“My foster mom says you have to come for pizza next time,” Clint says, staring up at Phil’s ceiling and trying to sound normal and casual about it.
Phil looks up from colour-coding his notes and smiles. “Okay,” he says easily.
He wasn’t supposed to say okay. He was supposed to roll his eyes and offer some anecdote about how embarrassing parents (or pseudo-parents) are. That was Clint’s plan.
He’s maybe been thinking this through just a little.
“It was pepperoni,” Clint warns.
“My favourite,” Phil says, still smiling.
Clint sort of wants to drown himself. Possibly in Phil’s face.
“So, okay, like – ” Clint holds the book up over his head, hoping that’ll help it to make sense. “But seriously, what is Chillingworth even doing right now?” He thinks about maybe turning the book upside-down. It’s not like it could make less sense that way.
“I’m finding you my notes from last year,” Phil tells him, “They’re in the study somewhere, but I can get them out at the weekend. I wrote a whole section on him.”
“Aw, dude, you don’t got to go to any trouble for me,” Clint says awkwardly, trying to imagine Phil crawling around in a dusty attic just to help him out.
“It’s no trouble,” Phil says and then, weirdly, stops meeting Clint’s eye, looking down at the comforter instead. “How’s Peter?”
“Peter’s good,” Clint says cautiously, wondering where this is going. Or, rather, really hoping it’s not going where he thinks it is.
“We had kind of a long talk,” Phil tells the shadow under Clint’s knee.
“Yeah, about Star Wars and shit, right?” Clint tries, kind of desperately.
“Yes.” Phil smiles, finally looking up at Clint. “And then he asked me if I was your boyfriend.”
Even though Clint knew that was coming, he still coughs out a startled breath. “Oh?” he asks. “Right. Sorry. I don’t know where he… I mean, obviously we’re not…”
Phil shakes his head. “Obviously not,” he agrees quickly. “I was just thinking about the fact that he thought we might be, and you don’t have to tell me obviously but – ”
“I’m, yeah. I like boys sometimes,” Clint says then blinks at himself. He doesn’t tell people that. He told Barney and Barney told him never, ever to repeat it to anyone.
“Okay,” Phil says, “that’s cool.”
“I know that’s cool,” Clint says, way too defensively. He considers just hiding his face under The Scarlet Letter and refusing to come back up.
“Clint.” Phil slides off the computer chair and comes to sit next to Clint’s hip instead. Clint really wishes he hadn’t casually flung himself on the bed when he came in. Then he wouldn’t be lying down this close to Phil. “You know about me, right?”
He doesn’t look awkward anymore.
Clint thinks about acting confused, but that would be shitty, so he just nods. One of the first things Clint found out when he started his new school was that the kid running for school council treasurer had just come out. He’d liked how no one made that big a deal of it. Now that he knows Phil better, he bets that, if they tried, Phil just didn’t let them.
“And Peter knows about you?”
“Yeah.” Clint grimaces. “I was a total shit when I first moved in with the Parkers. Pretty much the first thing I did was tell them I might want to fuck boys in the really nice bedroom they’d just given me.”
Jesus Christ, why doesn’t he stop talking? Phil doesn’t want to know any of this, just wants to know what Clint’s been saying about him to Peter, probably.
“Right.” Phil nods. “Makes sense. It’s best to know upfront if people are going to freak out at you about sin and eternal damnation, isn’t it?”
There’s a wry quirk to Phil’s mouth and Clint really wants to know if he’s speaking from experience.
“Yeah,” Clint agrees. “That can be a nasty shock otherwise.”
Phil smiles at him sadly and Clint manages one in return. After a minute, he laughs. “Wow, how did that get so heavy so quick?”
Phil shakes his head. “I’m not sure. Come on, give me the book.” He snatches it out of Clint’s hands before Clint can react. “Let’s work out this Chillingworth guy together.”
Then he stretches out along the bed, right next to Clint. Clint’s lying on his back and Phil’s on his stomach now and it puts them way, way too close together.
Clint rolls over onto his stomach as well, shoulder to shoulder with Phil for his own preservation.
“Clint, can you wait behind for a minute?” Ms Carter asks, just as they’re all filing out of class.
Clint winces. That can’t be a good sign. Never in the history of ever has that been a good sign.
He hangs out by her desk, fiddling with little rubber stamp things that she keeps in a row behind her laptop. He ends up with a palm full of black ink and can’t decide if he looks badass or five.
“You answered a question in class today,” Ms Carter says, once they’re alone in the room.
Clint frowns. “Yeah? Was I not supposed to?”
Ms Carter rolls her eyes. Most of the time, she’s all proper and British but then she goes and huffs at him and Clint suspects she’s secretly kind of awesome. Or as awesome as teachers are allowed to be, anyway.
“You’re supposed to answer a question every time.” She smiles at him like they both know that’s never going to happen. “But this is the first time you have ever volunteered an answer in my class.”
“And I was right,” Clint can’t help pointing out. He’s still kind of weirded out about the fact that he had an opinion about a book, but whatever. It happened.
Ms Carter nods. “How are you getting on with Phil Coulson? It looks like the tutoring’s going well?”
“Um.” Clint shrugs. “I guess? You should ask him.” He thinks Phil would say it’s going okay. Hopefully. Clint still hopes she doesn’t actually ask Phil though. Best not to remind him that he's only hanging out with Clint for extra credit.
