Clint "Hawkeye" Barton is the only human asset on SHIELD's roster. There is open debate on whether it was in a fit of humor or ingenuity that Fury decided to make Phil Coulson, the only vampire agent at SHIELD, Barton's handler. Regardless of the reason, nobody debates on how well it works.
Hawkeye's skills were already amazing, even by vampire standards, but with Phil a calm and steady presence in his ear and at his side, they become the greatest asset-handler partnership SHIELD has ever seen. There are, however, inherent dangers in working for SHIELD. Dangers that put Clint's more fragile body at risk and, no matter how well-versed the medical staff has become on human physiology, it was only a matter of time before they encountered something that couldn't be fixed.
"There is no antidote," Fury tells Phil, "and there is nothing left of the venom to manufacture one."
Phil looks through the observation glass at Clint laying on the hospital bed with his eyes closed. He can tell by the way the archer's lips are pressed in a thin line that he's still in a decent amount of pain even with the drugs the doctors have given him.
"There has to be something they can do," Phil counters. He's not ready to believe that, after all these years and all the crazy missions they've completed, what had looked like an innocuous scratch on his arm is what would finally take Hawkeye down.
"There's always something that can be done," Fury reminds him.
Phil turns to give the director a look of disbelief. "You know as well as I do that Clint has never given consent to be turned and we can't legally ask for consent while a human is under duress."
"He signed the consent form over a year ago," Fury responds.
"That's...great news," Phil says calmly, stomping down the bitter taste of jealousy at the news. "I'll call Natasha in."
Fury holds up a hand before Phil can move. "Barton didn't choose Natasha, not even as a secondary."
"What? Then who..."
Phil trails off, his breath leaving him in a rush as the full weight of what Fury is telling him sinks in. His eyes can't help turning back to his asset, who seems to have fallen into a fitful sleep. Clint's brow furrows and Phil's fingers itch to smooth it out.
"Phil," Fury says, pulling his attention back to their conversation. "Consent goes both ways. I don't think he understood what a turning would mean for you when he signed the forms."
"You didn't tell him?" Phil asks.
"No," Fury replies. "I didn't think it was my place. I had hoped he'd talk to you before it became necessary."
"Because Barton and I are are so great at communicating about things that matter?" Phil says dryly.
"Forgive me for believing one of you would finally grow a pair," Fury retorts before letting out a weary sigh. "In all seriousness Phil, there isn't much time and I'm not so sure I should allow it at all, considering."
"Considering what?" Phil asks, fear tightening like a vice around his heart at the real possibility of losing Clint.
"One could reasonably argue that you are under as much duress as Barton," Fury points out.
Phil looks away from his friend's concerned eyes and back to Clint's still form. Contrary to what was once believed of them, vampires are not the undead. They age and can be injured like humans, but their blood allows them to heal and regenerate, giving them the appearance of immortality, as long as they continue to ingest human blood. A vampire's heart beats much like, and often stronger, than a human's and having significantly longer lifespans does not save them from the pain and heartache of living. If Phil is honest with himself, his answer has been set for years.
"I need to talk to Clint," he says to Fury, whose shoulders sag with relief. "He needs to understand what this will mean for both of us before he gives his final consent."
"Okay," Fury agrees, "but don't talk yourself or him out of something I think you both want."
Phil can only nod in response.
"You'll have full privacy from the moment I leave this room until you call me," Fury adds.
Phil nods again and the director gives him a supportive squeeze on his shoulder before leaving him alone. He reminds himself that Clint doesn't have much time, takes a fortifying breath, and steps into Clint's room.
Clint's eyes flutter open as soon as Phil walks in. The archer gives Phil a ghost of his usual smile, pain dulling its usual brightness.
"Guess throwing that snake thing into the fire wasn't the best idea, huh boss?" Clint says as Phil steps up next to his bed. "Next time, I'll make sure to take blood and tissue samples first."
Phil tries to smile at Clint's attempt at humor, but figures he fails more than he succeeds by how the archer's eyes fill with concern.
"What's your pain level, Specialist?" Phil asks.
"Four out of ten," Clint replies automatically. "Didn't want anything stronger. Nothing I can't handle and my head's clear, sir."
Phil nods at Clint's assessment. They've both been trained not to hide anything that may hamper their physical or mental states.
"Good. There's something I need you to do for me," Phil requests.
"Anything, sir," Clint answers easily.
"I'm going to ask you some questions and it's important that you answer honestly and fully, even if it makes you uncomfortable," Phil says and Clint's eyes go from concerned to curious.
"Always, sir." Clint responds. "I trust you."
A huge weight lifts off Phil's shoulders at Clint's words, but he knows that the rest of this conversation is something they both need.
"The director tells me you finally signed the consent form," Phil starts. "Why not when you first joined?"
