"You know," Darcy says in as casual of a tone as she can muster, "we don't always have to do stuff I want." She glances up at where Clint is flipping through the endless channels that come standard with a set of rooms at the Tower, but then looks back down at the dress and shoes and jewelry she's found for the night. It's New Year's Eve and Thor (to the surprise of many, but not Jane and Darcy, who really do understand how much he likes to keep promises) has indeed gotten them on the list for not one, but two of the most private places in New York. Darcy is finished with school; Jane has made great progress in her new algorithms--the party is on. Darcy's just been thinking about some things and now is as good a time as any to get certain discussions kicked off. Carpe diem, and all that. "I mean, I know this speakeasy thing isn't really your style."
"Eh," Clint says. "It's not really yours either."
Clint tosses the TV remote onto the coffee table and comes over to sit on the side of the bed, which effectively kills all the plans Darcy had use the little bit of distance to hide her nerves. "I figure we'll have fun regardless," he says. "Yeah?" She nods, because that's pretty much the truth, but then he says, "But that's not all you're talking about, is it?" and she's stuck.
It's stupid: she's a grown woman, an actual college graduate now, and she's been having sex since she was sixteen. She should be able to start a talk with her partner about their sex life without having a case of the vapors. Apparently, though, her adrenal glands beg to differ. But, whatever. Even if her heart is racing, she can still have the conversation. Function over form, substance over style, she reminds herself. Fake it ‘til you make it. (Or you fall on your face.)
With that cheerful thought, she metaphorically rolls her eyes at herself and says, "No, not really." She sounds a little shaky, but she's not stopping. "I mean, yes, because you always let me drag you off to wherever--"
"Usually to have a good time," Clint interjects, and she crosses her arms over her chest and Looks at him.
"I am not going to get through this if you don't keep interrupting me," she says. She mostly just expects an eyeroll in reply but he gives her a Look of his own.
"I'm just making sure you know that whatever has you all wound up in your head isn't something that I'm sitting on and stewing." He stops for a second. "At least I'm pretty sure I'm not."
"I don't actually think that you are," Darcy tells him. "I just kinda want to get to it before it turns into a big thing." That's mostly true, with a tiny bit of other stuff going on, but since she can only barely think about the other stuff, it's going to take a little while longer to figure out words she can say about it.
Clint mutters something about borrowing trouble, but since that's all he says, Darcy takes a deep breath and just goes for it. "It's… a sex thing," she says, which is not untrue, but probably not the best way to start off, not judging from alarm bells she can practically hear ringing in his head. "No, no, nothing's wrong--"
"But you need to talk about it," Clint says, clearly not believing her. "You're freaked to talk about it, but you're making yourself go on--"
"I don't want you to get bored!" Darcy says, which, again, is not the best way to say things, but she could see all the bad directions he was heading for and she maybe got a little flustered. Or a little more flustered.
"Darlin'--" Clint starts.
"No, seriously," Darcy says, because now that her mouth has broken the ice and left the barn door open (to mix a few metaphors), the rest of it is easier to say. "I mean, you've been doing this for a while--" He mock-winces at that, and she rolls her eyes at him. "Watch it, or I'll start matching up what I know you had to be doing when I was in kindergarten." His wince is for real this time, which is not the mood Darcy is going for, so she crosses over to where he's sitting and settles herself next to him. "I'm just saying that you really tend to let me run the show in bed and I wanted to make sure you knew I was okay with you… having opinions there, too."
Clint snickers at that, so she pokes him a couple of times. It gets quiet after that, for long enough that Darcy thinks the conversation's over, but when she stands up to go get dressed, Clint reaches for her hands and says, "I can do that, but you have to promise to say 'no' if something doesn't work for you."
Darcy's ready to scoff at that--like she's ever been slow to share what's on her mind--but he's really serious, so she shoves all the automatic smartass to the back of her mind and squeezes his hand. "I will, promise." She nods once, firmly. "And that goes for you, too, Hawkeye."
She absolutely expects a smirk at that, but he's still serious. "No problem."
"Good." Darcy leans forward enough that she can kiss him lightly. "I mean it. We are definitely good."
