saone: (Clint & Phil)
[personal profile] saone
Title: The Pigeon Squawks at Midnight
Author: [livejournal.com profile] saone77
Pairing: Clint/Coulson
Fandom: Marvel Movie 'verse, Agents of SHIELD
Summary: Phil Coulson is hiding something, and Agent Grant Ward, along with the most annoying hacker on the planet, is going to find out what it is, even if it - or he - kills them.
Rating: R
Warnings: Not betad, grammarians beware. Accidental voyeurism, on purpose voyeurism, threats, talk of adultery (no actual adultery, though), talk of betrayal, stalker-ish behavior, OOC-ness...
Word Count: 7214
Disclaimer: This is indulgent, cracktastic fiction.
Notes: I have no idea how Ward and Skye will be presented in Agents of SHIELD, but I am almost 100% certain it won't be like this.










It's not that Grant doesn't trust Agent Coulson, it's that...

Okay, he kind of doesn't trust Agent Coulson.

There's no actual reason for the distrust he feels. There's just something in his gut that churns with every corny joke, or soft-spoken platitude, or I-know-more-things-than-you-could-ever-hope-to-imagine smirk. The man faked his own death, for God's sake! Who does that?!

Well... Spies do that. And criminals.

Grant is almost completely certain that Coulson is in the former category.

He's pretty sure.

For the most part.

Still...

"Agent Stoic-face is hiding something," Skye says to him one morning while he's in the fourth floor break room refilling his coffee mug.

Grant's not surprised that the noisiest - and most annoying - member of their little not-team picked up on something too. The last thing he wants to do is encourage the girl, though, especially not when it comes to snooping around other Senior agents. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"Liar," she says. Her perpetual smug look ratchets up a notch and Grant feels a muscle under his right eye twitch. "I know obfuscating is like breathing to people around here, and maybe I'm only an honorary member of your super, secret clubhouse, but if Coulson is acting wonky, I think I deserve to know why."

Grant keeps his features carefully bland as he adds two prepackaged creamers to his coffee.

Skye studies his face for a moment, then says, "You don't know what's up, either, huh?"

Grant feels a muscle above his right eye twitch this time. "Look..." Grant involuntarily makes the same face he makes every time he has to say her name out loud. Skye. Skye. It makes him feel like some kind of patchouli-soaked hippie or something. "Skye," ugh, "the only thing I don't know is why Coulson lets you wander around here without an armed escort."

Skye narrows her eyes at him. Grant stares back. After a few long moments Skye snorts and breaks eye contact. Grant feels ridiculously pleased with himself.

"Fine," Skye says, "be that way. But when it turns out that Coulson is some double agent, or shape-shifting alien, or whatever, don't come to me looking for tin foil."

"I don't even know what that means."

Skye gives him a pitying look. "Of course you don't," she says before she spins on one heel and stalks out of the room.

Grant takes a sip of his coffee and thinks that he really needs to stop being so paranoid. He pictures himself burning incense and running an internet blog. That helps.

It helps for a while.

But then Coulson starts getting these strange phone calls. His phone rings, he looks down at the screen, the muscles around his mouth and eyes tighten ever so slightly - which Grant is pretty sure on a normal person would be a full out grimace - and he'll excuse himself to take the call in private.

Grant tells himself that he shouldn't be suspicious. Maybe it's Coulson's mother. Maybe it's Coulson's mother-in-law. Maybe it's his bookie. Grant doesn't know, and, as long as the phone calls don't pertain to SHIELD business, he doesn't care.

Unfortunately, after the fifth time watching Coulson take one of those special calls, Grant makes the mistake of catching Skye's eye. She contorts her face into some kind of complicated expression that he could never hope to understand. He shakes his head and shrugs. She rolls her eyes with a dramatic flair that reminds him she's not that far from her teen years. He kind of wants to taze her. Just a little bit.

Skye doesn't approach him about the calls, though, and Grant hopes that that means she's found some other possible conspiracy to glom onto. When she corners him in the men's room the next day, he realizes that he should have known better.

"Do you mind?!" Grant says with all the outrage of an 19th century schoolmarm. He's got one hand placed protectively in front of his dick even though he hasn't unzipped yet.

"Nope, I don't mind." Skye grins. "It's not like you have something I haven't seen be... Wait, do you have something I haven't seen before? Are you an alien? Mutant? Is it prehensile?" She focuses the full power of her crazy eyes on Grant's crotch.

"What is wrong with you?!" Grant hisses.

"Oh, so many things." Skye's eyes snap back to Grant's face, thank God. "Not the least of which is that I'm pretty sure our new boss is into something funky."

"Skye," ugh, "there are things at SHIELD we're not privy to. Coulson is at the top of the food chain. Even if he is involved in something funky, it's not necessarily something that we have to worry about."

"You poor, naive boy."

Grant's molars grind together. "Get out."

"Not until we-"

"In about ten seconds, I am going to go over to one of the urinals, unzip my pants, and start to pee. If you are still in here when that happens, I will then immediately head down to HR and recommend that you spend every moment of non-mission time attending sexual harassment seminars. Am I clear?"

