This was it.
This was the moment.
The moment in his life when all his previous heartbreaks shouldn’t matter anymore, when a reluctant blind date became one of the best relationships in his life, the moment he was marrying the man who had quickly become the only stable thing in his life.
There was no doubt in his mind that he loved his fiancé.
There was just… something.
Something missing that was making him doubt.
The words were about to tumble out of his mouth, a simple “I do.”
The invitation stared at him mockingly from the coffee table. Phil had given it to him in person, because despite everything that ever went bad between them Phil was still one of his best friends and Phil was always polite.
Clint wondered, not for the first time, why he ever screwed up something so good.
“Willing the invitation away with your mind won’t make this situation less real.” Clint leveled Natasha with a glare, the two of them had been having the same conversation for the past two years or so, and the truth still hurt.
“I just… why the fuck did it have to be Jamie? Phil deserves better.” Natasha sat down next to him gently, she didn’t offer any other signs of support, and Clint was glad for that. He felt like he didn’t deserve anyone’s pity, it was his fault.
“Jamie is a good man, and he loves Phil.” Natasha’s gaze was soft and Clint felt some of his defensive walls crumble ever so slightly. The truth hurt, a lot. The fact that Jamie was a good man, a better man then Clint could ever be. He wasn’t a killer, nor was he an asshole in his relationship with Phil. Clint had had his chance, and he had fucked it up.
It was time to face the music, and the music just happened to come on a nicely made invitation to what was sure to be the wedding of the year.
“I love you.” Phil’s eyes were full of emotion and it sent Clint into a panic. The two of them had been doing, whatever it was they were doing, for a little over a year now; and despite their relationship being abso-fucking-lutely fantastic, Phil’s confession still freaked Clint out.
Clint let out a deep breath, trying desperately to regain his composure and say something back. “I… I don’t-shit.”
Phil smiled that little half smile he always seemed to do when he felt exasperated and fond all at the same time, and he kisses Clint’s forehead softly. “You don’ have to say anything Clint, I understand if you don’t feel the same way.”
Clint’s heart did an odd sort of flutter and he figured maybe this was a sign that he felt the same way.
He panicked and avoided Phil for two weeks, before making up and fucking in Phil’s apartment.
Clint should have noticed the signs of Phil slowly pulling away. Then again, he should have noticed a lot of things.
Maria was talking to Phil over some paperwork and bubble tea that they both loved but Clint had hated with a passion. He probably shouldn’t be listening in on their conversation but Phil had been acting strangely for the past week and Clint wanted to know what was up.
“I’m glad this is working out for your Phil, you weren’t doing so well before.” Clint noticed the way Phil blushed and twirled his thumbs; a habit Clint learned meant Phil was embarrassed.
“Yeah, I’m glad too. When Miss Potts set me up, I was… hesitant, but,” Phil gave Maria a very rare look of vulnerability and Clint knew that no one would see it unless they had known Phil for years. He was sometimes awkward with people and dealing with his emotions. “I was kind of just sick of feeling so fucking lonely.”
Maria’s hand stilled over her paperwork at Phil’s declaration of weakness. Maria was known for having a better poker face then all of SHIELD, so it surprised Clint when he saw her take hold of Phil’s hand gently. She said nothing, but the tension went out of Phil’s shoulders which Meant Maria knew exactly what her friend needed.
Clint felt a pang of jealousy.
“What’s with the box?” Clint looked up to see Phil, still in his suit from work and wearing his usual sunglasses standing outside his apartment holding out a large shoe box.
“It’s all of your belongings that I found in my apartment. I thought that you might perhaps want them back, all things considered.” Clint couldn’t see past the Agent Coulson mask that Phil was wearing and he realized that somewhere along the way he had forgotten how to read behind the façade.
“Oh, yeah… that makes sense.” Phil gave Clint a small smile and Clint could see that it was strained. “Listen Phil, I’m really…”
“Stop. Barton, you don’t need to explain yourself.” Clint closed away any response he had at the cold tone of Phil’s voice and the use of his last name. He hadn’t been Barton outside of work for almost three years and to hear it caught him off guard. “You were gone for four months with a much more appealing woman whom you were attracted to greatly. I understand.”
