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Never Have I Ever

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By the time Pepper's turn rolls around, they're already pretty drunk. Or, most of them are, she can't tell with Steve. Or Thor. Or Natasha. Stupid alcohol-resistant superheroes. At least Steve's friend Barnes isn't here; Pepper's seen him drink, and she's pretty sure that metal arm is hollow.

It might be more accurate to say, in fact, that she's already pretty drunk, since her particular superpowers are no advantage whatsoever in drinking games. But she doesn't think she's ahead of anyone else by volume. Steve got all of them – except Thor – with "never have I ever graduated from high school," and Natasha got all of them – including herself – with "never have I ever had sex with a woman." Pepper's pretty sure that one was aimed at Steve, given the way Natasha smiled in satisfaction when he grabbed a shot glass.

"Steve, really," Tony said. "I thought you only had eyes for the fellas."

Steve's answering grin was only 10% embarrassment – mostly it was just goofiness. He really was incredibly charming, in his own way. Pepper resolved not to say this aloud, no matter how drunk she got.

"I went with girls sometimes," he said. "You're not the only bisexual in the world, you know, Stark."

Tony held up his hands in surrender.

"And anyway," Steve concluded, "there's not much else to do on a USO tour with twenty chorus girls and a Hitler lookalike."

They all laughed. Steve didn't mention Director Carter, but Pepper wondered if he was thinking about her, about the life he didn't lead. His smile didn't leave his face, but it did get a little wistful, and he took Sam's hand and kissed the back of it absently.

It was nice, for once, Pepper thought, to interact in this way with all of her fellow Avengers, like regular people and not like the larger-than-life personalities that they usually were in the field. For their first team drinking game, it was going pretty well.

"This was a good idea," Pepper said quietly, in Tony's ear.

"My idea," he replied, proudly. Pepper rolled her eyes.

Now it's her turn to pose one, though. She thinks for a minute. No one's really caught Tony out yet, which in this game is almost unheard of. Really embarrassing Tony isn't humanly possible – not without revealing things he wouldn't want people to know, at least – but she would like to see that same 10% of embarrassment on his face that she saw on Steve's. And there is at least one incident that never got covered in the papers, but that Tony wouldn't be mad at her for telling their superfriends about.

"Never have I ever," Pepper begins, leaving space for a dramatic pause, "had sex for money."

She expects Tony to drink, and he does, a little sheepishly. But he's followed by Natasha, who quirks an eyebrow and tosses the shot back easily. Pepper has just time enough to think oh shit, and to begin to wonder what the circumstances were for Natasha, when others around their little circle start picking up shot glasses. Clint drinks, and then Bruce, and then, with a shrug, Steve.

"Well okay," Sam says, eyebrows raised. "No one told me I was signing up to join an elite team of prostitute superheroes." He glances at Maria. "Did you know about this?"

Maria shrugs. "Nope. Doesn't surprise me, though." She nudges a hip against Natasha's, and Natasha nudges back, which makes Pepper feel a little less like a dick for asking the question in the first place. She should've known, given Natasha's code name and all, but she wasn't thinking.

Rhodey narrows his eyes at everyone around the table, then sighs and picks up a shot glass of his own, drinking it quickly.

"Colonel Rhodes, I must admit that I am surprised by this admission," Thor says, cocking his head. "Under what circumstances did this occur?"

"Never be friends with Tony Stark," Rhodey grumbles.

"Wait, you weren't surprised by the rest of us?" Clint demands, crossing his arms at Thor. Thor laughs and shakes his head, but doesn't justify the question with a response.

"Sorry, Nat," Pepper says softly. Natasha shrugs, but it's hard to tell if she's really okay with it. Pepper raises her voice and adds, "Sorry, everyone."

Natasha quirks a half-smile. "It was part of the job. It's okay."

Bruce shrugs. "If it bothered me, I'd lie."

"Do you even understand the point of this game?" Tony asks him incredulously. Bruce grins in reply.

"I was just trying to embarrass Tony," Pepper explains. "He hooked once in the 90s. For a bet."

"A bet with a coke dealer," Rhodey adds darkly. "I went along to keep him safe, but then Tony bet my ass, too."

"That part I did not know," Pepper admits.

"You loved it," Tony scoffs. "It was all your idea. Don't act like I was pimping you out against your will." Tony turns to address the company. "Turns out Rhodey is a better hooker than I am," he says breezily, "or at least in higher demand. He got picked up first."

"God, I was so high," Rhodey moans, rubbing his face. "It did seem like a great idea at the time. Not that we were really dressed for the part."

"Were you in uniform?" Steve asks Rhodey. If Rhodey'd had liquid in his mouth, Pepper's pretty sure he would've done a spit take.

"No!" he says, "Business suits." Then he blinks at Steve. "Uh, were you?"

Steve laughs, a good-natured rumble that rolls easily through him. Pepper wonders how much he still likes women, and whether he and Sam are up for extracurriculars. They seem pretty monogamous, unfortunately for the rest of the world. And then, on the other hand, she's not sure how Bruce would feel about that, especially since, even after a few months of having him in their bed, she's still not sure how Bruce wants to factor into a relationship with her and Tony.

The thing is, it's really hard to be around this many superheroes and not want to have sex with all of them. Pepper thinks of it as a real burden.

"No, this was before I joined," Steve explains. "The Depression, you know. Not much work for a skinny little kid with asthma, and we lived near the navy yard."

"Yikes," Sam says softly. He takes Steve's hand, and Steve turns to look him, brow furrowed.

"It was – I mean, it was kind of the done thing at the time, if a fella had sex with you, he'd pay you. It wasn't – ah." Steve blushes a little, just a little, just enough to be intriguing. "It wasn't a hardship."

"Now that's something you missed telling the public in your little coming-out speech last month," Tony says. "Captain America was a teenage hooker."

"You think I should come clean?" Steve grins. Steve is way, way too good at antagonizing the media, probably because he enjoys it so much.

"Oh Jesus," Sam says, "let them get over the bi thing first, at least, okay? I don't need reporters asking me if I'm going to leave you because you've revealed that some dudes used to give you nickels for blowjobs a million years ago."

"A nickel is a little low," Steve protests, frowning. Sam laughs and buries his face in his hands.

"I can just imagine this interview," Sam says into his palms. "You discussing appropriate valuation of your ass in 1939."

Steve chuckles and leans over to kiss Sam on the cheek, next to his splayed fingers. "You're good to put up with me."

Sam looks up. "Yeah, yeah. Well, you are worth more than a nickel."

Steve's smile is small, but it's so full of joy that Pepper almost can't bear to look at it. "What about you, Bruce?" Steve asks. "You always struck me as the type to get by on brains."

"Sometimes brains aren't in high demand," Bruce shrugs. "I'd wake up in a country where I didn't know the language, in some tiny town where no one was inclined to hire a guy who didn't even have his own pants. Especially not for his brains. It paid the bills. Cash-only businesses are best when you're on the run. But it was the same situation as Steve, really – needing money and needing it fast."