“Excellent.” Ms Carter actually claps her hands together. Clint’s concerned. “I want you to do a presentation on the next chapter in class on Monday. Okay?”
“No?” Clint tries, wondering if that’ll work. Judging by her expression, it won’t. “I… Do I have to?” Clint hates speaking in public, hates it. Clint’s entire life plan is to stay at the back of every class, out of the way.
“You have to,” Ms Carter says, not unkindly. “I really want you to pass my class, Clint.”
Clint nods jerkily. He really wants that too. He missed so much school when he was with the circus and he doesn’t think he’s done a bad job catching up -- he’s a little bit smart maybe; who knew? -- but English has always kicked his ass, even when there wasn’t an eighteen-month gap in the middle of his schooling.
“It’ll be okay,” Ms Carter tells him; her next class starts pouring in and Clint gets trapped against her desk, making helpless faces at nothing until he can escape.
As soon as he’s outside the classroom, he sends a text to Phil. Desperate times call for random acts of bravery.
It takes less than a minute for Phil to text him back.
What’s wrong? Where are you?
Clint thinks back over the last time he needed a favour from Phil and realises his message maybe made it sound like there was a real emergency. Which there is, but not the Peter-getting-bullied-again kind.
Nothing. Sry. Nm.
He’s just about to stuff his phone in his pocket and pretend that never happened when Phil messages back.
Assuming you’re not being murdered? I’m in Starbucks.
Clint rereads the message, trying to work out if that’s information or an invitation. It’s probably an invitation, he decides. He can at least wander past Starbucks on his way to the bus and glance inside. That wouldn’t be too desperate.
Starbucks is crowded, full of kids from his school and a few clumps of people who look like they're really starting to wish they’d picked a coffee place further away from any high schools.
Clint can’t see anything through the window, so he steps inside, figuring he can always grab a take out and keep moving if Phil catches him.
“Clint! Over here!” he hears, Phil's voice carrying over the soulful Sarah McLachlan playing on the overhead speakers.
He looks around, looking past a group of senior girls and zeroing in on Phil, sitting at a tiny table half under the condiments stand. He’s sitting with Pepper Potts, student council vice-chair and all-round really scarily cool person.
“Hi,” Clint says, forcing his voice to stay level and just the right amount of casual.
“So you weren’t being murdered?” Phil asks. “Do you want to sit down?” He stands up before Clint answers, then looks a little unsure where to put himself.
“Not in your seat, dude,” Clint says, raising his eyebrows.
Phil either blushes or the lights are weird in here. “No, I was going to… I’ll get you a chair.” And then he walks off and actually asks a mom with two screaming kids if he can steal the chair she was using for her shopping bags.
Because he’s Phil, she says yes rather than telling him to go fuck himself, and Clint finds himself sitting down between Phil and Pepper.
It feels strange sitting in a chair Phil got him, like he should somehow make a show of really enjoying his seat. Except it’s a seat and that would be weird, so mostly he just feels uncomfortable.
Pepper smiles at him. “I’m not sure we’ve met,” she says, “but I’ve heard a lot about you.”
You have? Clint wants to ask, but doesn’t. He grins at her instead. “I’ve heard a lot about you, too,” he says. He’s not flirting, he’s just not very good at talking to people without a little flirting.
Pepper just smiles at him again then stands up. “It’s my turn to buy the coffees,” she says. “What are you having?”
“I’m not sure I’m staying,” Clint says, even though he is sitting down.
“Oh, please stay,” Pepper says, “I want to get to know you better.”
Why? Clint thinks, frowning. She doesn’t seem like she’s expecting any answer other than okay though, so Clint stays where he is.
“Sorry,” Phil says when it’s just the two of them. “I didn’t mean to trap you here. Do you have to pick up Peter?”
“Nah.” Clint fiddles with a piece of paper wrapper left over from someone else’s straw. “He’s got some kind of parent-teacher thing today, so Ben’s giving him a ride home after.”
“Ben?” Phil asks and oh, right, Clint doesn’t actually talk about his life.
“Peter’s uncle. My, um. The guy who’s fostering me.” Wow, this straw wrapper is fascinating. Clint really needs to concentrate hard on it.
“Okay,” Phil says and then doesn’t ask Clint any awkward questions about what it’s like to be fostered the way most people do. “So what was the emergency, anyway?”
“Eh, nothing,” Clint says, feeling kind of silly now. He can wing the presentation; it doesn’t matter.
Phil scuffs at Clint’s ankle under the table. “You’ve never texted me before,” he says. “It must be something.”
Clint groans. “Ms Carter wants me to do a presentation is class on Monday? See, it’s nothing. I just wigged out for a minute.”
“That could be fun,” Phil says brightly then obviously catches sight of something in Clint’s expression because he ducks his head, biting back a smile. “Or not?”
“Definitely not,” Clint assures him. He shrugs. “But don’t worry about it. I’m not actually like, expecting you to do all my English homework for me. I just wanted to vent.”
Mostly Phil is reassuring by existing. Clint decides not to tell him that.
“You can vent at me whenever,” Phil says. He rushes the end of the sentence a little like he’s trying to get it out quick, and then Pepper’s back, putting coffees in front of them both.
She’s holding a to-go cup and she doesn’t sit down. “Tony called,” she says, rolling her eyes up toward the ceiling. “I’ve got to dash.” She leans forward and gives Phil a hug over the back of his chair. “Sorry. And sorry, Clint. I really do want to spend some time together, soon.”
“S’okay,” Clint says easily. “Nice meeting you.”
