There’s a certain pattern to life in Stark tower, now that they’ve managed to break away from SHIELD. Sure, they take the odd mission from Fury now and then, but decisions are largely left up to Stark and Rogers these days rather than a international conglomerate of shadowy unknowns.
They’ve been hearing a lot of rumors lately about some group of baddies or the other cutting some kind of a deal with a certain Norse god, though Thor insists that his brother is chained to a rock, bound in eternal damnation.
Three days ago, though, Stark had gotten a hold of a picture of one of the mob bosses meeting with Loki in a park outside of the city.
Thor agreed that the rumors warranted investigation.
So when that particular mob boss announced that he was having a fundraiser, Stark made sure that an invitation came his way.
It’s not hard to see how this particular mission fell to the two of them. Natasha Romanov is a very beautiful woman, after all, and a master at her craft. And Clint, well, he’s extremely patient and good at watching from afar. It’s almost as if this job were built for them.
They get ready for the night together, just like they always do.
It’s a kind of ritual bonding, really - one last chance to check over their partner personally before sending them off into the unknown. So, just like a thousand other nights, she double checks all of the straps on his suit, and he zips her into the tiny little scrap of fabric that dares call itself a dress, smirking a bit as she checks the edge of the blade strapped to her thigh.
They don’t talk much, if at all, when they’re getting ready, but then, they never do. They’ve never really needed to, even back in those first days when her command of English idiom needed work and Clint smoked Camel Reds. But even when words failed them, they always spoke the same language.
They’ve both changed since then, grown up a lot. Natasha’s English is flawless, right down to her flat accent, and Clint’s replaced his cigarette habit with sugarless gum and sunflower seeds.
Other things have changed, too. Natasha doesn’t run into disaster without first checking the charge on her Widow’s Bite, and Clint remembers to look over the edge of a building before he jumps. They are no longer the same people they were ten years ago and would have a hard time recognizing the children they were back then.
The trust between them, though, the fragile thing that was born in a back alley in Eastern Europe, hasn’t changed so much as it has deepened. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for her, wouldn’t sacrifice for her.
Steve is waiting for them when they enter the briefing room, ready to go over the mission details again, even though he knows Clint and Natasha memorized them when they received the file two hours ago. It’s a soothing bit of ceremony, though, so neither of them minds.
The rest of the team, those who are earthbound, anyway, filters into the room one by one, taking their usual seats at the table. Tony assures them that he’ll have a SHIELD team on standby, and Bruce warns them that there have been reports floating around about some new synthesized drug. Steve comments that he can "practically smell Loki behind this one," which causes Clint to chuckle a little and earns him a smack from Natasha.
There is no hesitation in Tony’s fingers as he hands over the keys to one of his flashier convertibles, a silvery blue German import that cost more than Clint makes in a decade, he’s sure. It’s a beautiful car and Clint itches to get behind the wheel.
He lets Natasha drive, though, just to be safe.
She lets him out two blocks away from the gala, and he’s off, melting into the shadows, then up to the rooftops and finally to the vantage point he set up during yesterday’s recon.
He’s finished setting up before she arrives, so he knows that she drove around the block a few times to make sure that they weren’t followed.
Clint watches her through his spotting scope as she pulls the car up to the front of the building, knowing that she finds his invisible presence comforting. He likes to think it adds a certain added confidence to her step, even if he knows that she scarcely needs his help in that department.
She is just as breathtaking as the first time he saw her when she steps out of Tony’s car and hands the keys to the valet, veritably shrugging them in the poor moonstruck boy’s direction. Clint smirks when the kid drops them and has to stoop to retrieve them.
“I know the feeling, kid,” he mutters, not without humor.
Natasha enters the building without a backward glance, and he can imagine her arch expression when she’s frisked by the entrance. Security doesn’t find her knife, but then, they never do.
She’s inside and working the crowd within three minutes of her arrival, effortlessly moving from one conversation to the next, as he watches her through the lens of his scope, entranced.
Whoever picked the venue for this little ball was an idiot, Clint thinks, not for the first time. The entrance itself was well guarded, but once inside, guests were led into an open air courtyard. Clint would hazard a guess that he's not the only sniper on a nearby rooftop tonight.
Well, it made his job easier, at least. He kept a close watch on Natasha, bow at hand should it be needed. Clint doesn’t really expect that anything will happen; it’s up in the air whether or not Loki was even working with this guy, after all.
But then without any warning, she’s pulled her hairpin out, shaking her hair around her shoulders. It’s a signal, one that he did not expect to receive, but he acts immediately.
Natasha needs help. Now.
Abandoning his equipment (Rogers is going to be pissed if they don’t manage to recover it later), Clint repels from the roof and runs across the street, narrowly avoiding several cars that squeal and honk as they swerve around him.
He pushes his way through the line of party-goers waiting to enter, ignoring their disgruntled shouts when he shoves a little too hard. The security guards pose no impediment to him; Clint easily evades their grasp.
His entire journey from rooftop to ballroom takes less than a minute, but the mood inside the room is very different than it was before. No one even looks in his direction when he enters, even though six security guards are at his heels and shouting.
“Ah, Agent Barton. I had wondered if you were going to show up.”
Clint’s head whips around and he immediately zeroes in on the source of the voice that has been haunting his nightmares for the past year.
He’s got Natasha under one arm with her own knife pressed to her throat. A thin trickle of blood runs down her neck. Clint freezes, afraid to move.
“If I’d have known you were waiting for me, I would have come sooner.” His voice comes out as a growl, and he hopes desperately that it doesn’t betray all of the emotions that are racing through him right now.
Loki laughs, that perfectly villainous laugh that he has, one that Clint has always assumed the man spent long hours perfecting. He’s about to make a comment to that effect, when Natasha springs into action, taking her chance when Loki’s as distracted as he’ll ever be.
She flips out of his grasp, and Clint draws the pistol strapped to his leg. It’s not his favorite weapon, but it’ll do in a pinch. Natasha is by his side then, and she grabs his backup from his ankle holster.
Vaguely in the background, Clint hears the security guards come to their senses and start ushering people out of the room.
Loki isn’t even phased; quite the opposite, in fact. They’ve got guns trained on the man, and the first thing he does is laugh. So Natasha does what she was trained to do and starts shooting.
And then the trickster flickers out of existence, and they know the shit is about to hit the fan.
They’re too slow turning around, though, and Clint feels the prick of a needle in the base of his neck, catching a glimpse of Loki out of the corner of his eye. There’s no time to worry about what was in the syringe though. They’ve got a madman on the loose.
He and Natasha scan the room, but Loki is nowhere in sight. It’s as if he was never there at all.
Clint turns back to Natasha then, but doesn’t meet her eyes, instead scanning behind her back. He knows she’s doing the same.
“Where’d he go?”
She shakes her head. “I didn’t see.”
They both know Loki could still be there, but the courtyard is nearly emptied now and Clint figures Loki has already played his hand.
Clint does not holster his gun when he calls Rogers, just the same.
Backup on the way, Clint and Natasha exit the building, trying to blend into the crowd. They’re about as successful as a woman in a ripped dress and a man in tactical gear can be.
The party goers are distracted though, still afraid, and they don’t seem as interested in thanking the people who removed the threat as they are interested in yelling at the minimum wage staff who “had the nerve to let that maniac into their fundraiser!”
Tony is as good as his word and backup arrives in less than five minutes. One team of SHIELD agents quickly disperses through the crowd, and another heads off in the direction of the courtyard.
“You guys ok?” Stark’s voice through the suit is never quite as tinny as Clint expects.
Clint hesitates, looking at Natasha.
“I think so, but Loki injected us with something.” So, he’d slipped in under her radar, too.
Stark nods. “You two head back, then, get checked out. We’ve got it from here.”
“You sure?” Clint doesn’t feel any particular effects setting in, but he knows not to mess around with Loki.
Tony waves them off, and the spies take that as their cue to leave.
He first notices that something is off when he can’t peel his eyes away from Natasha as she saunters off to retrieve the car. The motion of her hips dries out the back of his throat, and he’s suddenly finding it very hard to breathe. She leans against a column while she waits for the valet to bring the car around, and Clint’s pretty sure he’s never seen anything he wanted more.
He figures out that it’s probably Loki’s fault he’s got Natasha on his brain when he wants to strangle the kid from earlier as he hands the keys to Natasha, inadvertently brushing his fingertips against her palm.
Something inside Clint snaps a little, and he knows he’s going to pay for this later, but he strides over to Natasha, grabs the keys from her hand and directs her toward the car with a strong hand at her back and an acid glare at the valet.
Maybe Natasha’s feeling something, too, because instead of putting up a fight, she lets him lead her to the passenger side and does not resist when he opens the door for her. She meets his gaze as he helps her into the seat, and he can feel the heat in her eyes all the way to his toes.
Yes, they are definitely being affected by something.
He’s already wild for this woman; he hardly needs a drug to tell him that. From the way she takes her coffee right down to the way she kicks his ass when they're training, there isn’t anything about Natasha Romanov that he would change. She’s the kind of girl that he never could have dreamed up on his own, but once he met her, it was all over for him.
His emotions are roiling inside of him, all boiling down to one thought, one urge, one singular need that encompasses everything else.
He’s got to get her alone.
Clint’s behind the wheel and peeling out before he knows it, and he’s probably breaking more laws than just the speed limit on his way back to the tower.
He risks a glance over at Natasha while stopped at a red light and nearly chokes.
She’s currently turned so her back’s against the window, legs spread, eyes trained on Clint. Her mouth is open and she’s audibly panting now, as her hand works between her legs.
“Jesus, Tash,” he hisses, wanting nothing more than to replace that hand with one of his own.
He’s distracted enough that one of his hands is already making its way up her thigh when a honk behind him breaks him out of his reverie.
Clint forces himself to take a breath and tears his eyes away from the writhing pile of Natasha in the seat beside him. He keeps his eyes locked on the road the rest of the way back to the tower, but it’s increasingly difficult to pay attention to the road. He feels harder by the second and the sounds coming from the back of Natasha’s throat aren’t helping.
They’re at the tower, finally, and it’s a quick retina scan that lets him into the ground floor parking deck. He’s barely gotten the car into its spot and set the parking break when he’s suddenly confronted with a lap full of Natasha.
Clint’s not sure how comfortable she can be jammed between him and the steering wheel, but something tells him that she cares about that just as much as he does.
He slides the seat back as far as it’ll go just the same.
“Clint,” it’s the first word she’s managed to get out, and there’s a whining quality to it that he’s never heard from Natasha before. And even though she’s squirming in his lap and she’s got one hand under his shirt and her lips on his neck, it’s enough to clear his head a little.
“Tash . . .” he stifles a groan when she licks behind his ear, right in the sensitive spot that she knows drives him up the wall.
“Tash, we need to get checked out.”
It kills him to say it, but he knows they really, really need to have a doctor look at them.
“Later. Busy now.”
Her hands have wandered down to his waistband and she cuts off his next protest with her lips.
She’s got his pants open and she’s slipped her hands inside. The sensation of those hands wrapped so very tightly around him is enough to make him lose what semblance of control he might have had left.
He can’t think straight at all when she scoots up his body, shoves her panties to the side, and impales herself on his cock. Natasha starts to move, gyrating on top of him, and he can’t even remember his own name anymore. She’s moaning in time with his thrusts, and he knows it’s going to be over too soon.
Clint reaches down between then, presses a firm thumb to her clit, and buries his face in the crook of her neck. She’s so wet and tight around him and he just wants to explode, can feel it building low in his gut.
“Fuck, Tash. I can’t . . .” he feels himself start to slip over the edge as she writhes above him, but she just moves faster and harder at his admission. He rubs his thumb in circles, firmly, the way he knows she likes it, then peels down the thin fabric covering her breasts. He nips at her peaks, sucking a little, and then he feels her shudder around him.
Natasha shouts her release, and he lets himself go, pumping artlessly into her.
They take a long minute to come back down, but he still feels drugged, still feels the urge to throw her down somewhere and fuck her until she screams.
He breathes deeply, tries to gather his self control.
Natasha, as ever, is the first to recover.
“Well, that certainly was interesting.” He’s strangely comforted to hear traces of her old accent bleeding in around the edges of her speech.
She smirks down at him a little, and he knows that she’s still feeling the drug too when she bends down and kisses him roughly, all teeth and tongue. Clint feels himself twitch inside her then and she giggles out of the sides of her mouth in reply.
Her eyebrows are raised in feigned mockery, showing the silly side of herself that she so rarely reveals, even to him. He sighs a little when she slides off him and back into the passenger seat.
He takes a few more deep calming breaths before he dares to look at her while she rearranges what’s left of her clothing.
“What the hell was that shit?” He asks, even though they’ve got a very good idea already. He rubs a hand roughly across his face, through his hair, hoping to clear some of the fog from his brain.
“Probably that synthetic drug Bruce mentioned earlier.” She reaches into the glove compartment, fishes around a bit, and comes up with a fast food napkin, which she promptly passes to him.
“We need to get checked out.” He cleans himself up, zips everything closed, and shoves the soiled napkin in his pocket.
Natasha nods her agreement and waits until he’s righted himself before opening the car door and stepping out.
They walk together toward the elevator, and Clint can’t help keeping one hand low on her back. There’s no one here but JARVIS to see them, and he doesn't want to break contact.
They make it as far as pressing the button for the floor where Stark has a permanent on-site medical team when the next wave hits.
The door hasn’t even closed before Natasha leaps toward him, and she kissing him like he’s got the last bits of oxygen left in the world. His focus once more narrows to the woman in his arms and all he wants to do is lose himself in her, check ups be damned.
She reaches behind her and hits the emergency stop on the elevator panel and he’d kiss her for it if he didn’t already have his tongue halfway down her throat.
He works his way across her jaw, down the side of her neck, and nibbles at her throat. There’s a bit of blood crusted there from where Loki cut her before, and the wave of rage that washes over him has him growling as he presses his lips to the wound.
She seems to understand the emotion, and she tightens her grip around his shoulders, clinging to him with something like desperation.
