“This isn’t what it looks like?” Clint didn’t even sound like he believed himself. Phil thought there was little possibility of him convincing the dark-haired girl with a scowl on her face who looked barely out of her teens.
She crossed her arms, her eyes narrowing. Phil noted there was a surprising amount of muscle in the thin, pale limbs, revealed by her sleeveless purple tank. “Really?” she asked in an acerbic tone. “‘Cause it looks like you have a hickey on your neck and your shirt is on inside out.”
A red flush bloomed on Clint’s cheeks. Phil watched, fascinated by the dynamic unfolding in front of him. Despite the fact that Clint was obviously at least a decade older than the girl, he seemed thoroughly cowed by her.
Clint rubbed the back of his neck, causing his own bicep to bulge. Phil let his eyes linger on it, appreciating the fact that he’d had his hands wrapped around it less than an hour ago. “I can explain - ” he started to say and then trailed off, clearly having nothing to say to follow it up.
The girl threw up her hands and scoffed. “One hour!” she cried out. “I leave you alone for one hour and you somehow get laid. Are you sure I’m the one who should be seeing Dr. Banner?”
They all looked over at Bruce, who gave them a small thin-lipped smile. “Anyone is welcome to make an appointment,” he said in an even tone. “Just ask Darcy.”
“So I’m not fired?” Darcy said in a small voice. She was watching the proceedings with wide eyes, her hands nervously playing with a pen.
“What?” Bruce frowned. “Of course you’re not fired. Why would you think that?”
“It is my first day and all,” Darcy said, pushing a lock of her long, black hair back behind her ear, “but I think letting one of your patients go off and have sex with a random person sitting in the waiting room of a sex therapist’s office is a fireable offense.”
“I’m not a patient,” Phil said almost at the same time as Bruce said, “He’s not a patient,” their voices echoing each other in syncopated rhythm.
Darcy looked between them. “But he has an appointment?” she asked, eyebrows rising up towards her hairline.
“It’s complicated,” Bruce said after a short pause.
Phil kept silent. The reasons he was there were actually classified but he knew saying that would only peak everyone’s curiosity further.
“Oh, let’s just go,” the dark haired girl said, exasperated. She started to move towards the exit and then hesitated, stopping and turning towards Bruce. “Thanks,” she said, voice earnestly sincere.
“You’re welcome,” Bruce said, his tone warming. His mouth curved into a small, welcoming smile. “Feel free to make another appointment whenever you wish.”
“I'll think about it,” she replied. She glanced towards Clint and rolled her eyes, striding towards the exit with an irritated huff.
He grimaced and followed her. Phil waited until Clint drew level before casually reaching out to grab his arm. Clint instantly stilled. There was a quick flex of his bicep underneath Phil’s loose grip before Clint turned his head, a questioning look in his eyes.
“I’ll call you,” Phil promised. His gaze lingered on the love bite marring Clint’s neck, a visible reminder of what they’d been up to just minutes before, and he didn’t stop the desire from returning to his own eyes.
Clint held his gaze for a breathless moment. “That’s what all the boys say,” he quipped but the hoarseness of his voice showed how affected he actually was. He began to pull away from Phil’s grasp.
Phil tightened his grip. “I’ll call you,” he said again, voice quietly firm. He was gratified by the way Clint’s Adam’s apple bobbed with a hard swallow, his blue eyes suddenly darkened by the swiftness with which his pupils dilated.
“Yeah,” Clint said. His tongue flicked out and Phil’s gaze dropped to his shining, pink lips. A low tug of desire made him wish no one was around, that he could explore that sinful mouth again. “You should do that.”
Phil let him go, keenly aware of Darcy and Bruce still in the room. Clint hesitated a moment, lips parted slightly as if he was going to say something further, but then he turned to follow the dark-haired girl out of the room without another word.
“Darcy,” Bruce said once Clint had disappeared through the doorway, hard gaze intent on Phil. “You are dismissed. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Even though his voice was mild, there was a new tension to his shoulders that lent him a dangerous air. Phil could feel his own muscles stiffening in response, readying himself to act, if need be.
Darcy looked between the two of them once before hurriedly gathering up her things and leaving the office, eyes wide and her stride only just shy of a run. When she passed by Phil, he felt her turn to glance at him but his focus was entirely on Bruce. He was aware of just how small Bruce’s waiting area was, the receptionist desk and two chairs crammed into a narrow rectangle of a room. It limited range of motion, the number of moves he could employ. A leaf of Darcy’s oversized plant brushed against his arm but he automatically tuned out the distracting sensation.
“Who do you think you are?” Bruce’s voice still had that deceptive mildness to it. It only made Phil more on edge. “Do you think my life is a game?”
Phil wasn’t sure how to respond. “If I did something,” he began to say.
“My waiting room is not for you to pick up conquests!” Bruce practically shouted, eyes flashing with anger.
A wave of contrition briefly swept over Phil. It had been wrong to pick up Clint the way he had and he’d known it. But he’d felt the urge for weeks now, that need to lose himself in skin and sweat, to bury himself in another person so that he didn’t know where he ended and they began. Clint had been perfect, all needy gasps and punch drunk moans, limbs corded with muscle yet surprisingly limber. He’d felt a yearning inside him ease with every thrust, a hole inside him fill with every passionate kiss. His orgasm had rocketed through him, stealing his breath. For one shining, breathless moment, everything had been perfectly still and he'd been just Phil.
No expectations. No responsibilities. Just Phil.
Bruce’s hands curled into fists. He was only an inch shorter than Phil but he somehow seemed larger, broad shoulders expanding with every breath, feet planted in a wide stance. “I understand that you have to check up on me,” he said, anger present in every syllable. “But that doesn’t give you the right to toy with my life.”
“Do you?” Phil interjected with raised eyebrows. Confusion briefly flitted over Bruce’s face. “Do you understand?”
“I’m - ” Bruce shook his head, his short greying curls swinging with the motion. He looked up and the confusion now clouded his brown eyes, body deflating. “I’m dangerous?” He sounded lost, voice small suddenly. He put one hand up to his head, fingers rubbing at his temple. “I need to be,” he said slowly, “contained?”
“Bruce.” Phil made his voice low and even. “Take a deep breath. Calm your mind.”
It was the exact wrong thing to say. “NO!” Bruce shouted, seeming to expand in all directions. Phil noted with a distant sort of alarm that Bruce was starting to look sickly under the warm yellow lights, his skin turning a faint green. HIs eyes flashed again but this time, it looked like the brown was fading, giving way to another color.
“Lullaby.” Phil pitched his voice to carry, the single word ringing in the air between them. It was the last trick Phil had before he had to move onto force, which he hoped to avoid in the tight space.
Bruce actually snorted, nostrils flaring. His head shook again but more slowly this time, as if he were moving through syrup. “No,” he said again and his voice had turned gravelly and rough. “Puny - ”
Phil tensed, his hand creeping towards the lapel of his suit jacket, but then a yawn widened Bruce’s jaw, his eyelids closing in reflex. His hand came up to cover his mouth, albeit a moment too late.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Bruce said, eyelashes fluttering open over warm, brown eyes, his hand dropping to one side. He seemed all too human, exhausted after a hard day of work. His voice was soft and his lips curled in self-deprecating amusement. “It’s been a long day. Do you mind if we reschedule our appointment?”
Phil had to take a second to let the tension fade from his limbs, his own hand falling to his side now that the threat had seemingly passed. “Sure, Bruce,” he said, forcing his lips into an answering smile, “no problem at all.”