She beams at him for some reason, then slides easily between the growing clusters of chairs blocking the path out the shop.
“Tony like Tony Stark?” Clint asks, sniffing his drink to see what she’s bought him. It smells like vanilla.
“Yes,” Phil says and rolls his eyes too. That seems to be a common reaction to Stark’s name. “He’s always losing his keys or blowing something up or having to share lab space with Bruce Banner and needing her to remind him how to talk to real people. I don’t know how she puts up with him. I would have maced him after a week.”
“Maybe she loves him,” Clint says then wonders if he should add a dismissive shrug of ew, feelings so that comes across less mushy.
Phil just laughs. “Well, obviously,” he says and smiles at Clint.
Phil’s eyes kind of glow when he smiles; it’s really distracting. Clint’s sure other people's eyes don’t do that. Certainly not when they’re pointed at him, anyway.
“So,” Clint says, clearing his throat. He can’t think of anything to say after that and sticks his mouth in his coffee, hoping to maybe drown himself a little.
“What are you doing this weekend?” Phil asks, taking pity on him.
Clint licks cream off his lips and thinks about it. He doesn’t have any plans, but he kind of feels like heading to Jersey for some hiking. He wonders if that sounds stupid, then tells Phil anyway. It’s better than saying he’s not doing anything.
“That sounds cool; I’ve never done that,” Phil says, leaning forward slightly.
“Yeah?” Clint asks. “It’s okay. I mean, if you like dogs and poison ivy and getting blisters.”
“I love getting blisters,” Phil says very seriously, then cracks a grin.
Clint can’t help laughing back at him. You can come if you want, he thinks. He could say that. That’d be totally innocent.
He doesn’t say anything.
After another minute, Phil leans back in his chair and picks up his coffee.
“May?” Clint says, taking the plate she hands him to dry.
“Mmhmm,” she hums, frowning down at a plate that has tomato ketchup on the underside. “What does Peter do to food? For goodness sake.”
“If someone asks you what you’re doing at the weekend then tells you it sounds cool, are they angling for an invite?” Clint feels kind of dumb asking her about it, but it’s not like he has any other options and it’s been nagging at him.
“A girl someone or a boy someone?” she asks after a beat, where Clint wonders if it somehow wasn’t okay to ask her. When she looks over at him, she’s smiling.
“A boy someone,” he says, with a shrug. “Just a, just a guy at school. I don’t know, it doesn’t matter, I was just thinking.”
“Would you like to hang out with him?” she asks, waiting for him to put away the plate and handing him a glass. She could just put them on the rack but for some reason, she likes to make it a teamwork-bonding thing.
These bubbles are particularly stubborn so Clint has to concentrate really hard on drying and not looking at May. “I guess.”
May reaches over and tugs on the corner of Clint’s dishcloth, raising her eyebrows. “Maybe you should call him,” she says. “And stop torturing that poor glass.”
“Maybe,” Clint echoes and tells himself he’s just talking about the glass.
Does homework count?
Not even a bit. Come get blisters w/me?
… okay :)
I mean, ‘sure, why not’ #cooleranswer
Clint drops down onto his knees to dig his hiking boots out of his closet, grinning wide enough that the corners of his eyes hurt.
“Since when do you tweet?” Clint asks. They’ve just navigated over a tricky rocky path and it’s the first thing either of them has said in ten minutes.
“Hmm?” Phil asks. He’s wearing a sweatshirt because it’s early and the sun’s still watery-white but there’s sweat building along the dark line of his hair.
“You, uh. You hashtagged at me in your tweet last night.” You wanted to sound cool when talking to me, Clint thinks.
“Oh that.” Phil smiles bashfully. “I look after the school council twitter account.”
“The school council has a twitter account?” Clint laughs. It’s much easier to talk to, and tease, Phil out here for some reason, like the early morning and all the fresh air is giving him an excuse.
Phil bumps his shoulder into Clint’s as they start walking again. “I’ll have you know it’s a mine of useful information. I’m very witty.”
Clint looks at him out the corner of his eye.
Phil laughs. “Stark thought it was a good idea and Bruce agreed but we can’t let either of them actually run it.”
“Why not?” Clint asks. He knows of Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, but he’s never spoken to either of them. They’re not exactly cool but they somehow still run everything important at the school.
“Stark would insult everyone and get it taken down in the first five minutes, and Bruce would become incensed by the first troll and refuse to take part anymore.” Phil sounds like he’s rolling his eyes but, when Clint looks over, he actually looks totally fond.
That thing Clint just felt in his chest was a hunger pang, not a sudden stab of loneliness. He’s never been lonely.
There’s one specific route that Clint always takes when he hikes this trail and it doesn’t occur to him to go a different way this time until they round a corner, coming up against the vertical face of a ten foot wall of uneven rock.
“Okay,” Phil says, stopping and tipping his head, assessing the obstacle. “How do you get over that?
“I kinda just.” Clint shrugs. Does he want Phil to know he was in the circus? Fuck it. “I’ll show you?”
Phil nods and steps back, making a have-at motion with his hand.
Clint stretches his arms above his head and does a couple quick lunges to limber up, then takes a run at the wall. His feet hit just below halfway up, he reaches up and catches the same jut of rock as always and swings himself over onto the rocky ground above.
He dusts off his hands and squats to look down at Phil.
“Like that, normally,” he calls, unable to hide his grin at the openly surprised way Phil’s staring at him.