"You wouldn't stop and wash your hands first?"

"SKYE!"

"Fine." Skye huffs. She then thankfully turns and heads towards the door. "This isn't over, Ward," she says over her shoulder.

"I know," Grant calls out to her retreating back, "I'm not that lucky!"

_______


Grant really isn't that lucky because Skye continues to bug him about everything Coulson, from his squirrely behavior after those increasingly suspicious calls to his oddly appearing then disappearing wedding ring.

"Maybe he's having an affair," Skye muses one afternoon after she's joined Grant at his table in the cafeteria.

"Good," Grant says, viciously spearing a cherry tomato with his fork. "An affair means it's personal, and personal means it's none of SHIELD's business, and if it's none of SHIELD's business, that means that we should both keep our noses out of it."

"So we're in agreement, then. We need to figure out how to listen in on one of those phone calls."

Grant chokes on his tomato. "What? There was no... I am very much not in agreement with that!"

Skye leans forward over the table. Grant finds himself hoping part of her long, non-regulation hairdo gets dipped into her bowl of broccoli soup.

"But if we find out that all Coulson's guilty of is being a crummy spouse, then we can stop worrying about him." She cocks her head to one side. "Don't you want to stop worrying about Coulson, Ward? Don't you want me to stop worrying you about Coulson?"

Grant stares at her. "If we listen in on one of Coulson's calls, and we find out that whatever's going on with him is personal, which we will, then I want you to not talk to me for a month."

Skye blinks. "What-"

"When we're not in training or on a mission together, I don't want to talk to you. I don't want to see you. I don't want you to seek me out and insinuate yourself into my life. I want to be Skye-free for a whole month."

Skye, damn her, actually looks a little upset at Grant's words. It's like she had no idea she had become the bane of his existence. "Fine," she says. "If Coulson's problem is personal, I'll try to avoid even being on the same floor that you are. But why stop at just a month? I'll try my best to not breathe your air for the duration of my involvement with this organization."

Grant nods. "That would be wonderful. Thank you."

Skye snorts. "You're kind of a jerk."

"You're only just realizing this now? You really should work on your observational skills."

Skye stares at him for long enough that Grant actually starts to get uncomfortable. "I'll get right on that."

"Good. Your hair's in your soup."

"Dammit!"

_______


In early fall they start to see a drop in overall activity. The team goes weeks without being deployed, and Grant starts to get itchy. Coulson tells him he should appreciate the lull while he can. Grant's tempted to say you first because there's a subtle edge to Coulson that seems to be getting progressively worse as the weeks go by.

Grant knows he's not the only one who's noticed it. He catches May giving Coulson hard looks more and more often. Fitz and Simmons try to avoid the Senior agent altogether, if they can help it. Even Deputy Director Hill stops by for a chat in Coulson's office, and when she leaves, the scowl on her face is more pronounced than usual.

Skye is... absent most of the time, actually. It seems she took Grant's desires to heart, and has made herself scarce. He's glad. Happy, even. Except... Even though Grant can't see her, he can still feel her lurking around. Not knowing where Skye is more distracting than having to actually deal with her. So, Grant is torn between annoyance and relief when she once again corners him at the coffee pot.

"You. With me," Skye says. "Come with me." She doesn't actually grab Grant's arm, but she makes grabby hands at his sleeve.

Grant thinks about blowing her off, but there's this wild look in her eyes that he finds both frightening and compelling. Skye might be a thorn in his side, but she's a smart thorn. She leads him down the main hall of the building to a second more narrow hall, then to a stairwell. She goes down two flights of stairs, marches down another narrow hall, and finally stops in front of a nondescript and unmarked door.

Skye motions to the doorknob.

"You first," Grant says.

Skye sighs, rolls her eyes, and wrenches open the door. She goes inside and turns on a light revealing the room to be a small supply closet. Against his better judgement, Grant follows her. She closes the door behind him, and Grant's nostrils immediately start to burn from the smell of disinfectant.

"So," Skye says, "I put a minicam in Coulson's office."

Grant feels something vital inside his chest seize up. "You did what?!"

"Put a minicam in Coulson's office."

"Oh, my God. Oh, my God. What were you thinking?! You can't just-"

"I can, and I did. Now, do you want to have a hissy fit, or do you want to see what I got?"

It's on the tip of Grant's tongue to make a remark about the 'hissy fit' thing, or to keep railing about the 'spying on a Senior agent' thing, but the look on Skye's face stops him cold. "You found something."

"Yeah," Skye says, "I found something." She takes out a mini tablet from inside her coat. There's a long cord with earbuds attached to it. Skye puts one of the buds in and offers the other one to Grant, who promptly grimaces. "Oh, for... I don't have ear cooties! Just take the damn thing!"

Grant sighs and gingerly takes the earbud, then even more gingerly slips it in. Skye brings up a vid file on the tablet, and a gross ear canal is suddenly Grant's last concern.

