slightly against the older agent. “But I want to state now, before my thoughts get too crazy, that I absolutely consent to this, and I want you to rock my fucking world when the time comes.”

Phil looked at him with real heat in his eyes, and Clint felt something answering stir in his chest. It would take a few days to come to the surface, days of achiness and pain as his body cycled through its hormones and readied itself for heat, but Clint knew that when he was ready, Phil was going to do exactly that.

Chapter Text

The week passed in waves of agony and… less agony. Phil was really good at helping Clint through the worst of his cramps, but some things couldn’t be fixed by massage. He cajoled Clint into taking aspirin during the worst of it, and tucked himself in beside Clint at night to help him get some sleep. It was probably the worst cycle Clint had ever gone through, and he was incredibly glad that he didn’t have to do it alone.

Finally, six days later, Clint woke one morning without pain. It was awesome. He lay in bed for a whole half hour, relishing the feeling of being himself again. No cycle, no heat. This was the calm before the storm, the time it took his body to reset and refocus before the demanding waves of his heat took him.

Phil woke slowly at Clint’s side. It had been a surprise for Clint to realize that Phil wasn’t always a morning person. On missions, he was always the consummate professional, but in private, Phil was turning out to have delightful secrets.

Like the fact that he couldn’t cook. In fact, Phil could barely make tea. He had tried to help Clint earlier in his cycle by making him his favorite breakfast – Belgian waffles with lots of powered sugar – and Steve had actually kicked him out of the kitchen. Captain America could cook, fortunately, so Clint had gotten his waffles, but it had been hilarious to see Phil glaring at the stovetop as if it had personally offended him.

Clint had sat at the kitchen table and laughed until the cramps had driven him back to the bathtub. Tony had done his usual fabulous custom job and the jets he’d installed were a thing of beauty. Clint was getting sick of being stuck in the Tower, though. He had ventured to the common room for movie night, and even escaped to the roof one adventurous afternoon, but for the most part he had kept to his floor and the kitchen.

Phil had been a constant presence. His alpha pheromones had soothed Clint in a way nothing else could manage. Clint clung to the hope that Phil had meant what he had said, and that this thing between them could survive the months until his next heat. He was pretty sure he was addicted to Phil’s presence, now.

Phil rolled over in bed and spooned him, tucking his head into Clint’s shoulder and inhaling while still half-asleep. The change in Clint’s smell woke him fully, and he pushed himself up on one elbow to blink blearily at Clint.

“Your cycle’s broken?”

Clint nodded and stretched, feeling the lack of pain in his abdomen as a physical thing. It was glorious. He draped himself over Phil.

“Yup, sometime in the night. I feel awesome. Want to get some breakfast?”

Phil chuckled. “You’ve been awake for five minutes and you’re already hungry? You are definitely feeling better.”

“Ha, shows what you know. I’ve been laying in bed for half an hour now, waiting for your lazy ass to wake up.”

Phil frowned at him. “You could have gotten me up, Clint.”

Clint avoided Phil’s eyes. “Yeah, I know. You don’t get a lot of opportunity to sleep in though, so – ” he shrugged. “It’s not a big deal.”

Phil reached a hand under his chin and tipped his head up. He kissed him lightly, lingering slightly to inhale Clint’s scent. “Thank you,” Phil said sincerely. “I love to sleep in.” Then he gave Clint a wicked smile. “Now get up – I’ve got a big day planned for us before your heat hits.”

Clint frowned at him. “A big day? What do you want to do?”

Phil, if anything, looked a little embarrassed as he rolled out of bed and started to hunt for his clothes. As soon as Phil had gotten Clint settled at the Tower, he had grabbed a few things from his room and transferred them to Clint’s. He had been careful not to actually move in – he wasn’t using Clint’s drawers – but sometimes Clint could close his eyes and pretend that he had.

“Well, I thought – since we have about a day before the heat hits – that we could do a little sightseeing.”

“Sightseeing?” Clint felt confused. “Why?”

Phil pulled on a pair of jeans. Clint had been delighted to learn that Phil had not only one, but two pairs of well-worn blue jeans. “You told me last year it was something you wanted to do, and I know you haven’t had the chance, yet. So I thought we could use this day as a, well – as sort of a date.”

Clint felt a slow smile spread across his face. “A date?”

Phil shrugged, like it was no big deal. “Yeah.”

Clint couldn’t remember the last time someone had taken him out on a date. “You don’t have to, you know. You’ve taken care of me all throughout this cycle – that pretty much earns you a heat.”