“Well,” Phil says and then shakes his head, expression settling back into neutral. “I’m not doing it that way.”
Clint laughs and lies down on his stomach, dropping both arms over the edge. “Take a run up,” he says, “I’ll catch you.”
Phil continues to look unimpressed, but also like he’s thinking about it.
Clint wiggles his fingers encouragingly.
“Fine,” Phil says and runs. Neither of them are particularly tall but it’s not that far and he catches Clint’s hands easy enough. Clint braces his shoulders and pulls, Phil helping himself up with the toes of his sneakers against the wall.
Phil’s laughing by the time he tumbles onto his knees next to Clint. “Ow,” he says, rubbing his left shoulder. “Nice catch.”
Clint grins and sits down on his ass, waiting for Phil to get his breath back.
Phil leans back, looking down over the edge of the rock, apparently unbothered by the height. “I thought hiking was more peaceful than that.”
“I like taking things to extremes,” Clint tells him, winking. His pulse is beating in his ears, alive and strong; he feels good.
Phil laughs again, shaking his head. “I’m getting that,” he says. He kicks his legs over the side of the rock face and tips his head back, looking around. “It’s beautiful up here.”
Clint only lets himself think you’re beautiful for a fraction of a second, because some things just aren’t okay, even inside your own head.
“Yeah,” he agrees, then looks around and realises that that’s true. Usually, he comes hiking because he’s trying to get away from something, and stopping to admire the scenery doesn’t help with that. Right now though, he feels great.
The sun’s finished coming up and it’s bright and warm, making the trees around them glow bright green, and further out, the roofs of the houses in the town are sparkling.
“Thanks for letting me tag along,” Phil says, looking over from the view and straight at Clint. He lifts his hand to shield his eyes from the sun; he’s already picked up a smear of pink on each cheek.
“S’okay,” Clint says, then, feeling bold, “I mean, we’re friends, right?”
Phil drops his hand and does a thing with his mouth that isn’t exactly a smile. “Friends,” he say,s but something about it doesn’t sound like agreement.
Clint feels weird inside. “I didn’t mean,” he starts quickly, trying to backtrack. “We don’t have to be friends. I just meant – ”
Phil rolls his eyes, looking more certain. “Don’t be dumb, Clint,” he says. “Obviously we’re friends. But I was – ”
Clint leans forward. Phil looks nervous, which means Clint totally wants to hear this. “What? You were what?”
Phil straightens his shoulders, looks at him dead on. “I was wondering how you’d feel about something more than friends.”
Oh. “Oh,” Clint says. Oh. For all that he’s fantasised about this happening, he has no idea what he wants to say. Other than fuck yes, obviously.
“Or not,” Phil says. “Not’s fine too.” He laughs shakily. “I probably should have waited until we weren’t miles away from civilisation to say anything.”
Clint shakes his head hard, flailing a hand out at Phil. “Hang on,” he says. “Hang on, don’t just. Yes. Yes. More than friends sounds, um. It sounds awesome.”
Phil smiles, a tiny, pleased thing that Clint wonders if he’ll be allowed to kiss. “Awesome,” he echoes and then makes a face at himself.
“I’ve liked you for a while,” Clint forces himself to say. He slides across the gap between them, ignoring the bite of rocks under his knees. “Hi.”
Phil’s hands slip unerringly under his knees, clearing a space for them to rest on. “Hey. Don’t damage yourself.”
Clint nods. He’d agree to anything right now. He wants to ask why? or seriously? or even are you sure? But even if this only lasts the length of this hike, he’s not going to question it.
Phil’s fingers walk over Clint’s knees, curving around the start of his thighs. “Can I kiss you?”
Clint chokes out a laugh. That’s a ridiculous question. “Duh. I mean. Yeah. Go ahead.”
Phil rolls up onto his knees, leaning his weight into Clint’s legs and his upper body toward Clint’s.
Clint pushes up to meet him, maybe a little quicker than he means to, or maybe Phil speeds up, and their mouths bump awkwardly, Phil’s lips catching Clint’s top lip only.
“Here,” Phil says quietly, lifting a hand and pressing it to the side of Clint’s neck, holding him still and leaning in again.
Clint feels ridiculous and shaky and like he’s never kissed anyone before, but Phil’s back in control, kissing him carefully, and there’s no way Clint’s missing out on a second of that.
It’s kind of a weird kiss, really slow when all Clint wants to do is stick his tongue in Phil’s mouth and makeout with him right here. But Phil wants slow, so that’s what they do: cautious, clinging kisses and just a peek of Clint’s tongue against Phil’s bottom lip before they break apart.
Phil laughs, leaning his forehead against Clint’s. “I’ve liked you for a while too,” he says. He sounds like he’s teasing, but Clint doesn’t care.
“Cool,” Clint says, even though it’s so much more than that.
Phil rocks back and sits down on his heels, reaching back for his backpack. “Brought you something,” he says. The corner of his mouth is still quirked up. It doesn’t look in any danger of going back down.
“Shucks, Coulson, it’s a bit early for a promise ring,” Clint says, widening his eyes.
Phil throws a balled up pair of spare socks at him from the bag, then moves back to his side and thrusts a thermos at him.
“You brought me coffee?” Clint asks, sniffing it.
“No.” Phil pulls out another mug for himself. “I brought us coffee.”
“Same difference,” Clint says and lets himself lean into Phil’s shoulder a little, just to see if he can.
Phil leans back.
