moonlettuce: (Avengers: Clint v2)
[personal profile] moonlettuce
Title: A Laundry List of Trouble
Author: Claire
Fandom: The Avengers
Pairing(s): Phil Coulson / Clint Barton
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 3,134
Summary: Five things the junior agents say about Phil Coulson that they're totally wrong about and one where they're absolutely right.
Additional Notes: Written for kisahawklin / kate for [community profile] fandom_stocking.

1) Phil Coulson has no sense of humour. It was surgically removed a week after he agreed to work for SHIELD.

The only people who say this are the ones that have never seen the way the skin around Phil's eyes crinkles when he's truly amused. The ones who have never seen him when it's just the senior agents on a night out and Sitwell heads up the karaoke with 'Here I Go Again,' managing to get the words wrong every single time.

They've never seen the way Phil's eyes light up with masked amusement when yet another Nerf dart hits yet another junior agent who insists that no one could be as good at stealth as people claim Black Widow and Hawkeye are.

They've never seen him read Pratchett, with his smile widening ever so slightly every time Death makes an appearance.

They've never seen any of that because all they see is Agent Coulson, not Phil.

Clint, though, he sees it. He sees it, and Natasha sees it, and Fury and Hill and Sitwell see it. And the rest of the Avengers, they're starting to see it, too. Each moment that Phil relaxes enough to drop Agent Coulson, enough to let them see the guy behind the suit. The one who snorts while watching The Vicar of Dibley on one of the seven million channels that Stark streams into the tower and who rolls his eyes when Clint insists on watching the Police Academy movies, but laughs right along with him when Clint drags him onto the couch.

Maybe a lot of people think Phil has no sense of humour because a lot of people don't see it, but the important people do, and that's what matters.

2) Phil Coulson is a robot, built in the future and sent back to organise humanity into an apocalypse.

There's part of Clint that sort of wishes this one was true. Because, if it was true, then he wouldn't be waiting outside of SHIELD medical, waiting for the doctors to come out and tell him something, anything. He wouldn't have blood on his hands that he hasn't yet washed off because he doesn't want to leave in case something happens when he's gone. He wouldn't have heard the grunt of shock over the comm and the words Coulson's been hit in Sitwell's voice, as the other man had stepped into take over the op while people worked behind him to keep Phil alive.

He wouldn't have fired the arrow Steve had told him to hold off on using, because they'd wanted this one alive, wanted the intel he had on the other AIM cells. He wouldn't have ignored the arrow as it flew through the air, straight and true towards its target, because he'd been too busy scaling down the side of the building to get to where the command truck was sitting.

He wouldn't have had to scramble into the back of the Medical truck, just as they were about to leave the scene, with Phil too pale and too still and with people working on him every step of the way. He wouldn't have watched them take Phil straight into surgery and stood looking at the doors feeling so goddamn helpless.

The rest of the team arrive not long after, with Bruce looking tired after de-hulking, Steve trying not to let Clint see how many times he's glancing at the same doors Clint's been staring at, and Natasha forcing a cup of something hot and wet and too sweet into his hands and telling him to drink.

They stay with him while the hours tick down, while Sitwell and Woo and Hill come by to see if there's any news, while Fury comes by and lays a hand on Clint's shoulder, telling him that Phil Coulson's too fucking stubborn to die.

They're there with him when the doctor finally comes out, smiling, and nods, that one simple action releasing all of the tension Clint hadn't even realised was in him.

They're pushing him forward when the doctor says that Clint's fine to go in and see Phil, who is still too pale and too still, but at least he's breathing, which is a step up from the last time Clint had seen him.

So, no, not a robot, just human. Terrifyingly, vulnerably human. Luckily, though, Fury was right about Phil, he is too stubborn to die, so Clint settles into the hard plastic chair and waits.

3) Phil Coulson was bred in a tank, genetically predetermined to be the perfect agent, answerable only to Director Fury.

Actually, he was bred in Boston, by Mary and Jonathan Coulson, who also bred his two sisters, Jen and Amanda. Clint knows this because three years ago Phil took him home for the first face-to-face 'meet the family' that didn't involve them telling Phil to bring Clint with him the next time he came and Phil having to put them off due to various reasons.

One Thanksgiving it had been a mission in Jakarta, with Clint stuck up a tree for four days until he could finally take the shot. The Christmas of that year had seen both of them, along with Natasha, freezing their asses off in Siberia for two weeks before blowing up the Hydra facility they'd eventually managed to track down.

The next time it had been AIM, then Hydra again and then the mutated school of squid that had attempted to destroy New York.

When they'd finally had a Thanksgiving unthreatened by AIM or Hydra or any of the other organisations that meant Clint got to climb tall things and put arrows through peoples' faces, he'd run the gauntlet that was the Coulson family.

The thing is, Clint's not actually sure what he'd been prepared for, but he's certain it hadn't been what he'd got.

