This my gift to johanirae for the Clint_Hawkeye Christmas exchanged. I had a lot of fun writing this, and hope it is greatly enjoyed. Credit for the pickup line goes to sparkling-cideride on tumblr. And thanks to my wonderful beta ginoddduck on lj. :)
Disclaimer: Sadly, I don't own The Avengers nor any characters connected to it. It all belongs to Marvel and Stan Lee.
Meaningless sex and one night stands were easy; dating and relationships were the hard part. The circus had given him the basics for attracting a would-be sexual partner's attention while S.H.I.E.L.D had provided a reason for it. Unfortunately for Clint, neither had taught him how to attract and hold the notice of someone he wanted to date; thus the cause of his impasse. Typically when he needed intel for missions, Clint relied on Coulson to provide it; but in this case, it wasn't an option. He couldn't very well ask the man he wanted to date for advice on dating him. Clint wasn't that dumb; he fully understood the meaning of covert, no matter what Natasha claimed otherwise.
Once he took Coulson out of the equation, Clint had very few choices left to pick from; he couldn't very well ask the Avengers. While he trusted them with his life, he didn't necessarily trust their dating advice, especially when given: a former womanizing, ex-alcoholic; a demi god whose idea of romance was bringing his intended the head of an nykr; a WWII soldier seventy years out of his time who knew less about modern techniques than he did; a withdrawn physicist currently in a long distance relationship with a woman he can never see... ever; and then there was the former Russian assassin turned BFF whose S.H.I.E.L.D designation didn't bode well for providing useful dating information, unless you planned on mating then killing the father of your children.
Thus Clint found himself turning to the internet for advice, and unfortunately nobody would claim he had the same attention span for the world wide web as he did when sitting on a rooftop waiting for his mark, so his entire plan for attracting Phil's notice hinged on half-assed Google searches and the gullibility to believe everything he read online.
"Rehearse" Your Game Online.
From: bartoncf at shield dot gov Sent: Tues 11/27/2012 10:49 AM
To: alleng at shield dot gov, barlowmr at shield dot gov, boyletl at shield dot gov, choijh at shield dot gov, cotemf at shield dot gov, davidz at shield dot gov, diazpcm at shield dot gov, ellisonja at shield dot gov, ...
The longest arrow I have isn't in my quiver...*
"Form HR-927021-A, Inappropriate Non-Sanctioned Work Behavior," Phil recited as he handed the document in question to Clint as soon as he exited the range, where he'd been testing out some of his new Stark designed arrows.
Clint took the form with a raised brow and mischievous glint in his eye. "You mean there's a form for sanctioned behavior," he quipped, causing Phil to release a sigh of mild annoyance.
"Form HR-927021-B with a SL-0002091." Phil replied automatically then grimaced as soon as he realized what had come from his mouth and what Clint's brain managed to focus on. Forms, requisitions, and order were a part of his job and sometimes his mouth supplied the requested information before his brain had time to comprehend what it was being asked.
"SL-0002091?" Clint parroted, rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet, not bothering to hide his amusement.
Phil sighed again; he was forced to stop his hand from pinching the bridge of his nose. Normally, Phil could handle the archer without getting annoyed; but sometimes it became a toss-up between Barton and Stark for the person he'd most like to taser. "Post-approval for any behavior undertaken while completing their duties to S.H.I.E.L.D."
"What kind of behavior, sir?" Clint asked with a smirk and wink.
"Barton, let me be clear." Phil said, choosing to ignore Clint's borderline 'yellow light' behavior. "Am I going to have to send you back to sensitivity and diversity training?" Phil continued through clenched teeth. He couldn't really fault the archer for his behavior; Natasha was the one to ground Clint and keep him in line. But due to the expertise needed, there had been little choice but to send the former Soviet assassin out on the mission, so in her absence, Clint tended to get a little out of hand.
Clint made a face at the thinly veiled promise; although, he couldn't help but feel a little confused as to why Coulson was bringing up that dreaded seminar. "Why you asking, boss?