"We are," Clint confirms.
"Okay," Darcy says, smiling just because there's their first Serious Sex Talk all taken care of, and it even went well. "I'm gonna go get dressed."
"You do that," Clint says, leaning back with a smirk. She expects him to go pick up the remote again, but he stays where he is, his eyes never leaving her. It takes her an embarrassingly long time to realize what's going on. (In her favor, she's dealing with the most expensive pair of stockings she's ever owned. She'd debated about buying a back-up pair, but decided food was probably a better use for her money, at least until her internship with NASA starts, and so is reeeeeally focused on not tearing them up before she even gets to wear them.)
"You like to watch, superhero?" Darcy manages to say it lightly enough, but her voice comes out a little more breathless than she likes. Then again, she pretty much knows the answer to her question--his eyes are dark and intense, not hiding anything--and it maybe turns out she likes to be watched. At least right here and now.
"I like a lot of things," Clint answers. For all that he's still leaning back on his elbows, super casual and chill, he sounds a little strained, like there's a lot more going on than just what's on the surface. Knowing that gives Darcy the extra bit of courage to drop her robe right there in front of him rather than going into the bathroom to change. It's stupid to feel that vulnerable--he's seen her without clothes for months now. Hell, he's gotten her out of them dozens of times himself. Standing there in just her thong and stockings and garter belt, though, feels even more naked than naked.
She's hyper-aware of Clint, absolutely still except for how his eyes are moving over her, flicking over her mouth and tits and the skin she knows is paler than pale against the tops of her black, sheer stockings. Her nipples, already tight from the sudden chill of being bared, harden even more as his gaze lingers on them. She wants to touch them, finger them the way she knows he likes to see--they're aching for it--but that's a little too far for her to go, at least right now.
Darcy is barely breathing as she reaches for her dress and her hands shake a little as she unfastens the button at the top of the back zipper. It takes her longer than it should to get the dress to where she can slip it on; she has to bite back a gasp as the cool, satiny lining slides over her suddenly sensitized skin.
"Come make yourself useful," she says, inordinately proud of how normal her voice sounds. She turns her back to him and pulls her hair over one shoulder so he can get to the zipper. Faster than she expects--and more quietly, for all she knows that he can move like a cat--there's a warm, rough hand flat on her back and a mouth dropping kisses to her shoulders and neck. Darcy isn't exactly sure how, but she's both soothed and even more keyed up at the touch.
"No fancy, matching bra?" Clint murmurs against her skin, close enough that she shivers at the light touches. "Isn't that breaking one of your life rules?"
"It's--" Darcy has to stop as he slides his hands around under the still-loose fabric of her dress, stroking and teasing at the line of her garters. "The dress is taking care of it for me," she manages to say. She feels him nod, and then his hands are all business, sliding the zipper up and catching the button at the top.
He doesn't move away when he's finished, though--and Darcy might not know what's going on, but like hell is she stepping away from whatever it is. Her good sense is rewarded when Clint presses another line of kisses up her neck and under her jaw. These ones are slower, more thorough, and she can't help shuddering at the occasional brush of his tongue or the scrape of his teeth. By the time he makes it to where he can worry at her earlobe with nipping little bites that push right up against where it hurts too much to be fun, her heart is pounding so hard she can barely hear him say, "Incoming opinion, okay?"
Actual words pretty much aren't happening, but Darcy manages to make an affirmative sort of noise and a nod.
"I'd kinda like it if you lost the thong," Clint says, his voice low and a little rough. "Have it just be you and those stockings under the dress."
Darcy's heart takes to skipping every second or third beat as her brain misfires a couple of times while it's thinking about walking around some super-exclusive club in just the dress and stockings. And--even more--knowing that Clint would be watching her and knowing, too.
Yeah, total brain whiteout there.
"Okay, yes, I can do that," she blurts out before she actually realizes she's going to speak. "I-- Yes."
Clint takes her by the shoulders and turns her around so she can't not look at him.