"Have you planned your introduction?" Phil asks, tapping his finger on the trackpad so the presentation slide on the screen is highlighted, not highlighted, highlighted again.
"What? Yeah. Sure," Clint lies.
He's kind of distracted: Phil's lying on his stomach on Clint's bed. He's not wearing socks or shoes and his feet are really nice-looking. Clint probably shouldn't be thinking like that, it's kind of weird, but he hasn't kissed Phil since yesterday - and that was only twice - so basically everything about Phil is distracting him, right now.
"Barton," Phil says, raising his eyebrows meaningfully.
Clint jumps guiltily and tries to act like he wasn't just staring at Phil's feet, wondering if two kisses mean that he's allowed to touch the pink arch of Phil's left foot. "Coulson," he agrees, trying to stick to the same tone that Phil used.
Phil smiles at him, just a quick burst of a thing, like he didn't mean to, before he goes back to looking stern. "You need to pay attention. Your presentation is tomorrow."
"Sure, but, today is today." He winks, grinning his cheekiest grin. "YOLO, you know."
"YOLO?" Phil asks suspiciously. "I don't want to know, do I?"
"You only live once," Clint tells him and pulls both feet up onto his computer chair, spinning from side to side to distract himself from how much he wishes he were lying down next to Phil. He's not angling for sex yet, wouldn't presume that Phil wants to go there with him anyway, but it'd be nice to make out a little bit, maybe.
No, not maybe. Definitely.
"Exactly, so you only have one chance to graduate high school," Phil says primly. He looks at Clint again, steady and unblinking, until Clint groans and twists the laptop around on the bed so it's facing him instead of Phil.
Screwing up all of his concentration, Clint thinks back over whatever it was he decided to focus his presentation on and manages to produce three fairly okay bullet points without too much pain.
"There," Phil says, after he's looked them over. "That wasn't too hard, was it?" He glances back at Clint, lowering his eyes a little so he ends up looking at Clint from under his eyelashes. It's got to be an accidental move, but the effect is still fucking breath-taking.
Clint clears his throat. When that doesn't do much good, he spins his chair all the way around in one fast circle, hoping that you can't spin and look like you want to jump someone’s bones at the same time.
"I was thinking we could work on a rewards system," Phil suggests, still looking at Clint in that fucking distracting, fucking coy way. He bites his bottom lip for a second before straightening up and looking Clint dead in the eye.
"Rewards?" Clint echoes. "Do I get candy and a sticker when I do good?"
"No," Phil says slowly. "I was wondering if you'd like a kiss. Although I can get candy and stickers, if that's what you'd prefer?"
"Hell, no," Clint says and almost - screw that, does - fall off his chair in his rush to kneel by the bed.
Phil laughs, looking down at Clint's face. Specifically, his lips. "Hey, who said you'd done enough to get a reward, already?"
Clint pouts. He's not expecting it to work, but for some reason, some miracle reason, it actually does. Phil braces a hand on Clint's shoulder and leans in, kissing Clint quickly.
"No, hey, that wasn't enough." Clint catches hold of the front of Phil's sweatshirt, just a loose grip, just enough to make a protest. "Those were some quality bullet points, dude."
"Oh, well in that case," Phil says and slides his hand up from Clint's shoulder, pressing it to the underside of Clint's jaw and tipping his face up for another kiss. This one is slow and there's tongue, and it's probably a dumb thing to think, but it feels really real.
Clint is kind of dizzy when it's over. "Shit," he says, staring at Phil with just a little bit of dismay – mostly lust, but a little dismay mixed in. "How the hell am I supposed to concentrate after that?" He means it, he's not spinning a line, but Phil rolls his eyes anyway, huffing a bit, although he also turns a really excellent red.
"That's why it's a reward system," Phil tells him patiently, obviously deciding to style out the blush. "If you manage to concentrate on your homework, you get another kiss."
Huh. That really is a good system. "Yeah, okay," Clint decides and forces himself to take his hands off Phil, look very firmly at his PowerPoint instead. "So, I need a middle part, right?"
"Right," Phil agrees and rests his hand on the back of Clint's neck, this warm, heavy weight that sits there like a promise, while Clint forces his brain to think about other things.
Even with Phil's (excellent) reward system, it still takes Clint the best part of Sunday afternoon to get his presentation done. It doesn't really feel like it’s his work, once it's done; he reads it over and is actually kind of impressed by the content. If you squint, it almost sounds like he knows what he’s talking about.
He's going to owe Phil a giant fucking fruit basket or something, if all of his hard work actually leads to Clint getting a passing grade in English. (Clint kind of thinks it will. That's trippy.)
"Thanks, I guess," he says awkwardly, saving the presentation and emailing it to himself just in case. He puts the laptop on the floor and kicks it under the bed, because it's expensive and May and Ben aren't going to buy him a new one if he accidentally steps on it.
"That's fine. It wasn't exactly a hardship to spend the afternoon with you," Phil tells him, sounding like he means that. Now that there's no laptop between them, it's suddenly way hotter to think about how he's lying on Clint's bed, his collar a little crooked from where Clint couldn't help grabbing it during their last kiss.
"Yeah, um." Clint doesn't know what to say to that. He looks down then up at the clock. "What time do you need to get home?"
Phil twists, looking at the clock too. He smiles. "Not yet," he says, or Clint thinks that's what he says, anyway. Turning like that has rucked up Phil's shirt, a patch of pale skin exposed over his hip, and Clint can't look away.
