A/N: Thanks to dysprositos for a quick beta job! This just popped into my head out of nowhere and had to be written down. Nick Fury is a liar who lies, but he also bakes.
It was the tail end of a mission when Fury found out about Clint and Phil.
It was during the burgeoning stage of Clint and Coulson's relationship together. They'd recently caved in to their attraction, and it was like a cave-in, all dust and debris and climbing out shaking their heads clear saying things like 'we really shouldn't have done that.' But they did, and they kept doing it, and it felt less like a natural disaster each time they came together, finally settling into something more like the waves on a beach than the chaos of a cave-in.
There is a sort of chaos to the waves, though, especially if you're a sand-crab or a shell that gets swept under with each crash of water. Something always gets disturbed in the rhythm, and for Clint and Coulson, one thing that was a victim of their relationship, especially early on, was their sense of perspective. It got swept under the waves, only to reemerge when the water cleared.
The mission was in the rainforest and the bad guys had put up a fight. Coulson wasn't on the mission, and he'd been pacing the floor of his office since he'd gotten word that the mission had been a success but the team was going to need medical attention. Nobody bothered to clarify who or why, so he paced. By the time the team got back to the Helicarrier, he had paced the floor of his office for an hour and was currently pacing the tarmac, much to the annoyance of the crew that was waiting to do their job once the jet arrived back at base.
Coulson actually snarled at someone who suggested that he wait in the debriefing room like usual. This wasn't like usual. Clint could be dying on that jet and no one bothered to tell him, and suddenly what used to be a quiet concern was a raging storm and if he didn't pace here he was going to either throw up or hit someone. So he kept pacing until the jet finally landed.
Phil saw Clint climb off the plane and he involuntarily stiffened. Clint looked horrible – dirty, wet, and bloody – but he was upright and he winked at Phil and the tightness that had been building in Phil's shoulders loosened a bit. He turned and left, knowing that medical and a debrief would keep Clint from him for at least an hour, probably two. He stepped off the tarmac to head back to his office and ran smack into Nick Fury, who was glowering at Phil with a frown.
"Holy shit, you and Barton are sleeping together, aren't you?" Fury said. Phil glanced briefly at him and then kept walking. Fury followed him back to his office and shut the door behind him, and Phil moved behind his desk. He'd been avoiding this conversation for three weeks. Neither man sat down, Nick crossing his arms in front of him and Phil clasping his hands behind his back.
"You know we don't have rules against it because SHIELD employees tend to only know other SHIELD employees, and if we tried to stop it things would be worse, right?" Fury said after Phil made it clear he was unwilling to make the opening move.
"Yes, sir," Phil replied. He usually knew how to read and play people, but Nick Fury was one of about three exceptions to that, so he chose to proceed cautiously here.
Fury stood for another moment, and then sighed heavily and threw himself into the chair in front of Phil's desk. "I don't have a problem with it if it doesn't affect your work or Barton's work. I suspect that won't be a problem. How long have you managed to keep it from me?"
Phil smiled and sat down. "About three weeks is all."
Fury laughed. "Three weeks? You've been pining after each other a lot longer than three weeks, Phil. I figured I just missed the climax, so to speak."
Phil coughed, "Jesus, Nick. Did you just make a sex pun about me?"
"It was about Barton, really, but yes. Took you two long enough, that's for damned sure."
Phil shook his head. "Yeah. Well, I'm sorry about today."
"First mission away since it happened?"
"Yeah. He looks okay, though," Phil replied, running a hand over his face and pouring a cup of coffee from the pot on the desk. "I'll get used to it."
Fury shrugged and there was a moment of comfortable silence between the men. Then Fury grinned and said, "I'll bet he's good."
Phil snorted into his cup. "You could say that."
"He ask you or you ask him?"
"He followed me home after our last mission together. Couldn't throw him out on the street, now, could I?" Phil asked, grinning.
"It'd be a waste, really, wouldn't it?" Fury replied, reaching over and pouring himself a cup of Phil's coffee.
"Yep. That's not like me, to waste an opportunity like that."
"Yeah, because you're a regular Casanova, Coulson. When's the last time you got laid before Barton?" he asked, but he didn't give Phil a chance to answer. "Jesus, it just had to be Barton, didn't it?"
"What do you mean, Nick?"
"He's a pain in my ass already, Coulson. A Pain. In my ass. This is not going to help," Fury said, taking a drink of his coffee.
Phil set his cup down on his desk. "Wait. You know he'll be professional about it. He knows it can't interfere with work."
"Oh, I'm not worried about Barton, Phil. I'm worried about me."
"Why?" Phil was curious. He and Nick had been working together for more than fifteen years, and they'd been friends for most of it. They'd met in the Army and both worked their way through different avenues to end up sitting here, but Phil had never heard those words come from Nick Fury's mouth.