The image is clearly Coulson's office. From the height and angle of the shot, Grant surmises that the camera Skye placed was somewhere around-

"Holy cats! You defiled some of Coulson's Captain America memorabilia?!"

Skye looks at him and arches one eyebrow. "Did you just say 'holy cats'?"

"What? No. What did you do?"

"I switched out one of his statues for a copy that had the camera in it."

"What did you do with the original statue?"

"I cooked it on a grill and ate it with some fava beans. Will you just watch the damn video." Skye presses something on the tablet and the image starts to move as Coulson's voice fills Grant's right ear.

"I'm not going to be able to make it tonight." Coulson is sitting at his desk. He's got his cell in one hand and his other is fiddling with something. When Grant peers closer, he realizes that it's Coulson's wedding ring. "Yes, I know you're... I am aware that this isn't what we had planned, but ... What you want isn't feasible at this time." Coulson closes his eyes, and his face turns down into a mighty frown. "No. No, I... I know we had an arrangement, but circumstances have... I said I would deal with Fury, and I will, but... Is that a threat?" Coulson reaches up and rubs at his temple as his face sags. He looks tired, and worn. He looks old. "Fine. I said, fine. We'll meet. Tonight. Yes, at the place from before. Yes. All right. I'll see you-" Coulson's voice cuts off. He pulls the phone away from his ear and stares at if for a moment before putting it back inside his jacket.

Skye stops the video. "That happened earlier this morning," she says. "I don't... I don't know what to do. I don't know who I should go to."

"Let's not jump to conclusions," Grant says as he pulls the earbud out.

"I'm sorry, did you not just hear the same conversation I did? Coulson's a double agent."

Grant shakes his head. "We don't know that."

"But he said-"

"I know what he said!" Grant takes a deep breath. "I know what he said. But we don't have proof."

Skye shoves her tablet under Grant's nose. "This isn't proof?!"

"No, it's not. That's suspicious, sure, but it's not damning." Grant runs a hand over his hair. "Coulson is in the top tier. He's a bonafide hero. If we're gonna take him on, we're going to need more than just one phone call."

"Like what?"

"We need to follow him. Find out who he's meeting."

"Oh, is that all?" Skye says, her voice rising just a bit. "Okay. Sure. Let's just follow the double-crossing super spy. No problem."

Grant blinks a few times. "That does sound ill advised, doesn't it?"

"Thank you."

"I'll follow Coulson. You can track me from your van."

Skye pulls back her right arm and punches Grant hard in the shoulder. "Moron."

"Ow! What was-"

"If you think for one hot second that I'm just going to let you go off after that man on your own, you are... you are... you are just as stupid as your hair might imply."

"My hair isn't stupid."

"Oh, please." Skye gives him a withering look. "You're not going after Coulson alone, Ward. You're just not."

Grant stares at her. Skye stares back. This time, it's Grant who blinks first.

"Together, then," he says.

"Damn right. Together."


_______


Tailing Coulson is easier than Grant could have ever imagined. The man is off his game, obviously concerned about his upcoming meeting - or the people he's meeting with - and he takes no notice of the two shadows he picks up at the end of the day. Instead of taking his private car, or a standard issued SHIELD SUV or sedan, Coulson leaves HQ in Lola. The bright red classic is easy to track, even on L.A.'s freeways.

Friday traffic is a nightmare, but they get through it, and Coulson leads them straight to a non-descript little house on a tree-lined street. He parks Lola in the driveway then hurries inside. Grant cruises a couple hundred yards futher down the block before he pulls over. He immediately adjusts the rearview mirror to keep the house in his sights.

"Uh, does this seem weird to you?" Skye asks as she twists in her seat to look out the back window.

"He went home," Grant says. "Maybe he needed to pick something up, or change, or... I don't know."

"Yeah, that's not what I'm talking about, though. He's driving Lola. Why would he drive a bright red, easily identifiable sports car to a secret rendezvous?"

"Well, Lola would come in handy if he needed to make a quick getaway."

"True." Skye scowls as she twists back so she's sitting properly her seat again. "But, it's more than that. He just... He's just not acting like a guy who's betraying his organization, you know?"

"How is he supposed to act, Skye? Should he be sneaking around? Should he have put on a fake mustache and dark glasses? Maybe when he comes out he'll be wearing a trench coat and a fedora."

"Are you going to be a dick this entire stakeout?"

"Probably." Grant sighs. "The reason successful spies are successful is because they don't look or act like spies. Coulson's not a caricature; he's a professional."

"I guess," Skye says after a moment's pause. "But don't you think-"

"There he is." Grant scowls as Skye whips her head around and he gets a face full of hair. "Could you not?"

"Sorry." Skye says, not sounding the slightest bit apologetic. "He's wearing jeans. Is that weird? That's weird, right?"

Coulson is wearing jeans and what looks like a tee shirt that's mostly hidden by an old, brown leather jacket. While seeing Coulson in anything other than a suit is a bit jarring, it's what the older agent is carrying that setting off Grant's warning bells.

