Phil decides to have a lunch in the park. For a moment it seems like a bad idea, because a dog steals his food... but then the owner of the mutt turns up.
Once a week, a Tuesday, Phil would take time away from his desk to visit the food truck near his office, get something from the varied and surprisingly delicious menu taking it back to his office to eat. Tuesdays because they were such a non-entity and yet quite often sucked so a treat was welcome, no imperative, to get him through the day.
It had also earned him the nickname ‘Tuesday Guy’ from Skye who worked there with her partner Trip. She knew his name was Phil, just as he knew hers was… well, Skye but it was a name she called him with a huge grin and apparently genuine affection as soon as she saw him. And truth be told, he actually kinda liked it.
In was certainly different to ‘Cheese’, the name his business partner and best friend had given him decades earlier and would still casually throw at him, annoyingly and most frequently, during important meetings with high-end clients. Phil would ignore it or roll his eyes depending on his humour and carry on with the meeting regardless, maintaining an air of quiet competence he’d cultivated over many years and that clients felt comforted by. It was fortunate one of them was mature… well, most of the time.
Nick - aka Marcus - was the wild one, the renegade who wound people up just to gauge their reactions then left Phil to smooth ruffled feathers. He also had an instinct for trouble that Phil would trust over the most detailed reports his analysts and investigators could provide. They worked well as a team. Always had. And it was also why they ran one of the most successful investigation and security firms in New York.
Besides, deep down, he secretly he kinda liked his nickname from Marcus too (yeah, he was a fickle thing, so sue him), even if his friend/partner/asshole could be a dick sometimes when he used it. It was from another life reminding him of how they both survived their time together in the Rangers.
And right on cue as he neared the food truck…
“Hey! Tuesday Guy!” Skye called through the serving hatch as soon as she saw him. A few people, tourists probably - New Yorkers didn’t generally react to such mundane things - turned to stare at him causing him to duck his head shyly and look up at her with that very becoming half-smile thing he had going on.
“You want me to pick you something?”
“Why should today be any different?” he responded drily. Skye insisted on choosing his Tuesday treat and he was happy to let her. Since the first time she’d done it she’d never steered him wrong.
There were a few disgruntled murmurs from the queue ahead of him.
“Seriously? You guys even made up your minds what you want yet?” she demanded, her arms folded across her chest challenging them to challenge her.
The murmurs quietened down.
“Yeah… thought so. One Sicilian hoagie, hold the peppers, on Italian herb bread coming right up.”
Skye took some other orders while her partner Trip made the hoagie. He had a delicate hand when building the sandwich and the bread was always perfect; soft but not doughy on the inside and firm with a satisfying crispness on the outside. Plus his secret blend of herbs and spices depending on the filling made the final product mouthwatering.
“Hey, girl!” Trip called to Skye a few minutes later waving the sandwich at her. She reached over and plucked the tightly wrapped Sicilian hoagie from his fingers with a smile and a hip bump. The young man grinned back at her before catching sight of Phil. He stuck his head out of the window beside Skye.
“Tuesday Guy! The Sicilian for you?”
Phil nodded exchanging it, a large coffee and a bottle of water for a twenty dollar bill adding the change to the tip jar.
“Made with love, man. Made with love. Enjoy!”
Phil laughed and saluted him with the sandwich before walking away to head back to his office. However after a few steps, he decided to deviate from the norm and eat his lunch in the park. It was sunny but not too warm. Not enough for office workers to strip down and sunbathe for the half hour / forty-five minutes of their break, but enough for Phil to take off his jacket and roll up his shirt sleeves.
Sitting on the bench, setting his coffee and water by his feet, he unwrapped part of the sandwich and contemplated the whole Tuesday sucks thing. Monday was the start of the working week for many, universally hated; Wednesday aka hump day, was halfway through; Thursday was a day nearer Friday so yay! And Friday - well who didn’t love a Friday (except people who worked weekends… sorry weekend workers, and he included himself in that category as it happened on an alarmingly regular basis).
So that left Tuesday. Nondescript Tuesday, sitting there all on its own. Not a day to look forward to, not a day to hate particularly. And that’s why Tuesdays needed something from the food truck.
Poor Tuesday, Phil thought as he leaned forward legs wide, elbows on his knees taking a huge bite of the hoagie. He moaned with pleasure, a sound that was almost pornographic in nature. Shit! Trip made a mean sandwich and Skye definitely knew how to pick ‘em.
As he chewed he began to get an uncomfortable feeling of being watched. Without moving his head he turned his eyes to the side and found he was correct. Years in combat situations had sharpened his instincts on which he still relied even having led a civilian life for several years now (admittedly investigation and security always needed sharp instincts). However, on this occasion Phil didn’t think he had much to worry about.
He looked round carefully to be met by the fixed stare of a one-eyed yellow labrador retriever / mix. At having been caught, the dog quickly looked away but after a moment resumed its longing gaze at Phil. Or more likely, Phil’s Sicilian hoagie.
“Sorry, pup,” he said gently with a soft half-smile playing on his lips. “There’s a reason I limit myself to one of these a week. And… if it’s not good for me, it’s really not good for you. Where’s your person, huh? Did you run off? Someone will be out there worried about you.”