"That was me too," Clint says.

"Except for the part about having brains," Natasha murmurs. Clint throws a bottlecap at her, and they all laugh. Pepper notices that Natasha's holding Maria's hand, something they almost never do in public, and Natasha's other hand is on Clint's knee, squeezing a little.

"Yeah, well, I never did have much in the way of brains. Which is probably why I thought that sucking dudes off for money was an awesome idea when I was eighteen."

"Did you not tell me that you were a performer in a circus at that age?" Thor asks. Clint laughs in reply.

"Well, yeah," he says. "The circus is kind of nasty."

"So, an elite team of fighting prostitutes," Sam concludes. "Good to know."

"We prefer the term superhero sex workers," Natasha says, tossing her hair away from her face. "Now it's Thor's turn, I think. Thor, you think you got the hang of this game now?"

"I believe I do," Thor agrees. "Though I was not sure whether or not I should drink during the previous round. Do goats count?"

Pepper, who has to judge her own question, blinks. Everyone else stays quite still.

"Sex . . . with . . . goats?" she asks. She tells herself not to judge Thor for his weird Asgardian sex rituals.

Thor, mercifully, laughs, and everyone breathes again. "No," he says, "sex for goats, instead of for money! I am the eldest son, after all, and it carries certain . . . symbolic responsibilities regarding land and trade negotiations. There was the incident involving the goats, and the issue with the dwarves over the uru mining rights . . . oh, and I once spent a night with a lovely elf princess as a political gesture to represent the end of a territorial dispute."

Pepper looks helplessly around the circle. Bruce shrugs, and Tony waggles his eyebrows, and Rhodey seems to be laughing quietly behind his hand. Natasha is whispering something in Maria's ear, and even from here Pepper can tell it's something filthy. None of them are any help.

"I . . . don't know if that counts," Pepper says eventually, "but why don't you knock one back just in case."

Thor winks at her and drinks the shot; his constitution is ridiculous anyway, and he could use the liquor to keep up.

"Very well," he says, rubbing his hands together. Pepper braces herself for 'never have I ever been a child on Midgard' or 'never have I ever driven a car,' but what he actually comes out with surprises her: "Never have I ever," Thor says solemnly, "found more noble companions than these to fight at my side."

No one picks up a glass.

Pepper smiles at them. Under his breath, Tony says, "Not so bad for an elite team of fighting prostitutes."

*

Later that night, she's still pleasantly buzzed when she falls into bed. "So that went pretty well," she says, enjoying the feel of the soft sheets beneath her hands. She frowns, and starts trying to get out of her clothes, but she's not willing to get up to do it, so it takes a while.

"Yeah, not bad for our first superhero slumber party," Tony agrees, collapsing down next to her. He acts like he's helping her get a sock off, but he's really just hindering. "Maybe if we hang out more often, we'll actually start calling each other when the world needs saving."

"I gave Sam my cell number," Bruce agrees. He crawls into bed after them, slowly like he always does, as if he's still unsure of his welcome. Pepper takes a break from trying to unclasp her bra and kisses him slowly, on the mouth, loving the feeling of him relaxing against her.

"Bruce," she breathes, when he pulls away after a moment or two. "Bruce, I'm really sorry I outed you to everyone as a prostitute."

On her other side, Tony laughs against her shoulder. "Way to kill the mood, Pep," he mutters. When no one speaks for a moment, he looks up at Bruce, who is currently lying with his head against Pepper's shoulder. "Bruce? You okay? Oh, shit, are you sad?"

Pepper can't help but laugh a little herself at the panic in Tony's voice, but she mostly keeps it inside. "I really am sorry," she says, stroking his face.

Bruce looks up at her and smiles. "It's really okay," he says. "It doesn't bother me anymore." She thinks he's telling the truth, though she can't help but feel worried by the "anymore."

"It's not your fault," Tony says firmly. Bruce looks confused.

"That's for sexual assault, Tony," Pepper sighs.

"Oh," Tony says. "We love you?" he tries.

"Thanks," Bruce says dryly, not meeting their eyes. He starts running his fingertips up and down Pepper's arm, absently, making her ache for a firmer touch. "Seriously, I'm cool with it these days. And there are worse ways to make money."

"That is true," Tony says, maybe thinking about some of the ways he's made money in the past. He presses a kiss to the back of Pepper's neck, then does a complicated clambering maneuver that eventually gets him over to the other side of the bed, so that he and Pepper are bracketing Bruce. Over Bruce's shoulder, he gives Pepper the eye.

"Why the hell are you looking at me like that?" Pepper asks.

Tony rolls his eyes and gestures with his head at Bruce, making very unsubtle but wholly uncommunicative eyebrow waggles while he's at it.

"Yeah, I'm not getting it," Pepper says, and between them, Bruce breaks into quiet, helpless giggles.

"Never mind," Tony mutters. "Just, c'mere." He grabs Pepper's hand and puts it on Bruce's side, then shimmies up behind Bruce so that he's tucked tight against his back.

"Hi," Pepper says, her face so close to Bruce's that they're almost kissing again.

"Hi," Bruce says, smiling. His smile is, as always, self-deprecating in a non-specific way. "I think Tony wants you to treat me special or something."

"We can do that," Pepper says. She's still half-dressed, and Bruce is still fully dressed. Tony, unaccountably, is completely naked, but that's his personal form of magic. "Let's get you out of these clothes."

That ironic grin is still hovering around the edges of his lips, but Pepper dips in to kiss him softly, once, twice, then again and again, and Bruce's eyes start to fall closed. In between kisses she runs her hands under his shirt, touching his soft belly, and pulls it up over his head.

Tony slides his hands around Bruce's waist and starts undoing his pants, sliding them down slowly, taking his boxers too. While he's doing that, Pepper kisses Bruce again, soft and lush, patient: the way they like to kiss each other. Pepper imagines it's because Tony is such a whirlwind sometimes; for her, at least, it's nice to kiss someone who can get lost in the moment, enjoying the kiss for its own sake and letting it take its own time.

Tony deftly unhooks her bra and helps her slide it off; she kicks off her underwear. Bruce is kissing her deeply, desperately, surprising her. He doesn't usually let himself be this hungry for them.

"You two look so good together," Tony says fervently, as she and Bruce continue their deep, slow kisses. Pepper didn't think Tony would ever be the type to share, but he's surprised her, in the months since they took Bruce into their bed. He wanted Pepper to have Bruce, and Bruce to have Pepper, very badly, had all but thrown them at each other before joining in.

Pepper lets her hands trail over Bruce's body: through his chest hair, over his nipples, down to cup the swell of his hipbone and the curve of his ass. She meets Tony's hands, occasionally, as he does the same, scraping his short, blunt fingernails down Bruce's shoulderblades, caressing his thumbs over the line of Bruce's spine. She meets his eyes as he kisses the back of Bruce's neck, as she leans up to kiss along his jawline, and she has space to wonder why they haven't done it like this much before, the two of them lavishing attention on Bruce.