Clint realized right then and there, that Phil knew exactly what he and Natasha had done.
“I never meant to hurt you Phil.” Clint noticed the way the older man took in a small breath, to anyone else it was just a deeper breath then most, but to Clint it was as if Phil had gasped in pain.
“Save the apologies Barton. I’m not going to punish neither you nor Agent Romanov for the failure of our relationship. It was going to happen sooner or later.” Phil didn’t smile, and Clint could finally see how despite what the man was saying, he was hurting. “I don’t know if what you and Agent Romanov have is love or lust, but treat her better Clint. The Black Widow, dispute all of her faults, is still a human and she deserves a healthy relationship.”
It didn’t occur to Clint, till Phil was long gone, that he had been broken up with.
“I was thinking maybe we could have the wedding at that warehouse that we drove by the other day. You guys could still have a large wedding and we could really be creative with how we arrange things.” Clint knew that Jamie was on the other side of the line with Pepper. Phil had decided to leave any and all wedding planning to Jamie and he had begged Pepper to make sure the man kept it tasteful. Whatever was said on the other line must have been an agreement of some sorts because Pepper said her goodbyes with a smile and tapped a few things on her tablet.
“You know, sometimes it amazes me that Phil and Jamie get along so well. I wasn’t sure if their personalities would clash when I first introduced them.” Clint forced himself to smile and he wondered how the hell Jamie would even begin to think that Phil would want such an extravagant sounding wedding.
He left before Pepper could say anything more, hoping a few sparring rounds with Bucky would cool him off.
Phil had asked him to meet at a restaurant that Clint had never been to before; he had wanted to introduce Clint to Jamie, Phil’s new boyfriend. Clint really didn’t want to meet Jamie; he would have preferred that Phil never would have agreed to go on that blind date all those months ago. Phil however, was his friend, and that meant he had to meet all future beaus and be supportive of Phil’s relationships.
“Clint I’d like you to meet Jamie Holland.” Jamie put out his hand and Clint shook it, maybe a little too tightly then he should have. The man was taller than him, with carefully styled curly hair and a brilliantly white smile. The man was handsome. He quickly made note of the soft hands and the delicate wrists. Jamie was a musician if what Natasha had told him was right, and Clint was more than positive that the man could never properly defend himself. “We work together at the bureau.” Jamie was a civilian and he wasn’t allowed to know about SHIELD, he was told the classic FBI cover up.
“Ah, the infamous Clint, Phil talks about you all the time. He swears you never miss.” Jamie laughed brightly and Clint shot Phil a curious glance. Phil avoided Clint’s gaze and he leaned in to whisper something into his ear. Then Phil was gone in some unknown direction the moment Clint blinked and he was left alone with Jamie.
Clint had the sudden feeling that Jamie hated him.
“Listen, I get that you and Phil had something in the past, and that now you two are friends,” He had made air quotes with his hands when he said the word friends and Clint was given another reason to not like the man. “But Phil is with me now and whatever you two had is gone.”
Jamie wasn’t a threatening man at all, and Clint took some pleasure in knowing he could kill the man right then and there and make it look like an accident. Fortunately for Jamie Phil and he had moved past awkward exes and the two had become very close again. He was going to say something snarky or say something about how he wasn’t in love with Phil anymore.
Fortunately for Clint, Phil came back from the restroom to stop him from having to say a lie.
“I can’t believe you aren’t going to be in the wedding Clint, aren’t you Agent’s right hand man.” Clint glared at Tony over his drink and accepted the one the other man handed to him gratefully. Tony may not know about what was running through Clint’s head, but he was still a good friend, a good friend with great booze.
“I just don’t believe in marriage Tony, wouldn’t want my beliefs to dampen the celebration.” Tony gave Clint a disbelieving look and the archer knew that Tony had somehow picked up on his feelings. Damn.
“Let’s just both acknowledge that both of us don’t believe in that bullshit excuse.” Tony sat down next to Clint and refilled his glass with some more whisky. “Pepper told me that once upon a time you and Agent lived happily ever after but for some reason happily ever after wasn’t so happy.”
“Yeah well, didn’t realize a good thing till it was gone and was going out with a guy that wears pastels. I mean seriously did you see his pants?” Clint and Tony shared a laugh at the ridiculous purple [ants that Jamie had been wearing earlier, but the humor was short lived.
