They start calling him the Gay Avenger. It's not even accurate because Clint is happily bisexual, a fact to which Natasha and Phil could easily testify.
It all started because he'd kissed Phil goodbye at a subway entrance and someone had taken a picture, because everybody had a camera in their pocket nowadays. Admittedly it was sloppy work, being public with his affections like that, but Phil had been talking excitedly about New York Comic Con and he'd just looked so adorable that Clint couldn't help himself. But the picture had ended up online and had spread like wildfire through the all the social media platforms, and suddenly the tower had been getting hundreds of calls and reporters had started harassing him for a statement every time he walked out the door. The picture got plastered on the news and Clint found himself being ripped apart for being a "paragon of immorality" in a position that influenced children.
Clint and Phil were annoyed because suddenly people seemed to think that their personal life was their business. The Avengers were annoyed because they couldn't get in and out of their home without being harassed. Pepper was annoyed because the clutter and the phone calls were interrupting business, and Fury was annoyed because Clint's refusal to release a statement or confront the media was making the Avengers look bad.
That's how he found himself feeling like he was about to choke to death with a tie around his neck while he waited to go confront a crowd of reporters, because apparently it was Big News that he was in a relationship with a man, never mind the kids who got shot down in Harlem yesterday or the earthquake in California.
"Can't you come with me?" Clint asked Phil desperately, but Phil smiled sadly and shook his head.
"Fury's requested that I keep off screen as much as possible," Phil told him, straightening Clint's tie affectionately. "I would if I could, you know that right?"
"Yeah," Clint sighed. "I just hate the idea of being so exposed by myself."
"I know," Phil answered, looking regretful. "Just remember, you don't have to say anything personal if you don't want to. Just 'yes, I'm bisexual, any questions?'."
"Why couldn't we just have PR do a press release?" Clint asked for the millionth time.
"Pepper thought it would look better if you confronted the media instead of hiding behind a rep," Phil responded, for the millionth time. "Everything will be okay. Are you ready?"
"I guess," Clint sighed. He refrained from kissing Phil for luck, because that was what had gotten him in to this mess in the first place, and he headed out towards the little podium that they'd wired with a billion microphones. Cameras started flashing as soon as he was in view, and he swore he almost went blind trying to get the podium. He wished Phil hadn't confiscated his sun glasses.
"So, um, hey," he started, which was smooth as hell. "I'm not all that great at public speaking, so you'll have to excuse me."
There was a faint titter of polite laughter, like they weren't sure if he was joking or not, and Clint just steeled his nerves and pressed onwards.
"We're all here because there's been this picture going around of me kissing a man, and now everyone wants to know if I'm gay. Well, the fact is that I'm bisexual and the man in the picture is my husband." The cameras started flashing double-time and Clint winced, trying to pick out questions as people began yelling them.
"Um…yes, bisexuality is actually a thing, no I'm not planning on releasing any details about my husband, we've been together for ten years and been married for two…"
"Mr. Barton do you think it's appropriate for you to have a spot on a team that so many children look up to when you lead such a lifestyle?"
Clint paused for a second, fighting the urge to just punch the guy in the face and leave. He really doubted that would be good for anyone, so he took a deep breath and then shrugged.
"Look man, if kids look up to us, that's great, but the Avengers aren't about being role models for children. We're about defending our home. And really, it's not a lifestyle. It's just my life. I didn't ask for my personal life to get spread out through the media, but someone posted a picture online and now here we are. As for whether or not I should be on the Avengers, I'll let my teammates decide that. If there comes a day where it's decided that my services are no longer needed or I become a liability, I'll step back to make room for someone else, but I can guarantee you it won't be because of my sexual orientation."
"And how does Captain America feel about working with a homosexual?" someone yelled and Clint shrugged.
"Bisexual. And I don't know, you'll have to ask him." Clint decided that he'd had enough. He'd done what Fury wanted and that was enough. He didn't have to deal with people trying to make him feel small. He'd had that his whole life, but now he knew better.
"That's all I have to say," he said, not caring if the microphone caught his voice or not. "Thanks."
As he made his way towards the edge of the stage Steve appeared next to Phil, twirling his finger to indicate that Clint should turn around and go back. Clint frowned at him, but he did as requested when Cap brushed past Phil and stepped on stage himself.
"Hi!" Steve said cheerfully when they were back at the podium. "I just wanted to answer that last question really quickly. I'm Steve Rogers, and it is an honor to work with Clint. He's smart and he's quick on his feet, and when everyone else is running away from danger, you can guarantee that Clint will be running towards it, because he is loyal and brave and the very epitome of what an Avenger should be. When the shit hits the fan, I know that Clint will be at my back trying to do damage control and help in any way that he can, because I know that I can trust and depend on him. I feel very privileged to work with him, and I know the rest of the team agrees, even though they couldn't make it here to say so for themselves. Thank you." And then Cap was subtly leading Clint off the stage again.
"Aw, Cap, you're making me tear up," Clint told him while fluttering his eyelashes, mostly to cover up the fact that he really was so very touched.
"It's no problem, Clint," Steve said with a shrug. "I only told the truth. I'm gonna go bring the car around; Tony insisted that we go out for pizza tonight. Meet you guys out front in ten?"
"Yeah," Clint answered. "Thanks, Cap."
As Steve strolled away at a leisurely pace, Clint approached Phil who looked extremely satisfied with the way it had turned out.
"Admit it," he said as Clint got close enough.
"Okay, I can see why you're so enamored with him," Clint sighed, acting more put-upon then he felt. "That really sucked and Tony is promising pizza. Can we go?"
"Yeah," Phil said, sending a quick text. "Pizza sounds great. Everything good?"
"Yeah," Clint nodded. "I think it will be."
So maybe they'd still call him the Gay Avenger, and Clint had no doubts that he'd get shit about it for the rest of always, but he thought as long as he had his team and Phil to back him up, it wouldn't be too bad.