Bruce, beneath her, is starting to breathe more quickly, and his eyes are still closed, as if he couldn't bear to open them and see what Tony and Pepper are doing to him. Pepper kisses his mouth again, helpless, and he surges up against her. She presses her tongue into his mouth and he opens for her easily, letting her into his body.

She hears the snap of a bottlecap and sees Tony coating his fingers before he shuffles down the bed a little. He rubs his other hand in little circles on the small of Bruce's back.

"Bruce?" he asks, softly.

"Yeah," Bruce says. "Yeah, okay. Yeah."

Tony kisses him, right there at the base of his spine, and sets about working him open with his fingers. Pepper, for her own part, takes Bruce's dick in her hand and starts stroking, loving the feeling of him hardening beneath her touch.

"How do you want it, Bruce?" Pepper asks, between kisses, leaning her forehead against his and breathing deeply with him. "You want us both to fuck you?" They've done it that way before, but usually with Tony in the middle; Bruce usually likes being on top, or observing, and doesn't often let them double-team him like this.

She's starting to think there might be a reason for that, beyond personal preference.

"Sure," Bruce says after a long pause, surprising her. "Sounds good."

She smiles, and presses her smile to his, and under her hand his cock is hard and starting to leak.

"You're opening up so nice for me, Bruce," Tony murmurs. Bruce lets out a little laugh, too high for his usual voice, like he's not in as much control as he might like to be.

"I don't need the dirty talk, Tony," he says. "Just fuck me already."

"No dirty talk, huh," Tony says, as he moves around to get into position. He grips his cock and strokes it once or twice to get himself ready.

"Tony really likes dirty talk," Pepper says, as if Bruce didn't already know. In one smooth move, she hooks a leg over his waist and pushes herself down on his cock, taking him inside and holding him tight.

"I know," Bruce manages, after a moment. "God. That feels really good."

"Hold still, hold still," Tony says, from the other side. He's pushing his hand between Bruce's thighs, getting the leverage to hold him open so that he can push into Bruce's ass. Pepper holds as still as she can, relishing the hard weight of Bruce inside her, clenching down on him to feel the slow ripple of pleasure move from her cunt out through her body.

"Holding," she says, trying to get her breath. Bruce's eyes are wide, and his mouth has dropped open. His bottom lip is wet and red. Pepper tastes it, draws back again. "Holding," she says again, more to reassure Bruce and herself than Tony. Bruce's big hand rests on her hip, stroking in even, restless circles. Against her, he trembles, just the slightest shake to indicate how hard it is for him to keep it together.

"Yeah," Tony says, as he pushes in, "yeah, yeah, that's perfect." He's quiet for a moment, maybe remembering Bruce's interdiction against dirty talk, because after a moment he speaks again quietly, without any teasing or guile. "How's this for pillow talk, then: you don't ever have to run like that again, if you don't want to."

Pepper shivers, her whole body shaking and clenching on Bruce's dick, but she holds still. Inside her, against her, underneath her, Bruce holds still too, or tries, but she can feel him shuddering with the effort. She can see sweat breaking out on his temples, along the line of his neck, beading in his chest hair. She bends her head and licks his collarbone. He moans. Looking up, she can tell that Tony is completely buried in his body.

"You don't have to run, and you don't have to hide," Tony says softly. Pepper can't stay still any longer: she starts rocking her hips forward and back, forward and back, rough and slow. It's the way Bruce always does it to her, when he's the one in control. She hopes he recognizes it.

Bruce closes his eyes and arches his neck, so that the back of his head pushes against Tony's shoulder. "What if I want to run?" he asks, and it's only seventy five percent a joke. Pepper presses her leg against the outside of Bruce's hip for leverage and shoves herself up to kiss his forehead.

"We'll bankroll you," she replies.

Bruce's eyes snap open. They're brown, always brown when they do this, never green, but Pepper has found that there's always something of the Hulk lurking behind his eyes anyway, something sharp and wary and ready to explode.

She meets his gaze, rocking against him a little faster. Bruce moves with her, starting up a rhythm: forward into her, back against Tony, taking this from both of them at once.

Tony slides an arm around Bruce's waist, his hand coming up to cup Pepper's breast. He thumbs over her nipple a few times.

"Yeah, we will. But I want you to stay here," Tony says. Pepper loves this about him, loves this about him more than anything else: how good he is at being selfish enough for both of them. "I want you to stay right here, stay safe, right between us. I don't want you to leave."

"Your kept boy fantasy," Bruce gasps. His tone is light but his fingertips dig into Pepper's waist.

"My Bruce Banner fantasy," Pepper says.

His fingers spasm against her skin, and his rhythm breaks. She cards her hand through his hair, then tightens it into a fist, holding him in place.

"That's it exactly," Tony says. His grin from over Bruce's shoulder is bright and clear. Then he speeds up again, taking up the rhythm where Bruce left off, and Pepper follows his lead, fucking Bruce faster and rougher. They hold Bruce between them, taking him from both sides, and Bruce relaxes and gives in to it, letting them have him.

For a while the room is full of nothing but the sound of their harsh breathing, the sound of skin slapping against skin; Pepper grinds down against Bruce and comes suddenly, her whole body clenching and releasing as the pleasure washes through her, leaving her starry-eyed and relaxed. She only stops for a few seconds, but Tony notices the interruption.

"Did you come, babe?" he asks. "Of course you did, look at you, you look so good when you come."

"Feels nice too," she agrees. "Mmmm." She's wet inside from her orgasm, and uses it to fuck Bruce a little harder, shoving herself down onto him. Bruce's breathing is loud, so loud, his mouth open and panting, his eyes closed.

"Fuck me," he groans, softly. He's reaching forward for Pepper and back for Tony at the same time, desperate and hesitant, lost in the middle of the sensations. Pepper's heart thumps against her ribcage as she does what he asks.

"We got you," she says. "We're gonna fuck you good, baby, don't worry."

"Gonna take care of you," Tony agrees. She can tell from the rough quality of his voice that he's close, probably holding back, waiting for Bruce.

"Please," Bruce says, "please, please, please – " Bruce drives his hips forward, fucking her hard for a few strokes; behind him, Tony matches the motion, pushing in fast and rough before sliding back out slowly. It doesn't take long before Bruce is coming, his hand clenching on Pepper's hip, his temples soaked with sweat, his skin shivering as Tony presses a kiss to the back of his neck. He makes noise, when he comes, a long drawn-out groan that rumbles down to Pepper's bones, just the same way she feels when the Hulk roars.

Tony follows soon after, having obviously held off as long as he could. He bites down on Bruce's shoulder, not hard enough to break the skin but hard enough to muffle the sounds he wants to make, the words she knows he wants to speak.

They catch their breath together, each of them drawing back a little ways. Pepper sighs as Bruce's cock leaves her body. Bruce opens his eyes slowly, meeting Pepper's gaze.