Clint's shoulders go tense and his eyes go wide as they flick up at the cameras in the corners of the room. The archer relaxes when he realizes they’re no longer being observed and he swallows nervously before answering Phil's question.
"My life before SHIELD hadn't exactly been a bed of roses. The idea of living longer wasn't appealing at the time."
Phil reaches out and takes Clint's hand, the touch comforting them both. Knowing about the archer's past doesn't make it any easier to hear a reminder of all the ways they could never have met.
"What changed your mind a year ago?"
"Natasha offered," Clint says with a shrug. "It made me think and I realized that the idea of sticking around wasn't such a bad idea anymore. I was...happy. With SHIELD, with Nat, with you."
They smile at each other for a moment before Phil asks his final question. "Why me and not Natasha?"
Clint blushes, dropping his eyes to their joined hands and shifting so that their fingers are intertwined.
"Nat, uh, told me what a turning is like," Clint says without looking up. "How intimate it is. That it was like giving a part of your soul to the person turning you." He looks up and Phil is amazed at the intensity in Clint's gaze as their eyes meet. "I don't want that...I can't give that to anyone but you."
Phil can't keep himself from surging forward to crush their lips together. Their first kiss is full of pent up passion and longing, Phil desperate for Clint to know how much he wants everything Clint is willing to give. By the time the kiss ends, Clint's free hand is clutching at Phil's shirt and Phil's fingers are buried in Clint's short hair.
"God Clint," Phil gasps and presses their foreheads together. "I want that too."
"They don't have an antidote for the toxin, do they?" Clint asks softly.
"No, they don't," Phil answers, forcing himself to pull back and finish telling Clint everything.
"It's okay, Phil," Clint assures him. "I just told you. I want this."
Phil shakes his head. "There's more, Clint. Remember how I told you that I wasn't turned?"
"Your parents were both vampires," Clint responds with a nod, "so you were born a vampire and not turned."
"That's right," Phil confirms and then pauses, gathering his thoughts before continuing. "Turning someone for a born vampire is different than it is for a vampire who's been turned because the magic is stronger. The...connection during the turning that Natasha described will never fade. Not for either of us."
Clint's eyes go wide again, but he doesn't recoil or otherwise try to pull away. Phil smiles and lays his palm gently against Clint's cheek.
"It's not quite a telepathic bond," Phil explains, "but if we do this, we will be forever linked. We will always know each other's joys and pains and everything in between. We can never hide from one another and, when the time comes, we will not be able to survive without the other."
"Would you...do you want that with me?" Clint asks tentatively.
"Yes, Clint," Phil answers. "For all the years I have lived, I have never known anyone like you and there is no one else I would want to spend my future with."
Clint starts to smile and then his eyes cloud with worry. "I've been told that I'm not easy to live with."
"Clint," Phil says patiently, "in all the years we've worked together, I think we have seen the best and worst of each other. I know you snore and have a tendency to leave your socks in random places. You often jump into danger with little care for your own wellbeing, but it's always to save a mission or another agent. I also know that you have an unending capacity for forgiveness and compassion, that you don't trust easily, but make it easy for others to put their trust in you. You are a much better man than you give yourself credit for and I would be honored to turn you."
Phil smiles at Clint's awed expression. "I'm in love you Clint, I have been for a while. I wish I'd had the courage to tell you before, but I don't want your to feel like this is your only option. We can still call Natasha and go about this the proper way when your life is not as risk."
Clint doesn't respond at first, looking intently at Phil with a thoughtful expression. Phil is happy to see that the archer is thinking this through instead of jumping into an irreversible lifetime commitment. Even if it means standing aside and watching someone else experience Clint's turning, Phil will never do anything to make him feel trapped.
"You always steal all the covers at night because your feet get cold, but hate wearing socks to bed because they make your feet sweaty," Clint says, his smile growing larger as he continues. "Unless we're in the middle of an op, you aren't coherent before your second cup of coffee in the morning. There is nothing you take more seriously than protecting your assets and agents, yet take the greatest pride in watching us make our own decisions. You are much hotter than you give yourself credit for and you are by far the best man I have ever known. I love you, Phil Coulson, and even though I think you're crazy for choosing me, there is nothing I want more than for you to turn me."
Phil sucks in a sharp breath and resists the urge to ask Clint if he's sure - that would only succeed in making Clint believe that Phil is the one having second thoughts.
"So...how does this actually work?" Clint asks. "I never really looked into the...uh...mechanics."
"It's simple," Phil answers. "You drink from me and I from you."
"Simple," Clint repeats skeptically.
"I can get into the mysticism of how it's best for both participants to be willing so that the magic can flow freely from my soul to yours," Phil says with a smile. "Or I can explain the biology of how quickly vampire blood absorbs into human tissue, spreading quickly and taking over until the thirst for blood drives you to take more. Or since we have full privacy until I signal otherwise..." Phil steps back, reaching up to remove his tie and begin unbuttoning his shirt. "I can show you."