“A Code Green, really?” Jasper Sitwell’s glasses glinted in the sunlight streaming through the conference room windows so that for a moment his eyes were obscured by the glare. Then he stepped further into the room and his dark brown eyes were revealed. His face was composed in a bland expression, one that he’d obviously modeled after Phil’s famous poker face over the years. “I thought he was stable.”
“So did I,” Phil replied, already seated at the round conference table. Sheer glass comprised its surface, resting atop wide metal legs that curved on their way to the floor. Phil privately thought it was a strategic move on Fury’s part to stop any shenanigans from occurring underneath the tabletop during the less exciting meetings. “Where’s Maria?”
“On her way,” Jasper replied as he settled into a seat. “You know how she is about her coffee.”
Phil raised an eyebrow. “Like you’re any better?”
Jasper unabashedly sipped at the extra-large white mug in his hand. “Please,” he said. “I know you’ve had at least three cups already.”
Four technically, if you counted the fact that one had been a double, but Phil kept quiet about that little fact. There was no point in trying to defend himself. He’d mentored Jasper Sitwell for several years before Jasper had achieved a ranking level where he could begin to take on his own missions; Jasper was well aware of Phil’s coffee addiction.
Melinda May silently stepped through the doorway and sat down at the table with a single nod as her greeting. Both men gave their own nods in response, used to her taciturn demeanor. The three of them sat in companionable silence, Jasper sipping his coffee occasionally and staring unseeing out of the nearest window. May thumbed her way through the report Phil had compiled, although Phil knew she had probably memorized all the relevant details anyway. He had sent a digital copy to the team as soon as he finished it.
Phil’s own thoughts should have been occupied with the mission and yet a certain blue-eyed, dirty blond-haired man dominated them. It had been difficult enough to marshall his attention enough to compose the report. Now, in the comfortable silence of his peers, he found his thoughts wandering. To large biceps and powerful thighs. To abs that looked like they had been sculpted by Michelangelo. To an ass so perfectly round…
Maria Hill strode through the door with a glower on her face so dark that Phil instantly knew she had not been successful in obtaining a cup of coffee before the meeting. Her dark brown hair had been cut recently into a shoulder length bob that suited her face; he debated whether a compliment would improve her mood or just make her suspicious.
“What did you do?” she asked, her gaze focusing on Phil she lowered herself into a chair.
Perhaps not; she was already suspicious. Phil calculated his response choices and decided to deflect. “I know you’ve read the report.”
“And I know you.” She looked him over, brows drawing together. “You’ve done something.”
This had the unfortunate effect of ensuring that he had the attention of everyone in the room. He could see May mentally reviewing her knowledge of the report and inwardly cursed. He had taken the liberty of being intentionally vague about certain details of his conversation with Bruce in the report, not wanting to highlight the fact that he’d taken a side diversion before fulfilling his mission; the video they were about to review would make it obvious enough after all. If he had had any inkling that it would have been a trigger for Bruce, he’d never would have done it but as Jasper said, they’d all thought Bruce was stable.
Thankfully, Fury chose that moment to enter the room, his stern expression calling the meeting to order without a single word. He wasted no time pressing play on the the recorded video that had been cued up to the moment Bruce finished his session with his client. When they’d agreed to this project, Bruce had insisted that cameras only be installed in the waiting room of his practice. In compromise, a transdermal monitor had been implanted under Bruce’s skin to monitor him. The video display was split into a four grid format, three of the squares showing the waiting room from different viewpoints with a fourth displaying his recorded vitals at the time.
Upon starting, the video showed Bruce and his client comfortably chatting in the waiting room. There was no sound, another stipulation that Bruce had insisted on to ensure patient privacy. Darcy could be seen shooting worried glances towards the door of the waiting room while absently playing with her hair. After a few moments, the door opened and Phil and Clint entered the room.
Phil inwardly winced. The self-satisfied look on his own face in the recording was almost rude in its salaciousness. Phil could feel the tension in the conference room rise to an almost palpable level as his recorded self moved - no, strutted - further into the waiting room. Add in Clint’s bed-tousled hair and inside-out T-shirt and it was clear what their recent activities entailed. He and Clint looked nothing less than well fucked.
Phil kept his expression as blank as possible as the video continued. He pretended that he didn’t hear Jasper’s swift intake of breath when on-screen he grabbed Clint’s arm and gave him a look that was scorching in its intensity. He ignored Maria shifting in her seat when Clint licked his lips, naked desire evident in his expression. It was a relief when he released Clint onscreen and Clint left the waiting room after a small hesitation. The rest of the video, including his confrontation with Bruce, seemed anti-climactic in contrast to those few charged seconds.
Fury paused the video when Bruce was mid-yawn. Phil briefly closed his eyes and then turned to face the music.
Jasper looked discomfited and a little ruffled even though he’d hardly moved. In fact, Phil could detect a glimmer of arousal in his eyes as Jasper defiantly returned his gaze. Interesting. May looked exasperated, lips pressed together in a thin line. Maria was openly glaring at Phil, nostrils flared. Fury was as inscrutable as ever and seemed in no hurry to speak, clearly willing to let the women take the lead on this one.
“If I had known - ” Phil started to say but was cut off by Maria letting out a snort and exchanging a look with May. “What?” he asked, hackles rising.
“Let’s just face the facts,” May said bluntly. “You’re addicted to sex.”
Phil let out a startled laugh. “I am not,” he said, lips still curved into a smile, “addicted to sex.”
“Camilla Reyes.” Maria flung out the name as if throwing down a gauntlet.
“We were just blowing off steam.”
May’s eyes narrowed. “Audrey Nathan?”
“My mission objective was to get close enough to protect her from Marcus Daniel,” Phil said. “Which I clearly achieved.”
Maria hooked a strand of her hair behind her ear, pressing her lips together in a disapproving expression. “Agent Katherine Shane?”
Phil felt a stab of annoyance. “Oh, is my whole personal life an open book now?” he countered. “We were off-duty.”
Silence fell. Fury put one hand to his chin, knuckle pressed against his bottom lip as he silently surveyed the occupants of the room. Phil stared at May, honestly baffled. “You?” he asked.
May raised an eyebrow. “You don’t remember?” she asked. “Russia? You propositioned me.”
The memory came back to him in a rush. It had been in their early days, one of the first missions he’d done with May. He had been a Level 4 field agent and she a Level 3 specialist. The adrenaline had been coursing through him with the successful mission, the 0-8-4 secure in its container. The atmosphere in the car on their way back to their extraction point had been charged, ripe with potential. So he’d made a play.
Truth be told, he had a habit of mixing business with pleasure and he knew it. Even as an everyman agent, his life was fraught with danger. He’d tried several things over the years to release the tension but so far, nothing beat a good orgasm, preferably one with a partner. Besides, May was one to talk. She was just as guilty of using sex as a way to come down from missions; she just happened to stick to civilians.
Phil let one corner of his lips curve upward. “Really, May?” he asked, drawing out the pronunciation of her name. He relished the way her gaze sharpened suddenly, her shoulders squaring in a reflexive defensive stance. “Because I only recall asking for a drink.”
The glare she sent his way was totally worth the beat-down he was sure to get later.
“Well, let’s hope Agent Agent is as much of a slut as everyone thinks he is,” an all too familiar voice sounded from the speakers. “In this case, it’s a feature, not a bug.”
Phil clenched his jaw, feeling annoyance blossom again in his gut. The Consultant was a perpetual pain in his ass.
“Stark,” he said, hating the way his tone had taken on an edge, before turning towards the video screen. “What do you have for us?”