She expects some kind of deflection, which is what Bruce usually goes for at this juncture: something kind but wry, meant to distance himself from them without hurting them. She braces herself for it.

"I want to stay," Bruce murmurs. His eyes are wide and his pupils are blown. "I want to stay. I really do."

Pepper blinks.

"So stay," Tony says easily.

Bruce frowns a little.

"Stay," Pepper murmurs, kissing his hair, just above his temple. "Stay. We want you. Stay."

"I guess I could," Bruce says. "For a while."

*

"So this is your free Park Avenue apartment that you refuse to live in," Sam says, looking around. Steve's only been here once before, since it's been finished, and he's surprised again by the size of the place, which is accentuated by the huge floor-to-ceiling windows and the sweeping view of Manhattan. It feels open and airy, but warm, too, decorated with rich woods and soft neutral colors. Steve hates to admit it, but it's exactly how he'd outfit a place: plenty of cushy places to sit, warm blankets on the back of every couch, big open kitchen, even a fireplace. A home that would feel cozy and safe on rainy days.

Now, as they walk in, the lights are low and the fireplace is crackling red, illuminating the whole space.

"I wouldn't say refuse. Tony only finished the apartments a couple months ago."

"Would you want to live here?" Sam asks. He's running his hand along the back of one couch, and not looking at Steve.

"And leave D.C.?" Steve can feel the anxiety in the question, so he walks up behind Sam and wraps his arms around him. Sam relaxes back against his body, reflexively, conditioned by now to take comfort in Steve's body when Steve offers it.

Steve presses a kiss to Sam's neck.

"Yeah, and leave D.C.," Sam says. His arms cover Steve's arms, his fingers stroking gently over Steve's wrists.

"Do you want to move in here?"

Sam turns around slowly, but stays inside the circle of Steve's arms. "I'll move if you want to. I couldn't do it right away, I've got clients back in D.C. who I can't leave yet, but I'll do it."

Steve kisses him softly. "And what, be my kept man?"

Sam laughs. Steve loves hearing Sam laugh, always unselfconscious and wholehearted. It's a reminder of everything that Sam is, the way he stays light and airborne despite the weight of everything he carries around.

"No," Sam says, still grinning. "I've got my master's in social work now, and this town is full of people who need that kind of help. If I have to work for cheap, I will, but there's plenty to do."

Steve smiles and kisses him again, longer this time. Sam's hot and open and eager beneath him.

"Besides," Sam says, pulling away, "I thought you were the kept man around here. You're the one with experience."

Steve groans and lets his head thunk down onto Sam's broad shoulder. "I was hoping you'd forgotten that."

Sam laughs again, though this time Steve feels it more than hears it, a warm vibration that runs through his body. "You've known me how long, Rogers? A year and a half? And you think I'd let that go?"

"Does it – " Steve pauses, looking for words. He starts to raise his head, but before he can complete the motion Sam's shoulder is shifting away, moving down as Sam bends, and at the same time Sam's right arm is curving around Steve's legs and his left arm is grabbing Steve's wrist and –

"Augh!" Steve says, half outraged protest and half actual surprise as his feet leave the ground. Sam's good at this: Steve's balanced across his shoulders quick and neat as you please, a perfect fireman's carry, and then Sam's walking them over to the bedroom.

"If you're wondering whether or not it bothers me that you used to be a rent boy," Sam is saying, only slightly out of breath, "it doesn't."

He tosses Steve onto the bed – tosses him, as if Steve's still his old tiny asthmatic self, the same little guy who used to go to the St George Hotel with men for money. It's a strange feeling, a sudden vulnerability that makes Steve feel all out of breath, just like he used to when he got too excited in bed with a guy, or too angry in a back alley with a different sort of guy. His skin is too hot, like one of his old fevers, and looking up at Sam from this angle he remembers what it is to be small, and weak, and delicate.

"How do you feel about it?" Sam asks. Sam's open, assessing gaze makes Steve feel exposed, spread out on the bed beneath him like an object to be valued.

"It doesn't bother me," Steve says.

Sam kneels on the bed, crawling up between Steve's legs. "Do you want to talk about it?"

"No," Steve says, as Sam leans in and takes his mouth. The kiss is hot, searing – like the first time they kissed, all passion and rough need. "Maybe," Steve amends, when they break apart.

Sam's smile is slow and predatory. "You get off on it? Back in the day, I mean."

Steve squirms beneath him. They're both still fully dressed, and Steve feels constricted by his clothes, claustrophobic and restless, lost in a wash of contradictory feelings and memories.

"I – yeah. I did."

Sam undoes his own jeans enough to get his cock out. He's half-hard already. Steve's mouth waters. He runs his hands up Sam's thighs.

"What did you like about it? Selling your body for sex, I mean."

He's stroking his cock lazily. Steve wants that inside of him, the weight and the heat of it pushing into his body. It's not like Sam doesn't already know that Steve likes to bottom, or that Steve gets a thrill just from making Sam feel good, but it seems like a big deal to say it out loud.

Steve takes a breath. "I liked feeling used," he says. Sam's eyebrows go up a little, but he doesn't interrupt. "I liked feeling like I was good for something, like someone wanted me that badly." Back before the serum, it was one of the few things he ever did, along with the occasional good punch he landed on a bully's jaw, that made him feel right in his body. He punches plenty of bullies nowadays, but he hasn't found quite that same feeling in a while. He wants it.

Sam bends back down, kisses softly at the spot just under Steve's jaw. "We can work with that," he murmurs. Steve feels his breath shudder out of him in relief; he hadn't even realized he was holding it.

"Yeah, okay," Steve says. He puts his hands on Sam's face, pulling him up into a kiss.

"How do you want it?" Sam asks, against his mouth. Steve licks his lips uncertainly. Sam blinks, draws back a little, and then – God bless him – asks the right question: "Or did you want me to decide how to have you?"

"Yes, that. I'd like that," Steve breathes. Above him, Sam smiles, and just the sight of it makes Steve's heart beat faster.

"Then sit up and suck my cock, Steve," Sam says. His smile is soft and fond, maybe a little goofy, even; looking at his soft lips and neat mustache and the little gap between his teeth, Steve feels safe enough to do this.

He pushes himself up to a partial sitting position and gets his lips around the head of Sam's cock, glancing up occasionally to see the look on his face. Sam's hand cups his jaw. Sam's thumb, rubbing against his cheek, feels surprisingly intimate. He starts to bob his head, taking more of Sam's dick into his mouth each time. It's heavy on his tongue, big where it forces his mouth open wide, soft and hot against his lips and the roof of his mouth.

"You're so beautiful when you do that," Sam says, softly. It's not what Steve was expecting to hear, and he groans with surprised lust.

He rubs his hands up and down Sam's thighs, over the rough material of the denim, friction creating heat beneath his palms.

"Use your hand on me," Sam says. He doesn't ask, or say please. Steve feels a little shudder of desire pass through him. Obligingly, he wraps his right hand around the base of Sam's cock and uses it to pump in time with his mouth, with the rhythm of Sam's cock moving between his lips.