"I'm receiving varying reports of you being less than appropriate with some of the junior agents through, and I quote, 'digital applications.'" Phil told the specialist agent, his hands making air quotes around the words digital applications. It was moments like these that Phil hated himself for ever teaching Clint how to use a computer or even email. When the archer had first signed on with S.H.I.E.L.D, he had been computer illiterate, then after a couple of sessions with Phil, he turned into a Facebook stalker and email chain letter aficionado, which led to an intervention by Natasha (read: kicking his ass until he understood the meaning of the word covert).
"Exactly," Phil agreed. "Clean up your act, Barton. Otherwise, I'll be forced to send you back through training and we all remember what happened the first time you and Agent Romanov underwent it."
A look of fear briefly flashed across the archer's face before settling again. "It wasn't my fault. Tasha did it."
"Regardless," Phil countered blandly, "it happened and that poor compliance officer still hasn't fully recovered from the experience." The whole thing had been a bad idea from the start and Phil had tried his damndest to explain why to Hill, but she had overruled his concerns. What followed had taken every ounce of Phil's professionalism not to tell Hill, 'I told you so.'
The session had begun without incident; the agents and specialists had come in, taken their seats, and treated the presentation as though they were attending a standard mission briefing. It wasn't until the compliance officer had randomly chosen two volunteers from the audience to participate in a role-playing exercise; unfortunately for him, one of them happened to be Specialist Agent Natasha Romanov. Let's just say that the exercise didn't end well for the compliance officer and he was still in therapy.
"Understood, sir," Clint barked as he returned Coulson's gaze.
"Good," Phil responded. "There is a stack of requisitions and field reports waiting for you in your office. I'm expecting them on my desk by the end of the day." And with that, the senior agent twisted on his heel and left.
Clint stood in the empty hall, watching and waiting as Phil rounded the corner. Once gone, the archer loosened his shoulders and slumped against a nearby wall. The mass email hadn't done the job he had intended it too; if anything, it gave him another issue to worry about, because Clint had no desire to undergo another sexual harassment session with or without Natasha.
Fury was the first to remark on the change in Clint's appearance; however, that didn't mean he was the first to notice it, Natasha had that honor when she returned from her mission. Regardless of who had the honor of what, gone was Clint's standard issue black bodysuit with too many zippers and buckles to be considered useful for anything other than an annoyance to the wearer, and in its place was a freshly pressed, expertly tailored black suit.
"Do you have an undercover assignment, I wasn't aware of Agent Barton?" Fury asked the first time he happened to pass Clint in the halls of S.H.I.E.L.D's Manhattan headquarters, which funnily enough was within the first three hours of Clint donning the Calvin Klein suit.
The question caused Clint to pause as his face morphed into an expression of faux innocence, which Fury wasn't buying for a minute. "No, sir. I just thought that given the very public nature of S.H.I.E.L.D and the Avengers Initiative that it might be better if I started dressing in a manner more befitting an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D."
Fury wasn't sure which was more unsettling, the archer's language or his logic; either way, he knew Clint was up to something, the question was what exactly. With a scowl on his face, Fury finally told the other man, "to knock it off," and disappeared into his office.
Clint shrugged off Fury's remark with a frown and continued on his way towards the mess hall for lunch with a newly returned Natasha. Although the whole dressing to impress quickly became a moot point a couple of hours later after Clint managed to rip the armpit out of his tailored coat; who knew that suit jackets weren't made to handle the stress of drawing back a bow.
In hindsight, Clint wasn't sure which was worse: wasting his money on the flimsy wool suit or the fact Phil never saw him in it, due to an urgent situation requiring his specialized skill set (i.e. the art of dealing with Tony Stark).
Get to Know One of Her Friends.