Clint hums approvingly and starts to reach for Phil, but tenses suddenly as a new wave of pain racks his body.
"Clint?" Phil asks in concern.
"Seven, sir," Clint responds with a grimace. "The meds are wearing off faster each time."
"Just lay back and let me take care of you," Phil commands, letting some his magic flow out as he runs his fingers through Clint's hair, hoping it can dull some of the pain.
Phil adjusts the angle of the bed so Clint is slightly less reclined and finishes removing his clothes, trying not to blush as Clint watches him hungrily. He pulls the blankets back and helps Clint remove the pajamas Phil had brought him earlier, knowing the archer’s vehement hatred for the thin medical gowns.
"This is so unfair," Clint complains as Phil crawls onto the bed with him.
The sniper's eyes are dark with desire, still intently tracking all of Phil's movements, and Phil arches an eyebrow in question. He straddles the younger man's hips, both of them gasping when their already hard cocks line up. Clint throws his head back and moans, his eyes closed and hands fisted in the sheets.
"Why, Clint?" Phil prods, running his hands up the warm skin of Clint's chest to his shoulders, his neck, and then lifting his head until they are once again looking eye-to-eye. "What is so unfair?"
"I finally have you naked and in my bed and I'm in too much pain to move."
Phil slowly drops his hands back to Clint's chest and lets go of the tight control he keeps over his magic, the vampire blood surging through his veins in response. His fangs grow out and his voice takes on an echoing rasp. "Soon, Clint, soon."
Clint's hands come up to gently frame Phil's face. "You are so beautiful."
Phil closes his eyes and sniffs at Clint's wrist, the intoxicating smell of human blood causing hunger to clench tightly in Phil's gut. His tongue flicks out and licks once before Phil moves the archer's hands back down to the bed, the temptation too great to take what he wants before it's time.
"Is sex always involved with turning?" Clint asks.
"No," Phil answers, "but I've been told it helps relax everyone involved."
"Good plan," Clint approves, moving his hand to wrap around both their lengths.
Phil shudders as Clint's hand begins to move, struggling through the haze of arousal to focus on the turning. Phil brings his wrist to his mouth and uses his fangs to cut into his own flesh so that Clint can drink freely. Blood runs down his arm as Phil leans forward to offer it to the archer.
Clint doesn't hesitate, gripping Phil's arm with his free hand and licking at the dripping blood before settling his lips firmly over the wound at Phil's wrist. Phil shudders again as Clint begins to feed in earnest. He can feel the magic begin to grow and spread within Clint, his new fangs making their presence known against Phil's skin.
"Phil..." Clint pleads, breath hot against Phil's wrist, even as he licks instinctively at the wound to slow the bleeding.
The archer's lips and teeth are red with blood as he looks up at Phil, his eyes heavy with desire and begging for Phil to finish the turning. Clint tilts his head, exposing the long column of his throat, and Phil can no longer resist. He presses forward and sinks his fangs into Clint's neck, the hot splash of Clint's blood on his tongue like air to a drowning man.
The magic of the turning coalesces around them as their hearts and souls and bodies begin to move together. Sensations, physical and spiritual, overcome them, spiraling to a near-painful intensity as the final link between their souls forms and their bodies shudder with the force of their climax.
Phil collapses onto Clint and laps lazily at his neck while the younger man sighs and leans into the contact. Clint’s arms wrap around Phil, keeping him in place when Phil makes a half-hearted attempt to move his weight off the archer. The intense magic of the turning fades, leaving behind the low hum of their newly formed link.
"Love you," Clint mumbles sleepily and Phil kisses his neck once more before shifting to inspect his wrist.
The wound is healed, but there are faints scars where either Clint or Phil's fangs had broken skin. When Phil looks more closely at Clint's neck, he sees similar scars where he had fed from the archer. He does not know if this is normal for linked pairs, but finds himself pleased with the idea that they are both permanently marked with the evidence of the turning.
Phil looks up to say so to Clint, only to find him already asleep. Phil shakes his head fondly, extracting himself from Clint’s arms, and clambers off the bed to the adjoining bathroom. He cleans himself up and then uses a wet washcloth to clean the blood and semen from Clint's body, who is already snoring lightly. Phil pauses to grab an extra blanket before climbing back next to Clint with a contented sigh.
Clint immediately rolls to settle comfortably against Phil's chest and, even in his sleep, Phil can feel the happiness and contentment emanating from the archer. He reaches down to take Clint's hand, brushing his lips over now scar-free knuckles before twining their fingers together.
Phil knows that their path from here will likely be full of unexpected bumps and more than their fair share of pitfalls, but the future has never looked brighter now that he has Clint to share it with. He closes his eyes and lets Clint's still-beating heart lull him to sleep.
Tomorrow, and every tomorrow after, can wait.