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Quaffing Victoriously
August 20th, Tag Clint
Marvel-MCU-1

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#1
"That went surprisingly well." Phil said as he set two mugs of beer on the table and sat down next to Clint. They'd just gotten back from Arjay's world, where they'd helped clean out a nest of bandits. "I never thought that I'd be working with a group of mercenaries to slay a bunch of goblins who were literally preying on travelers. But, I guess it just proves that bad guys are bad guys wherever you go."

The reason for taking the mission had been simple, really. Both of them were used to action, used to being active, and sitting around Stark Tower, watching the relationship drama swirl had gotten dull after a few days. Shortly after Steve had bailed, they'd decided to follow suit. Now they were back, and it was time to sit and drink beer and relax.

And, Phil thought, maybe put the bathing pool that was one of the amenities at the Wandering Moon Inn to good use.
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Marvel-MCU-1

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#2
Things you learn about yourself and your significant other when you
were sort of stuck in a city that acted as a multi-dimensional hub:
Neither of you were much interested in being homebodies. Neither of you liked being cooped up, and you were not interested in watching Iron Man and Captain America dance around each other after whatever had happened between them. They both, however, liked adventure.

Steve took off on some quest. And hey. Tony had given him the shield, which seemed to mean a lot to Cap. Cool. But that hadn't solved the problem of Clint and Phil's boredom.

Going to Arjay's dimension to hunt down and stop goblin highwaymen? That had been right up their alley. “That, “ Clint said with a grin, "was awesome.” Bad guys. And Phil and him had put an end to their reign of terror. "Yep. And the good guys will go and stop them.”

Bed, beer, food. Phil. Clint could think of little else that he would say that he really, truly needed. Nat. He missed Nat. But other than that, Clint could be happy.
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#3
"I'll drink to that." Phil said, clinking his mug against Clint's, then pausing for a moment to savor the contents of the mug. Then he continued "When we got here, I was in a rush to get back and get things settled at home. Now though...I'm realizing how much there is to see and do, and how much good we can do, if we stay in the Hub. I'm not saying I never want to go home, but...." he took another pull of his beer and continued "I kind of what to see what else is out there, explore and have some adventures. As long as I can do it with you."
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Marvel-MCU-1

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#4
Clint chuckled at the tinkle of Phil’s glass against his, and then brought the glass to his lips to take a long drink. It felt good to have a victory drink with Phil after the long mission they’d just come back from. Goblins. Goblins, man.

Phil started talking about actually serious things. Like going home. Clint’s attention honed in on him, eyes focusing on Phil as the other man spoke. “We’ll need to go home eventually, but… yeah, Phil, I’m not feeling in a particular rush to get home. I needed to find you, and i found you. Where we are, as long as we’re together, isn’t all that important to me.”

Exploring Hub and the universes that were connected to it sounded like a great way to spend some time. Fun and productive at the same time. Or at least, possibly productive. “So… What I’m hearing is that we stick around here for a while, and keep doing the sort of things that we just did. Right? Because that… I’m down for that.”
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#5
Phil smiled, and squeezed Clint's hand. Of the two of them, he was the one who had always been as motivated by loyalty to SHIELD, by the need to do the job as he had been by loyalty to the people he worked alongside. The exception to that, for a very long time, had been his loyalty to Clint. Now, he was finding out that "Yeah, me too. I've got you and that is what I care about." he grinned "Well, 'beer' and 'a warm bed where no one is going to try to stab us' is on the list too." both of which had been occasionally absent on this adventure, and now that he had them, along with Clint to help him enjoy them, he intended to do so.

"Yeah, lots of cool things to check out. But next time, maybe not goblins. Dragons could be good." he said, teasing.
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Marvel-MCU-1

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#6
Clint was as loyal as an old dog. Just… Not so much to SHIELD as much as he was to Phillip Coulson. Phil had been the one to bring Clint in. Phil had brought him into SHIELD. Phil had won him over, earned his trust. Phil had elevated him to Specialist. Phil had turned him into the agent he’d become. Clint had been Hawkeye on his own, but Phil had made him into an Avenger. And Phil had stolen Clint’s heart. Of course Clint was loyal to the man. But somewhere along the way, they’d picked up a family of their own, a group of people that Clint was nearly as loyal to. Thing was, some of those people were here with them. And going home, that sounded great, but being here for a while, that sounded just as good, really.

