When at SHIELD, Clint tended to be quieter, more unobtrusive, than he was in the field. Oh, it was known by nearly all agents that he was obnoxious and mouthy, but that he was the best specialist SHIELD had to offer. Still, the fact of the matter was that aside from at the range, Clint Barton had a tendency to melt into the crowd of agents that were always in the hallways of headquarters. Because of this, Clint heard things. Gossip was prevalent, as it always was (especially in intelligence communities), and when you were all but invisible, you heard all of it.
Not long after he and Phil had hooked up, Clint had heard the rumor about a cellist. He had dismissed it, instead watching Coulson to see if things seemed uncomfortable or as though they were cooling off. He went a few weeks, letting Coulson call the shots, making the senior agent call the plays. After that, he'd let go of any concern that he was keeping the other man from doing as he pleased, figuring that if there were an issue, Phil would tell him.
They spent time together when they could. A weekend, overnight, small things. It was enough.
But the rumors persisted. Audrey, if the rumors could be believed. He tried, he tried hard, to dismiss it. When another agent asked if it were true, Clint shrugged with a grin that was really too easy to be real, not that the other agent could tell (Phil would have), “Far as I know they’ve been seeing each other for months. I hear she's a lovely musician.” Because hey, Phil wouldn't like her so damn much if she were terrible! And just because Clint was jealous as sin didn't meant it was okay to be cruel. It was his problem, not Phil’s; they had never defined what they were, and if Clint wanted something concrete he should have said that from the start, right?
So he never said anything. He didn't date, but he knew about the rumors that were out there about him and Nat. He let those rumors float, because at least no one would think he was pining after Phil if they were both with other people! And Nat didn't seem to care if everyone thought they were sleeping together, either. Likely kept her a bit less harangued, too. He still flirted with every pretty female agent he met, and changed as few of his visible habits as possible. He spent more than most of his time with Natasha, and avoided agent Sitwell as much as he could. (He could swear the man could tell how he felt.)
He had not, however, taken a vacation. Oh, not that this was out of character; Clint had accumulated an impressive amount of time off since he had been recruited. He lived for the job, people said.
He just didn't want to be far from one Agent Coulson. But Clint would never admit that, so he let that rumor fly, too.
He never slept so well as he did when Phil was with him. When he could fall asleep holding and being held by someone he loved. The sex was the best he'd ever had, but it wasn't the point of the relationship, at least not for Clint.
Phil had told him he wanted to discuss his leave in private, well, Clint had given Agent Coulson a sharp nod, “Yessir.” And it had been hard not to smile a goofy grin. He was sort of hoping Phil was gonna pick up Indian; he had the nicest little Indian place near his apartment...
It wasn't a surprise that that had been exactly what Phil had had in mind. The food was excellent. Phil knew exactly what to order, of course. The man was more perceptive than anyone else that Clint knew. And Clint knew Natasha.
About the leave…. Yeah, over a month without Phil. Clint wasn't looking forward to it, at all, but Fury had made his position clear. The suggestion that they spend some of their leave together had Clint’s attention immediately. And camping? Alright so the image of Phil in jeans and a tee shirt, in the woods was damn intoxicating. But…. really? “You want to go camping with me? For a month?” It was hard to keep his tone calm and steady, and Clint slipped into the habit of pacing his breaths just like he did at the range or in the field lest he hold his breath too long.
“Won't that make it hard for you to see your girlfriend? Or…” It hit him then. Phil had never mentioned a sister before. “Or is that the ‘sister’ who you're gonna to see for the first week?” Breathe and release. Inhale and exhale. Nothing you have a right to be upset about, but now that they were discussing it, Clint figures he was within his rights to ask, to know. That Phil might lie wasn't even a possibility. Phil would be honest. Clint trusted that implicitly. Just as he trusted Phil unconditionally.
The rumored girlfriend for whom Clint himself had spied Coulson buying a gift for once. The rumored girlfriend of whom Clint was undeniably, incredibly jealous. “My sister is my sister, and I don't have a girlfriend. I'm sorry, I should have said something. It's a, um, cover story. So people don't start wondering why I'm not dating anyone. I thought that, well, most people forget that bisexuals exist. So if the rumor is about a woman, everyone will assume that I'm straight, and that you're straight, and that we can't possibly be, um, together. So that when you spend the night at my place, even if someone finds out, they’ll figure that you were sleeping on the couch. But if you don’t want to go camping, that...I understand.”
Clint needed a moment to parse the information that Phil was throwing at him. There was no girlfriend. Clint had no one to be jealous of. Also, Phil had a sister. Clint had his brother’s wife and her little people, and.. He supposed he'd never mentioned them, either. Huh. Well, no time like the present. “I need to see my sister, too, but after a week or so, the rugrats are getting on my last nerve. So yeah, a month of camping sounds awesome. You go there, make camp, and a couple days later I'll get there.” He couldn't help the smile that crept over his features as he imagined the scenario. What could he say? He had a very vivid imagination. “You'll be all snuggled up in your sleeping bag, and then I'll be in the tent and..” Seemed he wasn't the only one affected by his scenario. The shiver that Phil gave was delicious. “But I do have one request, Sir.”
It had taken a while for Clint to stop calling Phil “Sir” outside of work. Mostly for two reasons: he respected Phil that much, and because it got a very real reaction out of Phil when Clint called him Sir. It was a reaction that Clint liked very much. And there it was, the rush of color that another, less perceptive person might not notice, but that made Clint smile in delight to know he had done that. That was because of him. “What is it, Agent?”
If Phil even guessed how turned on it made him to hear Phil call him Agent (on or off the field it didn't even matter after the last year), he’d probably do it more often. “When you get back from vacation, you need to tell everyone that Audrey is moving to Canada.”
He had to be kidding. Suppressing a snicker, Clint flashed Phil a grin that only began to indicate how amused he was, “You haven't seen Avenue Q, Sir?”
“I can't say that I have.”
That clinched it. “I'm taking you. Nat took me to see it, and it's hilarious. Just a second, I have the song on my iPod…”. It took him almost no time to find and play the song. Afterwards, Clint looked to Phil expectantly.
“Okay, yes. Canada.”
“Glad you agree with me, Sir.” Really, they had the best relationship.