The unmistakable visage of Tony Stark had replaced the recorded video on the screen, complete with sparkling brown eyes and creative facial hair. It was a live feed from the workshop at Stark Tower in Manhattan, a motley collection of machinery visible in the background.
“Just jumping right in?” A corner of Stark’s lip quirked upwards as he looked at Phil. “What, no foreplay first?”
For a brief second, Phil had a very vivid fantasy of punching the smirk right off of his face. Then his analytical mind kicked in and he could see the strain in Stark’s expression, lines carved into his face that normally didn’t exist and deeper bags than usual underneath his eyes. Stark liked to pretend that he was laid back but he cared deeply about those close to him. The Bruce Banner problem had been weighing on his mind for some time now.
“This is serious, isn’t it?” Phil crossed his arms and leveled his gaze at Stark. “I think we can dispense with the formalities.”
Stark nodded, his expression sobering. “As much as I’d like to blame Agent’s hounddog tendencies,” he said, “Bruce’s measurements have been displaying anomalies for weeks.”
Maria winced and rubbed her temple. She clearly needed that cup of coffee. “So is this another failure then?”
“I don’t think so,” Stark said, looking at data on another screen. “It’s a different pattern than the other real-world trials.”
“You obviously have a theory, Stark,” Jasper said, linking his hands together on the glass tabletop. “What is it?”
“It almost seems,” there was an uncharacteristic hesitation before Stark continued, “deliberate.”
May tilted her head, a small crease forming between her brows. “What makes you say that?”
“The pattern is too regular,” said Stark, focusing his attention back on them. “Bruce has a number of triggers. We’ve done our best to eliminate the obvious ones but he’s not in a bubble. He has random spikes in his measurements corresponding to each one but they haven’t been strong enough or frequent enough to trigger a transformation.”
“But that’s changed,” Phil said.
Stark’s hands moved as he shifted through the data screens in his workshop, eyes intent and mouth drawn into a deep frown. “He had a huge spike during his last therapy session. It could be a coincidence but, in retrospect, with the obvious priming beforehand - ”
“Someone’s trying to trigger a transformation,” said Fury, speaking for the first time. His expression had hardened during their discussion, the eyepatch over his left eye serving to highlight his remaining eye burning in anger. “We’ve worked too damn hard for this to fail now.”
“This is completely unnecessary!” The words burst out of Stark, face twisting in frustration. Phil didn’t visibly jump at the shout, too used to maintaining strict control over his body’s reactions, but he was startled to see the depth of emotion in Stark’s eyes. “There’s nothing,” Stark continued in a tight voice, emphasizing the word, “wrong with Bruce.”
A beat passed. “Stark,” Maria said gently, breaking the tense silence. “This was Bruce’s choice.”
Stark visibly got himself under control, briefly closing his eyes before turning back to his data screens.
“The girl is Kate Bishop,” he said, tones still clipped in anger. “Her father Derek is into philanthropy so we run in the same social circles. It looks like she left home about a year ago and opened up a private investigation agency with Agent’s boytoy Clint Barton.”
Phil suppressed an urge to deny that Clint was in any way his, let alone his boytoy.
Stark made a swiping motion with his hand. “They also live together in a brownstone in Brooklyn.”
Phil raised his eyebrows. “Together?”
“It looks like more of a sibling relationship than a romantic one,” Stark said. A bit of his former humor returned to his eyes. “Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll be able to get your freak on.”
Phil ignored the jab. “Orders, sir?” he asked, turning to Fury.
“You’ve already established a connection with Barton,” Fury said. “The fact that he lives with Bishop is an advantage. Get close. Find out what they know.” Phil nodded. “And Coulson?”
“After this mission, I never want to hear about your dick again.” Fury glared at him. “Do you understand me?”
As Phil was pretty sure he was just irrevocably traumatized by Fury mentioning his penis, he had no problems with that order. “Yes, sir.”
“Good,” Fury said. “Get in touch with Fitzsimmons and Daisy. We’ll need surveillance on Barton and Bishop.” He turned back to the video screen. “Stark, do you think Bruce is stable enough to remain in the field?”
“He is,” Stark confirmed after another glance at his data screens. “But I don’t know if he can take another spike without transforming.”
“We’ll have to take the chance.” Fury looked at Jasper. “Keep his detail the same,” he said. “Let’s flush out the bastards who are trying to trigger him.”
“May, I want your eyes on Bishop. Keep your distance for now.”
May gave Fury a sharp nod. “Sir.”
“Let’s get to work.”
It took two days for Fitzsimmons to come up with the gadgets he needed. He listened to their explanation of how they worked with half an ear, waiting for them to take a breath before saying, “So I just press the button on the top here?”
Jemma scoffed. “Well, it’s slightly more complicated - ”
“The technology involved is extremely advanced - ” Fitz started to say, obviously incensed.
“Pretty much, yeah,” interrupted Daisy, glancing up from her laptop.
“Good,” Phil said. “How are you doing with the outdoor surveillance?”
“All the cameras are in position,” she said. She hesitated a moment, looking warily at the gadgets in his hand. “You’re going to wait until after you get your groove back before placing those, right?”
Phil stared at her for a second in horror. “Get my groove back?” he asked. “First of all, I wasn’t aware I had lost it. And second of all, how old do you think I am?”
“Old enough to get that reference,” Daisy said, raising her eyebrows in amusement. “That movie came out almost twenty years ago.”
Phil opened his mouth and then closed it again a moment later when he realized he had absolutely no comeback. He left the lab in a decidedly disgruntled mood, the three of them bursting into giggles behind him.
“When did it become open season on my sex life?” he muttered as he entered his office. Clearly, he needed to become more discreet if everyone thought it okay to take potshots at him. Maybe May had the right idea with sticking to civilians.
He let out a sigh as he sat down in his office chair, feeling the built up tension in his body. Some of it was annoyance over the ribbing he’d had to endure over the last couple of days but there was also a more basic urge making itself known. Taking out his cell phone, he thumbed through his contacts until he reached Clint’s number. Even though it was for a mission, he felt a thrill go through him at the prospect of seeing him again. The sex had been amazing last time and he was looking forward to what the two of them could get up to when they weren’t rushed for time.
Phil absentmindedly tapped the cell phone to his chin as he contemplated the possibilities. If he played his cards right, he could keep the mission a secret from Clint and they could come to some sort of arrangement. He had access to safe houses and boltholes all over the world but New York City was where he found himself more often than not. While he enjoyed the chase, sometimes he only had a small amount of time to indulge his urges. It’d be nice to have someone to call.
He leaned back in his office chair and pressed the button to connect the call. His mouth curved at the thought of Clint’s response to his opening salvo and he felt the first stirrings of desire low in his gut. As soon as he heard the line picked up on the other end, he spoke, voice deliberately low and rough.
“I’ve spent the last two days thinking of all the ways I’m going to make you come.”
There was silence for a moment before a stuttered breath sounded over the line.
“Wow,” said a feminine voice that sounded absolutely nothing like Clint. Phil sat bolt upright, his arousal doused as surely as if a bucket of ice water had been poured over him. “I think you’ve got the wrong Hawkeye.”
Phil silently groaned, cursing his lack of foresight. Clint lived with Kate Bishop; it wasn’t out of the realm of possibilities that she would pick up his phone.
“I was expecting Clint,” he said in a normal tone.
“Clearly,” she drawled, amusement in her voice. “Not that I would say no to a proposition like that. You’re that guy from Banner’s office, right? Not bad looking from what I remember.”
