Phillip Coulson had always grown up with the omnipresent awareness of being different. For one thing, he had never entirely understood, or been contented with his ‘parental units.’ He knew of course they had been specially selected for him, just the same as any other child’s, they had fed him, clothed him, taken care of all his intrinsic needs, but somehow it had never felt right—never felt like enough. He couldn’t have said what it was that he was looking for, that he needed, what was missing, only that he felt it—the emptiness in the absence of it.
Phil didn’t want his parents to take care of him just because they were expected or ordered to do so for their ward, he wanted them to care for him because they wanted to, to feel as though he was wanted—not a necessary responsibility. But no matter how hard he tried—what he gave them, did for them, how much with every decision he made he attempted to make them proud it didn’t seem enough, didn’t fill that void within, leaving the young boy to struggle with a sense of inadequacy, a fear that something was fundamentally wrong with him that would follow him into adulthood.
He was twelve the first time he dared to think that perhaps life could be different, when he first fell in love. A boy in his class named Jasper, it had been his laugh-amongst the hundreds of other things that he had admired about him. Their instructors realizing their attachment for one another had lectured them on the dangers of becoming too attached to someone. That love made you do crazy, even dangerous things, that it could even kill you, that was why there were laws against it. It was just a phase of growing up they’d said when they split them up into separate classes, something they would outgrow. Jasper seemed to, but Phillip never did. His parents kicked him out on his eighteenth birthday, too ashamed or afraid someone might come to the conclusion something they had done had made him this way.
For some years Phil struggled with it, tried to hide it, did his best to pretend to be content with the cold, impersonal and callus world everyone else seemed content to live in. He even joined the army in the hopes that perhaps the rigors of it and rigid structure would work the defect out of him. Instead he’d met Steve. And for the first time in his life Phillip Coulson felt complete, and happy, and wanted—loved, just as sure as he felt that he would never love or care for anyone the same way, or as much as he did for Steven Rogers.
They bought a small apartment in Brooklyn once they were both done with their tours, nothing special, not even all that large, but theirs. A little piece of heaven, of warmth in a dark and cold sort of world. But it wasn’t to last. Would always be stolen, secret, forbidden… was never meant to last forever— not in such an unforgiving and fearful world.
So when the police came knocking on the door Phillip did the only thing that he could do. He held Steve until the door fell to the floor with a great and shuddering crash. He kissed him with all of the love, hope, passion, and fierceness that he felt, until two forceful men in full tactical gear tore them apart.
He didn’t struggle. He didn’t cry. He didn’t apologize, because it wasn’t his fault, or Steve’s, and he didn’t regret a moment they had stolen with one another, wouldn’t have traded it for anything not even his life that now hung in the balance. Instead Phillip let them cuff him, whispering nonstop to the man across from him on the floor, to his lover, that he loved him. That he would never stop loving him. That they could break his body, but only one person in the world that had the power to break his heart, and nothing they could do to him would ever change it.
“I’ll wait for you,” he whispered bright blue eyes shining, repeating their promise to each other every time they had charged into a battle of seemingly insurmountable odds together—that if anything should ever happen to one, the other would wait in whatever came next until they could be reunited, and move on together. A nightstick collided with a sickening crack to the back of his head, and Phillip Coulson’s world went dark.