Phil’s Not an Important Person
Phil’s not an important person.
He knows his team thinks he is, because they witnessed S.H.I.E.L.D. scramble heaven-and-earth to find him, but that’s really something completely different.
Nick Fury is a friend – a close, personal friend – and in many ways the only one Phil’s got. Sure, he’s worked with gods like Thor in the past and Sitwell calls him ‘friend’, but Phil knows that’s actually a dig and means completely the opposite. They aren’t friends, they’re colleagues, and colleagues should know better than to ask each other where Director Fury has gone.
Phil’s job is to be efficient and forgettable and he is very – very – good at his job.
So it’s a complete shock when Clint Barton stares at him as if he’s some kind of ghost, explosions going off in the distance, because of course The Clairvoyant had to go down in style.
"You’re – alive? You’ve been alive this whole time?"
"Yes," Phil says, because Nick Fury is an asshole but if he’s the only friend Phil’s got, well, that road runs both ways.
Clint’s still staring at him with a wide, lost look in his eyes, though, and Phil can see that his hands are clenching at his sides. Not as if he were trying to make a fist, because Phil’s seen Hawkeye go from one hundred percent relaxed to brawling like a schoolboy in zero point three seconds flat, but as if he’s trying and failing to wrap his hand around a bow.
"And you didn’t think to tell anyone?”
Phil blinks. “I didn’t think it would matter?”
He can’t quite help it coming out as a question, because – what? What, even? Why would anyone, why would Hawkeye, ever care if he lived or died?
The sound Clint makes in the back of his throat has Phil reflexively stepping forward because it honestly sounds like he’s dying.
Clint startles him by reaching over and gripping Phil’s shoulders, and Phil has to hide a wince because the strength in those arms is, as he’s always suspected, incredible. He ignores how long he’s fantasized about Clint holding him, touching him, and stares instead into Clint’s eyes.
"I would care," Clint says, and his voice is a mess, hoarse and garbled and strangled on the last syllable like he’s forgotten how words work halfway through. "I would – I do.”
"Okay," Phil breaths. He feels the burn in his eyes but doesn’t dare blink, doesn’t dare look away, because he still can’t believe this moment is happening and honestly can’t imagine it ever taking place again. "Okay."