”I’ve got you and that is what I care about.”

Clint blinked, and then grinned from ear to ear. Yeah, that wasn’t ever going to get old. Not even close. “Well, would be nice to have the rest of the Avengers with us, you know? At least Nat…” He missed his closest friend. He missed her with the fierceness of a brother missing his sister. The three of them had run together for years, a family, just them. Clint would like to have that back. He leaned to the side, just a soft, ghostly pressure against Phil’s side, “Beer and a warm bed, shared with you.” Clint nodded, “Preferably without anyone trying to stab us. That tends to get in the way of the things I’d want to be doing to you.” The grin he wore turned filthy as he spoke, making the kind of things he meant evident.

Cool things to check out. Yeah, that was the kind of understatement that only Phil could make with a straight face. “Note to self, inquire about dragons. Got it.” He figured that Phil couldn’t be serious, but… In some world (maybe the elf’s, because elves and goblins, why not dragons?) there had to be actual dragons. Maybe they could just see one… “Dragons would be badass.”
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Marvel-MCU-1

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#7
"It would be good to have Nat around." Phil agreed. Those had been some of the best years of his life-working with Clint and Nat as part of Strike Team Delta. Not that he hadn't enjoyed doing all of the things he'd done with the Avengers, but there was something about working with a closely knit team of specialists, completely under the radar that suited him more than anything else he'd done before or since. It was one of the reasons why he'd been so tempted by Fury's offer, and would have been in a hurry to go back and take it, if the Hub hadn't drawn him in. "But other than that, this is pretty close to perfect. Maybe we can talk Cap, one of them, anyway and maybe, find a version of Natasha who's looking for a team." that was one of the things that had been the biggest shock about the multiverse-finding out how many different versions of events there had been, finding out what the road not taken had looked like. Knowing that somewhere, there was a version of him who was taking Nick Fury's offer right now.

"Why Agent Barton, whatever do you mean?" Phil said, all mock innocence at Clint's suggestion "I suppose you're right though, it is difficult to sleep when someone is trying to stab you-" as he spoke, a hand trailed up Clint's leg, making the promises that his mouth was pretending to be too innocent to know about.

"I don't know that I'd want to go up against one." Phil continued, starting to geek out in earnest "But it'd be amazing to see one. From a safe distance. Or dinosaurs. That would be cool too. Or mammoths. I'd love to see a mammoth."
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#8
Good to have Nat around was an understatement. Before Strike Team Delta, Clint hadn’t really ever had an actual family. The circus certainly hadn’t been that for him, not really. No, the first time he’d felt like he really belonged somewhere had been with Phil and Nat, working covertly with SHIELD and fighting the good fight the way they knew best - by kicking ass and taking names. And information. The three of them had had a good long run, and a very successful career together. And then the Avengers, and…

He still couldn’t stop the clench of his stomach when he thought about the battle for New York. They’d almost lost Phil that day. And god, what would he have done if they had? Would he have gone rogue? Maybe. Or maybe he would have just stopped, maybe the world would have kept turning, but he might not have turned with it, he might have found himself untethered, gravity having no real pull on him anymore, and… He blinked, then laughed at the idea of talking one of the Captains America into joining a team with them, it was a quieter and just slightly choked laugh, but it eased him back into the present and away from the downward spiral his thoughts had threatened to take him.

But he knew, that somewhere out there, there was a reality in which Clint Barton lost Phil Coulson that day, and he couldn’t shake that knowledge completely.

He was so damn grateful that wasn’t him. He pitied that poor bastard, but he was glad it wasn’t him.

“Oh, Agent Coulson, Sir, it’s nigh impossible to sleep when someone is trying to stab you. Especially from behind.” He could play this game. He could play-- Aw damn, Phil was gonna win if he kept this up. This. Him. Same thing. Clint’s face gave nothing away, “Though you can always call out for me if you think you’re in danger.”