Everyone, who spent any amount of time at S.H.I.E.L.D, knew that Specialist Agent Clint Barton had a specific routine he followed while on base: if Natasha was there, then they took their meals together in the mess hall and when she wasn't, Clint got his meal to go. It was something nobody questioned; most saw it as a simple quirk of the archer that they learned to accept.
Senior Agent Jasper Sitwell was the first to notice a change in Barton's lunchtime schedule. It all started when the archer walked into the commissary and instead of leaving once he had his tray, Clint began moving across the sparsely filled room towards Sitwell.
Although Sitwell didn't find the archer's actions disturbing, he couldn't stop himself from remarking on it to his lunch companion, Maria Hill. "Have you noticed Barton acting strange lately?"
"Strange how?" Hill asked suspiciously. As Deputy Director of S.H.I.E.L.D and one of Fury's right hands, it was her job to know everything and anything when it concerned their agents and assets. Plus, she still didn't trust that Barton had fully recovered from Loki's voodoo. "Stranger than usual?"
"Yeah," Sitwell replied, his eye never leaving Barton's advancing form.
Maria shrugged and took a sip of her drink before responding. "Not really, why do you ask?"
"No reason, really." Jasper said, trying to sound as nonchalant as possible, "other than he's headed towards our table without Romanov in sight."
"What?" Maria asked as she turned her head, eye darting back and forth around the mess hall.
"Don't look," Sitwell hissed, earning Maria's patented 'are you kidding me' look.
Just as Clint dropped into a chair at the table, Jasper managed to school his expression from secretly curious to outwardly neutral; however, there wasn't much difference between the two, the corners of his mouth frowned a little less than before. Once Clint settled, Sitwell took a cursory glance in the archer's direction, noticing the seat which Clint had taken; it wasn't close enough to be considered sitting with them, but it was still within normal talking distance. Together, Maria and Jasper silently watched the archer as he forked a bite of the chef's special, an Italian-styled meatloaf, into his mouth. If the situation had been anything than what it was, a casual observer might believe the pair was waiting for a bomb to explode, given the intensity of their gazes upon Clint's movements.
"Does Coulson like baseball?" Clink asked out of the blue, giving the agents a start at the sound of his voice. They hadn't been expecting the archer to speak, let alone address a question at them. "I saw him wearing a Red Sox t-shirt in the gym last week." Clint continued, explaining the reason for his seemingly random question.
After a brief side-eye at Sitwell, Maria gave her full attention to Clint and retorted, "Well there's your answer."
"Any reason you want to know, Barton?" Sitwell asked, generally curious as to where this conversation was headed.
Clint shrugged. "I'm looking for information for his birthday. And I'm not sure what to get him."
"What do you usually get him?" Maria asked with her eyebrow raised. This was the first time that she heard of a specialist buying their handler a birthday present; she certainly never received anything on her birthday, except for maybe a massive headache.
There was a sheepish quality about Clint's expression when he replied, "Usually, no paperwork and I try to keep the headaches to a minimum. But barring that, a coffee mug and some of those gas station powdered donuts. Coulson loves his convenience food."
"So that's where his growing collection of mugs comes from. I always wondered," Sitwell remarked. "If you're looking for someone that really knows Phil, then I suggest you ask Pepper Potts." The agent advised, "Miss Potts and Phil bonded over dealing with Stark."
Clint nodded his head and mentally filed the new information away. Although it wasn't the information or the goal he had originally set out to achieve; it was knowledge he could use… looks like it was time to start sweet-talking Miss Pepper Potts if he was going to get into Phil's good graces. And with that thought in his head, Clint swept his tray into his hands and left the table without a thank you or a backwards glance at Hill or Sitwell.
The pair watched him go, each a little confused by the archer's strange behavior; but it was forgotten as soon as Agent Blake arrived, taking a seat next to Maria before launching into a discussion about the recent intel coming out of the Middle East.
"Barton, care to explain the sudden interest in Pepper Potts?" Fury demanded, a couple of days later, causing the archer to freeze in his tracks.