Unexpectedly, Phil frowned. “I know,” he said. “But I want to. I like spending time with you, and we have time to spend. Do you want to do something else instead?” An expression of fear flashed over his face, there and gone again. “Or… have you changed your mind? Now that the cycle has passed, you are more than within your rights to – ”

Clint was out of bed and beside him in a flash. “No!” he said. “No, I haven’t changed my mind. I guess you haven’t either, since you want to take me out, I just – ” he looked at Phil helplessly. “I’ve just never done this… properly… before.”

Phil smiled at him, slow and a little sad, and telegraphed his movements as he raised his arms to gather Clint close for a hug. Clint went willingly, sinking a little into the warmth of Phil’s embrace.

“Let me be good to you,” Phil asked him. “I want to be good to you. Can I?”

Clint shivered at the depth of feeling in Phil’s voice. “Yeah,” he agreed, a little hoarsely. “Of course.”

“Good.” Phil kissed him quickly, behind his ear, and then stepped back. He smiled again. “Now get dressed, something you can move in. We’re going out.”

 

*

 

Phil took him to his favorite diner for breakfasting, introducing Clint to the staff he apparently all knew by name. They had fantastic waffles, and Phil got French toast.

“You come here often?” Clint asked, his mouth full of food.

Phil gave him a look and Clint swallowed hastily.

“Yes,” Phil answered him, then winked. “I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’m not much of a cook.”

Clint grinned. “Bruce has forbidden you from brewing tea, Phil. Tea.”

“I can make tea,” Phil argued.

“Not according to Bruce.”

Phil rolled his eyes and stole the corner of his waffle. Clint laughed and took a piece of French toast in retaliation. When they left half an hour later, Phil added a substantial tip to cover the clean up of their miniature food fight.

Clint thought the table looked better with maple syrup spilt over it.

After breakfast, Phil took Clint on a walking tour of his favorite landmarks. There were some interesting buildings with nooks and crannies Clint filed away in case he were ever running away from bad guys in this part of town. They walked for a few hours and then had lunch at a hole-in-the-wall Steve recommended. Apparently it hadn’t changed much since 1938, and the food was fantastic. After lunch they visited Bryant Park, and then rode the subway until they hit Grand Central Station.

It was a fun way to spend the day. They were debating catching the ferry to Liberty Island when Clint felt a wave of dizziness overcome him.

He caught himself on a bronze banister and blinked up to see Phil’s concerned face staring down at him. Clint opened his mouth to say something reassuring when a frisson of heat ran through him.

It was quick, and it didn’t linger, but Clint licked his lips.

He heat was starting, a whole day early.

Phil helped him stand and leaned in to take a deep breath. His pupils dilated, and his hand on Clint’s arm tightened momentarily.

“You’re in heat,” he said in a thick voice. “Time to get back to the Tower, I think.”

“Yeah,” Clint agreed. He took a deep breath, shaking his head to clear it. “I think that’d be a really good idea.”

They rode the subway home, since it was faster than walking, and Phil glared at fellow passengers all the way to their stop. Most people looked politely away, a few going for the pheromone-neutralizing spray available in all public locations. Clint had dosed himself in the bathroom before getting onto the train, but it obviously hadn’t been enough.

His cycle had come on hard, so he guessed he shouldn’t have been surprised his heat was starting with a vengeance. He pulled Phil from the subway car just as he felt another wave start in the pit of his belly.

It swamped him, leaving him gasping after it left, sweat starting to bead on his forehead.

“Tower,” Phil grated, Clint’s pheromones stirring his own answering need. “Now.”

Clint stumbled to his feet and made it the last block back to the Tower. Jarvis held the elevator for them, and the doors opened on Clint’s floor just as another wave started.

Phil held him through it, his nose nearly buried in Clint’s shoulder, his own body vibrating with need as Clint’s pheromones overwhelmed him.

The first knotting would settle them both. Clint started tearing at his clothes, and Phil moved to help him. Clint stared at him – Phil’s pupils were blown and his hands were shaking. He smelled fantastic. Not even trying to stop himself, Clint leaned over and bit Phil on the shoulder.

“Fuck!” Phil groaned, tipping his head to the side to allow Clint better access. Clint nipped at him, stopping only when his teeth broke the skin. Phil gathered him close and held him, both of them half-undressed, as Clint sucked at the bite.

The wave of heat passed, and Clint let his head tip forward. “Shit, Phil,” he said, in a gravelly voice he hardly recognized. “Get me naked now.”