Dragons, dinosaurs, and mammoths. Got it. If Clint could find a prehistoric world, they were totally gonna go see it. “Well, maybe we could just see one. But if we go somewhere and there’s a dragon laying siege to some poor town, you know we’re gonna have to help those poor folk.” Because they were still Avengers, even if they were far from home. “That settles it. I’m just gonna have to find Prehistoric World.”
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#9
Coulson saw what flashed through Clint's eyes, and felt an echo of it going through his own brain. That there were universes where he was dead, where he hadn't kept his promise to come back to Clint, knowing that there had been universes where he and Clint had never met each other-that had been the hardest part about being in the Hub, realizing that somewhere, everything possible had happened. "We're not them, babe. I came back. I'll always come back to you. Promise." he said softly.

Then, because there was only so much gentle sincerity that anyone could take, well it was time to move on to more pleasant ideas. "I'm grateful for the offer of support, Agent, but you're assuming that I'm the one who is going to need assistance. As I recall, you were the one who was calling out for me, while you were being stabbed in bed. But I'm willing to entertain the notion that the situation might play out differently this time." his tone was even and earnest as he spoke, but that didn't stop his hand from what it was doing, or keep a wicked glint out of his eyes.

"Prehistoric Planet would be awesome. Of course we'd try to save the village if a dragon was attacking. Or a dinosaur, or a mammoth, or whatever esle. We're superheroes. Its what we do."
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Marvel-MCU-1

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#10
When you got to thinking about how many universes there were, and how many things you’re glad didn’t happen could have happened in those impossibly endless universes, then you had to also then wonder if you were the exception or the rule. And that’s when you realized just how unlike it was that things had turned out with a happy ending for you. And…

It was a bad, dark place for your mind to go. Especially when you were Clint Barton.

Because how many worlds were there that he was still in the circus? How many worlds was he a mercenary? How many words was he just another nameless specialist in SHIELD? How many worlds was he pining for a man he would never have? How many worlds had he never had the balls to make a move? To even put himself out there? How many worlds had he died before he hit thirty?

How many Clint Bartons were mourning the loss of Phil Coulson still? How many would never recover from that loss?

”We’re not them, babe. I came back. I’ll always come back to you. Promise.”

Clint looked up and met Phil’s eyes, and he nodded, slowly. “You’ll always come back. Till you don’t.” He took a deep, calming breath, “Or I don’t.”

“We’re SHIELD agents. We’re Avengers. That’s always going to be a possibility, Phil. At least until we retire.” Which was probably going to be a while, for either of them. Because the world needed the Avengers, the world needed SHIELD, and Phil and Clint liked being a part of those things. Being a part of the solution.

The whimper that escaped Clint was one he couldn’t stop, but it was nearly inaudible. Phil would likely catch it, of course, but no one else in the place would be able to hear it. “Well, we’ll just have to see, Sir. Sometimes the sniper needs help, and sometimes it’s the man in charge that needs the sniper’s help. Every situation is different and unique, as we both know.”

Prehistoric Planet. Clint was going to look until he found this sort of world. Because Phil would love it. Because it would be fun as hell to explore. “Because that’s what heroes do,” Clint said, mimicking Thor’s voice playfully. “Because it’s the right thing to do.”
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#11
"I didn't say anything about you." Phil said, trying to lighten the mood with dark humor. "But I'll always come back. Always. Hell, dying didn't stop me. It delayed me for a little while" the chance to slip in the Princess Bride reference was too much for him to resist "Yes, its a possibility. But it hasn't happened yet. Maybe we'll retire and raise llamas, and maybe we'll die in a horrible and embarrassing slip and fall shower accident later today. And maybe the next mission there will be bullets with our names on them. So I've decided not to worry, and focus on what I can control." which was why he planned for obsessively for every mission. Every mission there was a chance that Clint could die. That he could die. If that happened because he'd messed up, because he'd failed to take some factor into account, that was unacceptable. "Its ok, I promise." he said, placing a gentle kiss on Clint's head.

Phil heard the whimper, and his smile became almost predatory "Yes, I think we will have to see how it plays out. Almost anything could happen, you're right. Who knows, maybe both of us will have ended up being stabbed before the night is over. But we're superheroes. We can handle it."
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