He keeps moving downward, trailing his lips over her clavicle, then down between her breasts. She arches against him, moaning, and experience tells him what she wants right now.
Clint drops to his knees in front of her then looks up to see her heavy lidded gaze fixed firmly on him. Natasha told him once that she’d never let anyone touch her like this before him, and it makes him feel remarkably masculine every time he does this for her.
She’s called him a caveman for feeling that way, but she’s certainly never complained about his performance.
Clint runs his hands up her thighs, over the tears in her stockings, right up underneath the bottom of her dress. He pushes up the hem, carefully, almost reverently, exposing her panties and garter belt. He lifts his eyes up to hers once more, a question burning in them, and Natasha’s lust filled gaze is all the response he needs.
He can smell himself on her, mixed in with her scent, an intoxicating reminder of what happened in the car only minutes ago. He nuzzles her through her soaked panties and grins at the laughter that erupts from her throat. She’s sensitive there, a little ticklish, but he knows she likes the teasing; he knows how much it turns her on.
He reaches up to the waistband of her panties and breaks one of the straps, grateful that she wore such flimsy undergarments. She’s now bared to him, and she’s so wet that the moisture is threatening to drip.
So he licks her once, starting at her center and swirling his tongue around her clit. She tastes like she smells and he can feel himself growing harder when she moans and curses in Russian.
She lifts her left foot and brings it up to rest on his shoulder and he can feel her legs start to buckle, so he presses one hand firmly across her stomach, bracing her more securely against the wall of the elevator.
He’s still licking and sucking when she begs for more, so he slips one finger, then another into her. Natasha’s back curves like a bow and he can feel little quakes start to roll through her.
“Come for me, baby,” he says, but it’s more of an entreaty than a command, and fuck, he still can’t believe she’s letting him do this to her in an elevator.
Clint looks up to see her head thrown back, one hand pressed against the wall and the other busy kneading her breast. He pumps harder, adds a third finger, and quirks his tongue across her clitoris.
Then she’s coming, clenching hard around his fingers and moaning so loudly that he’s sure every person in a two block radius can hear her.
Natasha is a quivering mess when he releases her and she slides down the wall to join him on the floor, settling into his lap while she catches her breath.
He doesn’t say anything, doesn’t feel the need to. He just wants to hold her and feel her close.
Well, maybe he wants some other things, too. He can feel her heat through the material of his pants and he thinks he might just rip right out of trousers if he doesn’t get her somewhere a little more private soon.
“Fuck, Clint.” Her voice is worn out, raw, like she can barely muster up enough strength to get even that much out.
He knows exactly what she means.
Her eyes are a little clearer a few minutes later when she meets his gaze, and she gently cradles his face between her hands before kissing him. He knows that she can taste their fluids mingled together on his tongue, and another jolt of arousal ripples through his body.
She giggles at him, breaking the kiss. “I think we should take this inside, don’t you?”
All thoughts of stopping at the med lab completely forgotten, he tells JARVIS to bypass the floor they’d previously selected and instead take them up to his floor. Mercifully, the normally inquisitive AI doesn’t ask them any questions, just restarts the elevator and takes them directly to their destination.
She takes hold of Clint’s hand and leads him out into the darkened entranceway to his apartment, and it’s all he can do to walk straight and not embarrass himself by tripping over his own feet. Natasha kicks off her shoes and turns a scorching look in his direction.
She steers him toward the bedroom, and the wag of her hips has him hypnotized, all the more so because he knows exactly what she intends to do to him once they’re inside.
The need to be naked is overwhelming, and they’re stripping as fast as they can. Natasha's dress hits the floor first, followed by his tac vest, and she's got the shreds of her panties off and is about to remove her garter belt when he stops her with a hand and a minute shake of his head.
“Leave it.” He’d be more embarrassed about the tone of his voice, except all he can think about is fucking her with those stocking clad legs wrapped around his waist.
She smiles wickedly in response, and then helps him shed the rest of his clothes.
When they’re finally (finally) nude, she pushes him forcefully backward onto the bed, then joins him there. He had half a hope that she would climb right on top of him like she had earlier in the car, but instead she slides down the bed, coming eye level with his painfully erect penis.
Natasha takes him in her mouth in one fell swoop, and he doesn’t even recognize the moan that works its way out of his throat as being his own. He looks down, gasping as she deep throats him while a free hand massages the inside of his thighs.
Her other hand slips down her own body, and she’s touching herself now, and his balls tighten at the sight. Natasha laughs, and the rumble makes him nearly come right then and there.
“Please, Nat.” She looks at him but doesn’t stop. “I want to come inside you.”
It’s inarticulate to be sure, but she must understand what he means because she releases him with a pop, then crawls up his body, brushing her breasts over his chest before dropping herself down on him.
They both groan at the sensation, but it isn’t nearly enough. He’s had her like this already today, and he wants something else, something different.
So he flips her over and pushes her face down onto the bed. That she lets him do it just makes him want her more.
He thrusts inside of her, one hand on the middle of her back, pinning her down so she can't move her torso. He’s rocking in and out of her, but the position isn’t quite right; he can’t get deep enough inside her.
Natasha’s making some strained, ragged sound in the back of her throat, almost mewling at him, begging for something that neither one of them can verbalize. Half an idea forming, Clint grabs her by the hips, fingers digging into her, and drags her up onto her knees.
She looks over his shoulder at him, growling at him when he falls out.
“Put your dick back in me right now, Barton, and fuck my brains out. Right. Now.”
The implicit threat behind her command is just one of the reasons he loves this woman.
Well, that’s interesting.
He pushes aside that thought for now and gets right back to the business at hand, as it were. He thrusts back inside of her and encounters no resistance at all, she’s so wet for him.
“I’m going to fuck you so hard, baby. I can’t wait to feel you come around me.”
They’ve certainly never been shy in the bedroom, but the dirty talk is something new, and he likes it. Judging by the noise she makes in response to his words, she does, too.
She’s undulating in front of him now, and she curves her back up so he can get better access to her chest. He wraps both arms around her, one hand pinching her nipples, the other flicking her clit in time to his thrusts. He’s never been so grateful that Natasha is strong as he is now as she supports both their weights on deceptively tiny wrists.
“Fuck, Tash, you feel so fucking good.” As compliments go, it’s not his best, but it’s certainly well appreciated because that’s when she starts to come around him, pulsing and clenching and Jesus fucking Christ, she’s so fucking hot.
He slows his thrusting and rubs her clit more gently, drawing out her orgasm. Natasha goes limp in his arms, leaning back against his chest, and he takes the opportunity to suck on the side of her throat while she recovers. The shaking in her limbs is back, in force this time, but he's so far gone that he's just aroused by it rather than concerned. Besides, he knows Natasha would tell him if they had to stop.
The tremors fluttering around his cock have barely died down when she says, “Flip me over and put that dick of yours to good use, Clint. I want to feel you fucking me so deep it hurts.”
He is nothing if not obedient to her whims.
He gets Natasha on her back with one smooth motion, and now her legs are wrapped around his waist and her tits are bouncing along with his thrusts and holy shit if this image isn’t going to be seared into his mind for the rest of his life. She’s moaning and crying out in such a way that he feels like he’s the star of his own goddamned porno.
Clint’s just about to wonder where all this stamina is coming from when his orgasm sweeps over him suddenly and he thinks maybe he blew out a fuse in his brain or something because everything goes white and he might have passed out there for a few seconds because the next thing he knows, he’s flat on his back with Natasha curled beside him.
Sweat is glistening on her brow and he uses the back of one hand to wipe some of it away. He wants to tell her he loves her, but this really isn’t the right time to drop that particular bombshell, so instead he asks, “So, what do you think? Should we warn the others about Loki’s sex drugs?”
“Oh, yes. Definitely.”
Natasha cocks her head a little, and he sees a little spark reignite somewhere behind her pupils.
“But like, maybe we can wait twenty more minutes.”
He returns her grin as she rolls back on top of him.
Natasha and Clint visit medical.
The first thing Natasha notices when she wakes up is that she really needs to pee. The second is that Clint is sprawled out on top of her and his knee is pressing into her bladder.
He doesn’t budge.
She’s louder this time.
“Yo, Agent Hot Sauce! Wake up!”
There, that seems to have done the trick.
Clint rolls off her with a grunt and she’s finally, blessedly, free!, so she seizes her chance and bolts straight for the bathroom.
Or, well, she tries to bolt for the bathroom.
There isn’t going to be much running in her near future, that’s for certain. Natasha feels more like someone’s grandmother the way she’s moving this morning. Every single muscle in her body is stiff and it feels like she’s on fire as she shuffles toward the bathroom.
Actually, limps to the bathroom might be the better way to put it.
Natasha doesn’t bother to close the door before sinking gratefully down onto the porcelain; it’s not like he’s somehow unaware that she, in fact, urinates. They’ve spent more than one mission holed up together in tiny hotel rooms, and one memorable time in Latvia had them sharing a jail cell under a drug lord’s palace. Even had they maintained any sense of body shame toward the other afterward, following a night like the previous one, there really isn’t anything left she can be embarrassed about.
Clint confirms this when he walks into the bathroom a few minutes behind her, buck ass nude and scratching his scalp, eyes half-closed and a bemused expression on his face.
“So, uh . . . hey.” At least, that’s what he’s probably saying. Clint isn’t articulate in morning unless he has to be, and Natasha notes that she probably has a lot to do with today’s incoherence.
She flushes then gets out of the way so Clint can take his turn while she turns on the tap to wash her hands.
“Jesus, Barton! When’s the last time you actually used this?”
She picks up the soap dish and tries to pry off the ancient cake of soap before giving up and rinsing her hands under the hot water.
He just shrugs a little and mutters something unintelligible.
Natasha pads her way across the tiled floor to the shower. She knows they both need to head down to medical, but there is no way she is setting foot outside of Clint’s room smelling the way she does right now. She positively reeks of sweat and sex, and she’s sticky in places she’d rather not consider at the moment.
She turns the shower on full blast and steps under the spray, thoroughly delighted that she lives in Tony Stark’s tower. It’s like being inside a five-star hotel all day, every day. There’s never a shortage of hot water in this place, and she shudders as the heat sinks into her muscles. She can feel her back start to loosen up almost immediately.
She’s leaning against the far wall and so out of it that Clint actually surprises her when he steps into the stall behind her. She jumps a little at his cool hands on her shoulders, but releases the tension almost immediately when she realizes it’s him.
“Good morning, babe.”
He drops a kiss on her shoulder, and for whatever reason, and sure, maybe it’s the drugs, she can’t find any reason to care about that inane endearment right now. Instead of bristling, she turns around in his arms and kisses him soundly under the running water.
The “babe” thing is actually kind of making her feel all warm and tingly inside, and it feels like there’s something dancing around in her guts. It’s rather pleasant.
Natasha wraps her arms around Clint’s neck, pulling him close, and allows herself to enjoy the way his arms feel around her back and his bare skin against hers.
And wow, those drugs sure pack a punch because even though they’ve had a sex marathon or three in their day (Budapest comes to mind), they’ve certainly never come back for this many rounds without taking a break, and that is definitely not a loofah pressing insistently into her hip right now.
But, well, Clint’s looking at her with dilated eyes and he’s breathing hard, and she never could resist him when he’s naked and wet, so it looks like it’s time for round eleven (or is it twelve?).
There is precious little need for foreplay, and they both know it; Clint just runs a hand between her thighs to make sure that she’s ready for him, then hoists her up, bracing her against the shower wall. Natasha slides legs around his waist, and he presses inside of her.
Holy shit, it’s more than a little uncomfortable at first, but once he starts moving inside her, Natasha doesn’t really care. He’s got one hand braced on the wall right by her head and the other arm is wrapped low around the curve of her ass and fuck, he’s hitting that spot just right with each slow thrust and it isn’t long before she’s shouting out her release and shaking in his arms.
Clint hasn’t come yet, but she knows the desperation this drug is instilling in them all too well, so even though it’s well past uncomfortable, she coaxes him to his own release, lapping at his neck and whispering filthy things in his ear for encouragement.
Natasha winces as she slides off him, and Clint touches one concerned finger to her face.
“Yeah, me, too.” He leaves it at that and reaches for the shampoo.
This particular reaction is one of the best things about Clint. He never offers his condolences, (even though she knows she has them) and he sure as hell has never pitied her, he just accepts and sympathizes, letting her know that he’s right there with her without making her feel like a simpering fool.
Yeah, she’s pretty far gone. If only the Red Room could see her now.
Natasha smiles and lets Clint wash her hair, but she takes the washcloth from him before he can move on to her body. She’s feeling too sore right now to risk another go with him, no matter how pleasant it may be.
Clint seems to follow her train of thought, and he nods at her in agreement. “We need to get downstairs.”
They finish scrubbing up and dry off, falling back on the military efficiency that has been drilled so firmly into both of them.
It takes all of Natasha’s will not to stare at the play of muscles in his back as he bends over to pull a pair of pants and a clean shirt out of a drawer, and she knows that even if her body is too tired, she’s dangerously close to accosting her partner again anyway.
“Hurry up and cover your ass, Barton,” she snarks, bumping him aside with her hip and reaching into the drawer where she keeps a change of clothes. She tugs a sports bra over her head then reaches for a shirt. Though it’s well worn and thin, the fabric is nevertheless very uncomfortable against her skin, and it feels like her nipples are brushing against sandpaper even through the bra. She sees Clint wince a bit, too as he puts his own clothes on, and she hopes like hell that the people in medical are going to be able to do something about this.
She sighs a little. Time for the walk of shame.
They both straighten up on the elevator ride down to medical (it’s one thing to toddle around when it’s just the two of them, but quite another to limp in front of a man who turns into the jolly green giant), still studiously avoiding looking at the other, afraid that what happened on the elevator ride up could happen again on the way back down.
It’s a sign of how much the drug is still affecting her that Natasha squirms a little at that thought.
They step off the elevator, not quite sure what to expect. They weren’t careful at all last night, and even though they’ve both disabled the recording devices on their respective floors of the tower, there’s the parking garage and the elevator to think of.
