perpetual_motion: tony and steve are besties (totally holding hands behind the shield)
[personal profile] perpetual_motion
Title: One Rule
Author: Perpetual Motion
Fandom: Avengers (movie)
Pairing: Clint/Coulson
Rating: PG-13
Summary: They agreed to one rule. (SPOILERS)

Dis: Lies and bullshit.

Author's Notes: Much love to infinteeight8 for the beta. This story contains MASSIVE SPOILERS, and I will not listen to whining from anyone who doesn't see that I've marked it twice.


One Rule
By Perpetual Motion


They’re just finishing at the shawarma place when Clint looks at Natasha and says, “When do we check in with Coulson?”

Everyone except Natasha stops moving. “Loki killed him,” Natasha says, voice even. “I’m sorry, Clint.”

Clint stares at a pile of lettuce that’s fallen out of his pita. “Did he say anything?”

“No.”

“Shit.” He doesn’t say anything else.

*

He sits in his quarters, staring at the wall. Natasha brings him food, and he eats it. Natasha pushes him off the bed and he does push-ups and sit-ups, jumping jacks and lunges. Natasha holds up his bow, and he takes it, lets her lead him to the range and point him in the right direction, lets her take the bow from his hands when she’s decided it’s enough.

*

Three days later, they’re all on the helicarrier for full debrief. Clint and Natasha are sitting next to each other, the rest of the Avengers gathered around, when Phil walks in. He’s moving slow, but he’s definitely moving.

“Zombie agent!” Tony yelps.

Clint stands up and stalks over to Phil. “Life Model Decoy?” he asks.

“No, he actually stabbed me,” Phil replies. He doesn’t duck when Clint punches him in the face.

“Hey!” Steve yells, standing. Natasha stops him with a hand on his chest. “He can’t just—”

“They have one rule,” Natasha says, not flinching when Clint slams the conference room door as he leaves. “And Phil broke it.” She glares daggers at Phil. “Didn’t you?”

“I was under orders, same as you.”

“It’s been four days.” Natasha adds something in Russian that makes Phil wince.

“I don’t know what you said,” Tony tells her as she sits down again. “But I am absolutely certain it was impressive.”

“Shut up,” she snaps, still glaring at Phil.

*

Fury doesn’t look up when Clint storms into his office. “You were compromised,” he greets him.

“I haven’t been for fucking days,” Clint growls. “You could have told me.”

“Needed them to believe it.”

“Fuck them!” Clint yells.

“And everything had to stay in place until the World Security Council got off my ass, and I could get everyone in here in a quieter manner.”

“You fucking—”

“I didn’t have you shot on sight when Loki got his hooks into you,” Fury says, calm as you please. “You’re welcome.”

Clint storms away without answering.

*

“I am not scaling the wall to talk this out,” Phil says three hours later. He’s staring into the darkest, highest corner on the whole helicarrier. A second later, a rope ladder is tossed down to him.

“You fucking better,” Cint replies.

“I have more stitches in me than a baseball.”

“You let me think you were dead for four goddamned days.”

“I let Fury put my blood all over my Captain America cards.”

“You let me think you were dead for four goddamned days.”

Phil climbs. When he gets to the top, he is winded and slumping. Clint grabs him and maneuvers him away from the ledge and against the wall of the alcove made by the vent they’re sitting under. He reels up the ladder as Phil concentrates on breathing.

“He nicked my lung, you know,” Phil says once he feels like he won’t pass out.

“No, I didn’t know,” Clint says. He curls his fingers around Phil’s wrist, checking his pulse. “Which is the fucking problem.”

“And you can’t just swear at Fury.”

“Really? Because I did.”

“Clint…” Phil leans his head against the wall and smiles faintly when Clint hands him a water bottle. He’s not surprised, when he drinks, that it’s a SHIELD-issue protein shake. Clint doesn’t drink them, but he knew Phil would come find him, knew Phil would need to keep his strength up.

“We have one rule,” Clint says. “We have one goddamned rule because we didn’t want to have a bunch of little rules, so we agreed to one goddamned rule.”