“Yeah,” Phil agreed, and hurriedly shucked both of them of the rest of their clothes. They tumbled backwards into Clint’s room and onto the bed, pawing at each other’s skin as the heat built between them.

Clint groaned as Phil bit him in turn, the sharp pain of Phil’s teeth anchoring him as the heat rolled through his body. He gasped as Phil broke the skin, shuddering as Phil tongued his now-bleeding shoulder.

The copper-taste of Phil was still in his mouth – it was good, but it wasn’t enough. He needed Phil in him, he needed Phil’s knot.

“Please, Phil, please please please – I need you, I need – ”

Phil growled, and Clint turned in his arms. He got down to all fours on the firm mattress and presented himself to his alpha, his hole dripping and ready for Phil’s knot. The heat was a constant fire in his belly now, the need of it taking up every thought in Clint’s brain.

Phil didn’t let him suffer for long. He positioned himself behind Clint, and tested Clint’s hole once with his fingers. The pressure was good, but it wasn’t enough, and Clint keened until Phil withdrew his fingers and pushed the blunt head of his cock into Clint’s ready hole.

Oh god, oh yes. That was what Clint needed. Without asking, he started to fuck himself on Phil’s cock. It was huge and heavy inside of him, and he wanted it. He wanted it all.

“So beautiful,” Phil was babbling behind him. “So good and so beautiful and Clint. Oh Clint, fuck. Don’t stop.”

They were both so close already, the days spent together during Clint’s cycle prepping them both on a subconscious level. Clint’s body was open and willing, his ass dripping for Phil, and the alpha’s cock felt like heaven inside of him.

Clint rocked himself faster, straining for that last connection. Phil held his hips and pounded into him, giving him everything he asked for and more.

The sensation built and built, Clint’s orgasm seeming to start at the tips of his toes and roll through his body. It came in waves like his heat, only this was delicious, pure sensation. His body was rewarding him for a job well done, hormones cascading through his system as every cell in his body pushed him towards that reproductive brink.

Behind him, Phil groaned and came. Clint was almost lost to the sound of it, but he could feel Phil’s knot swelling deep inside of him. The knot anchored them in place, holding them together as orgasm swamped them. He could feel his own inner walls shuddering, and knew his body and Phil’s were working together to enhance every chance of reproduction.

It was all in vain – Clint’s contraceptive implant protected him from actually getting pregnant. His body didn’t know that, though, and it rewarded him for the effort.

Panting, Clint slowly came back to himself, Phil’s knot huge and perfect inside of him. His arms shook from the effort of holding himself up, supporting both his weight and Phil’s.

Phil patted at Clint’s shoulders, seeming beyond words, but Clint understood him. He collapsed onto the bed, and Phil rolled them onto their sides, his knot anchoring them together. Clint couldn’t help the reflective twitch of his hips that moved Phil’s knot inside him.

It brushed against Clint’s prostate, and he shuddered. He would have come again, if he could.

Phil dipped his head to the nape of Clint’s neck and kissed his tender skin. Clint tilted his head and gave Phil full access, and moaned as Phil’s tongue came out to tease at the edges of the mess he had made of Clint’s shoulder.

“Mmm,” Phil murmured, pausing in his ministrations to inhale Clint’s scent. “Tha’ was fantastic,” he slurred.

Clint nodded, content to do nothing but lay in Phil’s arms as his knot continued to pulse inside of him. He tilted his hips again, and Phil shuddered.

“Stop that,” Phil groaned. “I want to do this again in a few hours, and you’re going to drain me dry on the first attempt.”

Clint grinned sleepily. “I would call this more than an ‘attempt’,” he said.

Phil chuckled. “A successful attempt,” he amended. “But practice makes perfect.”

Clint arched back and turned his head to capture Phil’s mouth in a kiss. Inside, he could feel Phil’s knot begin to subside. It would be another few minutes before they could move.

Clint definitely felt more settled now. His head was clearer, and he could tell Phil probably was, too. They would have a few hours to rest before the heat waves started again.

“My first day is usually pretty intense,” Clint told him. “You up for that?”

Phil nosed the back of his head. “I am ready for anything you give me,” he promised.

Clint was feeling relaxed enough to answer him honestly. “I could give you everything,” he said.

Phil squeezed him briefly. “Then I’ll take it.”

They lay there together for a few minutes more until Phil’s knot loosened enough that they could separate. Clint rolled over and then flipped onto his other side, snuggling back into the warmth of Phil’s chest. Phil’s arms came up and surrounded him, and Clint inhaled deeply.