If Natasha were a lesser individual, she would blush at the thought.
Mercifully, it’s just Bruce and the other doctors in the lab this morning.
“Was expecting you last night,” Bruce says as they near him, though there’s no hint of reproach in his voice. “How are you feeling?” He speaks with such casualness that Natasha isn’t quite sure whether he knows what happened or not.
She exchanges a glance and a shrug with Clint before answering. She realizes that they aren’t going to be able to keep anything secret, she doesn’t even want to really, if it means endangering the life of her partner. They’ve been through a lot in their time together, and she supposes that one day she’ll be able to look back and laugh at the whole thing.
Too bad it’s not very funny right now.
“Well, we’re both a bit . . . sore.” She tries to lace the word with innuendo, enough that Bruce will get the gist of what she means without her having to come right out and say it. It’s not so much that she’s embarrassed to have spent the majority of her night fucking Clint into the mattress (and the door and the floor and the metal desk chair and the desk itself and his dresser and. . .), but that this, of all ways, is how they’re going to let the rest of the team in on their little secret.
Bruce just furrows his brow. “Soreness at the injection site? That might not be a bad sign, necessarily, but let’s take a look at it. Why don’t you guys have a seat over there and I’ll call Dr. Pym over. He’s really got a way with these things . . .”
Bruce turns away, already scanning the room for the biochemist when Clint clears his throat, drawing Bruce’s attention back to them.
“No, uh, that’s really not what she meant, Doc.”
Bruce raises an eyebrow. “Oh? What then?”
“Whatever was in those syringes must have messed with our hormones; we’ve both been knocked for a pretty big loop.”
Clint can’t come right out and say it either, dancing around the subject. But then, Clint’s always been a bit shier about their relationship than she is.
Natasha could care less who knew about them, but Clint is different. He knows how it would look to everyone in SHIELD if they found out how the two of them spend their downtime, and he’s still trying to protect her from that. Natasha knows too, really, she just doesn’t care about the opinions of people who think that the only reason the Black Widow was recruited for SHIELD was because Clint Barton thought she’d be a good lay.
Although, in fairness, they wouldn’t be too far off the mark with that particular assumption.
Bruce still looks clueless though, and Natasha just doesn’t understand how a man who spends so much of his day strapped to a computer hasn’t put two and two together already. So she puts them all out of their mutual misery.
“We’re pretty sure the drug messed with our sex drives,” she says flatly. “This is the first we’ve been able to keep our hands off each other since the incident last night.” She doesn’t add that if the lab were empty, she’d probably have her hands all over Clint right now.
And she has to give Bruce credit, she really does. He takes the news in stride, as does Dr. Pym when he comes over and helps Bruce with the physical. Natasha takes the entire ordeal calmly, long used to being poked and prodded with needles.
Clint, on the other hand, is acting out of character. She knows he doesn’t like hospitals and doctors; he’d rather hide himself away in some forgotten corner until he healed, coming to Natasha if and only if he needed stitching up in a place he couldn’t reach. The fewer people who know his weaknesses, the better.
She can’t say she disagrees with him. On the rare occasions that he’s forced to spend any time in medical, he’s wall-to-wall wisecracks, using the humor to deflect his nervousness and distaste for the situation.
Today, he’s barely said a word, answering Bruce’s questions all but perfunctorily.
Natasha dares a glance in his direction and discovers that he’s got his eyes trained on her. She can see the lust building up as his pupils visibly dilate, and it must be catching because the familiar warmth is rolling in the pit of her stomach now, too, and boy this is really going to get awkward.
Bruce snaps a finger in front of Natasha’s face. “Hey, Romanov! You with me?”
Breathing hard, Natasha forces herself to break eye contact with Clint, focusing instead on Bruce.
“Yeah. I’m here.”
Bruce doesn’t look convinced.
“As I was saying, we’re going to give you both a mild depressant, try to level you out somewhat while we run the blood work.”
“That sounds good.” She’s lying.
“Have either of you noticed anything else?” Dr. Pym asks them.
“Like what?” Natasha asks.
Pym searches through a medicine cabinet, looking for the sedatives Bruce had mentioned. “Are the sexual urges general, or are they only directed at Agent Barton?”
Natasha takes a moment to consider his question, looking over at Bruce. One of the first things she noticed about Bruce was that, underneath all the grime he wore like a shield in India, he was a rather attractive man. She didn’t want to sleep with him then, though, and she’s pretty sure she doesn’t want to now, either.
Testing the waters, she lets her gaze fall back on Clint. She feels her heartbeat start to pick up.
“Directed,” she replies.
Dr. Pym turns to Clint, “Agent Barton?”
Clint’s reply is immediate. “Very specifically directed.”
His answer shouldn’t make her want to push Bruce aside and jump into Clint’s lap, but it does, and Bruce is starting to notice that the level of self-control in the room is waning.
“That should be enough for us to get started.” Bruce gives her two small, white pills and a cup of water. She knocks them back.
“I think we’re also going to put you both in an observation room, too, just in case.”
Natasha does not miss the quick glance that passes between Bruce and Dr. Pym.
“Make that separate observation rooms.”
I'm trying to vary the sex they have (even though I keep writing it with all the feels), and this is the first time I've tried writing intercrural. Let me know how far I missed the mark!!
The room they’ve got her in was designed to be a kid’s room, though why Stark had one of them built here, of all places, she’ll never know. Brightly colored ducks march around the top of the wall, and Natasha has already resorted to coming up with increasingly complex names for each of them to pass the time.
Well, except the purple ones. She’s named all those ones Clint.
Whatever they gave her to “calm her down” has only served to make her sleepy, but without any, ahem, distractions, she’s managed to catch some sleep while waiting for the results of the blood analysis. She hopes Clint is doing the same.
She can’t seem to get him out of her head though, and feeling like the teenager she never was is starting to drive her a little crazy. Sure, yeah, Clint’s great and everything (better than great), but she has other interests.
Like kicking things.
And, you know, not spending a week in bed, no matter how attractive the companion.
But nothing is tempting her away from her current train of thought, and she’s considering breaking out of the observation room and sneaking over to Clint’s when the door opens and Bruce steps inside.
“Feeling any better yet, Natasha?” His concern would be touching if she weren’t so damned horny.
She nods, but doesn’t quite look at him, afraid that her eyes might be too honest. “I got a little sleep, but I’m still having trouble . . . controlling my thoughts.”
“That’s a side effect of the drug in your system.”
“You figured out what was in it then?” Natasha perks up, hopeful.
“Well, I spoke with Thor, and he thinks he knows what’s going on. We’re running a few more tests to be sure . . .”
“When will we be back to normal?”
It’s all she really cares about. Natasha has little patience for overly involved explanations, and Bruce is nothing if not the king of them. Honestly, she just misses being able to have a normal conversation with her best friend without being distracted by the way the light plays on his cheek bones.
Even if they’re really nice cheekbones.
It’s Bruce’s turn now to avoid her gaze, and she knows she isn’t going to like his answer.
“The effects are going to take at least a week to fully run their course.”
Well, that’s longer than she hoped, but shorter than she expected. She tells Bruce as much then asks, “What are we supposed to do in the meantime?”
Bruce is actually blushing now, redness peaking up from his shirt color.
“Well, that’s really up to the two of you. Thor tells me that after the first 24 hours, as long as you avoid skin to skin contact, you should be fine. There’s nothing inherently dangerous about it other than the potential for, uh, soreness, which you already noticed.”
Natasha can handle that, though she senses a “but” coming.
“He also told me that you’re effectively wired to seek out contact with Barton and, uh . . . you probably won’t be able to stop yourselves from . . .” Bruce gestures inarticulately, fumbling over his words.
Natasha finishes the sentence for him. “. . . Sleeping together.”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
Natasha groans. She's not sure if she can take a week of this.
“We could keep you separated in the cells on the detention level, if that’s what you want.”
Bruce pauses, and looks her right in the eye before he continues, softly.
“I know what it’s like to be changed against your will into something you can’t control.”
Natasha looks at Bruce with sympathy, carefully choosing her next words before replying. She would rather ride it out, no pun intended, than spend a week in a prison cell, but she didn’t want to throw Bruce’s offer back into his face. The man has nearly as many trust issues as she does.
“No, I don’t think that will be necessary. We’ve been through a lot together. We can get through this.”
There’s uncertainty in Bruce gaze. “Are you sure? I mean, neither of you asked for this.”
Ah, there it is. She understands his offer a little better now. Maybe if she’d been dosed alongside someone else, she’d feel differently. Clint, however, was the one enduring this with her and last night was hardly the first they’d spent together. And even if they don’t have control over the fact that they’ve been going at it like bunnies, everything they’ve done has been one hundred percent consensual.
Natasha lowers her voice so no one walking by can overhear her.
“Clint and I have been sleeping together for years, although we'd appreciate you keeping that to yourself. As long as he’s okay with this, I’m okay with it."
Bruce nods. "Barton said the same thing."
“Is Thor sure about the whole ‘week’ thing?”
“I’m afraid so.”
Natasha slides off the examination table with a sigh and asks, "Did Thor happen to tell you anything else? Like, maybe what the hell Loki was thinking?”
Bruce chuckles and rubs a quick hand over his eyes. “Somehow, I think Thor is the last person to pick apart Loki’s motives. None of us have a clue.”
Natasha cocks her head to one side at that comment, narrowing her eyes.
“Who exactly is ‘us’?”
Bruce has the good grace to look abashed, but she thinks it might be feigned.
“We, uh, had kind of a meeting.”
“About me. And Clint. And the sex drugs.”
“Er, yeah.” Bruce is backing up little by little, and the man is seriously lucky that she can’t attack him without endangering the lives of the other people who live in this tower.
“And what precisely was decided during this meeting?”
“You guys have the rest of the week off, or however long it takes for this thing to run its course.” Bruce is halfway across the room now. Nice to know she still has her touch.
Natasha lets out an exasperated sigh. There’s no going back, then. She moves on from her fruitless anger.
“Did Thor have anything else to say?”
“He did, actually. He recommended you try this . . .”
The elevator ride back up is surprisingly awkward.
Clint’s tense and not looking at her and she’s tense and not looking at him and they’re acting like idiot children. She’s not used to feeling this way around him, hates it, actually, and she decides that she must fix the situation.
She holds up the bottle that Bruce handed to her back in the lab.
“Thor gave us this,” she tells Clint as he takes it from her.
Clint peers down at the label and lets out a low whistle. “Wow. Ain’t that something.”
“That was pretty much my reaction.”
“Why is it ‘For Her Pleasure’, exactly? Don’t I get special lube, too?”
And just like that, the tension is gone and things feel like they’ve always felt with him and Natasha doesn’t feel weird anymore.
“Excuse me!” she exclaims in mock outrage. “You aren’t the one with swollen lady parts.”
Clint sidles a little closer, leans into her, and takes her chin in his hands. “Want me to kiss it and make it better?”
The innuendo is thick in his voice, so thick that Natasha can feel the arousal coming off him in waves, and when he tilts her head and kisses her, she lets her own lust answer his.
She backs him into a corner, and then they’re pawing at each other and it’s delicious. Clint’s right hand makes its way down to the small of her back and things are just starting to get interesting when someone clears their throat behind them.
It’s Steve, and boy, he’s turning the most delightful shade of magenta. And here she didn’t even hear the elevator door open. She admits that it was a wise decision to take them off active duty for the duration.
Natasha takes a step back, moving out of Clint’s arms before she greets their team leader.
Steve can’t even manage to call them by their actual names, much less look at them. It would be endearing if it didn’t make her feel like she’d been caught making out by her father (nevermind that she never had one to caught by). She supposes the industrial sized bottle of lube in Clint’s hands isn’t helping matters either.
Not that she honestly thinks Steve has the first clue what the bottle is for.
“So, uh . . . you two are okay, then?” Even Steve’s ears are pink now, and he’s studiously staring at the red digital numbers slowly ticking off the floors as they ascend the tower.
Natasha shares an amused glance with Clint.
“Yeah, we’re good.” And then, because she can’t resist, “Sore in some really interesting places, but good.”
A little squeak worms its way out of Steve’s throat, and Clint’s eyes pop wide open in response. There’s an indention on his cheek where he’s biting down to prevent himself from laughing.
At last, the elevator dings and the door opens, and she can sense the captain’s relief as he practically leaps out of the elevator.
“Control your face, Barton.” Natasha says as the doors slide close. “Don’t make me laugh at poor old Grandpa America. He’s like a puppy.”
Clint chuckles at that, and the grin he flashes her makes her weak in the knees, so just to be on the safe side, she steps a little further away from him, sequestering herself on the other side of the small box until they reach their destination.
“Are you hungry?” Clint asks as he follows her off the elevator. She pretends that she doesn’t see the potential for innuendo there.
“What are you offering?”
Dammit, she can’t even manage a simple response. Stupid sex drugs.
Clint’s lips quirk up at the edges, but he continues on, ignoring the subtext.
“Come on, we’ll figure something out.”
Natasha follows him into the overly extravagant kitchen that Tony installed once he figured out that Clint liked to cook. It’s not often that Clint gets the chance to use it, though; both of them are too important to both SHIELD and the Avengers to have much downtime.
Natasha takes a seat on a stool by the island, content to watch Clint cook for her. She doesn’t have a great many nice things in her life, but Clint Barton making her breakfast is definitely at the top of that short list.
All she can manage on her own is cereal and burnt toast, neither of which she really wants right now.
Besides, Clint’s ass looks really good as he moves around the kitchen, bending and stretching to gather ingredients.
“Pancakes okay?” Clint asks as he hands her a glass of orange juice. “I’m not really feeling up to anything fancy.”
She smiles and nods, taking a long sip from her cup. “Sounds great.”
She loves that he remembers stupid little things about her like her love for orange juice. He keeps a bottle of the good stuff in his fridge for her, has ever since he found out she’d never tried it. She remembers with fondness the way he bought every variety the store carried one afternoon not too long after Budapest just so she could find out which one she liked the best.
She’s pretty sure he doesn’t even like the stuff.
