Phil Coulson had a bad habit of making the same jokes over and over again. Skye often groaned about it, especially when they were such dad jokes to begin with.
Melinda thought that someone who had only known him for a year or so had no right to complain.
Phil had been telling the same jokes since the day they met. Awful puns about cats swimming across a river, claiming that his dog had no nose, then staring at her until she asked how it smelled, it never ended.
Though she would never tell him that she actually liked it.
He had been the one to tell her about their first undercover mission as a couple. "Melinda." He had said, "Can I talk to you for a second?"
She had looked over from the weights she had been lifting, carefully putting them down. "Sure." She said, wiping her brow with a towel, "What is it?"
When she lowered the towel from her face, she found Phil Coulson down on one knee, ring in hand and a cheeky grin on his face. "Will you marry me for Tuesday night?"
Melinda would forever deny the swooping feeling in her stomach at the sight of him like that, but she laughed, properly. "Undercover?"
There was a playful kind of affection in his eyes, "For now."
"Always with the promises Phil." They were both smiling, and she let him slide the ring onto her finger.
They had been 'married' many times since then. They had been giddy honeymooners, stable marrieds celebrating an anniversary, an arguing couple on the brink of divorce, whatever suited their needs, and they did it all very well. It came very easily to them, the intimacy, the connection. Neither of the two spoke of it though. There wasn't any need.
Yet every time they were to go undercover in such a way, Phil would propose. Once he put the ring in her glass of water at lunch and she had almost choked on it, then inhaled the rest of the water laughing anyway. Another time he had hunted her down and serenaded her with terrible guitar playing, fighting hard to finish the song as Melinda tried to wrestle the instrument from him to make him stop.
He had also knocked on her dorm room door one evening with a pile of signs like in 'Love Actually', which Melinda would forever deny had made her blush.
Her favourite by far was when Phil had convinced a pilot friend of his to write out 'Will you marry me?' in sky writing. Partially because Maria Hill had handed Director Fury a twenty.
All of his stupid puns and dad jokes, she could hide how much she liked them, but the extraordinary lengths Phil would go to propose marriage over and over again was something that would always make her smile. Even now, when Melinda was having a bad day, she would look back on the riding a horse into the gym and grin.
So when, during her and Skye's morning training, Phil entered the gym with a very convincing nervous face on, Melinda was bound to be suspicious that he had something up his sleeve.
"Skye, can you give us a minute?" Coulson asked, wiping one hand on his pants.
"Uuh, yeah, sure." Skye said leaving, "I'll be upstairs if you need me."
Both sets of eyes darted to the door after Skye had left, listening to her retreating footsteps. "I've been thinking." Coulson started, that same fond gleam in his eyes. "May, we've known each other a long time."
'She's still out there.' May mouthed, so that her protégée, eavesdropping outside, wouldn't hear her.
'I know.' "And you're my best friend." Phil's gift at these things was making them sound sincere. "I trust you more than anyone, you know that, right?"
"Yeah." She said softly, the timidity in her voice at odds with the grin on her face. This was going to be good.
"I know I've done some terrible things, and I know now's not a good time, but I'm tired of waiting for the right time, so-" He got down on one knee, just like he had the first time, "Melinda, would you do me the honour of becoming my wife?"
A stifled "Oh my God!" came from outside and Melinda had to take a second to compose herself.
She took a deep breath, trying to keep any amusement from her voice. "I thought you'd never ask."
The sound that emanated from the corridor was not so much words as something comparable to a pterodactyl in pain. Skye's face appeared around the doorframe, mouth open and eyes wide in shock.
That was all it took really, and both her superior officers burst out laughing. Coulson pointed weakly at Skye. "Y-your face." He wheezed, ring still clutched in one hand.
Melinda had to cling to his shoulder to stay upright, overcome with laughter, which she tried to stifle with her other hand.
Skye stared at them, catching on. "You- you... Oh my God, you guys suck!" She stomped away, face red from the mixture of emotions.
Phil was low on oxygen, his laughter becoming higher, and Melinda still clung to his shoulder. "Okay," She acknowledged, getting herself under control. "That was a good one."
He laughed giddily, "She didn't seem too happy."
Melinda smirked. "Imagine what she'll saw when she finds out about us."
Phil smiled as well and pressed a chaste kiss to her lips. "Do you want to tell her?"
She shrugged. "I'd like to see how long we make it before the others figure it out." For no other reason than it being more fun.
Phil laughed again, softly, "Anyway." He slid the ring onto her finger, a by now practised motion. "We should do this for real some time." He mumbled.
"After years of zoo animals and rom com clichés I get an offhand comment?" It was said playfully, and Phil looked up to her face with an almost unbearable fondness.
He wrapped his arms around her, pulling Melinda close. "I love you."
"I love you." She mumbled next to his ear. "And we don't need to get arrested trying to get the documentation to prove it."
They had been a married couple enough times. Now they were happy just being them.