Sam gets his hands in Steve's hair, gripping it between his fingers. "God, you make me so hot when you do this," he says, and it doesn't sound as much like sex talk as it should; Sam's voice is soft and quiet, hesitant maybe. "You make me want to fuck you so bad, the way you take my cock."

Steve whimpers and closes his eyes, still sucking up and down Sam's dick, drool escaping from his lips. He reaches down with his left hand to touch himself; he's desperately, achingly hard in his pants.

But then Sam's fingers in his hair are tightening further, and he's pulling Steve back until his mouth leaves Sam's dick. Steve looks up questioningly.

"I wanna fuck you," Sam says breathlessly. "Will you roll over and let me fuck you, Steve?"

"Yeah," Steve says. His voice is a little rough, his lips wet; self-consciously, he wipes his mouth with his sleeve.

Sam grips his shoulders and pulls him up until they're face to face, kneeling together on the bed, and then kisses him full and lush on the mouth, all soft lips and tongue.

"I can't get enough of you," Sam says quietly, into the space between them where their breath mingles. "I think about this all the time, your mouth, your hands, how you feel up against me."

"I do too," Steve admits, "me too, Sam, yes – " There's no way to say it, all the feelings rushing through him, so he kisses Sam again instead, putting all the desperation and sweetness that he feels into that one long touch.

When they break apart, Sam says, "Get on your hands and knees."

Steve takes a moment to strip down beforehand, and Sam does too, their clothes landing in haphazard piles on the floor. Sam gets tangled in his long-sleeved t-shirt and Steve has to help him out of it, laughing while Sam growls in frustration.

"I hope you've enjoyed this striptease," Sam jokes, when they finally get it off of him. Steve grins, overwhelmed with a joy that layers pleasantly over his arousal.

"You're lucky I'm the graceful one, Wilson," Steve says, tossing the shirt away. Naked, Sam is all hard, well-used muscle and dense dark hair, his body gleaming with sweat. Steve gets a hand back on his cock, pumping it until it hardens again, rising to meet him.

"We'll see how graceful you are," Sam groans. He grabs Steve by the shoulders and manhandles him around, pushing him down on the bed. Steve goes willingly.

"This okay?" Sam asks.

"Yeah," Steve says, his voice breaking a little. "Perfect." He licks his lips. "More."

Sam's hands get a little rougher, pushing his head down until it hangs between his shoulders, shoving his knees apart. Steve feels like he's on display, like he's nothing more than a body being made ready to make Sam feel good.

He hopes Sam knows how much he loves this, being pushed around, letting Sam arrange him how he wants him.

"You know Tony Stark put lube and condoms in your bedside table for you?" Sam notes dryly.

"I'm sure that's a standard feature throughout the tower," Steve replies, still braced on all fours and waiting, shivering at the sound of a bottlecap snapping open and then closed. Sam's fingers inside him are easy, gentle, giving him time to adjust and open up, but Sam's other hand is clasping his hip hard, fingertips digging in, betraying his desperation.

"I can't wait to fuck you," he says. "Do you know how you look, when you're like this?"

"I want you in me," Steve says. "Please, Sam."

"You beg nice, too," Sam murmurs, and pushes his cock slowly into Steve, a long hard stroke that goes on and on and on, until Steve is perfectly, overwhelmingly full.

"Christ," he says, the blasphemy opening his lips and falling from his mouth. He closes his eyes for a moment against the sensation of Sam's dick inside him, stretching him out.

Sam's hand slides up his spine, soothing, soft. "It's like you're made for this, Steve. You feel – so good – "

Steve shifts backwards smoothly, undulating against Sam's body, taking him a little deeper, then pulling forward again. Sam moves with him, one hand still resting on his waist, the other coming up to grip his shoulder.

"God," Sam breathes. "God, look at you. Do that again."

Steve laughs, all joy, and does, groaning in time with Sam as their bodies slide together and apart.

"Just made to be fucked," Sam says. Steve groans, split open on Sam's cock, used, fucked, perfect.

"Yes," he manages, after a few seconds. "Sam, yes, yes – "

"Just made to take my cock like this, huh," Sam says, gaining confidence. He grabs Steve's hair from behind and uses it to shake Steve, just a little, like you would a dog. Steve shudders. His cock is so hard, pressed up against his belly, but then Sam pulls out and slams back in and Steve can't focus on anything else, anything other than the sensation of Sam moving inside him, hard and rough and fast.

"Spread your legs more," Sam says. Steve does it, doesn't even think about it, panting desperately and braced against the next hard thrust.

The fucking starts in earnest then, each stroke building on the last, pleasure rising in Steve's blood, stretching out the edges of his existence. Sam's body on top of him is heavy, and hot, his dick shoving Steve open. Steve shudders. Sam pushes in faster, and harder, taking what he wants, and it's everything Steve wants, too, to be fucked like this, used like this. They're in perfect synch, perfectly matched, speeding up together and slowing down together, and Steve knows that Sam's there to catch him just like he does on the battlefield.

"Fuck me," Steve gasps, as if Sam isn't already, as if it isn't already exactly what Steve needs, teeth-rattlingly rough fucking paired with Sam's gentle hands on his back, "Fuck me, Sam, Jesus, fuck me, fuck me – "

"I gotcha," Sam says. He reaches around and starts stroking Steve's dick, his grip hard and firm to match the fast, unforgiving speed of his fucking. Steve gasps, suddenly on the edge, ready to spill into Sam's hand. "Oh, God, Steve, I'm gonna come inside you – "

Steve writhes, and digs his fingers hard into the blankets, and comes, his whole world shrinking down to sensation and light and Sam: Sam's weight on top of him, Sam's dick inside of him, Sam's hand around him. Sam's breath on the back of his neck as Steve groans and shudders through his orgasm.

"Yeah," Sam is saying, "yeah, so good, so good, Steve, God," and holding Steve still while he comes in his ass, a few last short thrusts setting off sparkling aftershocks of pleasure as Sam brushes his prostate. When he's sure Sam's done, Steve lets himself collapse forward, unlocking his elbows and letting his face hit the cool fabric of the bedspread.

"You gonna lie there in the wet spot?" Sam asks, pulling out and slapping Steve's ass once. Steve groans and rolls over.

"I don't know how you expect me to move after that," he says. He can't keep what he's sure is a goofy grin off his face. Sam doesn't seem to mind; he's grinning back, just the same.

"Oh, I finally tired you out, did I? And it only cost me my spine. And my knees."

"I'll have Tony build you new ones," Steve says.

Sam snorts and gets up to walk to the ensuite bathroom. Steve watches him as he goes, the soft curve of his ass, the strength in the muscles of his back, the rough calluses on the heels of his feet. Steve can never get enough of looking at him, especially like this, when he's relaxed and casually naked, when his shoulders and hips move loose and easy.