She sips her juice while she watches him cook, and he’d be devastatingly distracting even if she didn’t have Loki’s stupid sex drug coursing through her veins. She can’t put her finger precisely on what it is about watching him move that fascinates her so much, but she recognizes that it’s always been that way for her, ever since he held a hand out and believed in her instead of killing her.
Clint tosses her pancakes one at time, hot off the griddle, and the edges burn her tongue because she’s too hungry to wait for them to cool down.
The entire situation is quiet and domestic and silly – all of the things that she never wanted, never bothered to dream about, never even considered. But at this moment, right now, she feels strangely content. Happy, even.
“What are you smiling about?” Clint puts the pan in the sink to wash later and sits down on the matching stool beside her.
Natasha shrugs. “Nothing. It’s silly.” She focuses on her pancakes.
“Ah, like that is it? Which is it? Nothing or silly?” Clint stabs his fork through his stack of pancakes and takes a huge bite. Pig.
“Honestly, nothing. I’m just enjoying the moment.”
Clint swallows, then steals a sip from her juice glass.
“Hey! That’s mine!”
Clint pauses to stick his tongue out at her before taking another, longer pull from her glass.
He puts her glass down and swallows hard before turning to her. There’s a seriousness in his eyes that wasn’t there before, and Natasha is pretty sure she knows what it means, but she doesn’t know if she’s really ready for that, even if she’s heading in the same direction herself.
“Nat, I . . .”
She cuts him off before he can say it. “Clint, no.”
She says it with more force than she really intended and her voice is shaking and she’s having trouble breathing and oh god, she wishes he wasn’t looking at her like that, as if she’d killed his cat or something.
“Nat, come on. Just let me . . .”
She’s shaking her head, panicking. “No. Don’t do this.”
“Do this? Do what?”
“Don’t say it.” She studies her nails.
“Nat, I can’t do this,” he motions harshly between them, food forgotten. “I can’t be like this with you and not tell you what I feel. I can’t.”
He stands abruptly and storms out of the room.
Just because she can’t bear to hear it doesn’t mean she doesn’t feel it, and her heart is breaking to see him stalk away from her.
She catches up to him in the living room. He’s leaning against the window, staring out over the city. It’s his favorite view, the place he likes to think.
Slowly, hesitantly, she reaches one hand out to his shoulder.
“Cli . . . Please, Clint.”
He looks back at her, and there’s fury in his gaze, real anger, directed at her.
“Please, what, Natasha? Just fuck you until it hurts and pretend like it doesn’t mean anything? Pretend that I don’t spend every waking minute thinking about you?”
“It’s just the drugs.” She offers, half-heartedly.
“It’s not the motherfucking drugs! Jesus Christ, Natasha. How can you not know what you do to me? What you’ve been doing to me for years?”
She can’t stop herself from flinching. He’s never yelled at her before, and the emotional whiplash of the last two minutes is freaking her out. She thinks she might cry.
She decides to be angry instead.
“Fuck you, Clint! Of course it fucking means something to me! You’re my partner, you’re my best friend! I wouldn’t do this with just anyone!”
“Well, isn’t that a relief.” His sarcasm cuts right to her core.
“Shit. No, I didn’t mean . . .”
“Then what, Natasha? What is the problem?”
Some of his anger is dissipating now, but she’s rapidly realizing that the sadness, the desperation that’s left behind is much, much worse.
She looks away, afraid to see what’s lurking so close to his surface. She feels her face grow hot.
“Clint, I . . .” His name comes out choked; she’s almost sobbing. Feeling like this, knowing that he does too, it physically hurts, worse than a bruise, worse than a bullet.
She can see him deflate out of the corner of her eye. He comes closer, puts his arms around her.
“Shh, Nat. It’s okay. I didn’t want to upset you.”
“Then why are you trying to ruin this?” She’s glad her face is buried against his chest because a tear just slipped out of the corner of her right eye and she hasn’t cried since she watched her parents die.
His calm, even voice belies the erratic beat of his heart, thumping below her ear.
“I don’t want to ruin anything, Tasha. I just wanted you to know. You don’t have to feel the same way. Whatever this is, it’s enough for me.”
Natasha shakes her head, frustrated.
“It’s not that, not that at all.”
She scrubs at her eyes with one hand, still keeping her face turned toward his chest, afraid that looking directly at him will make everything real, and she just isn’t ready for that.
Her name is a raspy whisper on his lips and god fucking dammit she can hear it in his voice.
She’s always heard it in his voice.
“It’s too much.” She says it softly, so softly that she wonders if she said it at all.
“What’s too much?”
He’s running his fingers through her hair now, stroking her back, and she’s not sure how this turned into him comforting her.
He stiffens, and she knows she’s gone and said the wrong thing again. She summons every bit of courage she’s ever had and chances a look at him, gripping his forearms so he doesn’t pull away.
“You make me crazy, Clint.” She bites her lip and stares at the space between his eyes. “I don’t know how to deal with this. I know how to make people want me, fall for me, but I don’t know how to . . .” She swallows, debates her next words.
“I don’t know how to do this.”
Natasha can’t even bring herself to think the damn word, much less say it out loud and in front of him. She wishes she were braver.
But Clint, wonderful Clint, perfect Clint, he seems reassured by her words by some miracle, as if she’d admitted something secret and precious to him.
Maybe she did.
He bends down and kisses her slowly, taking his time, sucking on her bottom lip and letting his tongue slide against hers. Her heart is beating in her throat and her blood is throbbing in her ears and surely it’s loud enough that he can hear it.
He tastes like the pancakes he cooked her and something else indefinable, something distinctly Clint, and all she wants is to revel in it, revel in him, forgetting their stupid argument, forgetting her stupid fears.
She’s not sure she’s ever been kissed like this before, not even by him. She’s taken so many people to her bed, but they rarely kissed her unless they were trying to prove something. But this kiss is different, and she can feel her world spinning out from under her feet.
Clint was the first person she ever really, truly wanted, the first person to kiss her just because he liked her (more than just like, Natasha) and not because she was just another possession or a point to be gained on some imaginary scoreboard.
He’s one of only a handful of people to survive Natasha’s bed, and he’s the only person who’s ever confused her this way, driven her to the brink of insanity and back again, to the point that she’s not even sure which way is up anymore.
And fuck, he’s looking at her like she’s some goddamned precious jewel, and she hasn’t even combed her hair today and there’s a stain on her crappy t-shirt and her breath probably smells bad. And he’s in just as sorry a state, but she doesn’t really give a shit.
She doesn’t know how the Red Room missed the part of her capable of feeling love, but it did, even after they killed her parents and her little brother and made her kill everyone who ever showed her kindness. She has waded through so much blood and death, there shouldn’t be anything left for her to feel with .
But, fuck it all, she does, and it hurts. It’s going to hurt more, she knows, if she loses him.
Natasha hates regrets, though, and she hopes she can manage to spit the words out one day because she of all people knows how short life is, how violent it can be, and how important it is to seize every opportunity you have for happiness before you’re dead and buried and can’t do anything at all.
For now, though, she can only manage to show him how she feels, however much a coward that makes her.
He’s a solid mass in front of her and it feels like she’s a river, flowing around him. Or maybe it’s the other way around; he’s the river, eating away at her banks, washing away everything she thought she was.
Clint moves slowly, taking his time, and it’s clear that he’s caught up in this strange, slow moment, too.
They have never spent this much time just exploring each other. It’s usually over too swiftly; they’re always pressed for time or they’re too tired or they’re just too eager for each other to worry overmuch about foreplay.
Today, though, she’s already fucked him and been fucked by him a dozen times and they really don’t have anywhere to be, and it’s just kind of nice to be able to slow down and enjoy it for once.
So Natasha doesn’t complain or resist when Clint leads her to the couch, smiling that boyish smile of his and stopping every few feet to steal another kiss from her. It feels like playing and it’s never felt like that before. She never wants this moment to stop.
He pulls her down into his lap and she straddles him, leaning into him as their lips meet again. Clint’s hands are at the hem of her shirt now, slipping the tighter fabric of her bra up and over her breasts to caress her body there. She is still sore from his earlier attentions, but he’s gentle and she feels herself grow wet from his careful ministrations.
He slides his arms down, and replaces his palms with his tongue, lathing her through the thin fabric of her shirt. Both of his arms are wrapped around her and she knows that he, even distracted, won’t let her fall, so she leans back a little so she can pull her shirt and bra off together in one smooth motion.
The cool air feels good against her skin and Clint is staring attentively at her every movement. Once she’s tossed her shirt aside, he leans down and takes the peak of one breast into his mouth while he uses the rough pads of his opposite hand to pluck at the other nipple.
Before she realizes it, Natasha is moaning and grinding against him, desperate for some friction, even if she doesn’t think she can handle penetration. He’s hard underneath her, and it’s a special, sweet agony to grind against him with all the layers of fabric between them.
He lets her nipple fall out of his mouth and runs his hands up to her face, and Natasha can’t quite identify everything in the play of emotions on his face, but her heart aches from it and she’s pretty sure her expression matches his anyway.
“Tasha . . .” His voice is rough and low when he whispers her name against her throat, and then he’s sucking her skin into his mouth and she’s going to have a mark there tomorrow.
She loves this nickname he’s given her, the only one she’s ever had that had nothing to do with what she did for a living or what she looked like but just because she had a friend, and on Clint’s lips it sounds like a prayer.
She bends and kisses him as sweetly as she can manage, not wanting the break the mood. It’s hard for her, this new tenderness, and she isn’t quite sure how to reciprocate, but for him she wants to try.
Clint rolls them suddenly so her back is pressed into the cushions and he’s draped over her and laying between her legs, leaning on his elbows to keep his weight off her.
He runs his hand over her forehead, her eyes, her nose, and it looks like he wants to say something so she asks, “What is it?”
“It’s just . . . You’re so fucking beautiful, Tasha.”
She’s been told this a thousand times by as many people, but this is the first time she’s ever believed it. He’s the only person who’s ever said it to her that meant it, really meant it, despite knowing every single thing about her, every mark of red splattered all over her ledger, staining her hands and her soul.
Her heart twists in her chest at the look in his eyes. Just when she thinks she can’t stand it anymore, he curves down over her and captures her lips with his and she’s holding on for dear life, her nails clawing at his shoulders.
Natasha twines one leg around his hips, resuming the pleasant action she began earlier and Clint groans against her, music to her ears.
“Too many clothes, Barton.” She mumbles from the corner of her mouth, and she tugs on his shirt. Taking the hint, Clint shifts and pulls his shirt off over his head.
Like a child in a candy store, Natasha can’t resist touching, and she reaches out with one hand and drags it from his sternum down to his navel. She traces the little path of hair growing below to where it disappears underneath the waistband of his pants.
“The rest of it, too.”
He struggles out his pants then peels her yoga pants down her legs. It’s a little strange to be so naked in front of him while she’s simultaneously feeling so raw, so exposed. But it’s a good kind of strange, maybe.
Carefully, hesitantly, he caresses her thighs.
“Are you too sore for this?”
There’s real concern in his voice, and Natasha knows that she can tell him to stop at any time and he will. This thing between them has never been anything but mutual. They’re partners, in all things.
She wants him so very keenly, wants to envelop him, touch him, make him come so hard his brain falls out his ear; she’s not afraid to tell him what she needs to make that happen.
“I don’t think I can take you inside of me again right now, but there are other things we can do.”
He returns her smile and brushes his lips across her temple. “Okay.”
Clint bridges the space between them and focuses his attention on the curve of her neck, the line of her jaw, pressing kisses and nipping all his favorite spots, making her squirm underneath him.
Natasha reaches down between them and takes his hardness in one hand and the bottle of lube in the other. She rubs a generous squirt all over his cock, eliciting a grunt, and then she smears still more between her legs. She shifts around on the sofa so that he’s at her back, then she guides his penis between her thighs so that he’ll slide over her clitoris as he thrusts.
Natasha clenches her legs together as tightly as she can and moves with him, looking back over her shoulder at Clint’s expression as she does so.
“Is this okay?”
He exhales sharply and maybe there’s half a laugh in there, and as he replies, he bites his lip and closes his eyes.
“Oh, yeah, Tash. This is more than okay.”
The position and act are something different for him, she can tell, but she was trained in this sort of thing a long time ago, in another life. Back then, when she was only known as the Widow, it was expected that she be able to perform all the tricks of the trade, so to speak, and certain men had expected this act from her. She’d killed all of them.
Here now, though, she doesn’t want to think of that past life at all, even if she is making use of the training. She wants to focus on the present and the man here with her, the man who gave her a second chance, a new home, and a new life. The man who, even after he managed to get her into the sack, stuck around and cooked for her when she was hungry and rubbed her feet when they were sore and brought her tissues when she was sick.
The man who was rapidly replacing all the negative memories and disturbing associations from her youth with new memories, better associations, and making her feel something very much like peace.
Her head is resting in the crook of Clint’s arm and he cradles it as she leans in to him. His other hand is busy elsewhere, skimming over her breasts and stomach, teasing her. She reaches down, stroking herself and pressing her fingers against the head of his cock every time he rocks forward.
After a while the friction is simply too much, and Natasha flies apart. As she comes, she can feel him start to shake and then his breathing changes, hitches, and he’s bearing down hard where he grips her hip and comes between her thighs with a curse.
Despite the fact that his semen is coating her legs and belly, and it’s going to be a hell of a thing to clean up in the morning, Natasha finds herself starting to drift off to sleep anyway. She feels warm and safe here, in Clint’s living room in Stark’s tower, with her back firmly up against the one constant in her life.
She’s just about to fall asleep when Clint shifts behind her, and she feels a thin blanket settle around them. He lies back down behind her, wraps one arm securely around her. Despite the craziness of the past day, the soreness running throughout her body, and the appallingly embarrassing conversations with Bruce, she’s feeling pretty damn blissful right now.
She’s slipping off to sleep when she hears it, barely a whisper, so quiet she’s not sure it isn’t a dream.
“I love you, Tasha.”