"What do you think is in the bag?" Skye asks as they watch Coulson pop Lola's trunk. "Is it secret stuff? Like secret prototype stuff? Like secret, prototype stuff from R&D, or the labs, or something?"

"Maybe. Or it might just be clothes and toiletries."

Coulson slips into Lola again, and he backs her out of the driveway and onto the street, pointing the car in the opposite direction from where Grant and Skye are parked. Grant turns on their car, waits until Coulson is further down the next block, then pulls out onto the street and makes a three quarter turn

"Do you think he's running?" Skye asks. "But would he really do that in Lola?"

"If he's disabled her tracking devices, I don't see why not."

"Can he do that?"

"He took on a god; it's probably time we stopped underestimating him."

_______


It takes them a while to get through LA traffic, but Coulson eventually gets on the 101 heading north, and he stays on it. They pass by countless shopping centers and neighborhoods with neat, little cookie-cutter homes, then more shopping centers, and more developments. Then they hit the coast and the drive becomes scenic.

"Where do you think he's headed," Skye asks as she fiddles with her phone. "There's Carpinteria, and then Santa Barbara, and then not much until Santa Maria. But that's if he stays on this highway."

Coulson doesn't stop in Carpinteria, and at first it looks like he's going to blow through Santa Barbara as well, but Lola's left turn signal comes on just beyond the city limits. Coulson exits the highway and turns onto a secondary road which he takes all the way to the parking lot of what appears to be a rather palatial-looking, Spanish style resort. Grant stays on the road. As he drives past Coulson's destination, Skye turns her head and gapes.

"Damn," she says weakly. "I can't believe you were right."

Grant clenches his jaw and looks for an area that he can use to turn the car around.

"All this time... Coulson's not a traitor; he's having an affair." Skye shakes her head. "So, should I start the whole not talking to you thing now, or-"

"That would look odd, considering we're about to be going undercover as a couple," Grant says as he spies an overlook. He pulls off, backs up, then pulls out again and heads towards Coulson's resort.

"I'm sorry, what?"

"We've only been dating for a few months. This is our first weekend away together. My favorite color is dark red. My favorite movie is Jaws. I'm allergic to shellfish and chinchillas."

"What are you..." Skye blinks a few times. "How did the chinchilla thing-"

"Classified." Grant pulls into the parking lot and parks a few rows behind Lola. He shuts off the car and turns expectantly towards Skye.

"I... Uh... Okay. My favorite color is blue. Any kind of blue. My favorite movie is The Manchurian Candidate-"

"Of course it is."

"Shut up. I have seasonal allergies, but you think I'm cute when I'm all sniffley."

Grant scrunches up his face. "Let's try and keep this believable, shall we?"

"Shut up. Again. Just one thing, though, about this impromptu, madcap plan of yours... Don't you think it's going to look a little odd if we walk in there and the only luggage we have is my laptop case? They're probably gonna think we're making a porno or something."

Grant sighs. "There are two packed go bags in the trunk."

"Did you... What?" Skye reels back. "God, please tell me you didn't break into my apartment? Did you go through my underwear drawer? You totally went through my underwear drawer, didn't you?"

Grant tries to stop his eyes from rolling up, he really does. "For the... Skye, when exactly would I have had time to go to your apartment and pack a bag for you, huh?"

"I don't know, Ward, you could have used some kind of time turner tech thingie. Don't think that I don't know what you don't want me to know, you know."

Grant stares at her. "We are not having this conversation. I am not having this conversation with you. The bags are full of weapons and supplies, not clothes. If we're here longer than one night, we'll get extra stuff to wear tomorrow. And, by the way, my first name is Grant. Grant. It's only five letters; I think you can handle it."

"Oh, only five letters, huh? Or I could just call you sweetcakes."

"Whatever floats your boat, honeybun."

_______


Grant would never, ever admit it, but Skye's scowls are kind of giving him life right now.

"Did you have to be all touchy-feely lovey-dovey?!" She asks as Grant closes the door to their room. "I feel like I have government germs crawling all over me. I don't, do I? I mean, you would tell me if you were infected with nanites or something, right? Unless the nanites commanded you to not tell me. Oh, my-"

"Skye!" Grant drops their bags by the dresser and resists the urge to bang his head against the wall. "I don't have nanites, mind controlling or otherwise."

"Oh, sure," Skye says as she folds her arms across her chest, "that's what they want you to say."

"Dear, God..." Grant has a harsh realization about the now all too apparent downside of his plan. "Can you just get on your computer, break into the resort's system, and find out which room Coulson's in. The sooner we can find out what he's doing here, the sooner we can leave, and the less time you and I will have to spend in this suddenly extremely small room together."

Skye's still scowling at him, but she gets out her laptop and settles herself on the bed. "I still say he's having an affair. That conversation I recorded had to have been with a neglected mistress or something. This place is way too romantic for some clandestine meeting."

"Romantic places are perfect for clandestine meetings because most people would never think of them as places for clandestine meetings."

Skye snorts. "Jesus. Spies."