"Are you sure?" he asks, serious in a way that she's only seen a couple of times. "Because I was just running my mouth, so if you're doing it because you don't want to back down--"
"One," Darcy interrupts, "I asked you to run your mouth about stuff like this. Not ten minutes ago, dude." She's still really fucking turned on, but she's also in full possession of all her faculties. "Two," she steps in and wraps her arms around his waist, tucking her face in against the strong column of his throat, "don't do that. You weren't 'just' running your mouth. You had an opinion, you put it out for discussion, and I, uh, agreed."
The more she thinks about it, the more she 'agrees,' (for values of the word that include half the nerve endings in her body going into overload at the thought.) Her voice had gotten a little hoarse and unsteady, though, so she tightens her hold on him just to add the extra body language. There's a Three rattling around the back of her head, and it has to do with how much she's liking him telling her what to do, but she needs to think about that more before she talks about it, so she just holds on tight and waits for him to answer.
"You're sure?" Clint asks again.
Darcy takes a deep breath and lets it trickle out. The skirt of her dress is short, but not super-short, and it's cut close to her hips and thighs, so it's not like it's a flippy little thing that would flash everyone any time she moves. She's still going to have to be careful, and pay attention to how she's sitting or getting in and out of cars, but… That's kind of the point, right? Knowing she's going to be mostly naked under everything and having to deal with it all. She tips her head back to look at him.
"Yeah," Darcy says. The words are easy and clear. "I'm sure."
"Okay," Clint whispers, but catches Darcy's hands when she starts to shimmy her skirt up over her hips. "Let me…"
"It's a little complicated with the garters and all," Darcy tells him, or at least she starts off with that intent. She trails off when he smiles at her, because it's his wicked, wicked smirk, the one he uses when he has an idea that's guaranteed to raise holy hell.
"Yeah," Clint says, stepping back and reaching behind him. "I figure this will take care of it all." His hand comes back into view and he shows her the knife in it. It's one of the ones Darcy is very, very careful of when it's in between being in its sheath at the small of his back and locked up in a weapons safe. It's not really all that big or nasty-looking--she'd basically had a panic attack the first time she'd ever seen a K-Bar, but this is nothing like that--but it's sharp and lethal and now it's right there. She actually isn't sure how long it takes her to drag her eyes away from it and back to Clint's face, except that it had seemed like forever, but probably hadn't been; and she's not sure either one of them had been breathing much until she did.
"Okay?" Clint asks, and then when she nods, adds, "I need to hear words, Darce."
"It's okay," Darcy answers. Her mouth and throat are so dry that she has to work extra hard to get her voice out there, but she does it and he hears it and then he's easing her skirt up to bunch around her waist. One tiny part of her brain can't believe she's doing this, but the rest of it is so onboard with it all that she's impressed she's still standing. She's back to not being able to take her eyes off the knife, but now at least her brain is noticing stuff other than the actual blade, things like Clint's hands and how easily he moves the hilt around, smoothly, almost delicately.
From there, it's not much more than a tiny baby step in her brain to how well she knows what being the thing being handled feels like (and how much she likes it) and her heart is back up in jackrabbit territory and they haven't really even done anything yet. She's going to totally lose it when things really get going, but again: kind of the point.
"I need you to hold still," Clint says. Darcy gasps out an okay and somehow manages not to jump at the first touch of the knife. She'd expected it to be cold, but it's warm, almost skin temperature--because Clint's been wearing it, duh, the functioning part of her brain says. She can't really see anything now, only the back of Clint's head where he's sitting on his heels and leaning in to her. She knows the focused, intent set of his shoulders, though, and it's enough that she can relax into the scariness of the flat of the blade skimming along the outside of her thigh and hip. It's a weird, weird feeling, but it's pretty clear she's liking it. Going by how Clint's teasing her, dragging the flat up and down her leg, he's figured that out, too.
"Don't you fuck up those stockings," Darcy says. "I don't have a spare set." She grins as he huffs out a soft laugh, but then has to drop her head back and focus hard on her breathing when he adds a little pressure to the knife and she can just barely feel the edge. Her brain can't decide if it's more freaked out or turned on, but it definitely knows she can't just let that challenge slide. "I mean it, Barton," she grits out.