In which Clint wrestles with his emotions (read: feels all the feels).
Well, this story is about to have an attack of plot, even though it was never intended to have a plot in the first place (thus, PWP). Alas! This has kind of gotten away from me, and half my brain keeps going, "You should turn this into angsty pregnancy!fic", but the other half says, "You should just write more porn. KISS.", and then third half (because that's how I roll) says, "BOTH."
So, um, if you have any preference, I would love to hear it. I've written plenty more ahead of this, but it could still go either way.
When Clint wakes up, the last sun rays of the day are filtering in through the blinds in his living room. The light casts strange shadows in the room, throwing the familiar furniture into chiaroscuro.
He’s got a crick in his neck and his arm is asleep, but that’s okay. He doesn’t want to move and dislodge Natasha from where she’s burrowed against him, softly snoring and drooling on his shirt. He doesn’t get to see her like this nearly as often as he’d like.
Still, Clint can’t stop himself from running his free hand across her features, even though he knows that could very well wake her. She’s so beautiful, lying there against him, and not for the first time he feels like the luckiest son of a bitch on the planet.
Or the dumbest.
Now that the lust and heat has abated, he could kick himself for revealing himself to her earlier. He knows her well enough to know that she wouldn’t deal well with any half-assed declaration of love from him, no matter how earnestly he meant it. Natalia Romanova wasn’t the sort of girl to swoon when someone professed themselves to her.
Even if he did butter her up with damn good pancakes first.
Love, after all, is for children, and she is anything but a child. He doesn’t know what he expected her to do, honestly. Fall over herself to declare her undying love to him? He scoffs. If she did that, she wouldn’t be Natasha and he wouldn’t love her.
He feels like an idiot for it now. He should have known better. He should have kept it to himself, secret and safe, never revealed and only taken out for contemplation in the deepest night when he was alone. Natasha Romanov was honed into a weapon, fierce and untouchable.
But then, if she really was so untouchable, she would never react to him the way she does. If she didn’t feel something for him, she wouldn’t flush and turn her eyes away when he teased her, nor would she kiss him back the way she did. If it were just the drugs, she wouldn’t throw herself in front of bullets for him in alleyways in Brazil.
And she most definitely would not panic when he tried to tell her he loved her but still follow him when he stalked off to sulk.
Clint can’t even rely on his own senses anymore. Because what if he’s reading more into it than he should? What if she really doesn’t feel anything for him and he’s just seeing what he wants to see because his heart gives him no other option? It’s not like he’s never fallen victim to it before. He knows that when he lets someone in, he feels too quickly, too deeply, and without caution for his own good.
He’s such a fucking idiot sometimes.
He knows, or rather, tries to tell himself that whatever they have, however much she allows them to have, that it will be enough for him. It has to be.
He can wait her out, see what happens. She still slept with him despite the way he acted. And if she doesn’t love him even a little bit, if all of this idiocy is because of the drugs, well, it’s enough to know that she feels so strongly about him that she’ll kick him in the head rather than just shoot him. It’s more than she affords most people.
So maybe they’re just friends, but, well, neither of them exactly has a lot of those, and if he occasionally gets to sleep with her, it should just be icing on the cake.
He refuses to contemplate how much that isn’t true.
Natasha shifts against him in her sleep. She’s got one bare leg hitched up over his hip, and the smooth firmness of it against him is enough to arouse his interest. The slight shift is enough to bring her pelvis in alignment with his, and he feels himself harden again, so he twists a little, tries to angle his hips so his erection isn’t quite so insistently pressed into her.
She snorts softly, and he can tell from the sound that she’s not far from wakefulness.
Natasha looks very different when she sleeps, and he knows that he’s one of very few who have ever seen this side of her. The lines in her forehead smooth out, her jaw relaxes, and she looks young. Of course, he knows she’s younger than he is, but when she’s awake and alert it’s easy to forget that age difference.
A few more minutes pass before she mumbles, “What time is it?”
He glances at the clock. “Seven. We slept through the afternoon.”
Natasha sighs, but she does not sound unhappy. “You tire me out, Barton.”
She sits up, letting the blanket fall to her waist. She stretches, arching her back, and he can’t drag his eyes from the swell of her breasts.
Natasha catches him staring, though, since all her actions are deliberate, he doubts that she’s really surprised that she’s caught his attention. Her expression is fathomless for a long moment, like she’s turning something over in her mind.
At last, she smirks down at him, and she adjusts so he can get a better look at her.
“See something you like, Hawkeye?”
It’s the way she utters his codename as much as it’s the unimpeded view of her tits that has him reaching down below the blanket to grab himself. He wants her, now, badly, but if he’s a bit chafed, he can’t imagine what it feels like for her. So instead of leaping on her like he wants to, Clint pumps himself once, slowly, staring slack jawed at her.
Natasha flashes a wicked grin at him and knowing precisely what she’s doing to him, she licks the fingers on her right hand, then lets them fall to her chest where she toys with her nipples.
And he’s not really expecting a reply, which makes her response somehow sexier.
She turns completely around now, slipping out from under the blanket and facing him. She spreads her legs open wide open, one leg hanging off the side of the couch and the other flopped across his chest, her toes pressing into the cushion behind him, the awkwardness of her position necessitated by the couch.
From where he’s laying pressed into the back cushions and half on his side, he can see everything as she pinches her nipples and fingers herself with her other hand.
Clint can’t tear his eyes away, but he doesn’t know where to look first. Every part of her is just so fucking perfect.
He tugs on his cock, but it isn’t enough; he wants to feel her hands on him. He wants to touch her instead of himself, to run his hands all over that body and feel her skin on his. Coming between her thighs earlier was fantastic (not to mention a memory that he’s going to keep close for the rest of his life), but he’d give his last breath to push himself inside of her and fuck her until she screams.
Natasha’s got her head thrown back now and she’s moaning and he just can’t take it anymore. She’s never been this uninhibited, and the need to be in her is cutting.
In one fluid motion, Clint sits up and pulls Natasha against him. Her face is so near to his he can taste her breath, and she’s hovering so close to his cock that he can feel the slickness at her entrance.
“Tasha . . .?” He can hardly see straight, the desire is so strong, but he doesn’t want to hurt her.
She sinks down onto him as a reply.
The tightness and heat grip him, and he very nearly comes at the suddenness of it. He tries to bury his face in her neck, but she pulls his head back and kisses him roughly, tugging on his hair and biting his lower lip.
She gasps as she moves, rolling her hips and grinding against him instead of thrusting, and he’s in goddamned paradise.
“You get me so wet, Clint.”
He can’t get enough of this new, unexpectedly vocal side of Natasha, the one that whispers dirty things to him while he’s buried inside of her. He’s heard her use dirty talk before, sure, over the comms on missions where she lured people to their doom. She never did it like this, though, in between gasps and nudges and appeals to deities.
She’s never said it like she means it.
He really fucking hopes it’s not just the damn drugs.
He starts to thrust, his hands on her thighs to help raise and lower her, and he’s glad that she wasn’t lying about how wet he made her because he can feel where she’s chafed from earlier. Nor is she moving as frenziedly as she usually does, so he scans the room behind her, searching for the bottle she’d carelessly tossed aside earlier.
When he finally spies it, he stills her motions. “Hey, Tash, let’s slow it down a second.”
She pouts prettily, but he knows she understands what he’s aiming for because she stops moving, contenting herself to squeeze him with her inner muscles.
He could come just from that.
Focusing on the task at hand, with one arm keeping her firmly in place, Clint reaches for the bottle of lube lying underneath the coffee table. He squeezes a good amount onto his palm, and she slides off him, putting her weight onto her knees on either side of his hips and balancing with her hands on his shoulders. He takes his time applying it all along her slit, slipping in and out of her, teasing her, paying special attention to her clitoris and smirking when she presses herself against his palm.
And then she moans, drooping against him, and his brain shorts out. Clint grabs her hips and pulls her back down onto him with a grunt.
“Tell me what you want, baby.”
She still hasn’t stabbed him for the last time he called her that, so he tries the pet name again, hoping that his luck holds.
Natasha starts rambling in Russian as she rides him, running through all of the things she would do to him given half the chance. He can’t wait to take her up on those offers, but for now he just wants to lay back and surround himself in her.
She’s so utterly lost to the moment, and he can barely hold back just looking at her and feeling her screw him so mindlessly. She’s leaning back and bracing her hands on his thighs just to keep the angle right. Her hair is disheveled in just the most fascinating way and her breasts are undulating in time with her movements and he can’t stop touching her. He splays his fingers low across her belly as his thumb works against her and he feels fuzzy and warm all over his body and he’s come so many times in the past two days that he isn’t sure if he can come again or not, but this is even better because it feels so fucking good sliding in and out of her.
He’s not sure how long they remain that way, with Natasha bouncing on top of him while he watches her every move lustily, but eventually she’s quaking around him and crying out his name, and it’s that last bit in particular that makes him orgasm. The shout he lets out would be embarrassing except that it isn’t, and he’s never felt so good in his entire life.
Clint slides back and to the side, taking her with him to lie on the couch. He kisses the top of her head where it’s comes to rest against his sternum.
When his breathing has righted itself, he says, “I think you broke me.”
Natasha sighs, still breathing hard from her exertions. “I’m never going on a mission again.”
“We can just stay here . . .”
“ . . . and you can cook . . .”
“ . . . and we’ll watch shitty action movies . . .”
“ . . . and screw each other senseless.”
The conversation is familiar; it’s one they have every time they manage to get some downtime together, and the normalcy of it is centering. Even when they’re hopped up on mystical unearthly drugs, they’re still them underneath it all.
He knows he shouldn’t say anything, but he’s a moron and can’t help it.
“Nat, about what I said before . . .”
She stiffens against him, then relaxes just as suddenly, and he thinks that maybe he has a chance here.
“Look, I don’t want you to change who you are just because I’m an idiot. You don’t have to say it back, shit, you don’t even have to feel it. I just want you to know that no matter what happens, no matter what you say or do or think or feel, I love you.”
There’s a hitch in her breathing, and Natasha bring a hand up to her eyes.
She audibly drags air into her lungs, and he feels her brace herself.
“I’m okay.” She turns her head and shoulders and looks up at him with red rimmed eyes. “I . . . know that you do. And maybe . . . maybe I . . . maybe I feel the same way.” She looks away as she says the last part all in one breath.
His heart stops. Did she just . . . ?
She pushes against his chest, using him as leverage to sit up on the edge of the couch. She looks like she’s thinking hard about something, and well, he’s still reeling from what just happened, so he just lets her take her time to process whatever it is she needs to process.
Her head in her hands and her elbows on her knees, she starts speaking again.
“You confuse the shit out of me, Clint, you have to know that. The way I grew up . . . I know you know what they taught me about trusting people. About . . . l . . . loving them.”
“And then you came along, with your stupid bow and arrow and you held out your hand and dragged me out of the nightmare that was my life and . . .” She exhales. “I didn’t even realize that life could be something other than blood and bullets. Not until you showed me. And even then, I’m still me, Clint. I don’t know how to be anything else.”
She looks down at him and she looks so utterly conflicted that he can’t help but sit up beside her and take her hand in his.
Looking seriously at her, he asks, “You think my bow is stupid?”
Obviously surprised, she huffs out a chuckle. But then, Natasha being Natasha, he smacks him on the shoulder. “Jackass.”
He’s grinning as she teases him, but then, he’s trying to lighten the mood, to give her an out if she wants it.
“I’m used to being alone. I like being alone.”
“I know, Tash.”
He puts as much feeling into his words as he can. Though they were raised in two completely different worlds, he understands what it means to have grown up without anyone to trust. He knows what it means to be alone, how you get used to it, how being around other people can make your skin crawl and you can’t quite fill your lungs.
She smiles ruefully and a tear threatens to overflow. She swipes at it half-heartedly, laughing a little.
“Yeah, I know you know. That’s what . . . I mean, you can sit here and be so fucking normal after all the bullshit you went through.”
It’s his turn to laugh.
“I’m hardly normal!”
She cuts him off, fixing him with an annoyed stare. “Shut it! I’m trying to express my innermost emotions to you. It’s hard enough without you cracking jokes! “
He quiets at that, but refuses to wipe the grin from his face. God, he loves her.
“As I was saying before you so rudely interrupted me,” she squeezes his hand reassuringly, “you confuse me. I know that love and trust don’t exist. I’m certain of it. They’re just lies parents tell their kids to make them fall asleep at night.”
His heart sinks, twists a little bit at her words. It’s the same tune as always.
Until it isn’t the same, not at all.
“And then you come along, Clint. Make me trust you, and I don’t know what I know anymore.” She exhales forcefully. “What I’m trying to say, Clint . . . What I want to say . . .”
His blood is rushing in his ears and his heart is beating so erratically he thinks he might have a heart attack right here, right now. That’s even before she completes her thought.
Natasha, beautiful, perfect Natasha, all five feet three inches of her, hair mused and puffy eyed, puts one hand on either side of his face and kisses him as chastely as he’s ever been kissed. She pulls back, keeping her hands where they are, and she looks him right in the eye.
Without blinking or flinching or cringing away, she says the one thing he never thought he’d hear.
“I love you.”
More sex, some plot, but mostly more sex.
Thanks to everyone who's come this far with me! There's maybe 3 or 4 parts left.
They manage to sleep through most of the night after crawling into bed together. Say what you will about Tony Stark, but the man could pick out really fabulous sheets. Natasha has never slept better since she moved here, though that might have just as much to do with her bedmate as the bed.
Wooziness accompanies her soreness this morning, but Natasha is fairly certain that the former is mental rather than physical. Her head does feel a little clearer though, has since last night.
What a night.
Clint’s awake, too, but they’re not saying anything as they stare at each other. There’s a silly smile plastered on his face and Natasha can’t help but return it.
By all rights, she should be freaking out right now and running from the room never to look back. She should be worrying that they’ve gone and ruined everything and she’s going to lose him just like everyone else she’s ever loved.
She should be. But she isn’t.
She’s kind of giddy, actually.
