Style warning: I'm not used to writing in present tense, nor in second person point-of-view. So I apologise if I don't get it quite right. I'm usually past tense, third person POV, but I do try to challenge myself on occasion.
"Family of Coul"
There's a pair of guys in a corner booth. One's an older man in a dark grey suit and blue tie. The man next to him is tall, with long blond hair and a huge smile. They're side-by-side, holding hands, and Tall Blond is leaning against the window. They look so happy together it's tooth-achingly sweet. Really. They're not even talking; just looking at each other.
The bell over the front door rings, and you look up automatically. A couple – white-haired, chatting, arm-in-arm – enter the bistro. Suit sees them, and he stands up. They hurry over to him, and you hear a lot of 'Mom' and 'Dad' as he hugs them.
"This is Thor," he says, gesturing to Tall Blond. It looks like they might be getting ready to order, so you pick up notebook and pencil, and approach the table.
"I have long desired to meet Phillip's parents," Thor says. "It is truly an honour to make your acquaintance."
"I keep telling him that he can call me Phil, but Thor likes formality."
"Can I get you anything?" you ask brightly, pencil at the ready.
"We'll both have a Devonshire tea, with the scones warmed up," the woman says, patting her husband's hand. "Phil?"
"Haven't had one in ages," Phil says.
"What about you, Thor?" Phil's dad asks.
"That sounds wonderful, Mr. Coulson."
"None of that. It's Robert and Julie to you, son."
Thor beams. (Isn't 'Thor' the name of one of those superheroes? Or a god?)
"Four Devonshire teas?" you say. Four nods. "Would you like anything else?"
"That's fine, thank you," Phil says. The others agree, so you return to the counter to start up the coffee machine.
It looks like they're making small talk. A lot of the people who come here don't really get into interesting conversation until you've brought their order. Then it's like the floodgates open. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you'll hear some of it. The guy Thor has a hell of a voice on him. He probably whispers louder than most people talk.
"…met not long before Manhattan last year," Phil is saying when you bring the first two teas over. He hands them to Robert and Julie. "Thanks."
"I'll be right back with the others," you say. When you get back, they're talking about Phil being in hospital afterwards. He must've been hurt in the attack. He's lucky he didn't die, with all those aliens flying around.
Funny. Thor does kind of look like the guy with the hammer. But there's no way he'd be here, hanging out with his boyfriend's parents in a downtown bistro, having coffee and scones.
"Enjoy," you say. They all say thanks, and you decide that, with not many people dining in, now would be a good time to tidy and clean some of the tables.
The quartet of customers – hello, alliteration – is talking again by the time you've returned with a cleaning rag and spray.
"How did you meet again?" Julie asks. "Phil talks so little about his work, I have a hard time getting anything out of him. But he said it was in Europe?"
"That is correct," Thor says. "I had thought Phillip was still deceased, and the pain of grief returned when first I saw him. When it became clear that he was no illusion, I—"
"Nearly squeezed me all the way back to death," Phil says. Thor looks sombre. You can see it in the reflection of the pepper shaker.
"You ought not to jest about such happenings, Phillip," he says.
"I'm sorry, love," Phil says. Out of the corner of your eye, you see him hold Thor's hand. "I had no idea you felt so strongly about me, or my death. Not until I saw you again. Then I had a hard time not falling for you. I knew you were handsome, but…" He turned kind of red, and looked over at his parents. You wonder if there's any point in still pretending that you're just polishing tables. "I had to get in contact with him, to consult about a work-related matter."
"That sounds about right," Robert says, leaning back. He puts his arm around Julie. They look adorable; now you know where Phil the Suit gets it from, with his guy.
"I didn't know that Thor still thought I was dead," Phil continues. "I was just as surprised. We hadn't been able to get hold of him in time, actually, but he was helpful in the… cleanup afterwards. I had to introduce him to someone, so it all worked out."
"After that, I refused to leave his side until I had assurances that he would maintain contact with myself, and with my team-mates," Thor says. "We none of us knew that he lived."
"Which made things difficult with my co-workers," Phil mutters. You're getting a bit too close – any closer, and you definitely think he'll work it out – so you move further away. As long as Thor keeps talking, you'll be able to hear about half of the conversation.
"Phil," Julie says, and she sounds worried. "You were hurt in the line of duty, you said."
"…What job involves keeping it from your co-workers that you're alive?" she asks. It's a good question. One he's clearly not going to answer.
"You know I don't talk about it for a reason," he says. Yep. You were right. "Besides, I was given a transfer – a promotion, really – and we were never in the same place. And I really thought that, out of all the team, they would be the ones who'd know."
"I can assure you, Phillip, that they did not," Thor says.
You immediately hate the next person who walks into the shop, because it's just you on today, except for Matt, who's baking out the back and can't be disturbed. Filling the order – thankfully a takeaway – unfortunately also takes you away from the four people at table six.
When you get back to 'cleaning', you hear them talking about a wedding. Sure enough, there's a definite glint, now that the sun's low enough, coming off Thor's left hand. In the same beam of light, you can see one on Phil's hand, too.
It's getting close to four, and Phil insists on paying the bill. That much you can definitely hear from the counter, where you're now arranging the savouries Matt has finally taken out of the oven.
Without a word, Phil hands over the exact change.
"Receipt, sir?" you say.
"Yes, please." You hand over the print-out, but he doesn't leave right away. "Of course, you won't be talking to anyone about what you've seen or heard."
"I… I don't understand—"
"It'll come to you later," he says. "Not a word to anyone else. I'm sure you understand that, don't you?" You nod, unnerved by the glint in his eyes. "Good. This may seem a strange question, but you look kind of familiar. Do you have a sister who works in a gas station on the way to New Mexico?"
"Well…" Spooky. "Yeah, I do. You have, uh, a great memory for faces, don't you?"
He just smiles. Now he's looking familiar.
"Your parents wish to take us home, and show me images of you from many years ago," Thor says. He kisses Phil's cheek and holds him around the waist. Phil looks embarrassed. You look down at the till awkwardly.
"Baby photos," he says. "Of course they're going to show you baby photos. Why not?"
"It's a rite of passage for every mom and dad, when their child's going to be walking down the aisle," Robert says, and he claps Phil on the back. "Let's get going. Thanks for the scones," he adds, smiling at me. "Best I've had for a long time."
"You're welcome, sir," you say. Then they all troop out.
It takes a few minutes, and a couple more customers, before it dawns on you.
That was Thor. Thor the Avenger. And his fiancé… is Flour Guy! Now you know where you've seen him. Your sister showed you the footage after that attempted robbery, when you refused to believe that someone could take out two armed robbers with a bag of flour and walking on air.
…A guy who can take on two armed men just with a bag of flour is not a guy you want to get on the wrong side of.
Conversation? What conversation?
I decided that Phil's parents should be alive. In the comics, they're dead, according to the Marvel Wiki. Since I wrote 'His Brave Warrior' – the prequel to this – before I saw 'Thor 2' and the latest episodes of 'Agents of SHIELD', parts of that story are definitely non-canon. Well, I mean, the whole thing is, technically. But you'll know what I've mean if you've seen the movie, the show, and read my fic.
In other words, Phil is an orphan no more.
Table six, because six Avengers.
Galaxy-song asked for a Thor/Phil story where one of them meets the other's parents. Admittedly, that happened in 'His Brave Warrior' as well; but that one was fulfilling another prompt, too, so I felt Galaxy-song should have another story, just about meeting the parents. Instead, there ended up being two…