“What ever happened to you two?” Clint sighed at a question that seemed too complicated to answer. There were a lot of things that went wring between the two. Clint didn’t trust Phil, and Phil moved things too fast for both of them. He had freaked out at the first I love you and Phil had pulled away. Then the whole mess with Natasha, and things had just fallen apart.
“I don’t think either of us was ready to date.” Tony didn’t need to know the details, and Clint was glad that he didn’t ask for any clarification.
It was rare that Phi-Coulson would ask Clint to his office personally. Things had been nothing but professional between the two since they had ended things a little over a year ago and Clint was confident enough to admit that he missed the older agent way more then he should have.
He watched the older man’s shoulders as he lead him to his office and Clint could tell that Coulson was stressed about something. The man had recently been promoted to level six and since then his already hectic workload had seemed to double. When they finally entered the office, Coulson collapsed into the comfortable couch that served as a bed on busy nights and pat the seat next to him.
“We need to talk Clint.” Clint faltered at the use of his first name. It had seemed like Coulson was determined to call him Barton for the rest of their respective lives.
“Phil, call me Phil Clint.” Phil smiled tiredly and Clint took a seat next to him. Phil and good God it was nice to call him that again, was quiet for a little while, obviously trying to gather his thoughts. “I miss you.”
It was a simple confession, no beating around the bush, and Clint was glad for Phil’s bluntness.
“Yeah, I miss you too Phil.” Phil smiled, and it wasn’t tired or strained this time and it made Clint break into one of his own rare genuine smiles.
The arrow went into the target quick and exactly where Clint had wanted them to go. He had been on the SHIELD range for almost four hours straight and he still felt on edge.
It didn’t help his nerves that just a few blocks away Phil would be marrying Jamie-I-wear-too-much-fucking-pastel Holland.
“You know, whatever that target did to you, remind me not to do it too.” Clint turned his head to see Bobbi in her usual SHIELD gear looking at Clint like he was the biggest idiot in the world. It was a sight he was used too.
“What do you want Bobbi?” Clint didn’t really mean to snap at her, he was just so fucking angry.
“I’m just wondering why you are here and not trying to stop the man you love from marrying the wrong man.” Clint’s hands stilled on his bow and he turned to face Bobbi fully. He wasn’t sure what he should say, he wasn’t sure what he should do.
“Hey, go to him.” Clint’s heart beat faster, a million things going through his mind all at once.
“It’s too late.” Bobbi came closer to him and for a moment Clint thought she was going to cup his cheek, but in true Bobbi fashion she slapped his face, hard.
“It’s never too late. Follow your heart.”
Clint took her advice, and ran.
It was just the two of them on Phil’s comfortable couch watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and slowly going through a six pack of micro brews that Clint had picked up on his mission to Wisconsin.
Phil was laughing at Oz’s inner thoughts and his smile was open and happy. His guard was completely down and it had been so long since Clint had seen Phil completely relax around him, and is caused something to stir in his emotions.
It was this moment that he would always remember at the time he realized he was still in love with Phil.
Phil turned at the mention of his name and looked up to see Clint standing in the rafters of the ware house. Beside him Jamie muttered Clint’s name angrily and Phil was vaguely aware that Clint had said something back. He didn’t care though. He had found that something, the something that had been bothering him for months now, and the something that had caused his hesitation at saying “I do.”
It was Clint.
Immediately Clint jumped down from the rafters and ran towards where Phil was standing. His heart was beating loud in his ears and for there was no doubt in his mind that he loved Clint, and that what he was about to do with Jamie would have been a mistake.
“No, I can’t believe this is happening. You have no right to ruin my wedding and I…” Jamie’s tirade ended when Clint had punched him in the face, hard.
“I know I don’t deserve a second chance, but fuck it all Phil if I…” Phil interrupted Clint’s confession of love with a deep kiss and everything just felt right.
“Let’s just get out of here.” Clint grabbed Phil’s hand and they ran out of the crazy wedding, Phil in his nice suit and Clint in his SHIELD issued sweats.
Somewhere in the back of his mind Phil heard his lawyer shout at him to follow his heart, and he was sure that he was doing just that.