He'd got Mary, hugging him as soon as they'd set foot through the door because Phil's told me so much about you, I feel I know you already. (Although, there's part of Clint that hopes Phil hadn't told his mom everything.) He'd got Jonathan pulling out baby photos, and school photos, and photos of Phil dressed up as Captain America to go trick or treating when he was a kid because I did this when your sisters brought home their partners, Phil, so I'm just completing the set.

He got sisters, one older and one younger and both as willing to tell as many embarrassing stories about Phil as they could recall because we've been waiting years to get our own back, did you really think we'd let the occasion slip through our fingers?

He got introduced as Mary's son-in-law when he'd offered to help her collect some shopping, and she'd met friends in the grocery store. Got introduced as yes, that Clint, Phil's young man, and had blushed when Mrs Owen (Dorothy, please, Mrs Owen makes me feel so old.) had taken one look at him and smiled when he'd shaken her hand and called her Ma'am with good grief, Mary, tell Phil this one's a keeper. Mary had just smiled back and glanced at Clint before oh, I think he already knows that.

He'd gone in prepared for something he couldn't quite explain and what he'd gotten was family. Loud and messy and sometimes argumentative, but always ready to back each other. (In hindsight, it's what he has with the Avengers; what he's always had with Natasha, even if he couldn't put a name to it for too many years.)

So he knows Phil wasn't bred in a tank because people bred in tanks don't have family, and that's what Phil gave Clint. He gave it to him with in-laws that call him and sing Happy Birthday to him down the phone, and he gave it to him with a team that's always ready to catch him when he jumps.

He gave Clint family, one that won't leave him, won't abandon him, and won't turn on him when times get tough. And that's something Clint is always going to be grateful for.

4) Phil Coulson is an alien, sent to study this human thing called 'emotions.' He's still here because he hasn't yet worked them out.

The thing with Phil is that he does deadpan. He does deadpan like the deadest pan that ever panned the dead. He does it in front of the junior agents when he's chewing them out over them doing something so monumentally stupid it nearly got them and the assets they were out in the field with killed. He does it in front of supervillains when he's talking down someone who could blow up all of New York in one move. He does it when he's taking notes at debriefings, his fingers not tightening on his pen when Natasha recounts being thrown into a wall, or when Tony realises how close he was to the ground before Hulk caught him.

He does it when he has to. Because he's Coulson, because he's SHIELD, and if the senior agents start showing their panic, then they're all screwed.

But just because Coulson keeps it wrapped up behind shades that hide his eyes and an expression that gives nothing away, it doesn't mean that Phil does.

Because every time he looks at Phil, Clint sees it. He sees the worry in Phil's eyes each time the Avengers are called out, and each time they come back, a little more beaten up than the previous time. He sees the anger, written in the tension in Phil's stance, whenever Loki makes a return, taunts on his lips and magic flying from his fingers.

But it's more than the anger and the worry and the tension and the concern.

He sees the amusement when Tony walks past them, covered in flame-retardant foam from yet another experiment in his lab that Dummy had cut short. He sees the honour warring with the utter and total glee of Phil's inner five year old when Steve hands them invitations to the opening of his art exhibition in one of the galleries downtown. He sees the pride when Natasha walks into a training room with a dozen junior agents, and walks out less than ten minutes later, the only one still standing.

And then there's all the things Clint sees when Phil looks at him. All the things that he'd never thought he'd see from someone looking at Clint Barton. But he sees them from Phil.

Clint sees them when Phil leans down to brush a kiss across his lips at the breakfast table, ignoring the good natured catcalling of the others. He sees them when he stretches out on one of the sofas, his head in Phil's lap and Phil's fingers running through his hair, as the entire team settles down to movie night. And he sees them when Phil's fingers tangle in his, their bodies against each other as Phil moves into him.

He sees them because Clint sees Phil. And Clint will forever count himself the luckiest man alive that Phil Coulson sees him in return.

5) Phil Coulson can kill you with his brain. And a paperclip. Possibly at the same time.

As much as Phil would probably like to be able to kill some of the junior agents with his brain, especially when they hand him half-completed reports or come to him complaining that Black Widow beat them up again in training, like it isn't her job to do exactly that, Clint knows that Phil hasn't yet developed the psychic powers needed to explode someone's brain inside their skull. He hasn't even agreed to be a test subject for the project currently going on in R&D that would potentially mean he could develop such a skill. Not that Clint knows about that highly classified research project, of course. Especially not if Director Fury asks him about it.

Which means there's no brain killing on the menu. Of course, that doesn't stop Phil from being proficiently lethal in most weapons SHIELD has (and they have a lot). There's his tie (it took Phil weeks to get over the loss of his favourite silk tie once he'd realised that the blood stain just wasn't going to come out no matter what he tried), a paperclip (because stabbing someone in the carotid artery with stationery supplies when your gun runs out of bullets still gets the job done) and, on one memorable occasion, a kitten. Although, to be fair, the kitten was technically just a distraction who had wandered into the wrong warehouse at the wrong time for the bad guys and at just the right time for Phil. It did, however, make for a great story whenever they explained exactly how they'd come to adopt her. (Unless the people they were talking to had no knowledge of SHIELD, in which case, it was pitiful mewing coming from behind a dumpster and Clint's inability to leave a bedraggled kitten to its fate.)