Grant checks out their room as he listens to the steady clacking of Skye's fingers. He's expecting a bit more for the charge that's going on his AmEx, but maybe he's just gotten too used to staying in government-accountant-approved no-tell motels. He's just found the room service menu - good Lord, how much for a burger - when Skye lets out a little triumphant noise.

"I'm in," she says. "Now I just need to figure out which reservation is... Huh."

"What?"

"Well he... Coulson made the reservation under his own name." She looks up at Grant. "That's weird, right? I mean, double agent or adulterer, that's weird."

"For someone with Coulson's skills and experience, yeah, it kind of is."

Skye looks back at the screen. "Okay, it says here that he and a guest are staying in one of the villas down by the beach. Swanky."

"Which villa?"

"The Gull's Nest. It's the one furthest from the main building."

Grant looks out the window. "It should be completely dark in another half hour or so. I don't suppose I can convince you to stay here and let me do the recon?"

"Not a chance," Skye says as she closes her laptop.

"Just checking."

_______


Neither Grant nor Skye are really dressed for skulking around a darkened beach, but Grant takes off his tie and unfastens a couple of buttons on his shirt. Skye takes off her outer top revealing a lacy, tank thing underneath which she then covers with Grant's jacket.

"Haven't you ever lent a girl your jacket before Grant?" she says when he makes a face at her.

"Most women I date have their own jackets. It covers their weapon holsters."

"Of course. You probably think going to a gun range is a romantic date, don't you?"

Grant strokes his chin and pretends to think for moment. "Depends. Are there twinkle lights? Everything's romantic with twinkle lights."

Skye stares at him, then shakes her head. "Wow. Okay, twinkle lights, what's the plan here?"

"The plan is we go down to Coulson's villa and try to get a picture of whoever he's shacking up with. We take that picture back to SHIELD, run it through a few databases, and see if anything pings."

"So, no confrontations?"

"Ideally? Yes, no confrontations."

"And if the mystery guest doesn't 'ping'?"

"Then we stay quiet and gather more intel. And, listen, if things go sound for any reason, you run-"

"Like the freakin' wind," Skye says with a nod.

"Good," Grant says, "let's go."

_______


It's surprisingly not horrible, strolling along the paths of the resort with Skye on his arm. She's leaning into him, and her hair's soft, and she smells nice, and she's being quiet, so it's kind of easy to forget what an unrepentant nut she is.

And the path has twinkle lights, dammit.

"Hey," Skye says abruptly, her fingers tightening on Grant's forearm, "you haven't gotten dosed with any radioactive tracking iso-whatevers lately, have you? 'Cause I'm like really close to you right now, and I don't want-"

"Thank you, Skye," Grant says, interrupting what he's sure would be a simply mind-bending tirade.

"For what?"

He pats her hand. "For being you." Suddenly the twinkle lights don't seem quite as bright anymore.

When they're about two hundred or so yards from the villa Coulson's rented, Grant grabs Skye by her waist, tucks his face into her neck, and smoothly spins both of their bodies off the path and into the shadows of the lush foliage.

"Whoa! Check you out." Skye leans back and peers at Grant through the darkness. "It's the twinkle lights, isn't it?"

"Shhhh," Grant says. "If anyone's been watching us, hopefully they'll think we're just off canoodling-"

"Canoodling?"

"Shhhhh. From here on out, follow my lead, okay?"

"Roger that."

Grant takes a moment to wonder at what his life has become before he's moving through the darkness. Skye keeps up, and together they skirt around Coulson's villa and then approach it from the north. There are low lights burning in a few of the windows. Flickering lights. Candle light. The romantic entanglement angle is looking more and more likely, but they've come too far to turn back now. Grant needs to see this through.

Just in case.

Just to be sure.

With Skye right by his side, they both slowly slink up to a window and carefully, cautiously peer inside.

Grant immediately ducks down again, but it's too late. The image of what he saw in that split second is already burned into his brain, seared into his retinas, forever etched into his-

"Damn," Skye says, the respect clearly audible in her softly whispered voice, "for an old guy, Coulson can really put his back into it, can't he?"

Grant looks up at her in horror. "Oh, my God, stop watching!" He tugs sharply on Skye's arm causing her to loose her balance and let out a loud yelp as she falls on top of Grant. "Get off me." He pushes at her, and he must hit something sensitive, because she yelps again.

"Ow! That's my kidney, you asshole!" Skye freezes as Grant claps a hand over her mouth.

"Will you shut up," he hisses. He slowly pulls his hand away as his ears strain to pick up any sounds that might indicate they had been discovered. Maybe Coulson and his... special friend hadn't noticed anything. They had been rather... occupied. Just when he thinks they may be in the clear, and he and Skye can retreat to their room and then back to L.A. and never, ever, ever speak of this again, he hears the sound of a bullet being chambered.

Skye's eyes, which had already been wide, grow to near dinner plate sized proportions. Grant takes his hand away from her mouth and, taking not being shot in the back as a good sign, he slowly raises his hands as he turns around. The man standing there holding a gun on them is naked, and not Phil Coulson, but he is familiar.