Straightening his shoulders, Clint met the director's gaze head on, unflinching even as Fury's eye bore into his own. "I don't understand what you mean, sir." Clint replied calmly. There were only two ways to handle Nick Fury: one, calmly and without a trace of fear; the other, by being a pain in his ass. Clint would estimate that probably 90% of S.H.I.E.L.D's permanent agents had perfected the former while Stark devised and excelled at the latter.
"Don't bullshit me, Barton." Fury growled. "According to Stark, you've started sending her homemade sweets and flowers, as well as stalking her at her favorite coffee shop."
Clint remained silent; he knew now was not the time to engage Fury. All he had to do was let Fury get it out of his system then he would leave.
"Let me be clear, Stark thinks you are trying to woo Ms. Potts and he considers that to be an attack on him, regardless of the status of their personal or professional relationship. Normally, I wouldn't give two shits about the relationships of my agents, but when I start receiving voluntarily made phone calls from Stark on Sunday mornings then it's my business. Understood, specialist?"
"Understood, sir." Clint parroted in a clipped tone. While most couldn't tell the difference between a content Fury and an angry Fury, Clint had become an expert at it during his time at S.H.I.E.L.D.
"Good. So knock it off," Fury ground out, leaving in a swirl of black coat as he stomped off down the hallway.
Once he was sure Fury was gone, Clint breathed a sigh of relief as he glanced around the deserted the hallway and noticed that Fury always seemed to catch him alone; it's as though he planned their hallway meetings. 'On second thought,' Clint's brain supplied, 'I wouldn't put it past him.'
Avoid Awkward Silence.
Following his telling off by Fury, Clint began to avoid Phil; though it had nothing to do with Fury's anger or Clint's failure with Pepper Potts. The avoidance could be entirely blamed on his inability to speak to Phil. Before his decision to gain Phil's attention, Clint could go hours just rambling about anything and everything, mainly the gossip he picked up while crawling through S.H.I.E.L.D's vents. But now, he became tongue-tied and had no idea how to deal with his crush on his handler. It was a little nerve racking and here he was a highly trained assassin.
"Barton, have you managed to look over the intel that Blake compiled for you and Natasha?" Phil asked, causing Clint to jump slightly as the senior agent seemed to appear out of nowhere. If Clint didn't know better, he'd think Phil was taking lessons from Director Fury on the art of scaring the hell out of his underlings. "I only ask because you leave in four days and I still haven't received your T9-4109."
Although, Clint did blink at Phil's question, he made no other outward sign that he heard the agent.
Phil waited a beat before prompting, "Well?"
Clint opened and closed his mouth a couple of times before twisting on his heel and walking away, causing Phil to follow the archer down the hall with a perplexed expression on his face. While Clint was known for his slightly chaotic behavior, this is the first time Phil had been on the receiving end of it. Continuing to trail behind the archer, Phil watched as he opened and entered the first door he came to, and it was from the open doorway that Phil observed Clint, climbing upon Fury's desk, whose owner's just happened to be sitting at it, and hoisting himself into the vent above it. Fury and Phil stared at the archer, each with expressions ranging from disbelief to confusion to borderline pissed off.
It was only after the vent door shut with a clang did Fury turn his attention to Phil. "What the hell was that, Coulson?" He demanded.
"Your guess is as good as mine, sir." Phil replied drily.
"Fix it," Fury ordered then motioned for Phil to close the door behind him when he left.
The next time Phil came upon Clint, the archer was ready for him; even Natasha couldn't hold in her laughter and she was queen of the stoic face.
"T9-4109?" Phil requested as soon as Clint and Natasha arrived for their final mission briefing; although they were members of the Avengers Initiative, their skill sets were still needed by S.H.I.E.L.D. Natasha glanced at Clint, giving him a 'he's talking to you not me' look before walking away.
With a grumbled 'traitor' in Natasha's direction, Clint turned and looked at Phil, finally giving the agent his full attention for the first time in days. "What was that, sir?"