A mixture of pique and unease went through him. He didn’t like the fact that he only rated a ‘not bad looking’ in Kate’s eyes but was equally discomfited by the idea of her looking at him sexually at all. She was only a teenager.
“I think I’ll stick with Clint, thanks,” he said dryly. “Is he there?”
“He is,” she said brightly. Phil could hear scuffling sounds coming over the line. She was moving somewhere quieter, the noises in the background fading away.
“Can I speak to him?” Phil asked after another long moment of silence.
“Sure, in a sec.” The background noises suddenly cut off completely; she must have moved behind closed doors. “I don’t know who you are or what you want with Clint,” she said, voice suddenly menacing. “But if you hurt him, I will shoot you so full of arrows you’ll look like a pincushion by the time I’m through. You got me?”
The threat, while unexpected, didn’t bother Phil in the slightest. The problem was that he wasn’t sure what was motivating it. Was she speaking as an overprotective friend or had she somehow figured out he had an ulterior motive for wanting to be with Clint?
“Got it,” he said after what he judged to be an appropriate length of silence after her statement. “Can I speak with Clint now?”
“Sure thing,” she said brightly, the menacing tone completely gone.
There was another stretch of time without speech, the background noises reappearing. Another scuffle and then finally Clint’s voice sounded over the line. “Hello?”
There was no point in trying his previous approach; the moment was lost. “Clint,” he said, injecting warmth into his voice. “It’s Phil.”
“Phil? Oh wow, umh. Hi.”
Phil frowned. Clint sounded surprised to hear from him. “I told you I’d call.”
“Right,” Clint stammered. “You did. Right.”
An awkward silence descended. Phil clenched his jaw. This was not how he imagined this conversation going. “I’d like to see you again,” he said, keeping his voice warm.
Another pause. “Is that something you want?” Phil asked curiously. It didn’t sound like Clint was all that excited to hear from him.
“Yes!” Clint all but shouted into the phone, causing Phil to jerk the speaker away from his ear for a second at the sudden burst of noise. “I mean, yes,” Clint repeated at a normal volume, embarrassment coloring his tone. “That would be great.”
There wasn’t only embarrassment in his voice; Clint sounded almost shy. Phil frowned again and mentally reviewed their conversation before letting out another silent groan. There was no way he could just ask to come over to Clint’s place now. Their conversation had taken on an entirely different flavor altogether.
“It’s a date,” he said, resigning himself to the inevitable. “I’ll pick you up at seven.”
For the fifth time, Phil checked his watch. Unfortunately, it just confirmed what he already knew: it was twenty minutes past seven. He peered once more around the corner and wondered if he should just go ahead and acknowledge the fact that he was being stood up.
He’d offered to pick up Clint from his place but Clint had been adamant about meeting at the restaurant. It was classic first date caution so Phil hadn’t pushed, not wanting to come across as creepy. He’d chosen a mid-range Italian restaurant for them to meet, one that he knew had good sightlines throughout most of its interior. But it was starting to look like Clint was going to be a no-show.
He hadn’t gone on a proper date in a while, so Phil looked down at his cell phone, debating the proper etiquette. Should he accept the obvious? Send a text or call to make sure nothing had happened to Clint? Maybe Daisy could hack into the CCTV and track Clint’s route -
Phil breathed out a relieved sigh at the shout and tucked his phone away. He turned to face Clint who was running towards him.
“I was starting to think that I was going to be eating alone,” he teased as Clint came within hearing distance.
Clint was wearing what looked to be the same pair of blue jeans and black motorcycle boots as the first time they met but this time paired with a silver button down shirt that showed off his sculpted chest and arms. Phil spent the time waiting for Clint to draw closer admiring how well those jeans hugged his slim hips and muscular thighs. He still had a very vivid memory of Clint’s body from behind and idly calculated just how quickly they could get through this farce of a date and back to Clint’s place.
Clint slid to a stop near him, causing Phil to reluctantly drag his eyes upwards. Alarm flared in his chest at his first glance at Clint’s face: Clint’s bottom lip was swollen and there was a bruise around his left eye that looked like the beginning of an impressive black eye.
“Clint, what in the hell happened to you?” Phil demanded.
“Nothing, nothing.” Clint shook his head, breathless from his run. “Sorry I’m late. You look great. Should we go inside?” he said in a rush, the words obviously rehearsed, and gestured towards the entrance of the restaurant.
Phil stared at him for a second. “Clint,” he said slowly. “You don’t look well. Maybe we should reschedule?”
Clint’s face fell in an expression so woebegone that Phil was reminded of the puppies in adoption commercials. “Aw, Phil, no,” he said sadly. “I was really looking forward to tonight.”
As an agent of the one of the most dangerous intelligence organizations in the world, Phil faced danger on a fairly regular basis and had hardened himself accordingly over the years. He had even held out against torture from some of the deadliest assassins without uttering a single word. And yet, he felt his defenses crumble within a second of looking into Clint’s imploring blue-green eyes.
“Sure,” he heard himself saying. “Let’s go inside.”
To the hostess’s credit, she didn’t blink an eye at Clint’s battered appearance. “Right this way,” she said, leading them over to a table near the window and handing them their menus once they were seated. A busboy came by a moment later and placed full glasses of ice water on the table in front of them.
“Here,” Phil said. He scooped some ice out of his glass and wrapped it in his cloth napkin. “You should put that on your lip to help the swelling.”
Clint took the improvised ice pack and held it to the corner of his mouth. “Thanks, Phil,” Clint said, his voice slightly muffled by the cloth. He smiled and his bottom lip split open, causing Clint’s smile to change to a grimace halfway through at the sudden pain.
Unexpectedly, something fluttered in Phil’s chest. Clint looked like a total disaster and yet there was still something appealing about him. He mentally revised his earlier assessment: Clint was the bedraggled puppy standing in the mud from the adoption commercials.
“Maybe you should hold off on talking for now,” Phil suggested gently. “Give the ice a chance to work.” Clint nodded and lowered his gaze to study the menu.
When the waiter who came to take their drink orders also failed to react to Clint’s appearance, Phil grew suspicious. After they had both decided to stick with the ice water, Phil cast his gaze about the dining room using his menu as cover. Just as he expected, more than half of the people in the restaurant were agents. Hell, now that he was paying attention, he could see Jasper’s bald head glinting in the bar lights, a glass of Scotch in front of him on the polished wooden surface. Really, he should have expected that Fury would use his date as an excuse for an agent training exercise.
“Phil,” Clint said a few minutes later.
“Yes?” Phil answered distractedly, still tallying the number of agents that he recognized. He squinted. Was that Bobbi Morse under that ridiculous black wig?
“Maybe we should reschedule.” Clint sounded defeated.
That caught Phil’s attention. “What?” he asked, his head snapping back to look at Clint, who was still hidden behind his own menu. “Why?”
There was a small pause and then Clint lowered the menu. “Because I can’t see out of my left eye.”
Sure enough, in the short time they had been sitting in the restaurant, Clint’s eye had swollen shut, the skin rapidly darkening to a mottled eggplant hue.
Phil felt another unexpected flutter in his chest at the crushed expression on Clint’s face. Deliberately pushing away the feeling, he thought about how best to turn this to his advantage. “Why don’t I take you back to your place and we pick up some Chinese on the way?”
For a brief moment, Clint’s face lit up. Then he absentmindedly bit his lip, wincing when his teeth met the split skin. “It might not be the best idea for you to come to my place,” he hedged.
“I don’t feel right letting you go home by yourself in such a state,” Phil said honestly.