Clint smells and looks positively delectable in the bed next to her and all she wants to do is drape herself across him and never let go. But she’s even more . . . tender today than she was yesterday, so she studiously avoids that train of thought. At least the drug has worn off enough to allow her that courtesy.
Clint is the first one to speak, though he waits to break the silence for a good ten minutes after they first started their little smirking staring contest.
His voice is raspy and sweet and for some strange reason, Natasha feels herself blush.
“I want to kiss you right now, but I don’t think I should.”
Clint’s eyes flicker to her lips when she speaks, and she knows he’s thinking the same thing. In point of fact, they’ve both been avoiding bumping in to each other this morning, per Thor’s warning, so she isn’t surprised when Clint agrees.
She is surprised, though, when he kisses his first two fingers and ghosts them over her hair, carefully not coming into contact with her skin.
The old refrain feels different in the aftermath of her confession, and it makes her roll her eyes and grin at the teasing glint in Clint’s eyes. The butterflies in her stomach are acting up again at the sight of him just now, and she knows she needs to do something other than make puppy eyes at Clint, but for the life of her, she can’t remember what those things are.
But the light is starting to creep across the room, reality is intruding, and Natasha knows that she needs to tear herself out of bed if she’s going to get anything done today.
“I’m going to take a shower.”
When Clint perks up at her statement, with a wag of her finger, she adds, “Alone. Because you’re distracting.”
She pushes herself out of bed and heads for the bathroom without bothering to cover herself, feeling Clint’s gaze on her every step of the way. She feels the flush of sexual excitement stir low in belly again, and Natasha rolls her eyes at herself. Who exactly is the child here?
She makes a valiant effort to ignore her arousal as she steps into the shower and washes the dried sweat out of her hair. But then her thoughts drift back to Clint, all tousled and sleepy back in the other room and then her hand finds its way between her folds and fuck, that’s nice.
It doesn’t take her long to get off, one arm braced against the wall to steady herself, and even though he’s right in the other room and she knows he can hear her, she cryies out his name anyway.
When she’s rinsed herself off, she gets out, wrapping a towel around her and padding back into the other room, fully expecting that Clint will want to jump in the shower after her.
This is not what happens.
Clint is still in bed, but he’s rather busy and she stops dead in her tracks at the sight.
He’s sprawled out on top of the sheets, fully erect and working his cock vigorously. She’s obviously interrupted him in the middle of a pressing matter.
She can’t hold back the sigh that slips from her mouth. God, he’s hot even in BDUs with a horrid haircut, but this, this is a step beyond that. His right leg is bent at the knee and he’s got one hand tucked behind his head. His face turned, burrowed into the crook of his elbow and his mouth is hanging open as he makes these frustratingly sexy little gasping noises. She’s salivating just imagining running her tongue over his throat, his abs, his cock.
Breathlessly, she asks, “You want a hand with that?”
He starts a little at her voice, but doesn’t stop what he’s doing, just slows his strokes and bites his lip harder, focusing on her as she stands there. Natasha drops her towel and his hips buck a little off the bed as he increases his pace.
Taking that as an invitation, Natasha saunters over to the bed and lies down next to him, looking into his eyes, noting that Clint’s eyes are nearly black his pupils are so far dilated.
“Let me.” She gently takes his hand from his cock, replacing it with her own.
“I heard you in the shower,” he moans. “Fuck, Tash.”
The timbre of his voice hits her in her core and coupled with the thought of him listening to her, she’s drenched again.
He’s looking up at her with a mixture of adoration and need, so she pushes him back flat on the bed, then crawls down his body and takes his length into her mouth. He tastes like salt and sex and Clint and it’s making her squirm. Natasha reaches down to cup his balls with one hand, gently massaging and tugging like she knows he likes.
His hand drifts to the back of her head as she sucks. He doesn’t hold her head down or try to shove himself further into her mouth; he doesn’t do any of the things he knows she hates. He just wants to touch her, have contact with her while she does this, and she loves him for it.
She’s just starting to get into the rhythm, when he growls and taps her shoulder to get her attention.
“Bring your pussy up here and let me lick you.”
She twists to obey him, and he’s obviously just as greedy for her as she is for him because he grabs her hips as she moves and helps orient her over him. Natasha carefully places one knee on either side of his face then drops her weight on top of him. She resumes her action on his still rigid cock, sucking and squeezing while he spreads her with his fingers and draws circles with his tongue around her labia.
Then he starts humming tunelessly as he eats her out and the added vibrations make her lose her concentration, his cock slipping from her mouth with a gasp of pleasure. He smacks her ass, hard, half-reminder, half-reward and she feels a jolt of pleasure roll through her entire body in response.
She’ll never admit that she likes it when he does that, but damn, it’s good when he’s a little rough with her. It reminds her of how they met, out for blood and trying to kill the other. She bore those bruises for the first month she spent with SHIELD.
He jars her out of her thoughts with a particularly interesting twist of his fingers, and then she’s panting, unable to breathe as she feels her orgasm building in the pit of her belly. She’s shifted more, half sitting up on him, rolling her hips, and it feels like she’s fucking his face.
She’s desperate for something, and he seems to know what because he smacks her again, harder this time, shoves a third finger into her and crooks his tongue over her clit, and then she’s over the edge and seeing stars behind her eyelids.
She comes back to herself quickly, but her lover is still hard, so she rolls off him, crawling down the bed and takes a place between his legs so he can watch while she brings him off. She licks the length of his penis, from base to tip, slowly, keeping eye contact the whole way and feeling him grow impossibly harder as he tracks her movements. By the time she reaches the head, he’s keening her name and begging for release.
She draws him into her mouth as far as she can, relaxing the back of her throat while she caresses the inside of his thighs. He’s got his hands tangled in her hair now, his nails digging into her scalp a little as he directs her motions with slight pressure. He bends his legs, his feet flat on the sheets, and Natasha hitches his hips over her shoulders for better access.
She looks up at him now, enjoying his blissed out, slack jawed expression, enjoying the power she has over him. He’s so fucking beautiful when he’s relaxed like this, body limp and almost sobbing her name.
Using her hand on his shaft, she releases him from her mouth and turns her attention to his balls, taking each one into her mouth in turn. She can feel them tighten as she manipulates them with her tongue, and she knows that he’s close.
“How do you want it, baby?”
He doesn’t even hesitate when he moans, “I want to come in your throat.”
Maybe she wouldn’t have said yes to that before, but today she’s satisfied and in love and there isn’t anything she wouldn’t do to make him happy.
So she puts her mouth back on him again, sucking on the tip and griping him firmly in her hand as she works his shaft up and down. She reaches her free hand past his balls then lower, running her little finger between his ass cheeks and brushing over his opening one, twice, and then he’s gushing, shouting his release and spurting into her, the salty fluid thick in her mouth.
She fleetingly considers spitting, but then banishes that thought, and milks his cock as he ejaculates.
When he’s done, she stays still for a few moments knowing how sensitive he is after he comes. Then, she lets him fall from her mouth and she presses a kiss to his pelvis on her way back up to the top of the bed.
Clint drags her to him roughly, bringing the whole length of her body into contact with his, and he kisses her with every bit as much passion as she feels for him.
When they finally come up for air, he says, “I love you so fucking much.”
Pleased with his response to her efforts, she replies, “You’re not so bad yourself, Barton.”
They grin at each other, a couple of idiots in love.
After her second shower of the morning, Natasha is craving the company of others. That, and she and Clint both need a break from the sex pentathlon, no matter how lovely it’s been. So, as much as she wants to take him up on his offer of steak and mashed potatoes, she tells him no, perfectly aware that the dish comes served with a side of sex.
When he kisses her on the way out the door and calls her baby, it’s harder than it should be to pull away.
She reminds herself to kick his ass extra hard the next time they spar.
She heads down to the common level where she knows Pepper spends her lunch hour every day she’s in town. The team has an open invitation to join her, but most days Natasha finds an excuse to be elsewhere around lunchtime. It’s not that Pepper gets on her nerves; Natasha genuinely likes the woman, which isn’t something that often happens, it’s just that Natasha likes everyone better when she only sees them in small doses. Today, though, she hopes that Pepper has enough time in her schedule to hang out for a little while at least. It would be nice to see someone other than Clint.
Natasha is a little surprised to see Thor and Rogers there with Pepper, but she shrugs. The more the merrier, she supposes, though she’d rather not try to pry information out of Thor while others are around.
“Hi,” she greets them softly, her voice still not quite recovered from all the shouting she’s been doing lately.
“Natasha! Hi!” Pepper’s face actually lights up when she sees the redhead entering the room. “I’m so glad you’re joining us!”
From any other person, Natasha wouldn’t believe the sentiment, but she knows that Pepper is just that kind of a person. If she isn’t pleased to see you, you know it. Pepper is the most genuine person Natasha has ever met, and she surmises that this is why she and Tony get along so well. He certainly is lucky to have her around.
“Good afternoon, Ms. Romanova.” Rogers nods his greeting over a cup of coffee, his expression carefully schooled. “Are you feeling well?”
She reminds herself that this is Rogers asking, not Stark, and takes his question at face value before replying.
“Pretty good, actually. A little tired.”
Pepper smiles at her and hands her a plate laden with a sandwich and some coleslaw. “Well, I’m glad to see you up and around. Any big plans for the day?”
Pepper pauses, and Natasha can practically see the cogs in her brain grinding to a halt as she thinks about what she just asked.
“That’s really not what I . . .”
Natasha cuts her off with a swift wave of her hand. “Stop right there. It’s fine. I was hoping to work out for a while. Maybe punch something.”
“That can be helpful in times of stress. I myself enjoy hitting things in such circumstances.” Thor agrees good-naturedly, taking another overly large bite of his sandwich. Bits of lettuce fall out from the sides, but he doesn’t seem to notice. He never does, and Natasha thinks that’s rather part of his charm.
“Anything new and exciting happen in the past two days?” Natasha picks up her sandwich and takes a bite. Oh man, that’s definitely avocado in there; Pepper tries to feed them healthy food whenever possible (much to Clint’s consternation), and even though Natasha would never admit it, avocado has to be the best of the things Pepper has foisted upon her.
She listens with half an ear while Pepper talks about the company that she and Tony recently bought (Pepper calls it a merger, but Natasha knows better). The three Avengers munch contentedly while Pepper talks, and in the end, Natasha has to fight Thor for the last sandwich half. She’s really hungry though, and with one well-placed stare, victory is hers.
Oh wow, that avocado.
Clint wanders in halfway through Roger’s rundown of a SHIELD operation the team helped out on the day before. Her heart leaps when she sees him, and she’s really starting to get annoyed with this response. She feels like a pre-teen. A pre-teen who missed out on what sounded like a lot of fun dismantling some Doombots in Central Park.
Clint pauses mid-step when he catches sight of Natasha, but continues in anyway. She doubts the others even notice the hesitation.
“Hey, Pepper, Thor, Steve. What’s shaking?” Clint has no qualms about interrupting conversations, especially when they involve SHIELD.
“Good afternoon, Barton,” Thor booms. “Are you well?”
They go through the same chitchat Natasha did earlier while Clint helps himself to the contents of the fridge.
Taking a bite of the apple he found, Clint asks, “Steve, you up for that target practice?”
Rogers noticeably perks up. “You bet! I’ve been thinking a lot about it, and I have some ideas I want to try out.” Rogers gets up to put his dishes in the sink, and Clint makes a beeline for Natasha.
“Oh no! Stay away from me, you walking hormone!” She swats at him, unwilling to let the drug take her over just yet. “I am having lunch, then I’m going to run for at least an hour, and when I’m done both of those things, I want to hit something. Unless you want that thing to be you, keep your hands to yourself.”
She’s only half-jesting; there really are other parts of her life than screwing the brains out of Clint Barton.
“You’re no fun.” He pouts a little, his lower lip sticking out like a little kid’s, and Natasha wants to do nothing more than suck his lip into her mouth a fuck him on the counter, audience or no.
“Go.” She emphasizes her command with a gesture.
“Yes, dear.” Even the banter is starting to get her wet, and he should really know better by now.
Clint kisses the top of her head on his way out of the door, hot on Rogers’ heels. She twists a little inside at the contact, but forces herself to concentrate on her coleslaw.
Pepper and Thor are silently chuckling when finally Natasha looks up.
“What?” It’s not really a question so much as a statement.
“I didn’t say anything.” Despite her denial, Pepper is grinning ear to ear. Thor takes a swig from his mug, trying in vain to cover up his own smile.
Natasha arches one eyebrow, and at least the chuckling stops. Even though they both are obviously still amused, they know Natasha well enough to drop the subject.
Effortlessly, as if she’d never even entertained those thoughts in the first place, Pepper changes the subject.
“Well, Natasha, I am so glad that you are having lunch with me today. I want to upgrade the recreational facilities on sub-basement three, and I think you’ll be the perfect person to help with it. Can you stick around for a few minutes before your workout?”
Natasha nods. “Show me what you’ve got to work with.”
Clint shoots some things, then he spars with Natasha. Hilarity ensues.
This part gave me some issues, but I don’t think staring at longer is going to magically make it better. I’m sorry for any typos, etc.
In any case, thanks to everyone who’s still with me. I really appreciate the words of encouragement and the kudos! It’s been a long time since I’ve written this much about any pairing, and I’m still fighting my nervousness about posting.
More porn this chapter, this time, in a gym! Oh, and then there’s shmoop because these guys give me feels.
His workout with Steve goes well, and after they go through a few hundred arrows, he’d like to think that even the super soldier is feeling fatigued.
Clint has been testing out a few new Stark Industries arrow designs, writing down his comments in a little notebook that Tony sent over with the prototypes. A few designs he can live without, but there’s this one that casts a net, feather-light but with the tensile strength of steel, and Clint’s brain is swimming with the possibilities. He’ll have to make sure that Tony develops that one.
Steve, for his part, has been concentrating on just learning how to shoot a bow and arrow, part of his quest to learn how to use the preferred weapons of each member of his team. The practicalities of being able to use a greater variety of weaponry aside, Clint has a lot of respect for a leader who wants to understand his team on that level.