He comes back with a washcloth and cleans Steve up. Normally Steve would do it himself, but when he tries to take the cloth from Sam, Sam just shoos his hands away.

"Let me do it?" he asks. Steve lies back again and watches as Sam wipes off his chest, his belly, his dick, his thighs, his ass. In a way, it's more intimate than the fucking, Sam's hand on his soft dick gentle and careful.

"You're too good to me," Steve says, smiling shyly. Sam raises his eyebrows incredulously, then huffs a laugh before leaning up to kiss Steve on the forehead.

"Not possible," he says.

When Sam finishes, he throws the washcloth into the bathtub and collapses down on the bed next to Steve, careful to avoid the wet sheets.

"Hey Sam," Steve says quietly. Sam takes his hand and runs his fingertips over Steve's knuckles slowly, as if content to simply feel the sensation of their skin together.

"Yeah," Sam says.

"Did you like it? The – I mean, the roleplay. The talking."

"Wasn't all roleplay," Sam says slowly, "given that you really are that beautiful and I really do think about fucking you all the time." Steve smiles, and feels himself blushing. He returns Sam's slow caress, letting his fingers slide against Sam's palm, his fingernails, the side of his thumb. "I just – I guess I never say all that stuff."

"But did you like saying it?" Steve presses. "And – I mean, treating me a little rough?"

Sam rolls up on his side to face Steve; Steve turns his head to meet his eyes. "Yeah," he says. "I loved it. You wanna do that again sometime?"

"Yeah, I really do," Steve says. It feels a little choked in his throat.

"You know what I liked best about it?" Sam asks. Their hands are still linked, fingers twining and playing together. Steve licks his lips.

"What?"

"I liked how it made you look. Like you had a weight off your shoulders. It helps you let go, huh?"

Steve nods.

Sam kisses him softly, just a brief press of mouth to mouth.

"It's quite a power trip. Making you lose a little control. I liked that," Sam sighs.

Steve kisses him back the same way.

They lie together in silence for a while.

"Oh, I almost forgot," Sam says, sitting up slowly. He reaches over the edge of his bed and rummages in his discarded clothes. Steve furrows his brow.

"Adjusted for inflation," Sam says, tossing a crumpled dollar bill onto Steve's naked chest. "Better than a nickel."

Steve throws his head back and laughs helplessly. "Oh, you asshole," he says, when he can manage to get the words out. Sam laughs with him, and then Steve is tossing the dollar bill onto the side table and tumbling against him, wrestling him down to the bed and pinning him there.

"The blowjob alone was worth fifty at least," Steve says, still laughing. "I can't even get a cup of coffee with that."

"I was kinda hoping that the work was its own reward," Sam grins. Steve rolls his eyes and kisses him quiet.

The next morning, though, he makes sure Sam can see him when he picks the dollar back up again and folds it carefully into his wallet, putting it in the pocket so he'll be sure not to spend it.

"Guess my money's worth something after all," Sam says.

"Guess so," Steve agrees.

*

"So how do you feel about me now that you know I've whored?"

Maria pauses in unlacing her boots and glances up to look at Natasha. She's facing away from Maria, reaching out to flip on the overhead light. The fluorescents warm up slowly, illuminating a slightly shabby studio apartment: kitchen, main room, bathroom, not much light, not much air, the kind of place some college kid who doesn't know any better or can't afford any better might rent. Maria gets the sense that Natasha doesn't use her New York safe house that often. Still, Maria can't blame her for wanting to retreat to a place of her own, rather than sleeping in the Tower, even if Maria's the one running the security there nowadays.

The question's not a trap, much as it might look like one, but Maria knows Natasha well enough to know that her fallback system for talking about herself is interrogating someone else. It's not a trap, but it's also not quite what it seems.

"I'm not that surprised," Maria says honestly. "It's not on your official resume, but I know there's a lot about your past that I was never briefed on, or that SHIELD never knew. Plus your codename kind of implies it."

"Doesn't really answer my question," Natasha says, turning around to face her. Her shoulders are square, her hands relaxed at her sides. Maria took an acting class once, back when she was fooling herself into thinking she was cut out for infiltration. The teacher had demonstrated that very body position, and called it the hardest thing to do in acting: absolutely nothing. When you stand like that, the teacher said, you could be anyone.

Natasha is very, very good at being the blank canvas onto which others project their anxieties and desires.

It probably made her an excellent prostitute.

But it's not who Maria wants in her bed.

"I don't really see how it's relevant, or my business, unless you're still doing it. Are you still doing it?"

"Do you want me to?" Natasha counters. Maria's always had a bit of a temper, something she learned punching walls at her father's feet. She works her jaw and doesn't punch anything.

"Stop fucking around, Nat," she says. "This isn't about me, or how I feel about it. You want to talk about how you feel about it. Can you just do that, for once, without all the fucking games?"

An expression flitters over Natasha's face; remorse, perhaps. Maria hopes that it's remorse.

"Maybe I get concerned when I hear 'it's not my business' instead of 'it doesn't bother me,'" Natasha says softly, walking towards her, bridging the gap between them. For Natasha, it's a major concession; Maria lets her wrap her arms around her neck. She places her hands gingerly on Natasha's waist, still too angry to trust herself to touch gently without conscious control.

She wants to throw Natasha on the ground and fuck her hard, show her whose whore she really is, but she recognizes that impulse as childish, and dangerously possessive, and counter-productive.

"It doesn't bother me," Maria says. She doesn't think it does, anyway. She already knew that Natasha had been a professional manipulator and a killer for hire; this isn't much different.

Natasha kisses her, slowly, lingeringly, all heat and barely restrained passion.

"You don't worry," Natasha breathes, when she pulls back just far enough to break the kiss, "you don't worry, when I do that? You don't think I'm faking it?"

Now Maria is on more solid ground. "No. I know you're not." She knows, furthermore, that it terrifies Natasha, sometimes, to be as real as she lets herself get with Maria.

"It wasn't just men. I fucked women, on the job, for money, or for power, or for access."

This does ignite a hot flare of jealously, a flame that burns in Maria's chest and up into her throat. She can imagine it, instantly, Natasha kneeling between the legs of cutthroat women CEOs and government officials. It shouldn't make a difference, she knows, but it does.

"That's not who you are anymore, Nat," Maria says, kissing her as gently as she can, as briefly, as carefully.

"You sure about that?"

Maria doesn't answer, just takes Natasha's jacket off of her and starts unbuttoning her blouse. "If I thought you were fucking me for power, or for access, I wouldn't keep doing it."

Natasha shrugs, letting her shirt fall to a puddle on the floor, then unhooks her bra, exposing her breasts. Her shoulders are still square, her hands still easy at her sides.

"I like to think that you would," she says, quirking an eyebrow.

Maria smiles a little. "Your tits are fantastic, but they're not worth corporate secrets, Romanov." This surprises Natasha into a laugh, her head tipping back just a little as Maria bends to kiss the slope of her breast.