Clint looked out the window for a moment, expression somber. “Look,” he said abruptly. “My landlord is kind of a dick and I don’t want you to have to deal with him.”
Something in Clint’s tone pinged Phil’s radar. “Clint,” he said, “is he the one who did this to you?”
Clint’s silence and the way he wouldn’t look Phil in the eye was answer enough.
“Right,” Phil said, standing up from the table. “You’re definitely not going back home alone.” He ushered Clint to his feet and out the door of the restaurant, ignoring his sputtering protests.
Clint was still talking when they reached Phil’s car, despite the fact that he was still clutching the now dripping makeshift ice pack to his bottom lip. Phil waited until he took a breath and looked Clint straight in his eyes.
“Clint,” he said in a firm voice. “You are going to get into this car. We’re going to pick up Chinese food. I am going to walk you to your door and see you safely inside your apartment. Do you understand me?”
Clint’s Adam’s apple bobbed and his eyes widened. “Yes, sir,” he said softly.
Desire flared in Phil’s gut, low and hot, at those words coming from Clint’s lips, but he didn’t let on in his expression. Instead, he opened the car door for Clint with a small smile on his face and waited until Clint was comfortably seated inside before closing it again.
The ride to the Chinese restaurant was quiet, broken only by Clint’s murmured directions to the one near his apartment.
“Do you know what you want?” Phil asked Clint after securing a parking space nearby.
Clint nodded and rattled off his order. Phil nodded and unbuckled his seatbelt. He hesitated before reaching for the car handle feeling an odd compulsion to say something to Clint. Glancing at Clint out of the corner of his eye, he saw him slumped against the car door, eyes closed as he held the makeshift ice pack to his lip.
Phil clenched his jaw and exited the car, closing the door with more force than he originally intended. This whole mission was grating at him and he felt an intense wave of longing for it to just be over already.
Entering the restaurant, he heard his cell phone ring with a familiar tone. Pulling it out, he felt the corner of his lip quirk upwards as he read the incoming text, his dark mood lightening suddenly.
It took less than ten minutes for their order to be ready and for Phil to be back behind the wheel, the enticing smell of Chinese food wafting from the bag nestled between Clint’s feet.
“My place isn’t far,” Clint said once Phil had started the car. Once again, Phil followed his instructions and pulled up in front of an apartment only a few blocks away from the Chinese restaurant.
Silence fell as Phil turned off the engine. He looked beyond Clint at the building opposite.
“You know,” Phil said evenly, “I really want to make sure you get home safely. Let me walk you to your door.”
He’d just finished unbuckling his seatbelt when he heard a barely audible curse from Clint’s lips. Phil pretended that he hadn't heard it and reached for the car door handle.
“Wait,” Clint said. Phil paused. “You can't walk me to the door.”
Clint remained silent, face turned away from Phil.
“Something tells me,” Phil said quietly, “that this isn’t actually your apartment building.”
Of course, he knew for a fact that it wasn’t. He knew exactly where Clint lived.
Clint sighed. “I’m sorry, Phil,” he said, still looking away from him, “but between the suit and this car, you look like a Fed. My landlord’s not going to like that and it could make life harder for the people in my building.”
“Are you in some sort of trouble?”
“No,” Clint said, shaking his head. “No, it's just complicated.”
Phil was silent a moment. “All right,” he said. “Next time, I’ll bring the clunker.”
Clint turned to face Phil, the surprise obvious on his face. “Next time?”
“Of course.” Phil smiled. “You didn’t think I’d give up so easily, did you?”
Clint stared at him. “Guess not,” he finally said. Reaching down, he took his food container out from the bag. “I’ll talk to you later?”
Something compelled Phil to reach out and grab Clint’s forearm, as he reached for the car door handle. Phil let his hand slide upwards, up the tense muscles of his forearm, the flexed bicep, over the roundness of his shoulder. Clint closed his eyes as Phil trailed his fingertips along the side of his neck, along the faint mark still remaining from the love bite he’d left two days ago. A soft hiss whistled from between his parted lips as Phil’s thumb dragged gently over his swollen bottom lip.
Clint’s eyelids fluttered open as Phil’s hand cupped his jaw, those startling blue-green eyes looking into his own. There was a charged potential in the air between them, a crackling tension that caused Phil’s heart to beat faster in his chest. He wanted Clint, yes, but there was something else speeding up Phil’s heart.
I really didn't mean to put this on such a long hiatus. I just got distracted by other stories. Hope you enjoy this chapter!
“Are you sure I can’t convince you to let me walk you to your door?” Phil asked.
Clint stared at him for a long moment. He unmistakably leaned into Phil’s cupped palm for an all too brief moment before pulling away with a sigh.
“Not this time, Phil.”
Phil reluctantly let his hand fall away. “I’ll talk to you later,” he said quietly as Clint climbed out of the car.
He waited until Clint had turned the corner before reaching for his own car door handle. It was easy enough to stick to the shadows as he followed Clint at a distance for a few blocks. He hung back half a block away as Clint walked up to the front door of his apartment building, taking a moment to scratch behind the ears of a yellow haired dog that trotted up to meet him at the entrance.
“Who’s a good boy?” Clint’s quiet voice nevertheless carried over to where Phil was hidden. The dog woofed softly in response.
There was another unexpected flutter in Phil’s chest at the soft smile that curved Clint’s lips. After one last scratch behind the dog’s floppy ears, Clint let himself into the dilapidated building.
Phil was unsurprised to find May leaning against the passenger door when he made his way back to his car.
“Did you get my beef and broccoli?”
“Of course,” Phil replied. “You done for the night?”
“Yeah,” May said as she climbed inside the car. “The Bishop girl decided to turn in early. I think she wanted to make sure she was there when Barton returned home.” She eyed him as he buckled his seatbelt. “I wasn’t expecting you to be done so early.”
“Did you see his face?” Phil asked as he turned the key in the ignition. May nodded. “The date was a bust before it even started.”
They didn’t speak again until they arrived at the safe house. It was one of his favorites when he had to go undercover in New York City, modern in design but filled with comfortable furniture. Although he rarely had a chance to use it, the kitchen was his favorite part, state of the art stainless steel appliances and granite countertops that made cooking a pleasure.
They settled at the kitchen island, May snagging her carton of beef and broccoli while Phil indulged in some General Tso’s chicken.
“You know, the date may have been a bust,” May said, eyeing him as she plucked a broccoli floret from the carton, “but I’m surprised you let that get in the way of the mission.”
Phil popped a piece of chicken into his mouth and shrugged his shoulders. “If I pushed too hard, it would have scared him off,” he said. “He wasn’t expecting me to call in the first place.”
May didn’t say anything but the look in her eyes spoke volumes.
Phil paused, another piece of chicken halfway to his mouth. “What?”
“Phil.” May pressed her lips together before continuing. “I’m not sure you should remain on this mission.”
“What?” Genuine surprise caused him to drop the chopsticks and the piece of chicken back into the take out box. “Why the hell not?”
“You’re obviously already attached to this guy - ”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Phil interrupted her, frowning. “How in the hell do you figure that?”
“Look, Maria and I may have given you a hard time the other day but the truth is that you’re one of our best agents at honeypots.” May gave him a hard stare. “So why didn’t you complete the objective tonight?”
Phil resisted the urge to shift in his seat, not wanting to delve too deeply into the reasons he’d decided to let Clint go home alone. “You’re right,” he said sharply. “I know what I’m doing when it comes to honeypots and Clint was too skittish. I’ll get the answers we need soon enough.” He used his chopsticks to pop a piece of chicken into his mouth. “What did you learn about the Bishop girl?” he asked out of one corner of his mouth.