“If I could have—”

“No faking your fucking death!” Clint snaps. “That’s it. That’s all you had to do. Not fake your fucking death.”

“That’s your rule,” Phil replies, anger welling up in him. “You broke mine, too.”

“You can’t—”

“No getting fucking compromised.”

There is a long, hard silence, Clint staring into the distance, Phil staring at his profile. His face is sore where Clint punched him. His chest hurts, and he presses his hand to it.

“You’ll make the bandages stick,” Cilnt says. He looks down at Phil’s shirt and undoes his tie, opens the first three buttons, and stares at the white bandage spread over Phil’s chest. “We didn’t have magical demigods from beyond the stars tapping me with pointy things when you made your rule,” he says as he peels back the bandage with careful hands. “You’ve always had your orders.”

“Which I will always follow,” Phil says. He looks down as Clint reaches out to the sewn-up gash on his chest, the warmth of his hand seeping into his skin even though Clint doesn’t touch him. “I’m sorry I couldn’t get word.”

“I’m sorry I couldn’t fight off the mind whammy.”

“You’ll do it next time,” Phil says. He grasps Clint’s hand and pulls him close. Clint settles with his head on Phil’s lap, looking up at him, hand still hovering over the stitches. “It was an unknown, but we know it now. We can make a plan.”

“I didn’t cry,” Clint says. “Three fucking days, and I didn’t cry.”

“You would have when you were ready,” Phil assures him because he absolutely believes it.

“I knew you weren’t dead.”

It’s a blatant lie, but Phil lets it pass. He runs his hand through Clint’s hair, feels the softness of it, leans his head back against the wall and closes his eyes so Clint won’t see how goddamn relieved he is that they’re both here to yell at one another like this.

“I did think you were dead,” Clint says quietly a few minutes later. “When Natasha told me, I believed her.”

“You were supposed to.”

“Did she know you were okay?”

Phil opens his eyes and looks at Clint. Clint’s face is blank, prepared for the news he already knows. “Yes.”

“Fury made her lie to me.”

“Yes.”

“She could have told me. We were finished.”

“The World Security Council was ready to put down all of you. We needed the breathing room. She knew that.”

Clint goes quiet, staring off into the middle distance beyond Phil’s head. “She’s got a lot of red in her ledger.”

“She wiped some of it clean doing what she did. Kept a good group of people safe long enough for Fury to convince the Council to back down.”

Clint sits up and touches Phil’s face where he’d punched him earlier. “I’m sorry about that.”

“I agreed to it,” Phil says, and he had, back when they’d made the agreement in the first place. You broke the rule, you got punched in the face. “And I owe you one as soon as I can swing my arm without pulling at my stitches.”

“You practiced?”

“Tried to.”

Clint leans in and kisses Phil on the mouth, slow and soft and careful, hands cupping Phil’s face and keeping him still. When he pulls away, Phil chases after him until his chest twinges, and then he leans against the wall and breathes in carefully.

“Tell me you won’t do it again,” Clint says.

“I’ll tell you I’ll try,” Phil replies. Which is exactly what he’d said the first time.

“I’ll try, too,” Clint promises.

They sit next to each other, holding hands and breathing in sync, Clint staring off into the distance, Phil staring at Clint, hoping like hell he can actually stick to the rule this time.

“You saved the world,” Clint says, turning to look at him. “Everyone thinks it was us, but it wasn’t. You saved the world.”

“I helped.”

“Captain America fought in your memory.”

Phil doesn’t want to smile, but he can’t help himself.

“God, you are such a dork,” Clint says.

“You have no idea,” Phil tells him. “I made a complete ass of myself when I talked to him.”

“Tell me.” Clint pushes himself closer and starts to tape up Phil’s bandage. He rebuttons Phil’s shirt and reknots Phil’s tie as Phil tells him about the conversation on the jet.

They’ll be okay, Phil thinks as Clint laughs. They’ll make it past this.

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October 2013

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