"There were plenty of people who thought they were, I promise you."

"Idiots," Maria says. She kisses Natasha's collarbone, and then her throat, working her way up to her ear. "They thought they were getting you. But you were never up for sale. You never give yourself away."

When Maria pulls back, Natasha is blinking in surprise. "I do," she protests. "I do, though, I do," and she kisses Maria again, harder this time, desperate and unrelenting.

"This is me," Natasha whispers into her mouth. Maria shivers.

Maria gets Natasha's jeans undone, and as soon as she does Natasha starts pushing them down off her hips, her movements ungraceful and inefficient. She shoves down her underwear, too, and toes off her socks while Maria takes her mouth again, so that by the time Maria pulls back she's fully clothed with Natasha naked in front of her.

"Come here," Maria says softly. She wraps Natasha's arms around her neck again, urges her up until she's got her legs wrapped around Maria's waist and Maria's supporting her whole weight. She starts walking them toward the bed in the main room, a simple mattress and boxspring on the floor, but clean and covered in brightly-colored flower-print sheets and blankets. Maria wonders, fleetingly, what persona Natasha had in mind when she picked them out.

She sits down on the bed, so that Natasha ends up straddling her lap. They kiss again, for a long time, Natasha's hands buried in her hair, Natasha's breath coming hot and fast against her mouth.

Natasha always seems like she wants this so badly.

"You know you don't have to prove anything to me," Maria says, against Natasha's soft lips. "I maybe should've mentioned that before stripping you naked and dragging you to bed."

Natasha laughs.

"Seriously, though," Maria says. "If you don't want this right now, if you'd rather talk, or if you'd rather I leave – "

"I want this," Natasha interrupts. Her voice, her expression, her hands stroking against Maria's hair, they all say the same, that she wants this, the sex, the closeness. Maria herself. Of course, Maria knows very well that Natasha is more than capable of faking every part of that.

"I believe you," Maria says, meeting her eyes.

Natasha stills, only for a moment, and then her hands are coming down Maria's neck to her shoulders, to her chest, and she's pushing Maria down onto the bed with a rough shove.

She's stronger than she looks.

"Don't move," Natasha says. Maria nods up at her slowly. Natasha strips her out of her clothes with deadly efficiency while Maria holds as still as she can. Natasha moves her arms, her legs, takes control of her body and undresses her like a doll. Maria keeps holding still, and lets her.

When she's naked, Natasha bends back over her, a curtain of red hair falling around their faces. "I did this for plenty of people," Natasha says. "To get what I wanted. I felt nothing for them. I faked everything I said I felt."

"I know," Maria replies. Natasha kisses under her jaw. Her hands are on Maria's breasts, then running down her belly, fingernails scratching lightly over her hips.

"I fucked some of them for weeks. For months. They thought they knew every part of me."

Natasha's fingers push past her outer labia, finding her clit and rubbing in circles, a slow tease.

"I know." She squirms against the pressure, ready for more; Natasha, in response, slides two fingers into Maria's cunt. She's wet already, but as Natasha strokes her from inside, those long deliberate strokes that make Maria want to thrust up against her, she feels herself getting wetter, hotter, suddenly desperate.

"I got on my knees for them. Sucked them, fucked them. Buried my mouth in their cunts and swallowed their cocks and let them . . . let them use me." Maria looks down and meets Natasha's upward gaze. She rubs her thumbs against Natasha's temples and brings her knees up to give Natasha better access. She rests her heels easily on Natasha's back.

Maria isn't sure what else to say, so she just says the same thing again, "I know," to let Natasha know she hears her.

"And that doesn't bother you." Natasha fingers her slow and hard, her thumb coming up to rub against her clit again. Maria wants to moan against the feeling of it, but she doesn't want to miss a word Natasha is saying, either.

"Well, it clearly taught you a lot," she says instead, her breath coming fast, betraying her excitement.

"I can tell you don't like it," Natasha says softly. Her other hand is roaming Maria's body, over the curve of her hip and the underside of her breasts, pressing down on her belly, rubbing palm-first against her thigh. "The other women I fucked just like this, the ones I finger-fucked until they gave me what I wanted." Again that hot wave of jealousy moves through Maria all in a rush. She tamps it down. She buries her hands in Natasha's hair and holds on. "But it doesn't really bother you, does it, to think that I might treat you the same way."

The same steady pace, the same unforgiving pressure, and Maria is so close to coming just from this, just Natasha's fingers inside her body, just Natasha's body above hers.

She's got it pretty bad. It's pathetic, in a way.

She figures Natasha knows about it, the same way she knows about the jealousy. Maria's not much of a liar.

"You used them," Maria gasps. "You can use me too."

Natasha's smile is honest, and soft, and predatory. She changes her rhythm, from long teasing strokes to shorter, faster ones. Maria's breath catches.

"That's good," Natasha says. "That's good, I like that."

"You're gonna fuck me till you – oh, oh, yes, just like that, ungh. Fuck me till you get what you want from me, is that it?" Maria asks. Her cunt is starting to clench against Natasha's fingers. Natasha, in response, speeds up the motion of her fingers and thumb, making Maria cry out involuntarily at the sudden rising sensation inside of her.

"Yeah. That's it."

Maria groans.

"And what – what do you want from me?" This has always been her question, since the first time Natasha showed up at her door in the middle of the night, the first time Natasha pushed her against the wall and took her hard. She's never known the answer to it, and never dared to ask.

"I don't know," Natasha says softly. Maria laughs, lost in the ramp up to orgasm, her body riding waves of anticipatory pleasure.

"That's – just – dating, Natasha," she manages. Natasha laughs, and kisses her stomach, and Maria arches up against her perfect clever hands and comes, laughing, breathless, shaking.

Natasha's fingers slow inside of her, and then still. Maria blinks, her chest rising and falling fast, her body still tingling and strange from her orgasm.

"That was fucking fantastic," she says. "You're amazing. Get the fuck up here." Natasha comes willingly, and Maria kisses her mouth for a while, loving the feel of her, the taste of her, the way her tongue moves and the way she opens her mouth. Maria knows Natasha's kiss as well as anyone can.

"You fuck people because you want to, and stop when you don't want to anymore, that's just dating," Maria repeats, because she wants to make sure the idea sinks in.

"Revolutionary," Natasha replies, dry as dust. Maria rolls her eyes.

"I'm sorry I get jealous," Maria says. "I try not to."

"You like the idea of owning me," Natasha says softly. "Possessing me. Saving me from myself." She's leaning over Maria again, holding her gaze. Maria nods.

"Yeah," she admits. "But it's just a fantasy. I wouldn't – "

Natasha shakes her head, cutting her off. "I know you wouldn't. That's why I stay."

"You don't lie to me in bed," Maria says. Natasha looks surprised.

"No," she agrees. "I don't."

Maria smiles a little, softly, gently. "And I don't try to keep you when you don't want to be kept."

"Yeah," Natasha breathes. She's moving on top of Maria, restlessly, squirming to press their bodies together.

