Also for John McClane. Who'd TOTALLY stab an Angel in the face if it started acting a dick.
And for Captain America, who would stab you, but only if his shield wasn't handy. Otherwise all he's got for you is vibranium to the face. He's also mouthy, so a pretty well put together hero.
Why Phil bops Clint on the head in the Toasterverse
Ok, now I have to ask, one because you brought it up, and two because of the ridiculous amount of infectious energy that just came off of that post. What’s with the Phil/Clint head bop?
Wow, go straight for the complicated ones, don’t you? 8)
When Phil and Clint first started working together, there was an op that went very, very bad. It wasn’t Clint’s fault, but he got caught up in a cascade of events that forced him to do things that he ordinarially wouldn’t do. Everyone got out, but there were a lot of bad consequences, and afterwards, Clint just shut down.
And Phil hadn’t been working with him for that long, and it was a very frustrating situation for him, because the files kept by his previous handlers were RUBBISH, really, what were these people THINKING there was nothing in here, nothing that Phil could work with. Because he prides himself on knowing his agents, how to get the best from them, when they need to be put on a leash, how to talk them around from the bad bits, when to leave them alone. He compiles all this stuff, kind of a ‘how to’ for anyone who comes after him. So that an agent can go to another handler, and that handler, if they give half a damn, can easily adjust to work with them.
Barton’s file is a mess of “WTF?” and Phil is NOT HAPPY ABOUT THIS.
And he tries all the basics, all his usual work-arounds, but Clint doesn’t respond to persuation or orders or coddling, and he won’t see the psyche staff and he all but tries to bite the medical staff. He does his job, he logs time at the range, he even does another op, but it’s like working with a marrionette. There’s nothing there, and Phil is starting to get scared, like actually scared.
He gets into a bit of a fight with Clint after the successful op, and it’s not much of a fight, because Clint isn’t really responding or even caring much, but Phil realizes that the entire time, his hands are sliding up and down the length of his bow. That there’s a precise way he’s doing it. This isn’t just a weapons check, this is a tactile comfort thing.
That’s clue number one. Because Clint is very tactile, very hands on, and hell, so’s Phil for that matter, but it’s not like he can just start hugging Clint. It’s not appropriate, for one thing, and for the second, he might have the tiniest attraction to his new agent. Shh, don’t tell. But part of his iron control is keeping his hands off of things that play havoc with that control, so hugging? Not a good idea.
And the second hint comes later, when they get called into Fury’s office about some reassignment of staff, some stupid thing that Phil should’ve handled alone, but Fury wanted Barton there, so Barton came.
It was boring and stupid and Phil expected Clint to be playing on his phone or something, but Clint just stared straight ahead, impassive, blank. And when Fury dismissed them, that was the first time that Clint showed any emotion; something like shock or suprise or confusion.
Phil followed him out into the hallway, and Barton turned on him and just went, “How much longer are we going to drag this out? Get it over with! I fucked up, just get it over with!” like he was at the end of his rope.
And that was part two: Barton was waiting to be punished.
No amount of, “this wasn’t your fault,” or “we don’t blame you,” or worst of all, “you did the best you could” changes the fact that Clint knows he screwed up. Not intentionally, nothing IS his fault, but his prefectionism has deep claws, and when he does not do everything perfectly, that turns him inside out and sideways, and he has been waiting, agonized and panicked and afraid, for the other shoe to drop.
He’s been waiting for his punishment, and until that happens, he’s not going to let go. It’s not rational, it’s not right, but it’s what is going on in Clint’s head. He expects a punishment, and he’s expecting everything from being reassigned or demoted to being fired.
And nothing that Phil can SAY right now will convince him that’s not what’s coming.
And Phil has siblings, and Phil is a tactile kind of guy, so he looks at Barton and just says, “Don’t do it again,” and without really thinking about it, he just reaches out and smacks Clint on the back of the head, a little bop, no force to it, the same way he did with his little sisters when he caught them breaking the rules, when he still loved them, but man, were they pains in the ass.
And for a second, he doesn’t know if he did the right thing, because Clint just freezes, and when he does start moving again, it’s still a little odd, a little off. But on their next op, he’s talking on the comm again, and he reappears on the sofa on Phil’s office to shoot pencils at the ceiling and generally be an annoyance afterwards.
Because they’re both kind of messed up and crazy, and Clint’s got a lot of tangled headspace about responsiblity and perfection. But when Phil bops him on the head, it’s shorthand for “what you’re saying is annoying” or “I was worried,” or “stop teasing Natasha before you get stabbed,” or “you screwed up.” It’s Clint being reassured that no matter how annoying he is, and what comes out of his mouth, or how badly he reacts sometimes, that Phil will acknowledge this, and that’s it. That is the worst that is going to happen.
It’s their little shorthand for, “Don’t worry about it, I still love you.”
These two, you guys. These two.
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