"No?" Clint manages, hoping he sounds like he's interested in doing more than ogling Phil. Conversation, he can so totally do conversation.
"No," Phil says firmly. "So you should come over here."
That gets Clint's attention. "I, what? I should what?"
Phil pats the side of the bed next to him, then holds out his hand to Clint. Clint does not need telling twice. He scrambles up onto the bed, lying on his side too so he's a mirror to Phil. Their knees brushe, and Clint's not sure if that's okay. He doesn't know if he should like, pounce on Phil or what. Pouncing sounds hot, but also sort of rude. Maybe he should let Phil decide.
"I, um," he tries, wondering if you can convey over to you, without it coming out sounding like I haven't been horizontal with someone since I was fifteen and I've never been horizontal with a boy before.
"It's okay," Phil says softly and puts his hand over Clint's where it's resting on the bed between them.
Clint doesn't mean to, but he finds himself turning his hand over, clutching onto Phil's harder than is maybe sexy or confidence-inspiring.
"How would you feel if I kind of just grabbed you and kissed you?" Clint asks, because there's no point wondering, when he can just ask Phil.
"I wouldn't complain," Phil tells him, laughing at him slightly, but not in a way that puts Clint's back up. "But I might have to grab you and kiss you straight after."
"I am totally okay with that," Clint promises and then, because he's got permission now, he slides his hand into Phil's hair and kisses him hard, pulling him in close like he's wanted to, but hasn't been able to, every other time they've kissed.
Phil breathes out hard into his mouth and then Clint finds himself being pulled down, lying down as Phil does, until Phil's on his back and Clint is propped up over him.
Clint can't work out where to rest his weight, doesn't want to squish Phil, but also can't support himself on his hand with the pillow in the way. Phil solves that by running his hand down the inside of Clint's arm until he gets to his elbow. He presses his thumb into the soft, sensitive part of Clint's inner elbow, almost but not quite tickling until Clint's arm goes weak and buckles, landing him fully on Phil's chest.
Everything about Clint's life right in this moment is sexy as fuck.
"There," Phil says against the corner of Clint's mouth and wraps an arm around his back. He’s holding Clint and kissing him and this is far more than Clint ever thought he was allowed to wish for.
"Phil," Clint says, sort of desperately, even though he isn't desperate for anything, really, just for this never to end.
"Hi," Phil says, unbearably, endearingly dorky and strokes Clint's hair back off his face before kissing him again.
They make out forever. Clint's never done this. There was no build up to the first time he had sex. He and Natasha were on the run, they didn’t have time to stop and cuddle and kiss when they felt like it.
Phil, though, seems delighted by just kissing and touching.
Phil's hand slides to the small of Clint's back and Clint can't help pushing back into it. He hopes that, if he wants it bad enough, Phil might put his hand on Clint's ass. Wishing seems to have gotten him everything else he wants with Phil, so why not this.
"Can I?" Phil asks, because apparently he can read Clint's mind.
"Fuck, yes," Clint says. It comes out kind of needy, but Clint doesn't have time to be embarrassed by it, because Phil's hand curves around his right ass cheek and all of Clint's concentration goes on trying not to moan out loud.
Phil doesn't seem to know what to do with his hand, now that it's there, but that’s okay, this feels great all on its own. Still, Clint pushes back into it, just so Phil will know that he likes it. Phil strokes his thumb over the denim stretched across Clint's ass and, this time, there's no stopping the groan.
"Shh," Phil says, but he says it right into Clint's mouth and he's laughing and he doesn't stop touching Clint's ass, so Clint doesn't care, groans again.
"There's no one else home," Clint reminds him, screwing up his courage and taking his hands off Phil's hips to stroke them up his chest instead. Even through his sweatshirt, Phil's chest is nice and firm and surprisingly solid.
“What if Peter comes home?” Phil asks. “Do you want him to hear you sound like that?”
“Dude.” Clint wrinkles his nose and thinks about withholding kisses. For a second. “Anyway, Peter’s at this… thing for art nerds, right now. They let him play with cameras; he won’t be back for hours.”
Phil goes tense suddenly, looking sort of distant, somehow. “I can’t stay for hours,” he says, glancing up at the clock again.
Clint tries to think what he could possibly have said wrong. Confused, he stops moving his hands on Phil’s chest. He thinks about taking them away completely but doesn’t, just in case he’s imagining the tension and accidentally causes some instead.
“You okay?” he asks, because that seems pretty neutral.
“Yes,” Phil says, totally inflectionless. Okay then, Clint’s definitely done something, somehow. Stomach squirming nastily, he lifts his hands away.
That gets Phil’s attention snapping back to him. “No,” Phil says, “don’t. Sorry.” He grabs Clint’s hands at the wrist, holds on tight and presses his thumbs into Clint’s wrist bones.
“What’s wrong?” Clint asks, looking down at Phil’s hands on his skin. “If I fucked up, you just need to tell me.”
“You didn’t,” Phil tells him. “I’m just being stupid. You said we had hours and I, uh.” He wrinkles his nose, looking adorable and awkward.
Clint frowns. “You… don’t have to stay?” he tries. “You’re not my prisoner.”
Phil laughs quietly, shakily, and moves in to kiss Clint. “I’m just not ready to have sex with you yet,” he says, fast. “And I figured that was what you were implying.”
“Oh.” Clint blinks. Then he laughs because, fuck, he’s so relieved. Phil looks sort of wretched when Clint laughs, though, and Clint can see how that might look bad. “That was seriously not what I was implying. I really, I really liked what we were doing? With the kissing?”