May’s eyes narrowed but she answered his question, seemingly willing to drop the topic for now. “Obviously comes from money but she spent the entire day either in training or volunteering. Boxing, soup kitchen, jiu jitsu, women’s shelter.” May dug into her carton with her chopsticks. “Interesting girl.”
Phil groaned, recognizing that tone. “You want to recruit her, don’t you?”
May shrugged. “It wouldn’t be a bad idea,” she said. “She’s got potential.”
Phil mentally revised his view of Kate Bishop; May didn’t give out high praise like that often. “She was the only one with Banner during the last spike in his vitals,” Phil reminded her. “Right now, she’s our prime suspect.”
“True.” May’s chopsticks flashed in the air and suddenly, Phil was down one of his pieces of chicken. He glared at her and she tilted her own carton towards him. “So what’s your next play with Barton?” she asked while he looked for the biggest piece of broccoli left.
Phil thought over their previous interactions as he chewed. “He likes to talk in bed,” he said finally. “If I get him back into it, I know I’ll be able to get some answers.”
May rolled her eyes. “Sex,” she said. “Of course that’s your answer.”
He’d borrowed Jasper’s car, blithely ignoring all of Jasper’s pointed threats if there was a single new scratch on it when it was returned. Phil had no idea how Jasper would even be able to tell; the car’s paint job was covered in scratches, courtesy of it being 15 years old.
He’d waited a couple of days to give Clint some time to heal and to do a little research of his own. ‘The Amazing Hawkeye’ had been a particularly intriguing part of Clint’s past and it had given him the idea for their next date. The instant enthusiasm in Clint’s voice when he’d proposed it let him know that he’d been right on the money.
At the height of summer, Coney Island was teeming with families and that day had been no exception. Phil had been swept up in Clint’s boundless enthusiasm all afternoon, bouncing between rides and arcade games, and rediscovering the fun of an old amusement park. The sea had been inviting but too crowded with shrieking children fresh out of school for the summer so they’d gone to the New York Aquarium instead, enjoying a respite from the oppressive heat. Clint had been the one to quietly suggest the Coney Island Circus Sideshow so they’d ducked inside, only to leave just ten minutes later, a suspicious shine to Clint’s eyes and a small, sad smile on his lips. He’d brightened up over Nathan’s hot dogs and boardwalk fries, devouring the meal with gusto. Phil had pointed out the frozen treats stand afterwards - the sun had finally started to set but the heat hadn’t abated - to eat as they made their way along the boardwalk back to the car and Clint had rewarded him with a dazzling smile.
That had been his mistake.
Phil had gotten a perfectly respectable waffle cone with a single scoop of Rocky Road ice cream. Clint, on the other hand, had gotten a rainbow pop.
Its phallic shape was bad enough. But Clint licking, sucking, and swirling his tongue around the popsicle made for a scene so salacious that Phil was sure it had caused two of the couples they passed to start arguing. Even worse, Clint kept making these noises, happy little sounds that reminded Phil of when Clint had been spread out underneath him.
Phil ate his ice cream without tasting a single bite, every one of his senses tuned into the pornographic display next to him.
They were almost at the car when, finally, Clint’s tongue curled around the last bit of brightly colored ice, sliding it off the wooden stick and into his mouth. Without looking, he lazily threw the stick into a nearby trash can where it landed neatly on top of the almost overflowing rubbish.
“Mmm, that was great,” Clint declared, a smile splitting his face. He looked over at Phil, the smile dimming a bit. “Oh, I should have offered you a bite.”
Phil couldn’t take any more.
Clint’s lips were still cool from the ice when Phil crowded him up against the side of the car. Phil chased the coolness inside his mouth, pressing his advantage when Clint gasped in surprise. His body was too warm against Phil’s, slightly damp in places with sweat that had failed to evaporate in the muggy evening. It was unbearable to be so close together in the summer heat but Phil couldn’t fathom pulling away now, hands scrabbling to pull up Clint’s tank to get at the silky skin at the small of his back, alternately biting and sucking at Clint’s plush lower lip. Clint made a small, helpless sound and Phil’s hips involuntarily bucked so hard that the car rocked slightly behind them.
Phil peeled his lips away from Clint’s long enough to growl into his ear, “Let me take you home, Clint.”
Clint let out a groan when Phil’s teeth nipped at his neck. “No, your place,” he panted.
Phil fought the urge to scream. He had to complete his mission objective but being around Clint made it hard to think. Even now, wIth their burgeoning erections pressed enticingly together, he found himself wondering whether two grown men could fit in the backseat of a 2004 Toyota Corolla.
“Got a friend from out of town over,” Phil replied, before sucking briefly at the junction between Clint’s neck and jaw. “No privacy.”
He heard Clint draw in a startled breath and then release it on a shaky exhale. Heartbeat pounding, Phil tightened his grip on Clint’s slim waist, silently willing Clint to say yes before he self-combusted from the lust flowing through his veins.
“Fuck,” Clint swore, low and breathless, and the sound went straight to Phil’s dick. “Fine. My place.”
After that, it took another few mind-meltingly hot kisses before Phil could pull it together enough to dig into his jeans pocket for the keys to the car. He pressed the key fob button to unlock the car and waited for the tell-tale beep.
Frowning, Phil pulled himself away from Clint and pressed it again. There was no sound indicating the unlocking of the doors and no flash of the headlights. Phil forced himself to ignore the tantalizing sight of Clint looking utterly debauched - breathing hard, lips reddened and swollen by kisses, tank top riding high to reveal a glimpse of his tanned skin - and to really look at the car that they were against. Then he glanced upwards at the parking lot signs and tried to think back to earlier that day.
“Do you remember where we parked the car?”
Thanks for the lovely comments on the last chapter! It's nice to see that people haven't forgotten a two year old story. Hope you enjoy this next chapter. :)
It was ten minutes before Clint spotted the dilapidated Toyota Corolla that they had actually arrived in. Five minutes later, they came to a standstill in the bumper to bumper traffic of families heading home after a day at the beach. Twenty minutes after creeping along at a snail's pace of 10 mph, the air conditioning sputtered and died. Phil bit back the lengthy slew of curse words he wanted to say and rolled down the windows.
It did absolutely nothing. There was no breeze, not even a wisp of air, to break up the heavy humidity. Sweat beaded up and trickled down the side of his head and neck, dampening the collar of his T-shirt. Even his thoughts slowed, becoming syrup-like, weighed down by the unrelenting heat.
And all of them centered on Clint, in the passenger seat.
He lay still, eyes closed and head tilted back, legs sprawled as much as was possible with the small amount of legroom available. Now that the sun had set, it was harder to pick out details but the play of shadows over Clint’s lap suggested that he was still very much aroused.
“You should keep your eyes on the road,” Clint said without opening his own eyes.
Phil gave him one last sweep and dutifully turned his gaze back to the unmoving traffic. “Hard to,” he replied honestly, “with this kind of view next to me.”
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Clint curl one hand into a fist and turn his head towards the side window, away from Phil. The tension in the car ratcheted up a notch and this time, it wasn’t sexual. Phil mentally braced himself - he’d obviously made a misstep somehow - but made sure to keep his body language open and relaxed.
Just then, the traffic began to ease, and the moment broke. Phil pressed down on the accelerator, wondering exactly what it was about his statement that had upset Clint. After glancing once more over at Clint’s still form, Phil remained silent, not wanting to push him one way or the other.