Phil smelled like home.

They spent the rest of that day in bed, moving to the shower after their second round of heat-sex for a sloppy washing up. After that, they tumbled back to bed and dozed for a few hours, until Clint’s heat rose again and he started pulling at Phil in his sleep. Phil woke instantly and flipped Clint over, his cock already hard and leaking.

He pushed into Clint in one long, sure thrust, and Clint nearly came right then and there with the force of it. As it was, he didn’t last long, his orgasm rolling through him. Phil fucked him through it, and then his hands tightened on Clint’s hips as he came. Once again, Phil’s knot swelled inside him, and Clint moaned at the feeling of being complete.

Phil’s knot lasted a variable amount every time, from five to fifteen minutes, and the sheets were a soaking mess by the next day. Clint dragged them to the bathroom for another shower before Phil insisted they change the bed and eat something, and then tumbled them back to the mattress as the heat rose again.

By the third day they were both aching and sore. The edge had come off the heats, and Clint came once just from Phil’s fingers in his ass, stroking his cock through the waves of heat. Clint was glad his heat had been delayed as long as it had – Phil wouldn’t have been up to this level of activity even a month before.

Finally, Clint woke on the morning of the fifth day feeling sated. His rolled over in bed and nosed at the now livid bruise on Phil’s shoulder, his cock soft and his ass sore. He was still wetter than usual, but that could have been Phil’s come leaking out from between his legs.

Phil twitched in his sleep. His arms came up and closed around Clint, even as he blinked himself awake.

“Morning,” he said, his voice sleep rough and heavy. He inhaled deeply, and then blinked again. “Hey, you’re out of it.”

Clint nodded sleepily and nuzzled further into Phil’s chest. “Think so,” he yawned. “Feel more like myself, now.”

Phil held him close and said nothing. After a moment, Clint looked up. “What?”

Phil swallowed, and held him closer. “It’s been a privilege to share your heat with you,” he said, his voice odd.

Clint froze at the formal words. His chest felt like ice, still except for the quick beating of his heart.

Phil seemed to pause, then took a deep breath. “I would like to – ” he went on. “That is, I would be interested in pursuing a relationship between us, now that the heat has passed.”

Clint felt himself slowly warm. He stirred in Phil’s arms, and looked up. “You’re sure?” he asked, feeling hesitant. “I love you,” he said, the toll of the past ten days compelling him to honesty, “but I know I’m not exactly meet-the-parents material.”

Phil looked dazed. “What did you say?”

Clint felt himself flush. “I said, I’m not exactly – ”

“No,” Phil interrupted him. “Not that, that’s idiotic. The other thing.”

Clint bit his lip, but couldn’t stop his grin. “I’m in love with you. Jackass.”

Phil’s smile could have powered New York. “I love you, too. And you don’t have to meet my parents until you’re ready, but in the interests of full disclosure – they already know all about you.”

Clint stared at him. “They do?”

Phil blushed. “Well, I told my sister first, but she’s incorrigible, and now the whole family knows. You’ve had a standing invitation for Christmas for years now, but we’ve always managed to be away on missions then.”

“Wow,” Clint said, thinking of the picture Phil kept on his desk at work, of himself with a smiling woman in her thirties and two older, slightly greying adults. They were obviously Phil’s parents, but Phil had never mentioned them. “That would be… nice.”

“Yeah?” Phil asked. “I wasn’t sure if it would be too much. My parents are in their seventies, but they can still be a little… intense.”

Clint laughed. “We have months until then, boss. I’m sure you can coach me through it.”

Phil chuckled and held him close, dipping his head again to Clint’s shoulder and inhaling deeply. Now that the heat had passed, the rush of pheromones had ended. Clint only smelled like himself, now.

“You’ll need it,” he promised, “but I won’t leave you to their tender mercies. I’ll put the request for time off now, to give Nick plenty of time to prepare.”

“Good idea,” Clint said sleepily. He kissed the bruise at Phil’s shoulder. “So I get to call you my alpha now?”

Phil’s arms tightened again around him. “You’d better,” he growled. “I’ll file the forms on that, too.”

Clint scrunched his face into Phil’s chest. “I guess we’ll have to tell the rest of the team then.”

“I think they already know, baby.”

Clint huffed out a laugh. “Yeah, I know. Tony’ll be happy. He’s not the only bonded omega, now.”

Phil held him close. “Damn straight.”

Clint smiled and closed his eyes, lured back to sleep by Phil’s tight embrace. “Damn straight,” he echoed.

They slept.