“Really?” Phil asks sceptically. Clint thinks about maybe being offended by that.
“What?” he asks, trying to keep it light. “You think I expect you just to jump right into bed with me.”
Phil looks pained. Clint thinks it might be at himself. “I assumed that everyone else does. I mean, you’re gorgeous.”
Clint feels a hot rush of embarrassed happiness at that, even though he knows it’s ridiculous. “How many everyone elses do you think there have been?” he asks, shaking his head. “There… haven’t been that many.” One, there’s been one.
“Really?” Phil says again. Then he lets go of Clint’s wrist so he can cover his face with one hand. “I’m not being very smooth right now, am I?”
“You’re always smooth,” Clint promises. “Seriously. I… I’d rather make out with you than have sex with, like, I don’t know, Angelina Jolie? Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt together.”
Wow, talk about making things more awkward. But Phil, amazingly, looks flattered, not like he’s thinking about backing away slowly.
“I’m going to take that as a compliment,” he says, smiling. Some of the tension starts to leech out of his shoulders. He reaches over and strokes a line across Clint’s mouth. “Can we pretend that I didn’t overreact just then? Maybe I said ‘we have hours? Oh, good,’ instead?”
Clint grins, which feels weird since Phil is now exploring the corner of Clint’s mouth with his fingertips. “That’s totally what you said, isn’t it?” he asks.
“Exactly,” Phil agrees. He tugs on Clint’s t-shirt. “Now come here. We have hours of making out ahead of us, apparently.”
By the time Phil gets a call from his dad, telling him to come home for dinner, Clint has had his hands on Phil’s bare chest and explored the smooth curve in the small of Phil’s back with his fingertips.
Clint’s hands feel tingly and he can’t help wondering if it’s okay to just never wash them again.
He sees Phil out, then forces himself to shut the front door, so he doesn’t lean against the doorframe and watch Phil drive away. Clint is maybe experiencing a feeling or two about Phil (okay, a feeling or two thousand) but there's a limit to how pathetic he's prepared to be in public.
As soon as the door's closed, he does a very quick run around the house to make sure that no one's sneakily come home while he was distracted, then tears up to his bedroom and locks the door.
His hands are down his pants before he even makes it all the way back to the bed. He's so hard. He doesn't remember ever being this turned on before; his skin feels a million times more sensitive than normal, maybe because he's been keyed up for so long. He flops backward onto the bed and pushes his pants down his thighs and wiggles until they're over his knees, far enough out the way that he can spread his legs and imagine Phil lying on top of him, heavy between Clint's thighs.
Clint thought he liked being on top of Phil until Phil rolled them over and it turned out that Phil on top of Clint was a mind-altering, mind-blowing experience.
Clint plays with the head of his cock, getting his fingers all sticky with pre-come and closes his eyes, trying to work out what it would feel like to have Phil's hands on him instead. Then he realises that not only would Phil's hand on Clint's cock feel a bit like this, but that this is also how it would feel to have Phil’s cock pushing through his fist instead of his own.
It kind of doubles up the hottest factor and he lets himself moan, long and loud because there's no one here to hear and because it feels good to let loose.
He gets up a nice rhythm really quickly. It's not going to take much at all; he's pretty impressed that he hasn't come already, to be honest. Then his phone buzzes. He's going to ignore it, totally going to ignore it, except what if it's Phil?
Clint flings himself across the bed, hand still on his cock, and ends up with his dick and his fist jammed up against the comforter while he fishes around on the floor for his phone. It feels amazing. It feels like rutting against someone else's firm, clothed body.
Eyes going a bit hazy with lust, he manages to check his messages and fuck against the bed all at the same time. It's pretty impressive, he thinks.
The text is from Phil.
Driving home with a hard-on is surprisingly difficult it says. Asshole didn't even sign his fucking name.
Clint laughs and imagines Phil's voice, low and rough like it had gotten after hours of touching, saying 'hard-on' right in his ear, and then there's nothing Clint can do but come all over everything.
"Oh fuck," he groans to himself, still laughing. That was a good one. He stretches out across the bed and lets his still-sensitive cock rub against the sheets. The air's cool, he just made a mess of his comforter, but none of that matters. He feels amazing.
He thinks it's maybe not all from the orgasm, either. He really likes how his life is going, right now.
Once he can make himself move again, Clint sticks the comforter cover in the washing machine - he knows May and Ben won't ask; they're awesome like that and never do - then goes to take a shower. By the time he comes out, Phil hasn't texted him a progress report on his hard-on, but Clint does have three missed calls from Peter.
Worried, he calls him back, while pulling on jeans and a clean t-shirt one-handed. It goes to voicemail. Clint has a bad feeling.
"Hey," he says to Peter's voicemail. "You okay?" Then he feels weird; he doesn't have a right to check up on Peter, not really. "Anyway, you called me. Call me back, or whatever."
He hangs up and makes himself put down his phone and not worry.
Then it rings and he moves so fast to grab it that he almost knocks it onto the floor.
There's a long moment where no one says anything. Clint would check that the call hasn't dropped, but he can hear someone breathing shakily at the other end.
"I, um," Peter says and then his voice catches on a wobble. "I'm home now. Let me in?"
Clint takes the stairs two at a time.
Peter's bleeding on the front stoop.