It wasn’t until he pulled up in front of Clint’s apartment building and cut the engine that Clint spoke again. Unbuckling his seat belt, he turned towards Phil. “Look, I don’t want to be that guy,” he said abruptly, expression taut. “I really don’t want to be that guy. But you’re obviously GQ and I live in a rat-trap apartment and barely make rent most months. You’re so far out of my league, it’s not even funny. What is this? What are we doing? What do you want?”
Despite himself, Phil’s hands tightened briefly on the wheel, recognizing his mistake. He’d definitely miscalculated. If he’d started a friends with benefits relationship like he’d originally wanted, Clint would have been less suspicious. Instead, he’d planned these dates and now Clint was on the defensive. Because Phil heard the real question Clint was asking.
Phil chose his next words carefully. “At first, it was physical,” he admitted, returning Clint’s gaze. “I just wanted to scratch an itch. But then you were,” he paused briefly, trying to think of the right word, before deciding on, “sweet.”
“Sweet?” Clint blinked, obviously incredulous. “Me?”
“Yeah, you,” Phil replied. “In the hotel, you kept trying to make sure that I was okay, that you weren’t hurting me somehow with your actions even though I was the one who pursued you. It made me want to get to know you. At the restaurant, you tried so hard to make our date work even though you were hurt. And today you were funny and playful and somehow even more sexy than the first time we met.”
He reached out to gently cup Clint’s jaw. “And now, I want to get to know you even more.”
Clint stared at him for a long time before he reached up to pull Phil’s hand away from his face.
Phil’s heart sank. Had he come on too strong?
But Clint didn’t let go. Clint slid his other hand around the back of Phil’s neck and tugged him closer. Their lips met and it was slow and soft, a kiss unlike any they had shared before. It stirred something inside him, something that he hadn’t felt in a very long time.
Clint’s lower lip trembled against his and Phil pulled back, breaking the kiss. His chest felt warm and it had nothing to do with the ambient temperature. “Clint,” he breathed into the small space between them, “what do you want?”
This close, Clint’s eyes were a brilliant blue, flecked with green and golden hues. “Come upstairs, Phil,” he whispered.
Distantly, Phil was aware that this was all in line with his mission objective. Get close. Find out what Clint knew. But he didn’t feel like Agent Coulson in that moment and he didn’t want to be. He wanted to recapture the way he’d felt in that hotel room, when they had just been Phil and Clint, discovering each other’s bodies with no other agenda.
The journey to Clint’s apartment wasn’t important. What was important was pressing Clint against the wall as soon as they entered it and capturing Clint’s lips in a deep and passionate kiss. It was removing every piece of clothing that separated their naked bodies from each other. It was running his hands, lips, tongue, and teeth over every inch of skin he could find. It was pulling every single sound that he could from Clint’s lips. It was pressing slowly inside Clint’s willing body, legs spread open wide on the bed. It was rocking together, gently, languidly, time spooling out seemingly unendingly. It was finally giving in to Clint’s increasingly plaintive cries and curling his hand around Clint’s flushed cock. It was riding out the bucking of Clint’s hips as he reached his peak and succumbed to that ultimate pleasure. It was gathering Clint close and thrusting into him over and over, until he could hold out no longer.
Phil buried his face into the crook of Clint’s neck, tongue flicking out to taste the salt on his skin. It was too soon. He didn’t want this to end but he could feel it coming, in the tightening of his muscles and the shortening of his breath. He memorized the feel of Clint underneath him, his thick, muscular torso, littered with scars that spelled out the story of his life, his powerful thighs, wrapped tightly around Phil’s hips, his calloused hands, clutching Phil’s shoulders for dear life.
“Phil,” Clint moaned, voice ragged.
‘No, not yet,’ Phil thought desperately but he couldn’t stop it now. He closed his eyes tightly as his orgasm rushed through him, swiveling his hips once before pressing as close as he could to Clint’s pliant form. The force of it stole his breath away, waves of pleasure washing through him, and he ended up gasping for air as his vision whited out, his entire body shuddering in release.
For a too long moment afterwards, Phil lay in the circle of Clint’s arms. It was much too hot to remain so close together but Phil loathed to disentangle himself. Once he did, he would have to go back to his mission objective. He would have to go back to being Agent Coulson and Clint to being one of his prime suspects. But, no matter how much he wished otherwise, Phil knew he couldn’t put off the inevitable.
He made to move and Clint slid one of his hands down Phil’s back, a shiver traveling down the length of Phil’s spine in its wake. Clint’s legs tightened around Phil’s waist. “Don’t,” he whispered into Phil’s ear. “Not yet.”
Phil did move then but only to capture Clint’s lips with his own. He poured all of the longing he felt into one last desperate kiss, mapping out every last inch of Clint’s mouth and committing it all to memory. Clint was right there with him, tangling his tongue with Phil’s and arching into him, hands grasping Phil’s back. Phil pressed further into Clint as well even though they were already as close as they possibly could be.
One last swipe of his tongue. One last nip of his teeth. One last press of his lips.
Reluctantly, Phil pulled away and this time, Clint let him. “Gonna get cleaned up,” Phil rasped. He avoided Clint’s gaze as he disentangled himself; his emotions were too close to the surface and he needed time to recoup. “Be back soon.”
In the bathroom, Phil stared hard at his reflection, jaw clenched, hands braced on the porcelain sink. Cleaning up his body had taken less than a minute. It was his headspace that was the problem now. His nostrils flared as he did a mental scan.
He was extremely discomfited by what he found.
As a spy, he was used to mixing lies with the truth in order to get what he wanted. But nothing he’d said to Clint in the car earlier had been a lie. He did want to get to know Clint better. Not only that, he wanted to get to know Clint outside of the bedroom.
May had been right. Clint was supposed to have been a simple hookup and then a simple honeypot mission. How had he let this happen? How had he let himself get...attached?
Phil straightened up, squaring his shoulders, and pushed the feelings aside. It didn’t matter. He was Phillip J. Coulson, agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. The mission was what mattered.
He opened the bathroom door and immediately stopped dead in his tracks at the sight in front of him. “Clint?”
Clint had taken the time to put on a pair of boxers. They were an eye-watering shade of purple in color with a large target symbol positioned directly over his crotch, a truly hideous piece of clothing. But that wasn't why Phil had stopped moving. Clint had also taken the time to notch an arrow to his bow and was pointing it directly at Phil’s heart, a grim expression on his face.
“I’m going to ask you one more time, Phil,” Clint said, voice tight. “What do you want?”
"At this very moment?" Phil asked lightly while remaining very, very still. "I'd like clothing, a shower, answers, and you not to be pointing a weapon at me, but not necessarily in that order."
"Answers?" Clint exclaimed. "I'm the one who wants answers. That's why you're on the pointy end of my arrow here!"
There was a beat of silence. Clint bit his lip, a hint of color coming to his cheeks.
"That," said Phil, raising one eyebrow, "sounded better in your head, didn't it?"
Clint's face fell. "It did," he said mournfully. "It really did."
Phil felt another one of those fluttering sensations in his chest at the crestfallen look on Clint's face and quickly pushed away the feeling. Now was not the time to be soft. "Look," he said in a soothing tone, doing his best to salvage the situation, "there's no need for weapons. I just wanted to chat."
Clint narrowed his eyes. The arrow pointed at Phil's heart didn't waver. "Was that chat going to be before or after you planted the bugs in my apartment?"
Phil frowned, a little irked that he had been found out. "You went through my belongings?"
"You have no moral high ground to stand on and yet you still hit me with the disappointed dad routine?"
