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Love by Gaslight

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Clint wakes up to someone's lips on the back of his neck, someone's cock pressed up against his ass. His knee-jerk reaction is to jump out of the bed, because he has no idea where he is or how he got there. But the person is skimming his hand up underneath Clint's shirt now; Clint feels the distinctive slide of a wedding ring on a familiar hand, and he relaxes.

Right. Horny husband. Warm bed. More important things to worry about than why he feels like he was in the gym just a couple minutes ago.

He catches Phil's hand, entwining their fingers and dragging it down, settling it not so subtly over his cock. Phil doesn't seem to have much of a problem with Clint's lack of finesse; he just snorts in amusement and starts to stroke him through his boxers. "Gonna fuck you," Phil growls into his ear.

"Mmm, please do," Clint says, grinding back against Phil's cock. Phil rolls away just long enough to grab the lube, giving Clint a chance to push his boxers down, kicking them off somewhere where they'll be lost in the bedsheets, not found again until laundry day.

Phil spoons up behind him, pressing slick fingers inside of him, opening him up. Phil's fingers feel so good in him, but his dick is better, spreading him out and pushing so deep inside. They fuck slowly, lazily, like they have all the time in the world to do it, like there's nothing else but this, never been anything else but this.

Clint comes, and it's just like it should be at a time like this, rolling over and over him, pulse after pulse. He can feel as Phil finishes inside of him, filling him up, absolutely filthy and just what he wanted, marked inside and out.

They clean up a little and fall back into each other's arms. Phil falls asleep almost immediately, clutching Clint to him possessively, but Clint stays up, wondering, the same doubts in his head as when they started.


It doesn't get any better when he gets up in the morning. Natasha doesn't show up for their morning run, and she tears him a new one for waking her up when he texts her to check.

"Jesus," he says to his phone. He goes to put it down, but he notices something: the clock is wrong. The hour is right, but the date isn't, and no matter what Clint does he can't manage to make it sync right. He eventually changes it to manual update and moves on with his life, but it continues to bother him.

The situation deteriorates when he gets to the bridge. The staff isn't right; he knows the rotation of most of the crew, at least by faces if not by names, and this is the Sunday staff. He asks Fury why the staffing has changed, and Fury gives him the 'I know I employ weird-ass people but you are strange' eyebrow and goes about his business. He doesn't remember until the afternoon- mission, right, there was a mission, he and Natasha have been gone.

But why does he feel like that makes no sense?


He's on the range, sinking arrow after arrow into the target, one by one. He might be showing off a little, because some of the new recruits are training, and it amuses him to intimidate them sometimes. He pops off five right in a row, all in the bullseye, to the sound of awed whispering, grinning to himself.

And then he looks at the bow in his hand, frowning. The range is great and all, but he wasn't here ten minutes ago. He was lifting weights. Once was strange in a SHIELD-like way, but now he's worried. This is some Inception shit, and he's really not okay with it.

He puts his bow back in its case, taking it and storing it in the armory; the date and time are wrong on the digital readout on the wall, and this is starting to feel eerily familiar. He goes to find the one person he thinks is most likely to help him with this, the most likely to know what the fuck and how to fix it.

Phil is in their quarters, taking a break, and he frowns when he sees Clint's face. "What's wrong?"

Clint scratches his head, not sure what to say. "I'm losing time," he says. "Not 'at the range long enough that I forget what time it is' losing time. The real kind. The bad kind."

"You're not losing time, Clint," Phil says patiently, standing up.

"Bullshit I'm not," Clint says, annoyed. "Either I'm two days late or everybody else is two days early, but this is not the time it's supposed to be."

"For fuck's sake, why can no one do anything right around here?" Phil says, in a voice that Clint doesn't like.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Clint asks.

"Nothing," Phil says. "Thinking about something else."

"Phil," Clint says slowly. "Why don't I remember anything?"

"Your memory has been augmented," Phil tells him, like it's nothing, like it's a totally normal thing to say. "Apparently, it was done incorrectly this time."

Clint looks at him in shock, his heart seizing. "What the fuck is 'augmented' supposed to mean?"