Even if Steve can’t hit the broad side of a barn with a beach ball.
Okay, well, that isn’t entirely fair. Steve regularly sinks his arrows into the target, which is close enough for anything he would ever need to do as an archer, honestly, but he has a lot of trouble consistently hitting the inner ten. Steve isn’t the type who takes rejection sitting down, however, so he keeps trying and trying, even though he’ll never be the natural archer that Clint is.
Clint is taking down a note about an exploding tip prototype when Steve shouts. He looks up to see his team leader cheering, a toothy smile plastered over his face.
Clint peers down the range, sees that he’s sunk not one, but two arrows in the red.
“Nice work there, Cap.”
He’s not sure he’s ever seen Steve look so happy before, the grin stretching the corners of his mouth.
Clint chuckles, proud of his student, and Steve walks over to him, laying the bow down on the table next to Clint’s.
“So what’s the prognosis, doc? Is there hope for me yet?”
Clint nods, “You’re doing fine. Better than most, actually. You should see some of the agents SHIELD sends me.”
“Well, I’ll never be as good as you, but I’m getting better,” Steve says, and there isn’t a touch of self-deprecation or flattery in his voice. His statement is simply true.
“I’ve been shooting these things since I was a kid. There’s no reason you should expect more.”
And there isn’t. Clint doesn’t know how to tell him that archery is as much innate talent as it is practice without sounding like an ass, so whenever these conversations come up, he tends to smile and offer encouragement.
“Well, thanks for being patient with me. I appreciate it.”
And there’s another thing he likes about the man – actual politeness. Steve’s almost got him believing that the past really was a nicer place.
“You’re welcome.” Clint glances at the clock. Surely Natasha is done by now. He’s been studiously avoiding thoughts of her all afternoon, focusing on shooting and the details of the prototypes. But now that he’s let thoughts of her creep in, he knows it won’t be long before the damn drug forces him to find her.
Almost as if he sensed what Clint was thinking, Steve asks, “You about ready to clean up?”
They collect up all the arrows, clean the equipment, and pack everything away in companionable silence. He’s happy for it, that they can work comfortably together; he had been worried after the elevator incident that Steve would never look him in the eye again. The super solider is made of sterner stuff though, and it’s like the indiscretion never happened.
When they leave the firing range, Steve takes the case of prototypes along with Clint’s notes with a promise to drop it off in R and D (“It’s the least I can do for the lesson, Barton”), and then Clint is free.
He makes his way toward the gym he knows Natasha prefers (that there are several in this building will never cease to amaze him), hoping that she’s finished up with her “running and then hitting things.” He’s starting to feel hot under the collar, and it’s more than a little disturbing to know that he can’t fight the need coursing through him.
And even though it’s nothing like it at all, there’s a little part of him that can’t help feeling that this is the same as the last time Loki fucked with him. That he doesn’t have control over his own body. That he’s doing things simply because the Asgardian wants him to do it.
The same part of him has been waiting for the other shoe to drop ever since Natasha beat Loki out of him that day on the hellicarrier. Maybe it would be easier to understand or rationalize away if he at least knew why Loki had injected them with the drug, but that answer is nowhere in sight, and the sheer fact of not knowing is maddening. What possible motive could Loki have for making the two of them rut like animals in heat?
And if he’s honest, other things about this situation scare him, too. He and Natasha have never been the most affectionate of couples, and as great as the past few days have been, they are an aberration. He’s not even sure that he could call them a couple, for Christ’s sake. Sure, they’ve been sleeping together for years, but it has always been part of a pressure release, intimacy for the sake of finding humanity again, as selfish as it is necessary. He has always hoped that it’s more than simple convenience that brings them together, but what they’ve had is undefined precisely because they both need it to be that way. Sex, love, a relationship, whatever you call it, such things are liabilities in their line of work, and liabilities get you killed.
This strange, alien drug has changed them, made them both admit things that maybe they shouldn’t have. Clint’s even started thinking about what a future with Natasha would be like, what it would be like to grow old with her; how can he be thinking that when he’s not even sure if they’ll even get the chance to grow old? And then, even if they do survive their job, he doesn’t think Natasha’s the type to settle down and have a dog and a white picket fence. Today, after all, was the first time he has ever been openly affectionate with her in front of other people, and he’s still a little unnerved that she didn’t try to punch him for it.
He knows that they were not prepared for this shift in their relationship, but he hopes desperately that they don’t revert to what they were before when the drug wears off. He’s not sure his heart can take it.
The greater part of him though, and this is what worries him the most, doesn’t give two shits about the what or the why of the situation. The greater part of him is filled up with too much lust and deep, soul-satisfying gratification to think overly long about much of anything other than how many times he can reasonably screw Natasha in one day.
Clint adjusts his gait as he walks. Apparently, thinking about screwing Natasha isn’t conducive to walking.
He takes the stairs when he reaches them, hoping that the exertion will burn off some of his excess energy, but even though he takes them two at a time, he can’t wipe the look she makes when she comes out of his mind.
Fuck, she’d better be done with her workout.
He enters the gym to the reassuring sounds of someone working with a punching bag, grunting as they make contact.
He comes around the corner and sees her, bouncing lightly on her feet, jabbing at the bag with her fists and periodically sending a kick at it, and he loses his breath just a little. She’s beautiful in action, moving fluidly with a preternatural grace. It’s one of the first things he noticed about her all those years ago, one of the things that entranced him and made him stay his hand.
Okay, that and the gun she’d pointed at his face.
She doesn’t so much as glance in his direction, but he knows by her gait that she’s noticed him watching. Still, she does not let up, but for the moment, his mere presence in her space appeases the drug-induced compulsion.
It could be five minutes or five days when she stops, halting the motion of the punching bag with her hand, and says, “So, you just going to watch me all day or are we going to spar?”
She’s already dripping sweat and breathing hard, but he knows she can still take him. Then she sizes him up, raking her gaze up and down his body, and she raises one eyebrow in subtle, if affected, scorn.
Oh, this is going to be fun.
He follows her over to the mat and he’s so intent on contemplating the way her shorts hug her ass that he almost misses her first punch.
“Jeez, Tash! Give a guy some warning!” He says as he blocks and tries to get in a shot of his own.
Natasha tosses her hair as she easily defends, then takes a few steps back, light on her feet. “That defeats the purpose of a surprise attack.”
He smirks, and then they’re off, and it almost feels like it usually does when they spar. They trade blows, each knowing the other’s moves so well that nothing strikes home. She gets in a few jabs here and there, but nothing that will bruise, and Clint sweeps her feet out from under her once or twice, throwing her down on her back. It’s good exercise, sweaty and invigorating, and for the first time since this fiasco started, he feels normal.
It’s back and forth, evenly balanced until Natasha appears behind him, putting him in a headlock, and he’s pretty sure that’s her hand on his ass, and suddenly the entire exercise is about a very different sort of exercise.
He slides out of her grasp and tackles her, surprised as much that he actually makes the intended contact as he is that she lets him topple her to the ground. He’s on top of her, has her pinned to the ground beneath him, and their faces are so close that he could count her eyelashes.
They stare at each other, both a little breathless for one long second, then her eyes flicker down to his lips. He’s going in for a kiss when she hooks one leg around his calf and somehow manages to use that little bit of purchase to reverse their positions on the mat.
Her hands pressing down on his biceps, and she sits prettily on his waist, wearing a smug grin that he can’t wait to wipe off her face.
He briefly considers it can’t get much better, but then Natasha scoots back slightly, just far enough that her pelvis comes into contact with his and she grinds down. Instead of thinking about how to dislodge her, all the blood rushes from his head, and he bucks up against her, pressing his hardness as tightly against her as he can given the barrier of their clothing in between.
She gasps at the action, and he’s at the perfect angle to catch both the flush that deepens at her neck and her tongue flick out to moisten her lips.
Then, just as suddenly as she floored him, she’s up and off him and he reels from the sudden coolness that replaces her spot on his body.
“Tash?” He looks at her questioningly from where he’s still lying on the floor, and he sees her walking across the gym, to the door.
Well, if she’s leaving, he’s hardly going to be far behind. He picks himself off the floor before he realizes that she’s locking the door, not leaving through it.
She turns back to him, her gaze predacious as she looks him up and down, pausing on his crotch.
“That for me?”
She’s using her teasing voice, the one that drives marks wild, but he doesn’t mind that she’s using the same skills she uses to play other men. He doubts it’s even conscious for her, the way the words drip from her mouth exuding all sorts of promises. Besides, Clint knows she’ll make good on them, in stunning fashion no less, quite unlike when she uses it on targets.
Then he’s stalking toward her with purpose because his balls are aching and he wants to tear off those tight shorts and push her against the nearest surface and drive himself inside of her until she’s shrieking.
Natasha doesn’t even attempt to evade him, just watches him as he approaches her, invades her space. He hesitates for half a beat when he reaches her, gauging her reaction, then grabs her with both hands and kisses her like he’s been dreaming about all damn day.
She tastes like sweat and Natasha, two of his favorite things, and she’s got her arms twined around his neck now, deepening their kiss. It’s both a relief and a quandary to have her in his arms like this, finally. She feels so perfect, pressed against him and holding on with everything she’s got, and he could be content with this alone, really he could, but he’s selfish and wants more.
Natasha insinuates her body around his, and she’s practically dry humping him as they explore each other’s tonsils. He’s supporting most of her weight, and although she doesn’t weigh enough for that alone to be an issue, the way she’s gyrating against him is taxing his concentration enough without having to consider how to keep them both upright.
So he doesn’t.
Clint backs her into the nearest wall and at last he can let his hands wander. And wander they do, falling to her waist and slipping under the hem of her tank top even as she brings her legs up to hug his waist.
She’s wild against him, tightening her legs and moaning, and when the friction gets to be too much, he murmurs against her lips.
“Those shorts need to come off.”
She nods, gulping her agreement and drops her legs to the floor. She lets him pull the offending material down her body, picking up each foot in turn to step out of them. He stands back up in front of her, looks down at her, at the image she creates with her nipples so hard they’re showing through her spandex top and the clouded, wide-eyed gaze that she tries but can’t quite focus on him.
She’s lovely and disheveled and he wants her and he loves her and he hopes that this never has to end.
And because he can’t fathom not doing it, he kisses her again, sucking and nipping that teasing, full lower lip of hers.
Natasha’s hands come to rest at his hips, and then she’s carefully tugging the waistband of his gym shorts down, slowly, so slowly, and as she drags it over the curve of his ass, she squeezes and sighs against his mouth.
“Anyone ever tell you that you have the greatest ass, Barton?”
She sounds so serious that he can’t help but laugh.
“I’m rather partial to yours,” he returns and then takes the opportunity to trace his own hand down her side and take one cheek firmly in hand.
He should feel like an idiot, standing here with his shorts falling down around his ankles and grabbing Natasha’s ass while she returns the favor, but instead, he just feels warm and aroused.
He drags one of her legs up back up around his waist, rejoicing as his erection presses against her wetness. He rubs against her, reminded of the other night when she fucked him into the cushions without ever taking him inside her.
“Fuck me.” She commands breathlessly.
He is nothing if not obedient to her every whim.
He tugs her other leg up to join its fellow and simultaneously slides inside of her, pushing inside all the way to the hilt. The angle is one of her favorites, and he can already feel little tremors rippling around his cock. Then she clasps her thighs tighter around him and somehow she feels even snugger and he nearly loses himself right there.
And then, oh God, she starts clenching around him and even though he can tell that she’s doing it on purpose and she’s not actually coming, he loses it. He tears his lips away from where he’d been worrying her earlobe and buries his face in the crook of her neck while he sobs out his release.
“Fuck.” He says when her legs fall from his waist, and he slides out of her. “I’m sorry.”
Natasha grins wolfishly at him then, and he can tell she’s not sorry at all, and it’s a little bit like it used to be between them, constantly vying for power over every stupid little thing from who got the last donut to who could use the fewest bullets (or projectiles) in a given battle. He always took these little contests as their own version of flirting, and now he wonders how close that is to the truth.
The familiarity of their playful rivalry is comforting, particularly since the effects of the drug are winding down, and it makes him feel like they’re going to make it through all of this Loki shit okay.
“We’re not done yet.” He can see that she’s still hungry for him underneath her devil-may-care smile, and he wants to do everything he can to make sure that she leaves this room satisfied.
He scans the gym, quickly finding what he’s looking for in the trainer’s table pushed off to one corner of the room.
“Come on.” After swiftly pulling his shorts back up, he surprises them both by swinging her into his arms to carry her across the room. He baffles a little, but then there’s a warm, fluttery feeling in his gut, something like pride, and he loves that Natasha not only lets him do this for her, but twines her arms around his neck and leans against him while he walks.
The sweetness of the moment is somewhat lost when he sits her down on the table and nudges her knees apart so that he can stand between them. Unable to resist the pout that somehow has reappeared on her face, Clint leans in to kiss her once more, cupping her cheek as he does so. She relaxes into him as he caresses her lips with his own, and he’ll doesn’t think he’ll ever get enough of this reaction from her.
Reluctantly, he breaks their kiss, and he lays her back on the table. She looks a shade nervous as he slips two fingers into her, but he can tell her arousal is coming back by the way she practically purrs her pleasure as he adds his thumb to the mix, making lazy circles around her clitoris. She’s incredibly wet, a mixture of her own fluids and his, and he can feel the drug working its magic in his system because he feels himself stir a little at the sound.
“That’s right. I know you like this.” Clint leans down over her then, and with his free hand, he starts inching up her tank top. Taking the hint, Natasha lifts her back and helps him hike the shirt up far enough that her breasts are exposed. Her nipples instantly pebble in the cool air of the gym, and Clint worries one peak with his mouth while his hand plucks at the other.
Natasha responds sharply, arching delightfully against him and moaning loudly into the air while he works her body. He drinks her in, skimming his hands over her taut body, nipping and licking every perfect inch of her, reveling in her response, saving every reaction deep inside.
She makes a frustrated noise, and he knows she’s struggling to relax enough to come. It’s happened before, once or twice, when she was too keyed up.