"Holy fuck, what happened?" Clint asks, dragging him inside. There's a graze all up Peter's right cheek and his chin is gummy with drying blood, little bits of gravel poking out of it. He's got a bruise on his cheek and his shirt collar's ripped.
"What do you think?" Peter demands, but his tone comes out all wrong. That's not belligerent; that's scared. Clint is carefully not paying any attention to the tear tracks smudging the dirt on his cheeks.
"I thought you went to art club," Clint says, appalled. He grabs Peter's sleeve and tugs him up the stairs. "Since when do Flash and his goons go to your art club?"
"They don't, they just waited outside." Peter shrugs, but doesn't resist Clint's tugging. He's limping too, hand pressed to the small of his back. Clint remembers how it feels to be kicked in the kidneys and winces in sympathy.
Clint pulls Peter into the bathroom and sits him down on the edge of the tub. "You mouthed off at them, didn't you?" he asks, wetting a face cloth with warm water. He doesn’t mean to sound accusing, he’s just had to do a one-eighty in his head and it’s jarring.
Peter mutters something while he kicks his feet against the side of the bathtub.
"What?" Clint asks. He holds up the facecloth and waits for Peter to lock eyes with him and nod permission, before he starts wiping at the blood. Peter still winces with every touch, but he toughs it out like a trooper.
"I said, they tried to take the camera," Peter repeats. He pauses while Clint mops at his lip then adds proudly, "I didn't let them."
"Good for you," Clint tells them, then thinks maybe that's the wrong kind of advice. But he can't tell Peter that he would have been better off giving up his camera to Flash's goons; Clint would never do that, and the hypocrisy would burn so bad, that he keeps his mouth shut instead.
"There are going to be marks, aren't there?" Peter asks quietly. "Uncle Ben and Aunt May are going to notice?"
"Kid, you're going to have a black eye like a prize fighter," Clint says, patting him on the shoulder sympathetically. Peter's face looks less like a horror movie now Clint's cleaned it up some, but it's not good.
"Darn it," Peter mutters. Because he's a cartoon character, apparently. "Can I say I got hit in the face by a really heavy camera, do you think? Some of them have really big viewfinders."
"Maybe," Clint says noncommittally, because Peter sounds so hopeful and Clint doesn't want to dash his hopes when he's already had a pretty shitty afternoon.
He finds some antiseptic in the cabinet and shows that to Peter too, because that's really going to hurt and Clint knows from experience that it sucks to get surprised by more pain after someone's already hurt you.
“If you use enough of that, maybe the cuts will magically go away?” Peter suggests.
Clint puts antiseptic on Peter’s chin and Peter sucks in a loud breath. He blushes and won’t meet Clint’s eye, but there’s no way Clint’s going to tease him for showing a bit of pain, not when he’s being so fucking brave.
“I don’t think I have magical healing powers,” Clint says apologetically. “That’s… which one of the X-Men, is that?”
“Elixir,” Peter tells him promptly, then sighs. “Wouldn’t it be cool to have super powers?”
“Eh, maybe.” Clint shrugs. “Super heroes probably get bullied, too.”
“No way!” Peter looks so appalled at the idea that he forgets to wince when Clint moves on from his chin to his cheek. “Once you’re a superhero, you don’t have any problems, that’d just be dumb.”
“Right, right, makes sense.” Clint nods. He doesn’t know. As soon as he worked out that Professor Xavier only rescued extraordinary kids, Clint kind of lost interest in him. “We got any band aids?”
“Under the sink,” Peter tells him, then freezes, head snapping up.
It takes Clint a second to realise what he’s hearing, then he swears because someone has just opened the front door.
Peter fixes Clint with a panicked look. “Shh?” he begs.
“Hello?” May’s voice calls from downstairs. “Boys?”
For a second, Clint thinks he’s going to go along with Peter’s plan and help him hide from May for a bit longer. Then he realises that he’s maybe been doing that too long already; maybe if May and Ben had known about the bullying already, they would have stopped it before Peter could get hurt.
“Sorry,” he says to Peter then, louder, “We’re up here, May. You better come on up.”
“What are you doing?” Peter hisses. He tries to sink backward, but there’s nowhere to go unless he wants to fall into the bath.
Clint reaches out and squeezes Peter’s shoulder, trying to be reassuring. “Trust me,” he says, “I think it’s going to be okay.”
Peter still looks betrayed, but he stops trying to get away, at least.
“Clint?” May asks from outside the door. “Can I come in?”
Clint looks at Peter and raises his eyebrows.
“Yeah, Aunt May,” Peter sighs and looks glumly at the floor.
May’s still holding her purse when she opens the door. She takes one look at Peter and drops it, rushing over to him.
“Peter, my god, what happened to you?” she demands, grabbing his shoulder in a tight, frightened grip. “Who did this?”
Peter looks up at her for a second, then his lip wobbles and his whole face crumples.
“Oh, sweetheart,” May says and gathers him up into her arms.
Clint feels suddenly, totally in the way. He presses the bottle of antiseptic into May’s free hand and scoots around her, slipping though the bathroom door and leaving them alone.
Peter doesn’t need Clint anymore, not now May knows, but Clint’s still left feeling like he needs to do something. He leans against the wall, body thrumming with it, with the need to protect Peter somehow.
He listens to Peter cry and May hush him, and stops trying to pretend to himself that he doesn’t know exactly what he needs to do.
He grabs his coat and heads down the stairs. He knows where Flash and his gang hang out; maybe a visit from Clint will keep them away from Peter for good, this time.
on to part three