"I like them, too," Clint says. "I'm not going to mess them up." He traces along the top edge of the right stocking, drawing a smooth, straight line to the inside of her thigh before he skips to her left leg and does it in reverse. He's barely touching her with the knife, so it tickles more than anything, but she knows how sharp the damn thing is and how much it isn't a toy and doesn't so much as twitch. "At least not now."
"Promises, promises," Darcy gasps, but then he's working the knife under the tight elastic at the top of her thong, right below her hip, and everything but staying totally still flies out of her head. "Oh, shit," she hears herself whimper as he twists the blade a little and it slices through the elastic like it was paper. "Shit, shit, shit," she babbles as he makes short work of the other side and the thong slithers down her legs and drops to the floor.
"Easy," Clint murmurs, sliding his hands up her legs to tug her skirt back down. The familiar touch--Darcy knows every callus and scar and how his pinkie isn't quite straight--flips a switch in her brain and the whole don'tmovedon'tmoveDON'TMOVE alarm stops shrieking and her knees almost buckle. "Easy," Clint repeats, standing up and getting his arms around her. "I got you; easy, darlin'." His timing is excellent, because she's suddenly shaking hard enough that she needs the extra support. She'd be a little embarrassed by how much this whole thing is affecting her, but with her head on his chest, she can hear how fast and hard his own heart is beating so it's not just her.
Darcy gets herself pulled together as fast as she can, just in case she's freaking Clint out. It doesn't really take all that much effort, not with how her blood's racing in anticipation for the rest of the night. At some point, she really will crash, and it will be epic, but that's not now. She tips her head back and goes up on her toes to kiss him firmly on the mouth.
"I'm good," Darcy says, because oh, yeah, she can see those questions in his eyes. "Swear."
"Tell me if you get to where you aren't," Clint answers. He's back to that serious stuff, which Darcy gets--and appreciates--but at the same time, she doesn't want him to tear himself up over it.
"I will," Darcy promises. She shimmies a little, just to settle her dress after the extraneous activities. It doesn't feel all that different, not having any underwear on, but it's definitely not the same. A little freaky, but in a mostly good way.
She takes a deep breath, and then kisses Clint again. That's always good. "For real."
"This is a stupid time to be having this conversation, but I mean it," Clint says. "It would… put me in a bad place to know I'd dumped you into something that you couldn't handle."
"We always pick weird times for conversations," Darcy points out. "But we have them now."
"Yeah," Clint agrees. "Which is not something I can say about most of my life."
"Score," Darcy says, adding one more kiss to the mix. This one goes from light and goofy to serious and hot in the time it takes to blink, and she's back to being a little off-balance by the time they have to stop to breathe. "Okay, enough for now," she says, channeling all her willpower and stepping back so she's not tempted to throw the whole night to the wind and just watch the televised ball drop from bed.
"You need to get changed and I need to do my make-up," Darcy says. "There are pretentious, artisanal gin cocktails with my name on them out there, and I want to see Thor chatting up the hipster bartenders. My brain is threatening to break at the thought."
"Sure thing, darlin'," Clint says, letting his hand slide down her back and over her butt, where, Darcy's brain is quick to point out, she is not wearing any underwear. Clint's eyes tell her he's thinking the exact same thing, and Darcy gives up trying to be chill about it all in favor of basically running across the room to the mirror and her make-up bag.
She hears Clint laugh a little, but since it is way less smug than she expects, she lets it go and just concentrates on getting a good wing on her eyeliner. It's not at all lame to celebrate getting that on the first try, she tells herself, right before she messes up her lipstick (Victory Red, the best throwback to the 40s she's ever found) and has to start over again.
Steady, Darcy tells herself. The lipstick is almost the last thing. Her (awesomely retro) evening bag is ready and waiting, her wrap is good to go, and there is apparently no telling what else the night's going to bring.
"You good?" Clint asks, coming out of the bathroom in all black, his hair still a little damp and tousled, just exactly how Darcy likes it. She makes a mental note to get her hands in it ASAP.
"The best," Darcy answers, not being particularly careful as she bends over to buckle the ankle strap on her heels. Her skirt isn't that short, but Clint's eyes still look a little glassy when she stands back up, and yes, it's going to be an fantastic night.