"Oh, no," Grant says softly. "Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no."

"Holy cats, you're Hawkeye!" Skye says. "And you're naked! You're naked Hawkeye!"

Clint Barton - former mercenary, current Avenger, sometime SHIELD operative, and constant lethal badass - tilts his head to one side. "Did you just say 'holy cats'?"

"Oh, no," Grant says again. "No, no, no, no, no, no, no."

Barton sighs and lowers his weapon. "All right, listen up, groupies-" Whatever he's going to say next is lost, though, when Coulson comes around the side of the villa. He's got his weapon out also, but he, thankfully, had put on a robe before venturing outside.

Not that that matters, since Grant has already seen him naked. With Barton. Together. Together.

"No, no, no, no, no, no, no."

"Ward?! Skye?!" Coulson's voice cracks as he says their names. His normally perfectly combed hair is in disarray, and his hastily fasten robe gapes dangerously in the front. He looks completely ridiculous and is the scariest thing Grant has ever seen in his entire life.

"Wait," Barton says, "you know these two idiots?"

"Hey," Skye pipes up, "we're not-"

"Yes, we are," Grant says. "We really, really are."

"They're my idiots," Coulson says. Grant doesn't know how he managed to pack bewilderment, irritation, and a promise of retribution into three little words, but he pulled it off.

"They..." Barton glances between Coulson and Grant and Skye. His eyes narrow as he peers closer at them. "Wait. Ward and... Are you... Seriously?!" He turns around and stalks towards Coulson. "You are un-fucking-believable, Phil, you know that?"

"Clint-" Coulson winces as Barton shoulders past him.

"Wow," Skye says under her breath, "I may be about to die, but at least my final moments included witnessing an ass like that."

Grant turns to her. "I hate you. So much."

"You two," Coulson says. "Inside. Now."

Grant and Skye both scramble to their feet and follow Coulson into the villa. He points at a loveseat - thankfully not the same one he had just been... uh... having relations with Hawkeye on - and they obediently sink down onto it.

Barton's put on a pair of black cargo pants, and he's shaking out a dark purple tee shirt. "I can not believe you," he says to Coulson. "I just can't. I ask for one weekend a month, Phil."

"Clint-"

"One fucking weekend a month with my husband-"

"Whoa," Grant says.

"Yikes," Skye says.

"-And you can't even give me that without inviting your flunkies along!" Barton pulls his shirt over his head then throws his hands into the air. "What the hell?"

Coulson's eyes narrow. "You think I invited them? I didn't invite them. I have no idea why they're here. Or how they're here." He turns his gaze to Grant and Skye, pinning them to their cushions like the tiny, soon-to-be-exterminated bugs. "Explain yourself, Agent Ward. Now."

Grant's eyes flick from Coulson to Barton and back again. He tries to swallow. "Uh... I..."

"We followed you," Skye blurts out. "From headquarters, to your house, and then to here."

Coulson's face, which had already been sporting a pretty serious frown, pulls down even more. "You followed me?"

Skye lets out a little squeak, and Grant feels himself shrink down further into the loveseat.

"We thought you were a spy!" Skye says. "Well, you are a spy, but we thought you were a bad spy. Like a double agent spy. You were acting really off, then you started getting these weird phone calls, and it was just really suspicious, and-"

"I didn't think you were a double agent," Grant says, suddenly finding his voice again, "I just thought you were having an affair." Barton scowls at him and Grant resumes his shrinking.

"Anyway, so we, um, overheard one of your phone calls, and it sounded like you were, you know, planning on having a nefarious meeting or something, so we decided to, uh, you know, tail you, and, you know, find out what was going on." She trails off and clasps her hands between her knees. "Sorry."

Coulson stares at her. "I don't know what to do with that. I honestly don't. There is so much wrong with what I just heard, I just... " He folds his arms over his chest. "I'm actually having trouble processing this."

"Well, I'm not," Barton says, unconsciously - or maybe consciously, who knows - mimicking Coulson's pose, "you people are nuts."

"I'm not nuts," Grant says, "she's nuts. I'm just... slightly paranoid. And kind of distrustful."

"Oh, yeah, that's loads better." Barton glances at Coulson. "These are seriously the people you have watching your back right now? You don't want me or Nat around, but you're perfectly fine with the Keystone Cops over here?"

"That's not fair," Skye says. "We're not incompetent or bumbling." She flushes. "Well, except for when we just were, but, in our defense, it's not like we were expecting BAM, guy on guy action. At least, I wasn't. Grant?"

"No. No, I wasn't expecting that either."

"And, Coulson," Skye continues, "can I just say-"

"No," Grant says, "please don't."

"That, for your age-"

"That's enough," Coulson says.

"But I was going to be complimentary."

"I don't care," Coulson says.

"I kind of want to hear what she has to say." Barton smirks at Coulson, then winks at Skye.

Coulson briefly closes his eyes. "There's a reason I never wanted the two of you to meet."