So, that makes guns, ties, stationery and daddy's awesome little claw monster, but no brains. Not yet, anyway.

+1) Phil Coulson likes order and has a place for everything. If you mess with his stuff he'll make you pay.

Clint knows the junior agents are absolutely right with this one. He also knows it's less to do with the anal retentive bastard that he's heard being commented and more to do with the fact that when shit is going down, you need to know exactly where the stuff to stop said shit from going down is. It's why the main rule among the janitorial staff is: Do not tidy any of the desks. Ever.

So, yeah, everything has a place. And right now Clint's place should be on a roof overlooking a meeting between an arms dealer who's decided that trading scavenged Chitauri weaponry is the direction he wants to take his business and some sleazeball that SHIELD's been looking to take out for years who happens to be interested in buying them.

Unfortunately (mainly for Clint), where he actually is at this point is tied up in a room with blood sluggishly seeping into the side of his t-shirt from where one of the fuckers who grabbed him stuck him with a knife, a concussion that's making his head ring, a split lip, the start of two impressive black eyes, and too-tight handcuffs cutting into a wrist that he hopes is only sprained but is pretty sure is actually broken. Which means Clint will be having words with whoever put the intel together for this one once he's back at SHIELD. Because it's shit.

The goons who grabbed him from the roof haven't said anything to him, so far. They've just been content with coming in, smacking him around and then leaving again. Which means either they're waiting for someone else to arrive before they start really working him over or they're just too overcome by his pretty face to keep their fists off him. He's got a feeling it's not going to turn out to be door number two.

They've coming for him pretty regularly - twenty minute break, come in and beat him around for a bit, leave for another twenty minutes or so, rinse and repeat. So when his internal clock tells him that twenty minutes is nearly here, Clint can feel his body tensing.

Only it's not the heavy footsteps of people coming to beat him up he hears, but-- gunshots?

Clint shakes his head slightly, grimacing when it just causes his ears to ring even louder. Taking a breath and trying to ignore the way the room is starting to spin, Clint closes his eyes and--

Yes, that's definitely gunshots he's hearing. Gunshots and yelling and more gunshots and yelps of pain and bodies thudding to the ground and a low, steady voice--

Clint smiles.

It's less than a minute until the door opens, less than a minute until Phil's there, picking the lock to the handcuffs holding Clint and looking immaculate, even with the slight blood splatter marring his shirt.

"Took your time, sir." Clint's kind of proud of the way he manages not to slur the words up until Phil snorts quietly, indicating that maybe Clint wasn't as successful as he thinks.

"The person we detained was reluctant to divulge where they were holding you," Phil replies, moving to stand in front of Clint as soon as Clint's wrists are free.

And that's when Clint realises the blood on Phil's shirt looks too old to be from the guys outside.

Putting a finger gently under Clint's chin, Phil lifts his head. "How many fingers am I holding up, Barton?" he asks.

Clint tries to focus on the hand in front of his eyes. "I'm gonna go with 'six' being the wrong answer."

One of the corners of Phil's lips curls upwards slightly as he raises his hand to his comm unit. "Coulson to Base. I've got him. Have Medical standing by at the extraction point." He pauses and then-- "Understood," before turning his attention back to Clint. "Can you walk?"

Clint gets to his feet, grimacing until the nausea it causes passes. "Point me in a direction, and I'm good." Because there are three doors in front of him and he's sure the room only started with one.

Carefully wrapping an arm around Clint's waist, Phil leads him out of the room and through a warehouse littered with the guys who had been holding him.

"Didn't leave any of them for me, sir?" Clint asks, not needing to look at the bodies to know none of them are breathing.

Phil's pace falters, barely imperceptibly. "They had you, Clint," he replies quietly before they reach the entrance to the warehouse, before they reach where one of SHIELD's jets has just landed. "I will always come for you, Clint, and nobody will ever get in my way."

Clint doesn't respond, he just grabs Phil's hand in his as the medic that came down with the jet starts shining a too bright light into Clint's eyes and calling for an IV of drugs that sounds really good.

Phil's fingers stay tangled with his as the medic settles Clint onto a gurney in the back of the jet, easily working around the joined hands as she slides a needle into Clint's arm.

His grip tightens on Phil's before he feels the drugs start to work, his muscles loosening and unconsciousness creeping up on him.

Clint closes his eyes with a smile on his lips because Phil came for him. Because Phil, by his own admission, will always come for him. Because no one messes with what's Phil's.

Of course, by Clint's reckoning, that makes him part of Phil's stuff.

He's absolutely fine with that.

Date: 2013-01-09 03:58 am (UTC)
kate: Kate Winslet is wryly amused (Default)
From: [personal profile] kate
I love this fic so much. *weeps*

Thank you for such an amazing gift. :)

Date: 2013-01-09 04:44 am (UTC)
amberfox: picture from the Order of Hermes tradition book for Mage: The Awakening, subgroup House Shaea (Default)
From: [personal profile] amberfox
Oh, that's lovely!


moonlettuce: (Default)

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