"What it always means," Phil says placidly. "We have remote technology to change your memory as we see fit, in order to protect sensitive information, your fellow agents, and you."

"We've been married for how long, and you never told me about this?" Clint says furiously.

"You signed up for it," Phil tells him, which is complete crap. He sounds tired, kind of sad. "We've never been married, Clint."

Cold, heavy fear fills Clint's stomach. "What the fuck are you even talking about?"

Phil holds up his hand. "This ring is how we injected the nanoparticles that allow us to control your memory."

Clint bought that ring himself; he carried it around in his pocket for a solid month before he got the balls to ask Phil to marry him. He came damn close to losing it in Bratislava when it slipped out of his pocket and tasted pavement, leaving a distinctive scratch on one side. That was what eventually drove him to propose, because he couldn't deal with the thought of losing it before he saw it on Phil's hand. His breath is coming faster now, panic rising. He can't decide if he wants to bolt or take a swing, and the choice is paralyzing him.

"You thought of it," Phil says. "You saw the ring and latched onto the idea for some reason. It made certain things easier, so we let you continue to believe it."

"You fucking son of a bitch," Clint says, and now he really is about thirty seconds from attacking him. "So it's just okay for you to fuck me then? What's that, keeping up appearances? Or do you just take advantage of me because you want to?"

Phil's face shuts down. "What I want isn't germane to this conversation."

"It is very fucking germane," Clint says. "I just found out that the man I'm in love with, who I've been married to for three fucking years, isn't my husband. I need to know what you want."

"Does it make a difference?" Phil asks.

"Of course it makes a goddamn difference," Clint snaps. "Either you've got some kind of misguided idea that you're comforting me, or you're just using me as your toy. I just want to know how much of a monster you really are."

"I'm not a good man, Clint," Phil says darkly.

"That's not an answer," Clint replies.

"Fifteen minutes ago, it didn't matter," Phil reminds him.

"If you didn't pick this moment to suddenly be honest, it still wouldn't," Clint says. "But now I know what I know, and there's no taking it back. So what's your answer?"

"I don't see why it can't be both," Phil says.

Clint laughs, a little hysterically. "So it's mindfuck with benefits, then."

"I don't know why I keep having this conversation with you," Phil says, rubbing his forehead. "I have this idea in my head that this'll be the time when it comes out right."

"How many times have we had this conversation?" Clint asks, alarmed.

"This is four," Phil tells him.

"You fucking bastard," Clint says; he's getting closer and closer to going for him. "Do you think there's ever going to be a time when I actually give you the answer you want? Do you honestly believe that one day I'm going to say, 'Oh, well, I'm happy anyway, no harm no foul'?"

Phil sighs. "No."


Clint wakes up suddenly to a noise of pain. He's disoriented for a moment, but it only takes him a second to realize that one, he's in medical, and two, the noise is Phil. He really got banged up on the last mission, got the shit beat out of him by some punk-ass baddies because he had to maintain cover. He put most of them down later, but Clint knows he's still embarrassed about it. He's been extra light on the teasing- who says he's not considerate?

Phil tries to sit up, and Clint walks over, pushing him gently back down. "Careful," Clint says; he's very used to bailing on medical as soon as his legs will carry him, but he's a little more concerned about Phil's health than his own. "Here," he says, putting the little remote thing that lets him have more meds in his hand. "Free drugs. Use them."

Phil gives him the grumpy 'I'm too manly for painkillers' look, but he turns it up a click anyway. They haven't had time to take effect, but already he's relaxing; Clint likes to think that he's just such a mellow person that everyone in his vicinity chills out a little. Phil holds out his hand, and Clint laces their fingers together. He can feel Phil's wedding ring, a solid weight, a promise; he doesn't think there's anything in the world that comforts him more.

"Get some sleep," he says, pulling his hand away. "I'll be right here."

"Love you," Phil says, voice hoarse from disuse.

"You too," Clint tell him, kissing his forehead, and soon Phil is asleep again. Clint sits down in his chair and shuts his eyes; for some reason, he keeps thinking about his workout routine. Maybe it's time to scale back. He thinks about it too much.