"The T9-4109, Barton, I asked you for it three days ago and you still haven't managed to put it on my desk, yet." Phil told him, not bothering to hide his annoyance.
Clint snapped his fingers and pulled out a battered index from one of his uniform's many pockets; the index card was covered in small, cramped writing on both sides. "Adrian Gonzalez has a batting average of .300; Jared Saltalamacchia has scored 25 home runs this season. And Dustin Pedroia has—"
"Let me stop you right there, Barton." Phil said as he pinched the bridge of his nose. "Why are you quoting Red Sox stats at me? I asked where your T9-4109 was."
"Adrian Gonzalez has a RBI of 86." Clint continued without looking up from his index card and completely ignoring Phil. He was worried that if he stopped reading and actually tried to answer the agent's question, he would lose his nerve and there would be a repeat of his earlier escape plan.
But luckily, Natasha came to the rescue with a shift tap on the back of Clint's head, effectively silencing the archer. With an eye roll, Phil left Natasha to handle Clint, knowing that she would get him back under some semblance of control in the next four hours before they left.
"Clint?" Natasha asked; but one word seemed to be all it took and before she knew it, Clint was telling her of his whole stupid plan to get Phil's notice.
As she listened, Natasha couldn't stop the laughter from bubbling out; it was just too funny not to laugh at. It was only once she was sober again, did Clint swear her to secrecy; however, he did tell her that this could be added to their growing lists of blackmail material, which, per their original agreement, meant it could only be played once, then it lost all value. It was an honor system between the assassins and it worked, only due to each of them not willing to use it; it wasn't how their friendship worked.
"Come on, Clint," Natasha said as she motioned him out of the briefing room. "I'll bring him back with his T9-4109, Coulson." She called out in Phil's general direction. The handler nodded his head and waved them away. If Natasha said she was going to do something then she was going to do it… of that, Phil had no doubt.
Be the Center of Attention.
Usually Clint tended to avoid the junior agents' hand-to-hand combat sessions, even when he was supposed to be their guest instructor for the day. Thus, it stood to reason that Phil became concerned when he began to overhear the various simpering and exaggerated stories from a few of the junior agents, especially regarding just how hands on Clint was being with some of his students.
Normally, Phil would repeat his earlier threat or even go as far as follow through with the threat involving another sexual harassment seminar; but the whole thing would turn into a major headache for him and tears for the compliance officer. Plus, he already had enough of the headache inducing Stark (with the occasional input from Banner) to last him a lifetime.
Thank you very much.
It would seem that it was time to put Barton out of his misery and end this whole charade…
Be Direct / Take Control.
"Agent Barton, a word." Phil barked as soon as he spotted the archer exiting the gym. Phil had been waiting for the last of the junior agents to leave before addressing the archer. Clint paused and shifted his bag from one shoulder to the other before turning to face his handler.
"My office." Phil ordered in a clipped tone. Without waiting for a verbal response, Phil walked passed Clint and towards his office, knowing that the archer would follow. In spite of some of Clint's questionable behavior, the archer could and would follow orders as long as he believed in them.
"Of course, sir." Clint countered and followed his handler through halls of S.H.I.E.L.D. While they walked, Clint's mind raced with all the possible reasons for Coulson needing to see him: his field reports were finished; Stark had been blamed for that prank on Fury; there were no pending covert missions, and Clint had stopped interacting (read: harassing) with (the) junior agents. So what could Coulson possibly need to see him about?
When they reached his office, Phil ushered Clint inside, where everything changed. As soon as the door closed behind them, Phil backed Clint up against his office door, pulling the archer into a bruising kiss. A couple of beats passed before Clint got with the program, returning Phil's kiss with just as much intensity. Placing his hands on Phil's hips, Clint gripped tight and tugged the agent closer, letting Phil slip his knee between the archer's parted legs.
"When did you know, sir?" Clint panted, breaking their heated kiss.