"How do you want me, Natasha?" Maria asks. She trails her hands down Natasha's body, taking in the heat of her skin and the energy simmering just beneath it. "I know it gets you hot, when you take me apart like you did. I know you must be ready for it. Is your cunt wet?"

On top of her, Natasha spreads her legs around Maria's thigh, letting her feel how hot and wet she is. "You seem to know a lot about me," she says.

Maria tenses her thigh and rubs upwards, giving Natasha a little friction. "I know what you want me to know," she says easily. "I'll listen to whatever you want to tell me."

Natasha hesitates, then braces her knees and rubs down again, riding herself against the big muscle in Maria's thigh. "What if I told you that I love this," she says, groaning, "every minute of this, every time." She thrusts down again, her hands braced against the bed, her head falling back in pleasure. "What if I told you that I want to tell you everything." It's phrased like a question, but it isn't one.

"I'd believe you," Maria says. Gently, she holds onto Natasha's shoulders and rolls them over, so that Natasha is beneath her on the bed, her legs still spread around Maria's thigh. "I'd believe everything."

She kisses her way down Natasha's neck, pausing to bite a nipple, then lick it hard right over the bitemark. Natasha gasps and grips Maria's shoulders tight. Maria gives the nipple one last hard suck before letting it pop out from between her lips. She grins up at Natasha, who's grinning down at her, and moves down further, kissing her navel, the mole on her right hip, the top of her cunt where her labia begin. Maria dips her tongue in there, licking the outer edge, barely a touch at all but enough to make Natasha writhe beneath her.

"You are all wet," Maria says. "I can't wait to put my mouth on you."

"Do it," Natasha says breathlessly. Her hands tangle in Maria's hair but don't push at all. Maria likes the pulling sensation when Natasha's hands clench into fists. Natasha probably knows that by now.

She starts by sucking Natasha's clit, wrapping her lips around it and tonguing over it, loving the feel of it hot and pulsing against her skin. Natasha's legs spread further apart. Maria shuffles up closer.

"Harder," Natasha says, her hands still in Maria's hair. Maria pushes with her tongue, rubbing Natasha's clit with the flat of it. When Natasha groans softly, Maria feels an echo of that pleasure in her own body. She presses her legs together, setting off a warm pulse up from her clit.

"I want your tongue inside me," Natasha says, breathlessly. "I want your tongue and your fingers fucking me."

Maria moves down, licks over Natasha's hole, then back up to her clit and down again, tonguing her hole this time, rubbing hard around the edge of it. Natasha's breathing is getting faster, little moans escaping from her mouth.

"God, Maria," Natasha exhales suddenly. Maria pushes a little harder with her tongue, letting Natasha feel the slippery pressure of it inside of her.

"Fuck," Natasha says. Her heels dig in against the sheets, and her back starts to arch, and Maria lips and sucks and fucks her with her tongue. After a while she brings up her fingers to use instead, stroking inside while she uses her mouth on her clit. She loves the taste of her, the smell, pure animal desire, Natasha's arousal obvious against her tongue.

As Natasha gets closer, she gets quieter, only letting the occasional groan or gasp pass her lips. Maria likes that, her silence; she wouldn't know what to do if Natasha screamed and cursed and said I love you like a woman faking an orgasm. This is better, more real: Natasha's rough breaths, her squirming body, her come on Maria's face. She wants something, needs something, needs to get off, and Maria can make that happen. She works her with her fingers, her tongue, her lips, her breath; gives her exactly what she needs.

She knows how Natasha likes it, after all.

When Natasha comes, it's with a soft, "Oh, oh, oh," and a sudden trembling that moves throughout her body. Maria lays her palm against Natasha's thigh to feel it, that one moment when Natasha is outside her own head, when Maria gives her pleasure enough to help her forget, if only for a second, who she is and what she does.

She loves Natasha when she's like this, when she's all desire and selfishness.

"Want more?" Maria asks, looking up at Natasha. Her chest is heaving, her breasts rising and falling quickly, her ribs expanding and contracting.

"Maybe in a few minutes," Natasha says. "Gimme some time to recover." She glances down at Maria. "You like going down on me, huh."

"Love it," Maria agrees. She gets up on her hands and knees and crawls up the bed to lie next to Natasha.

Natasha reaches out to stroke her hair. "What do you like about it?" she asks, because interrogation is also how Natasha shows that she cares.

"I like how I'm in control and not in control," Maria says, her eyes starting to close. "I like how it smells and tastes. I like giving people orgasms. Mostly, though, I just like you."

Natasha's hand in her hair stills for a moment. "I like you too," she says, after a long pause.

Maria opens her eyes and smiles at her. Natasha smiles back.

"And it only took us six months of fucking to get to this special moment," Maria says softly. "I can't wait to call all my girlfriends and tell them you finally said the words."

"Shut up," Natasha says, poking her. "Anyway, you don't have any girlfriends."

"Sadly true. All the women I know are ruthless corporate executives and superheroes."

"So, you just know Pepper."

"Pretty much."

"Still, she might gossip with you," Natasha opines, tucking her hands up beneath her pillow and curling up. "Between . . . whatever it is you do in Stark Tower. Meetings. Pillow fights."

"You sound so much like Tony sometimes that it makes me feel bad about myself for fucking you," Maria sighs.

Natasha grins. "It's funny, Pepper compared me to Tony once, too. I always found it somewhat distressing."

"Well, now we know that you were both hookers, so there's another point of commonality, unfortunately." Maria runs her fingers over Natasha's cheekbone. She has beautiful cheekbones.

"I prefer sex assassin," Natasha says, smiling.

Maria chuckles. She's starting to get cold, so she crawls under the covers. Natasha follows her.

"Seriously, though, if you ever want to talk about those days, or those missions. You can. You don't have to finger me or make a joke out of it." Maria offers it as casually as she can, trying not to put too much weight to the words.

There's a long silence between them. Maria takes that, in itself, as a sign of trust, that Natasha would let Maria see her consider it.

"Not right now," Natasha says eventually. "Maybe someday."

Maria nods.

"And I'll finger you whenever I damn well please," Natasha adds. Under the covers, she runs her hand over Maria's waist, down to her hip to rub suggestively at her hipbone.

"And you'll stop whenever you damn well please, too," Maria agrees, yawning. "Since you're not my . . . sex assassin."

"I'll never be your sex assassin," Natasha promises gravely. It's one of the sweetest things Maria's ever heard her say.

They sleep, not holding one another, but near each other, sharing warmth beneath the blankets and brushing up against each other occasionally.

When Maria wakes in the morning, Natasha stays asleep, and Maria watches her for a little while. It must be like, she thinks, if Natasha trusts her enough to sleep while she's awake. Possibly it's even true like.

And anyway, no sex assassin anywhere would ever go so far as to fake that drool.

Maria makes them pancakes in the shitty kitchenette, and when they eat them Natasha kisses her, warm and sticky-sweet, to say thank you.