Phil's frown deepened. "Dad?" he asked, having moved past irked and well on his way to being disgruntled. He was only in his mid-thirties, thank you very much. Early late thirties if you want to split hairs.
"A hot dad!" Clint said hurriedly. “A super hot - ” He broke off, cheeks now a brilliant red. “Okay, not the point. The point is, I have questions and you better have some answers.”
“Well, I have questions too.”
They looked at each other for a moment, neither one saying a word. It was like poker; one wrong move - or, in this case, word - and Phil would show his entire hand.
“We’ll ask at the same time,” Clint said finally. “On the count of three."
Phil stifled a smile at the school-age tactic but decided to indulge him. Well, he had few options with an arrow still aimed at his heart and for now, he wanted to keep Clint on his good side. Plus, his other options involved fighting with no clothes on and while it wouldn’t be the first time, it was never pleasant.
He’d never quite figured out exactly why so many of his enemies felt the need to immediately undress him upon capture.
Clint counted down and then they spoke at the same time, their voices overlapping in slightly syncopated rhythm.
“What do you want with Banner?”
Surprise flared in Phil's chest; he could see that same feeling mirrored in the widening of Clint’s eyes. His grip tightened on his bow and Phil tensed, every cell in his body on red alert.
Clint shook his head. "You know, I considered other possibilities," he said. "That you were actually a nymphomaniac in recovery. Married but closeted. Some rich guy slumming." He swallowed hard, Adam's apple bobbing in his throat. "I even considered the remote possibility that you might actually be into me."
Phil remained silent but an uncomfortable mixture of shame and guilt curled in his stomach. It was hard enough hearing that Clint thought himself no better than someone else's plaything; it was worse knowing that he'd regarded Clint as exactly that when they'd first met, just a means to an end for his own enjoyment with no regard for Clint's feelings on the matter. But, somehow, something inside of Phil had changed in the very short time they had known each other. The idea of no strings attached no longer held the same appeal.
"So why don't you try telling me the truth this time?"
Regardless of the new confusing emotions coursing through him, Phil was still an agent and unwilling to give Clint the upper hand. “You first,” he said, clenching his jaw.
“You know what? Fine,” Clint said impatiently, eyes flashing with anger. “The truth is that Kate and I were hired to investigate Banner’s disappearance from Culver University. We were told he was feeling burnt out but no one thought he was going to be gone this long. Wasn’t expecting to find him as a sex therapist.”
That was exactly the point of having Banner be a sex therapist; it was a topic that he had surprisingly known a lot about, allowing them to hide him in plain sight. Obviously, they had been found out.
But then, that had been the plan all along.
“Hired by whom?”
Clint shook his head, a corner of his mouth quirking upwards. He gestured with his bow. “Come on, Phil, you know how this works,” he said. “I give you something. You give me something.”
“Banner’s under our protection.”
Clint waited but Phil didn't say another word. “That’s what you’re going with?” Clint asked, incredulous. “I don’t buy it. Five security details, all looking for trouble from within? Seems more like house arrest.”
Phil frowned, a sudden spike of alarm in his chest. “Did you say five?”
“You need to let me get dressed.” Phil’s tone brooked no argument. “Now!”
The urgency and command in Phil’s voice seemed to get through to Clint; he didn’t lower his bow but his grip loosened somewhat. “What - ” he started to say.
Phil interrupted him; he didn't have time for this. "I need to contact my team and you need to tell me everything you know."
Clint still didn't look convinced. "No," he said, shaking his head. "This is just another tactic, like sleeping with me - "
"I slept with you because I wanted to," Phil interrupted, voice fierce. "I still want to. I want to bury myself so deep inside of you that you can't tell where you end and I begin. I want to fuck you so hard that you feel it for days afterwards. And I want to do things to you I've never wanted to do to anyone. I - "
Phil quickly snapped his mouth shut, cutting off his next words. "If what you're saying is true, Banner's life is at stake," he said after a moment, doing his best to hide how shaken he felt at what he'd been about to say. "And the lives of innocent people."
It took a moment but Clint finally lowered his bow. Phil immediately headed towards his clothes, pulling them on with quick efficiency.
"Fuck," Phil heard Clint mutter as he stored his bow away. "I hope I don't regret this."
Phil grabbed his phone and went into the living room, feeling a little uncomfortable at the thought of calling his team feet away from the bed where he'd just had sex. It also wouldn't have been the first time but he did try to avoid it when possible. "Daisy," he said when the video call went through. "We've got an unknown player."
Daisy's eyes widened. "Umh," she squeaked. "You've got company?"
Phil looked over his shoulder. Clint had pulled on a pair of jeans before following Phil into the living room but nothing else. His broad chest was bare, his small, pebbled nipples a dark brown. The jeans rode low on his hips, revealing the tantalizing curves of his hip bones. Phil had the sudden urge to lick his way down Clint's abs, mapping every plane and valley with his tongue, and follow the line of hair from the divot of his belly button down underneath the waistband of his jeans to the gorgeous cock he knew lay below.
"Clint," Phil said, voice roughened by renewed desire. "Go put on a goddamned shirt."
Clint blinked, obviously startled by the tone of Phil's voice, and then a smirk appeared on his lips. "Sir, yes sir," he said softly.
Phil closed his eyes as a bolt of lust lanced through him. Clenching his jaw, he turned back to his phone only to see May now sitting next to Daisy. Her hard glare wasn't enough to completely kill his burgeoning erection but it helped.
"You good?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Yes," Phil replied shortly. He quickly filled in May on what Clint had told him so far.
"A fifth security detail?" May sounded incredulous. "None of our agents or surveillance have picked up anyone suspicious."
"I'm guessing you haven't noticed the sniper then," said Clint as he moved to stand beside Phil, now with a shirt covering his torso. Phil tried not to feel too disappointed. "It doesn't surprise me. He's good."
May was still unconvinced. "And how exactly did you find him when we didn't?"
Clint shrugged. "He chose the same perches I would have," he said simply. "At first, I thought he was with you guys. Whatever alphabet organization you're a part of seems to pull from all of the military and intelligence branches."
Phil mentally filed away the knowledge that Clint seemed to know a lot more about their operations than his unorthodox background would suggest. "Daisy?"
Daisy shook her head. "I just did a surveillance sweep," she replied. "No sniper."
Clint shrugged. "Doesn't mean he's not there. What's your radius? Half a mile at best? He was at least 1000 yards out the last time I saw him."
"Get Fury on the line," Phil directed May tersely. "Daisy, widen the surveillance radius."
May frowned. "Phil, are you sure about this?"
"May," Phil ordered, keeping his eyes on Daisy. "Fury, now."
A minute passed before Daisy shook her head again. "No sniper."
Phil was getting a bad feeling. He'd learned the hard way not to ignore his bad feelings.
"Sir," Phil said when Fury joined the video chat. "Clint has identified an unknown sniper that wasn't picked up by surveillance. I believe a Code Green threat is imminent and we should take preventative actions."
Fury didn't respond. His one eye narrowed as he took in their appearances. Phil was suddenly acutely aware that he and Clint both looked like they had just tumbled out of bed, complete with mussed hair and barely hidden love bites. Phil clenched his jaw and tried his best to look professional.
"Coulson, you're compromised," Fury said flatly. "Get your ass back to HQ and bring your boytoy with you or I'll get May to do it for you."
Fury's video screen went dark. May crossed her arms, expression set in a glower. Daisy avoided Phil's gaze and busied herself with something on her laptop.
"Well," Clint said in the awkward silence. "That didn't go well."