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Cold Water Wake-Up

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Clint stands naked in the bathroom, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. He's still a little dusty, his wrecked uniform in a pile in the corner. He got the shot, because he always gets the shot; he was just maybe a little proud of it, a little more interested in taking the tiniest moment to enjoy it than paying attention to how the floor underneath him was starting to give. It wasn't the worst fall he's taken by far, but it wasn't exactly enjoyable.

And unfortunately, everyone saw the whole thing.

Phil turns on the tap, testing the water with his fingers before shaking his hand dry. "In," he orders, pointing at the tub. Clint reluctantly climbs in, and Phil turns on the showerhead.

"Christ," Clint yelps, jumping back out of the freezing spray. "Phil, come on, don't-"

"I don't believe I gave you an option, Barton," Phil says, voice hard. "Clean yourself up."

Clint knows he's not getting out of this one, not after what he did. The shampoo doesn't want to lather in the cold water; he has to wash his hair twice to get all the grit out of it, and his scalp still feels a little unclean. The soap is the same way, but Clint doesn't give in to the urge to half-ass it. He knows Phil can see him clearly through the thin shower curtain, and if Clint doesn't wash every part of his body to Phil's standards, Phil will make him do it again.

The water feels like needles, stinging pinpricks all over, and it sucks the heat out of him, all the way down into his core. He's turned into a Clint-shaped icicle, and he'd give anything to be warm again, to be wrapped up in a big fluffy bathrobe or set out in the sun- he'd take being under a heat lamp like a hamburger.

Still he does what he's been told. He runs the soap all over his body, finding spots to wash that he's not sure he's ever consciously washed, anywhere that he can reach. It's horrible and he hates it, but with every bit of the soap he feels like he's getting cleaner, not just physically. Maybe he really did deserve this, and more than that, maybe he needed it.

"I'm finished, sir," Clint says when he thinks he's had all he can stand, not daring to cut the water off or leave the tub. Phil sticks his hand into the shower and holds out Clint's toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste; it does feel nice to brush his teeth, but making him do it in a freezing shower is just unnecessary.

He rinses and spits, passing the toothbrush back, and finally Phil cuts off the water, pulling back the shower curtain. "Out," he says, and Clint carefully steps over the edge of the tub and onto the bath mat.

"That was bracing," Clint says.

Phil gives him a hard look. "This isn't the day to get smart with me."

Clint wisely puts his head down. "I'm sorry, sir."

"What you did today was unnecessary and stupid," Phil tells him, and he still sounds livid. "It only takes one for you, Barton. All you have to do is catch one bullet or fall the wrong way one time, and you're dead. I won't have that. I expect perfection from you."

"Yes, sir," Clint says, not looking up.

Phil puts his fingers underneath Clint's chin, tilting it up so that he has to meet Phil's eyes. Clint can't take the look that he finds there, the concern and anger and desperation; all he wants is for Phil to never, ever look at him like that again. "I love you," Phil tells him. His voice is level, but Clint still hears how it wants to shake.

"You, too, sir," Clint says. He presses his luck, leaning forward and kissing him, and Clint is incredibly grateful when Phil lets him do it.

After a long moment, Phil pushes him gently away, picking up a towel. He scrubs Clint's hair dry before wrapping it around him, and Clint cuddles into it, pulling the fluffy material as close as he can. "Let's get you warm," Phil says, rubbing Clint's arms.

"Thank fucking god," Clint says, just remembering to tack a "sir" onto the end of it, but Phil just looks amused, leading him towards the bed and its blessed, wonderful blankets.