"Anyway," Skye says, "our intel may have been sketchy, and our theories might have been off, but you didn't catch us until we were both curve-balled by, well, balls."

"Oh, God," Grant says.

"Oh, God," Coulson says.

Barton snickers. "Balls."

Coulson rubs at his temple. "Could you not?"

"Not what? Try to make light of an embarrassing - heh, bare assing - situation? Yeah, I think I am gonna joke about this, Phil. Because if I'm not joking about it, I'm going to dwell on the fact that replacement-me and conspiracy-hacker chick just saw me getting fucked up the ass. And considering my talents and how many possible projectiles are laying around, for the health and safety of everyone in this room, that is really not something I should dwell on." Barton takes a deep breath, unclenches his fists, and cracks his neck.

"Clint..." Coulson starts to make a move towards him, but Barton stops him with one look.

Skye leans forward a bit. "If it helps, you have nothing to be embarrassed about. You're, like, surface-of-the-sun levels of hot."

"You honestly have no sense of self-preservation, do you?" Grant asks wonderingly.

"Actually," Barton says, "that does help. A little. Thanks."

"No problem," Skye says. "So, since I'm already on the shit list, I have to ask-"

"No, you don't," Grant says quickly. "Whatever it is, you really, really don't."

"Shush. Why did you want to keep your relationship a secret? I mean, Coulson, man, If I was banging Hotguy, er, I mean Hawkeye." Skye's cheeks flush and she laughs weakly. "I totally said Hawkeye."

"You totally didn't," Barton says, grinning.

Skye rolls her eyes. "Fine, whatever, but why-"

"It's complicated," Coulson says.

Barton snorts and flings himself onto the other loveseat. "No, it isn't. Phil's all twitchy about me being famous now. He thinks that if we see too much of each other he won't be able to, how did you and Fury put it, preserve your anonymity?"

"Secret agents aren't exactly a secret if they get plastered all over TMZ, are they?" Coulson says sharply.

"You think I can't still be stealthy?" Barton asks. "I got here without anybody knowing about it, didn't I? The only time the press and paps have caught me have been prearranged things set up by Tony's PR team."

"I'm not worried about you avoiding professionals; I'm worried about the average citizen with a camera phone and a Twitter account. The work I'm doing right now is too important to risk exposure."

Barton folds his arms over his chest and shakes his head. "Yeah, wouldn't want anything to risk your work, would we?"

Coulson sighs. "Clint-"

"So are you two gonna break up?" Skye asks with all the grace and tact of a rampaging elephant seal.

"What? Of course not," Coulson says immediately. He looks at Barton. Barton eyes drop to the floor and he purses his lips. Coulson pales. "Clint?"

"It would be the easiest solution, wouldn't it?"

Coulson looks gobsmacked for several seconds before he visibly pulls himself together and crosses the space between them in three quick steps. He sinks down beside Barton and puts his hands on Barton's face, forcing his head around until their eyes are locked together. "There would be nothing easy about it because I would fight it with everything I have. And I'm so, so sorry that I ever caused you to think something like that could even be an option, because it's not, and it never will be."

Barton stills seems unconvinced. "But Fury-"

"Nick will agree with whatever I tell him," Coulson says. "He still owes me for what he did to my damn cards, and he knows it. I'll put in a call Monday morning and tell him I want to be transferred back to the Initiative."

"You mean that?" Barton asks.

"Yes."

"Phil, I don't want you to give up what you're doing. You're right; it's important work."

"Not as important as you. Nothing will ever be as important as you."

Barton gazes lovingly into Coulson's eyes. Coulson gazes lovingly back as his hands gently stroke Barton's face.

Grant has never felt more uncomfortable in his entire life. He hears a soft sniff and glances over to see Skye using one of the sleeves of his jacket to dab at her eyes.

Great. Mascara stains. Just what he needs.

"I know that," Barton says. "I guess I just need to be reminded sometimes."

"You shouldn't need to be reminded. I should be telling you everyday, with everything I do, everything I say."

Barton ducks his head and grins. "Sap."

"For you," Coulson says, a grin of his own forming on his face, "the sappiest."

"I don't want you to give up your work," Barton says, "but I also don't want us to drift any more apart. We definitely need to spend more time together, but you're right about camera phones. You know, Tony's been making noises about buying us an island in the Caribbean. I think I'm gonna take him up on it."

"Okay." The grin drops off of Coulson's face. "Wait. Stark has what now?"

"Good, it's settled. So, how do you want to dispose of their bodies?" Barton jerks his head towards Grant and Skye's loveseat.

Grant's heart seizes. Skye's hand finds his and squeezes it almost painfully.

"Relax," Coulson says to them. "He's joking." Barton pouts and Coulson darts into to give him a quick kiss. "No, if I kill you now that means I won't get to quietly menace you on Monday, and every day thereafter."

Barton beams. "You are good at quietly menacing people."

"It's one of my specialties."

Barton licks his lips. "It's one of the reasons I fell for you."

Coulson's eyelids drop to half mast. "Is that right?"