Phil gave the archer a devilish grin and replied, "Around the time you started wooing Pepper." Clint frowned at this bit of information, causing Phil to smirk. "Though, it wasn't until Sitwell made a passing remark that it all clicked, Barton."
"Clicked, sir?" Clint parroted, a little confused by his handler's comment.
"Birthday gifts, Barton." Phil said and laid a kiss on the corner of Clint's frowning mouth. "The coffee mugs and donuts are for Christmas, not my birthday."
"Oh," Clint breathed. "Then why did you continue to let me make an ass of myself?"
"Cause I happen to like your ass," Phil countered, grinning before sobering. "I wanted to see how far you would take it; although, the crawling into Fury's vent was pretty funny."
Clint's ears pinked at hearing that; it wasn't his proudest moment. However in hindsight, it was pretty funny. "Permission to shut you up, sir?"
Phil's eyebrow rose at the question, but he still nodded in agreement. "Permission granted, Barton." Phil murmured right before Clint's mouth closed around his own, meaning no other words were needed.
"Stark may find the cupid jokes funny; but I don't." Phil murmured as a toy arrow flew pass his face and landed with a wet plop against his window. The toy bow and quiver set had been a gag gift from Stark on Clint's last birthday; but ultimately the joke was on Stark, given Clint's joy in taking potshots at the genius while he was trying to work.
Pushing his chair over to the window, Phil pulled the arrow out and looked at it, eyes wandering across the purple shaft with a long, thin red box firmly tied to it. As he untied the string holding the box to the arrow, Phil noticed a small piece of paper, which had been tucked between the box's bottom and the shaft. Upon opening the note, Phil rolled his eyes as he read the words written, wondering why he was in love with the archer:
Your reports are dull
My arrows are quick
So come over here
And grab my dick
With a small chuckle and a shake of his head, Phil turned his attention to the red box. While he would never say it, Phil thought the little gifts he received from Clint were kind of sweet, even if some of them did make him raise an eyebrow or two. After tugging the top off and pushing the pink tissue paper away, Phil gazed at the contents: two white chocolate truffles drizzled with dark chocolate; the treats brought a smile to Phil's face because there was no doubt in his mind, Clint had made them.
Leaning back in his chair, Phil noted the date circled in red on his desk calendar; there was only one person, who could have done it… Clint. Before he began dating the archer, Phil had never really given Valentine's Day any thought, but considering the trouble Clint had gone through, maybe for once, Phil could give the holiday a try. Grabbing his cell phone, Phil dialed Clint's number, knowing the archer would pick up on the first ring; he always picked up on the first ring, if it was him or Natasha.
"What are you wearing?" Clint drawled when he picked up. "I mean that's how these conversations are supposed to start, right, boss?"
Phil shook his head and rolled his eyes. "This isn't that kind of conversation," he replied as he opened the security feed, looking for Clint's location.
"You suck, boss." Clint pouted, causing Phil to quirk his lips in mild amusement.
"Only if you want me to…"
"Do go on, Phil."
"Not a work, Clint," Phil retorted, "but if you're done in the gym then there isn't any reason why we can't finish this at home."
"Playing hooky, Philip?" Clint smirked. "And are you spying on me?"
Phil chuckled through the phone connection. "And what if I am? What are you going to do about it, Specialist Barton?"
"Promises, promises." Clint murmured, voice husky due to Phil's subtle cue. "Meet you at your car in 10 minutes, sir."
"Make it 15 and you have a deal, Barton." Phil countered; the extra five minutes would allow him enough time to finish the most pressing of his paperwork, leaving the rest to wait until Monday. After all, Fury wasn't completely heartless and wouldn't begrudge him the right to enjoy an extended weekend with Clint. Besides a happy Clint, was a Clint who stayed out of trouble for longer than 36 hours.
"See you then, sir." Clint said grinning.
"Count on it," Phil replied before hanging up and turning his attention to his computer. It was definitely going to be a good weekend if Phil had anything to say or do about it, and luckily he did.