Without providing answers to Phil’s questions, satisfactory or otherwise, the dog continued to stare at him (the hoagie) and licked his lips with a loud smacking sound. He lifted a paw and slapped it onto Phil’s foot making him snort. He seemed friendly enough. In fact the only thing Phil found to be disconcerting was that the dog reminded him of Nick the way it gave him that one-eyed stare which seemed to consist of amused disappointment as though he/it knew something that he didn’t.
In a moment of stupidity at what Phil described later as ‘being played by a superior intellect’, he leaned forward to check if there was a tag on the dog’s collar when the animal in question snatched the hoagie from Phil’s grasp and legged it as fast as it could. Phil sat there with his mouth open, both furious (at himself and the thief) and admiring (at the audacity of said thief). If and when he saw the dog’s owner, he’d have several choice things to say to them about dog control and the sanctity of a man’s hoagie. At least he still had his coffee.
While he sat there quietly fuming (and trying not to cry - it was such a good hoagie) an apologetic voice cut into his thoughts as he took a long swallow from his cup.
“Sorry, man. He’s an opportunist.”
Ah! The owner. Phil didn’t turn. In fact he didn’t acknowledge the voice at all waiting instead until the man appeared in front of him. He opened his mouth to let rip but everything he wanted to say died in his throat. If this was the dog’s owner, it could have his hoagie, and his coffee… and the keys to his house and car if it really wanted. Phil’s stomach did a mini-lurch (hell, a full roller coaster lurch) as the guy’s unbelievably sexy arms and shoulders came into view. And then of course there were the eyes, a curious mix of blue/green/grey and, well, gorgeous.
“He stole my hoagie.” Oh seriously? He sounded like a petulant six year old.
“Yeah, I know. Probably should have ignored him.”
“So it’s my fault?” No really. Seriously? Now he sounded like a sulky teenager. Phil wanted to facepalm himself but he figured it could only make things worse. Although at this point he wasn’t sure how that would be possible.
Clint laughed. “Definitely not your fault. And I’m really sorry he stole your hoagie. What I meant was, he takes advantage of people when they’re eating. He senses when they’re, I dunno, nice? It’s like his superpower or something. You didn’t chase him off or throw something at him. You spoke to him. So he figured you must be a nice guy and he’s an asshole food thief, so… Anyway I just came to apologise and… hey asshole. Come to say you’re sorry?”
Phil lost the thread of the conversation for a second, however as he caught sight of a yellow shape slinking low on it’s his belly, he realised the owner was talking to his dog as he came crawling towards them wagging the tip of his tail like a rattlesnake.
The guy’s expression changed from friendly to a mix of angry and sad. His next words explained why.
“I hate when he goes like that. He’s a rescue. I guess it’s a throwback to his time on the streets, y’know? I hate to think what he went through before I got him. C’mere asshole,” he said affectionately. The dog jumped up and wagged his tail rubbing his head against his owner’s leg making cute chuffy noises. And in that moment all was forgiven by Phil.
“He’s Lucky,” Clint said resting his hand on top of the dog’s head. Lucky twitched his ears at his name and looked up at him, tongue lolling out of his mouth obviously happy with himself.
“He is indeed,” Phil replied then blushed furiously realising he’d said it out loud. Shit! He did his best to cover it by quickly dropping his gaze to the dog.
“And what do you have to say for yourself, hoagie-thief?” he asked the mutt reaching out the back of his hand for the dog to sniff. Lucky craned his neck without moving and did just that, Deciding he was worth the effort, probably as his fingers still smelled like hoagie, the dog stood and pushed his head under Phil’s hand so that he could rub his ears, his tail wagged faster as he did so.
“He likes you,” Clint told him giving him a quick grin.
“He’s kinda sweet when he’s not, well… y’know,” Phil finished lamely, waving his hand in a ‘you know what I mean’ kind of way.
“Stealing your food?” Clint’s grin deepened into something more mischievous.
Phil ducked his head and looked up at the other man, a half-smile curling up the corner of his mouth. Hot and funny. Finally remembering his manners (and completely forgetting he was supposed to be mad) he got to his feet and held out his hand introducing himself. “Phil Coulson.”
Clint took it and held onto it for a second or two longer than necessary appreciating the strength of Phil’s grip, firm but not overpowering. He also appreciated the incredibly sexy forearms on display. Resisting the urge to lick his lips, he replied “Clint Barton. Nice to meet you, Phil. Look. I feel bad about the hoagie thing. Maybe you’ll let me buy you another?”
Phil stole a quick look at his watch. “I’d say yes if I didn’t have a meeting in fifteen minutes.”
Clint’s expression fell - apparently the attraction wasn’t one sided - but he covered it by nodding and adding a nonchalant shrug. “Sure. Another time then.”
“Sure.” Phil reached down to pick up his jacket then totally out of character said, “Or… I could call the office and claim I’m traumatised after been mugged in the park and we could go for lunch? If that’s not being too forward?”
“You know, Phil, I think it’s just the right amount of forward.”
The bright smile that Clint gave him had Phil thinking he might have to consider revising his opinion on Tuesdays, maybe they weren’t so bad after all.