"Because now I'm going to have to be professional. I'm going to have to send him on missions knowing they'll probably be awful, and knowing that you're going to suffer just as much as he does if anything goes south. Goddamn it, Phil. You couldn't have settled down with a secretary or a range worker or hell, someone on the cafeteria staff?"
"Clint cooks," Phil said with a grin.
"You know what I me- wait, Barton cooks?"
"Yeah. Just as good as you. Maybe better."
"No. He does not cook better than I do. My chili is legendary," Fury said.
"You should try his stew."
"Can he do sauces? 'Cause my sauces explode with flavor."
Phil laughed. "We'll have to do a cook-off."
"Shit. I'm not having a cook-off with Barton. I'd own him and then you'd be pissed at me."
They both just grinned at each other. Finally, Fury leaned forward and said, "Three weeks? It really took you that long?"
"We both have issues."
"Yeah, I'll bet you do."
They sat quietly for a minute, sipping their coffee.
"He looks good on you, Phil," Fury said
"Excuse me?" Phil said.
Laughing, Fury said, "Your eyes, when you talk about him. They look good."
Phil sighed, "Yeah, well. He is good, but we'll both have some things to get used to about the job."
"About the job? You mean about everything. When's the last time you dated someone?" Fury asked.
Phil chuckled. "Yeah, a long time. A really long time."
Fury drained his cup and stood. "Well, Phil, good luck." He looked at his watch. "He should be out of debrief pretty soon."
Phil looked up at him. "Yeah. He looked like shit getting off the plane, even if it's not bad."
Fury nodded. "You'll get used to this part," he said, quietly.
Phil shrugged. "Yeah, maybe."
Fury moved to the door and opened it, turning around again. "This part? You'll get used to it. It's when you're watching it happen to him that it's gonna be hard. 'Cause you can't lose focus out there. Here, you can pace your office and wait on the tarmac for him and worry. When you're out there together, you're gonna want to do those same things and you can't."
"I know, Nick," Phil said. "I'll stay focused."
Fury smiled. "I know you will. You just probably won't get used to it," he said, leaving and closing the door behind him.
Phil stayed at his desk thinking about what Nick had said, and after a while he threw in the towel and cleaned out his coffee pot and locked his office door behind him. He arrived in the lounge area outside the debriefing rooms and settled into a chair, pulling out his tablet. A while later the team started to emerge.
Clint was the last one out and Phil cringed. He was still soaking wet and grimy, and he was limping. It looked like they'd cleaned his face to get to the cut that he'd gotten, but otherwise he was still a mess. His eyes brightened when he saw Phil, though.
"Hey," Clint said as Phil stood.
"Hi. You okay?" Phil asked, his arms crossed in front of him.
"Yeah, well, I could use a shower and about thirty hours of sleep."
"Okay, come on," Phil said, packing up his briefcase.
Clint looked puzzled. Phil figured if Fury knew and was being supportive, then he'd understand Phil getting Clint the hell out of the building after a rough op. He held up his car keys. "Home. You've got a change of clothes at my place anyway. Come have a real shower and a good bed."
Clint grinned with relief and nodded. "Okay."
They climbed into Phil's car and Clint was asleep in the front seat before they even got out of the SHIELD parking garage. When they got to the apartment, Phil threw Clint's arm around his shoulders and practically dragged him inside. When he shut the front door behind him, Clint just stood in the foyer in a daze.
"Come on. Shower first, and then sleep. You can stay here but you're not climbing into my bed like that," Phil said gently, and he pulled Clint down the hall to the bathroom. He helped Clint out of his clothes, helped him put a plastic cover over the bandaged ankle, turned on the water, and pushed Clint into the shower. He stood there for a minute trying to decide, and then stripped off his own clothes and climbed in after him.
Clint was too tired to do anything except stand under the water and groan as Phil massaged his scalp with shampoo, rubbed soap gently over his whole body, and massaged his shoulders until he was afraid Clint might fall asleep right there in the shower.
He helped Clint towel off and find some pajama pants and climbed into the bed after he checked the doors and turned out the lights. He held Clint tightly, even though the archer was asleep before Phil even laid down next to him, running his hands through Clint's hair and breathing in his scent. He finally fell asleep himself.
When he woke in the morning, Clint was still asleep, so he headed out to the kitchen to make coffee and start on some paperwork. He figured Clint might sleep until noon, but he had brought enough work home with him that he didn't feel guilty about setting up at his kitchen table instead of at headquarters. He especially didn't feel guilty after he turned on the coffee maker and went to the foyer to grab his briefcase.
There, sitting on the tile in the entryway, was a box with Phil and Clint's first names on it in a loopy scrawl that Phil recognized immediately. He picked it up and took it to the kitchen table and opened it, laughing as he pulled out a basket of blueberry muffins and a note card.
It read: 'I'll bet that asshole can't make blueberry muffins, but I can, so here. Enjoy your morning. – Nick'
Phil pulled out a muffin, poured himself a cup of coffee, and promised himself to at least consider how to set up a cook-off between Nick and Clint.