"Yeah, you're so hot when you're all looming and ominous." One of Barton's hands slips inside Coulson's robe. Coulson bites his lower lip and arches into the touch.

Grant amends his previous thought. This is the most uncomfortable he's ever felt in his entire life. "We're leaving now!" he blurts out. "Right now. Let's go." He stands and pulls a reluctant Skye up with him.

"But it's just getting good," Skye hisses.

"No, no it's not." Ward starts to maneuver Skye towards the door. He very carefully does not look back. There's a soft sound that his brain immediately decides is Coulson's robe coming off, and then other, wet sounds which he very firmly does not think about.

Skye manages to twist around and peek over Grant's shoulder. "Whoa," she says just before Grant wrenches open the door and hustles her outside. He keeps a firm grip on her until they're at least a dozen yards from the villa.

As soon as he lets go, Skye shoves at Grant, then straightens her clothing. "Jackbooted government thug."

"Yes, that's me," Grant says wearily.

Skye grins at him. "So, we did good, huh?"

"In what dimension could that be considered 'doing good'?!"

"Do you not understand what just happened? Ward, we saved their marriage."

"No we... Did we?"

"Were you not paying attention, what with the it would be easier if we broke up and the no it won't because I love you forever? We were the catalyst for that conversation. The most likely athletic sex they're probably having right now, that's on us."

"Please don't... don't say it like that."

"We're awesome." Skye smacks at Grant's stomach. "Hey, this place has got a bar, right? This calls for celebratory margaritas."

"That's not..." Grant blinks a few times. "Actually, alcohol would be good right now. Yes, let's find some alcohol."

"Great! Hey, you know, you're not half bad, Ward."

"Oh. Well. You're..." Grant lightly pats her on her shoulder. "You're you." On the last pat he lets his fingertips linger.

Skye's eyes widen. "Uh, Ward..."

"I'm gonna need you to have this jacket dry cleaned before you give it back to me."

"What?"

"You got makeup on the sleeve, so..."

"Huh." The corners of Skye's mouth lift up into a smile. "Do you have any idea what kind of chemicals they-"

"Here we go." Grant starts to walk back towards the main building of the resort.

"I'm just saying," Skye says as she trots to keep up with him, "scientist have proven-"

"Real scientists or hippie, crackpot scientists?"

"You know, you're still a jerk," she says almost fondly.

"Yeah, and don't you forget it."

_______

end


Date: 2013-09-06 04:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jesseofthenorth.livejournal.com
I think I'm in love with this fic... and maybe you just a little ;) This was fantastic! Love the way you tied the two canons (MCU and SHIELD tv) together. Hope there is more where this came from

Date: 2013-09-06 09:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] saone77.livejournal.com
Thank you! This was so much fun to write. I've already got a few more ideas for AoS things, but I'm probably going to wait until I see a couple of eps just so I get a better feel for stuff.

Date: 2013-09-06 05:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] berylia.livejournal.com
ADORABLE and exactly what I needed. Thank you.

Date: 2013-09-06 09:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] saone77.livejournal.com
Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. :D

Date: 2013-09-06 01:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gemini8.livejournal.com
Brilliant!

Date: 2013-09-06 09:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] saone77.livejournal.com
Thank you! :D

Date: 2013-09-06 04:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jadesymb.livejournal.com
ADORABLE

Date: 2013-09-06 09:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] saone77.livejournal.com
Thank you! :D

Date: 2013-09-07 02:04 am (UTC)
epeeblade: (Default)
From: [personal profile] epeeblade
This was very funny and adorable. I really enjoyed it.

Date: 2013-09-07 04:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] saone77.livejournal.com
Thank you! :D

Date: 2013-09-07 03:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gypsyluv.livejournal.com
I soooo friggin' loved every single word of this fic! I loved so many things about it that I can't pick out each one to comment on! I loved it all! Thank you for this!!!

Date: 2013-09-07 04:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] saone77.livejournal.com
Thank you! I'm so glad you liked it. :D

Date: 2013-09-07 04:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cat-77.livejournal.com
That was very cute!
Edited Date: 2013-09-07 04:43 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-09-07 04:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] saone77.livejournal.com
Thank you! :D

Date: 2013-09-07 10:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] drredhead.livejournal.com
This was a lot of fun. Thank you for sharing!

Date: 2013-09-09 07:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] saone77.livejournal.com
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it. :D

Date: 2013-09-09 11:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] burntcopper.livejournal.com
I am now going to be disappointed if their personalities aren't like this. DAMMIT.

Date: 2013-09-10 10:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] saone77.livejournal.com
I have been told, from someone who's seen the pilot (lucky thing), that I got both of them. \o/

Honestly, I developed most of my snarking powers from watching Wheadon's shows, so it makes sense that the tone would be similar. Or I've developed a psychic link with the showrunners... *sends out thoughts of making Jeremy Renner guest star*

Date: 2013-10-09 05:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taraxacumoff.livejournal.com
Oh My God, it's wonderful, and funny, and Ward and Sky are hilarious, and the part with Clint and Coulson are just perfect!

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