“Come on, sweetheart, I know you can do it. I want to watch you come.” He whispers to her, then starts working his mouth down her body, kissing across her ribs, past her belly, and then lower.
When at last he reaches her thighs, he looks up at her to see her staring at him with hooded eyes.
“Please.” Her whisper comes out as a plea, so he drops his face down to where she wants it the most.
He keeps up the pumping action with his fingers, and traces patterns with his tongue over her engorged clitoris. His name is a litany on her lips as she lifts her hips higher, moving her feet to rest on his shoulders and her hips are shaking where they grip his head, and she finally starts to lose herself. She’s grinding against him, and it would be difficult to breathe except he can tell she’s almost there and he hates to deny her, and then at last she’s falling to pieces around him, quaking and clenching and he can feel the strength of her orgasm in his toes.
When it’s over, and she’s relaxed her legs from around his neck, Natasha makes an incoherent groan that morphs into peals of laughter.
He looks at her with a grin, surreptitiously wiping his drenched palm off on his shirt before he touches her face.
“Better?” He asks.
She can’t stop laughing, and he hops up onto the trainer’s table to sit beside her.
“Are you doing okay, sweetheart?”
Natasha sits up as her laughter subsides, tugging her top down and cozying up to her partner. “I love it when you make me come that hard.”
She grins again, then kisses him full on the mouth.
“But call me ‘sweetheart’ again and I’ll take away your ability to come.”
He barks out a laugh, and he gathers her to him. “Have I told you today that I love you?”
“I don’t remember. Tell me again.”
“I love you.”
Natasha beams at him and he lets himself believe that maybe, just maybe, they really can do this. They can survive this together and come out the stronger for it.
Movie Night leads to shenanigans.
Thanks to everyone for sticking with me thus far! I love reading your comments - you guys are awesome :-)
I'd love to hear what you think!
Clint tries to return the borrowed keys to Tony the next day, and Natasha, against both of their better judgments, accompanies him down to the lab. The two of them have existed in a cloud of happiness lately, their own personal bubble, and while he agrees that they need to get out of the bedroom, he doesn’t want to spend more time away from her than necessary. He takes a deep breath though, and figures that since they’re approaching Tony in the lab, he won’t say anything too embarrassing.
Clint realizes within seconds of walking through the door that he’s made a critical error.
Tony looks up at him, walleyed from focusing too closely on his project, and Clint can tell that the billionaire’s laser focus has shifted to him. More specifically, to him and Natasha.
“Good morning, lover boy! Oh, and you’ve brought the lovely lady with you,” Tony grins widely at them. “Glad to see you two can still walk!”
Bruce, who is tinkering with what looks like an old motherboard on the other side of the room, shoots Clint an apologetic grimace, though he wisely stays out of it.
Clint forces himself not to roll his eyes. “Cut the commentary, Stark. We just came to return the keys to your car.”
Tony smirks at Clint’s response, and it looks like he’s holding back whatever lascivious retort he wants to make. Clint pretends he doesn’t notice and hands the borrowed keys over to Tony.
Or, well, he tries to.
Tony physically (some might say theatrically) recoils. “Oh, hell no, Green Arrow! I saw the security tapes of you two . . . canoodling in there. You’re getting that thing sanitized first. And second. And third. Matter of fact, maybe just recover the seats.”
Great. He had been hoping that maybe, just maybe Tony hadn’t gotten a hold of them, that JARVIS had done them the favor of deleting their indiscretions, but clearly that hadn’t happened. Clint wants to crawl into a hole somewhere, and he relies on his years of training not to react to that revelation.
Tony stops, seems to mull something over in his head, then continues, “Actually, you know what? Keep it. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at poor dear Stark 37 the same way ever again. Call it an early wedding present”
Tony turns back to his work, and he misses the glare Natasha sends his way when he folds himself back over his bench. It looks like he’s going to ignore them, but then he stops, rests his screwdriver back on the counter, and quirks his head as if he’d suddenly remembered something.
“One more thing, though, um. Aren’t you afraid to spend so much time below decks, as it were, on a woman who routinely kills people with her thighs? Just sayin’.”
Oh god. The security footage from the gym, too, then.
And with that and a little wave of his hand in their direction, Tony Stark’s focus is back on his work and Clint and Natasha are left staring, flabbergasted.
“Okay, then.” Clint pockets the keys, then turns to Natasha. “Feel up for a run?”
“Sounds better than extracting Stark’s toenails one by one. I’ll have to get back to that later.” Clint is sure she’s kidding.
They turn to go, but Bruce calls out to them.
“Hey, guys, can you spare a minute?” The doctor catches up to them, and with a glance in Tony’s direction, “You know what? Let’s walk and talk.”
Once they’re safely away from Tony’s curious mind, Bruce asks, “Is everything still going okay? I know it’s been several days since you were dosed, and I wanted to see how the two of you were holding up.”
They’ve reached the elevator now, and Natasha replies, sharing a gaze with Clint.
Clint inclines his head in agreement. They are fine, better than fine, but even if they’ve let the rest of the team in on the secret that is their relationship, he’s not quite ready for anyone else to know too much. He loves being in love with her, but he’s not ready to share that feeling; he likes where it rests, close to his heart and warm.
Bruce nods. “Good. Well, I don’t want to drag you away from your workout, but do you think you could stop off with me at the lab for some more blood samples? I want to check your hormone levels, make sure nothing else has cropped up since you were in last. Shouldn’t take more than five minutes to get what I need.”
It’s simple enough, and they follow Bruce to the medlab.
Banner is as good as his word, quickly drawing three small vials of blood from each of them and sending the tubes off with a technician.
“I’ll let you know if anything turns up.” Bruce pulls off his glasses, walking with the agents to the door.
“Or if nothing does.” Natasha’s words are not a request.
They’re at the elevators now, and Clint is itching for the run they’ve planned, can feel his muscles twitching for the simple exercise.
“And, hey, listen, um, I don’t know if you remember, but tonight’s Movie Night. Tony’s decided that Steve needs to see all the James Bond movies, so if you guys are up for it, we’re meeting around 8 . . .” Bruce trails off.
Natasha looks over at Clint, and he can see the smile behind her eyes as she remembers three days in a shitty hotel room in Eastern Europe where the only entertainment had been a poorly dubbed copy of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and a surfing magazine. Why a surfing magazine had been lying around an old hotel in Ukraine he would never know (or, for that matter, an old Bond film), but it had been a rather pleasant three days just the same.
Bruce mistakes the glance between them as hesitation, and adds, “If you’re worried about Tony, I’m sure he’s gotten most of it out of his system. He just likes to be in the middle of things.”
Clint answers with a smile, “No, um, that sounds good, actually. Nat?” He asks, even though he already knows her answer.
“Yeah, it sounds good. Count us in. See you around, Doc.”
They spend the hours until the movie running and training, in each other’s orbit, but always just out of reach. It’s better that way, Clint hates to admit, because as much as he loves her, loves being with her, there’s something so emotionless about the way they fall over each other when they touch, the way they can’t resist each other. He wants to touch her, make love to her simply because he wants to, not because some otherworldly drug is telling him to, and wants the same in return from her. He hates having the choice taken away from them, and he’s equally terrified that everything he’s felt over the past few days has been false, implanted in him, just like before.
Well, no one would say that they aren’t in the middle of a potentially messy situation.
They shower on their own floors, taking the precautions that they should have considered days before. It’s good, though, showering on his own, with no bare bits of Natasha or sultry moans to distract him. As the water beats down over him, the heat soaks into his muscles, refreshing him, and he can feel his head clear a little.
The opening sequence for Casino Royale is already rolling by the time he enters the darkened room, and the only free space is next to Natasha on the loveseat set back toward the wall. Clint always sits there on Movie Night, though Natasha doesn’t always join him; he prefers even in this to watch the action from a distance. The others have already draped themselves over the big couch shoved much closer to the TV, and are so absorbed that they hardly notice Clint’s arrival.
He sits down beside her, still avoiding skin to skin contact, but Clint’s wearing jeans and Natasha’s got on a sweatshirt and everyone’s watching the screen, so when she leans against him, he lifts his arm and lets her fold herself into his side.
And it’s just so nice to be able to spend quiet time with his team for once, to be quietly affectionate with Natasha and have no one make dirty insinuations about them, so nice in fact that Clint starts to forget himself and really relax. The two of them work their way through the six-pack Clint brought with him downstairs, and he’s feeling nicely buzzed by the time the movie starts to pick up.
He’s gently circling his thumb over Natasha’s shoulder and thinking about grabbing another beer when he notices the stricken expression on her face. It isn’t much, nothing more than a slight furrow in her brow and a peculiar light in her eyes, but she was definitely upset about something.
Quietly so as to not disturb the others, he prods, “You okay?”
She nods and shrugs, motioning toward the story being acted out in front of them.
And then he gets it; how similar everything is to some of the things they’ve done, how the whole situation strikes close to home. His heart breaks a little for Natasha; he knows she’s been as much an emotional wreck as he for the past four days, but he didn’t realize that she was so out of whack that a movie could affect her normally unflappable self.
So he pulls her closer against him, kisses her hair, and the fact that she’s letting him do this more or less in front of the rest of the team tells him all he needs to know about her mental state.
And then it happens. An accident, really.
Natasha turns her head just as Clint is leaning down, and he ends up pressing his lips to her forehead instead of her hair, and just like that, the fire that they’ve been so careful to avoid flares up between them. He hears Natasha’s low gasp as the wave of arousal hits her, and she’s pressing against him in a very different way than she was just a moment ago. She stares up at him, panting.
Maybe it’s a combination of the drug with the alcohol, but Natasha inches closer to him, hitching her leg up over his and now her thigh is rubbing against him in just the right place, and all of a sudden, he’s sporting a raging erection in the same room as his team.
Natasha turns her head, and with her breath hot on his ear, she whispers, “Grab the blanket.”
He sees the one she means, folded neatly on the wooden stool next to the couch, and he whips it open, spreading it over their laps. It isn’t much, and they wouldn’t fool anyone, but the guys are otherwise engaged, so what the hell.
Clint slips one hand below the blanket, runs his fingers up and down Natasha’s thigh. He feels her shift, spread her legs a little wider so he can get better access. Her own hand slips below then, but he shakes his head firmly when she grasps him.
“You first,” he breathes into her ear.
He continues teasing her on the outside of her clothes, gliding across her hips, dipping between her thighs, never spending much time in any one spot, until at last Natasha gets impatient, grips his hand in hers, and presses it into her core. She’s so wet that can feel it through the fabric of her yoga pants, and he hasn’t been this close to coming in his pants since he was 16.
Clint can tell it isn’t enough for her, so he slides his hand up and under the waistband of her pants, slips below her panties, and then his fingers are sheathed in her warmth. It’s an awkward position, but Natasha doesn’t seem to mind, and she’s got her face turned and pressed into his shoulder as he works her.
One eye on their teammates, Clint continues to rub her, circling her clit and palming her until she starts to shake. She’s losing control now, and the hand that was gripping the side of the loveseat comes up to her mouth to stifle the sounds of her panting, and thank god that James Bond is crashing his car right now because he’s pretty sure no one could mistake the breathy noises she’s making for anything else. She presses harder against his palm, bucking once and then again, and then she coming, hard, clenching around his fingers and shuddering her release and he’s feeling pretty damn proud of himself right now for brining her off like that.
So proud, in fact, that he needs to excuse himself and hit the bathroom because there is no way he’s can continue to sit here and not end up fucking her in front of everyone. Using every last drop of his willpower, he brushes his lips over her cheek, trusting that she understands why he’s leaving the room right now, and he heads down the corridor for the bathroom.
It’s a nice bathroom, as such things go, with a double sink, marble floors, and for some unknown reason, a Jacuzzi, but none of that registers on Clint’s mind right now. And no sooner does he shut the door behind him and flick the lock closed then he’s got his arm braced against the sink and his pants open with his dick in his hand. He feels somewhat infantile for jacking off in the bathroom, but his fingers are still slick with Natasha’s juices and the image of her coming against the palm he’s got wrapped around his cock is so fucking perfect that he just doesn’t give a shit.
It doesn’t take much to get him on the cusp, and he’s about to come when there’s a scratching at the door, and it opens slightly. He’d be worried, except he knows that the only person around here who can pick a clock that easily is Natasha.
He watches her enter the room, her reflection in the suspiciously large mirror hung over the sinks. She’s beautiful and a little disheveled, and she’s smiling that quirky, half-smile of hers, the intimate one that she’s only ever used for him, and it makes his heart swell to see it on her lips now.
“Couldn’t let you run off without me,” she says as she strips her pants off. She’s on him in three steps, then pushes him backward until his calves hit the toilet. Then he’s sitting down and she’s straddling him, sinking down on him, and fuck, she’s wet and tight and this is not going to last very long.
“Let me do the work this time.” Her voice, husky even at its best, is sex roughened and exquisitely arousing, and he grabs her head to kiss the mouth that created that sound.
She raises and lowers herself on him, all the while kissing him, wrapping her arms around him and sighing happily when his hands come to rest on her ass.
She’s so warm and wet and he was already close when she got here, so it doesn’t take much for him to climax, holding her tightly against him while she swallows his shout.
Natasha is still sitting on him when he regains himself, gently running her hands through his hair and pressing light kisses along his brow.
“You’re beautiful when you come,” she says so matter of factly he can’t help but believe her, even if he laughs at her choice of adjectives.
“You think they noticed we left?”
Natasha shrugs, and with the motion, he starts to slip out of her.
“It’s not like it’s a big secret at this point. Remember the security tapes?”
Clint grimaces, helping her to her feet. “I was trying to forget, thanks.”
“Not my fault you couldn’t keep it in your pants, big boy.”
“You and I clearly remember that night very differently.”
They clean themselves up, all smiles and snark in between friendly touches and laughter, and if Clint has ever had a better Movie Night, he doesn’t remember it.
Of course, that’s until Tony claps for them as they walk back into the room.
“Great job, guys. I give you an 8 out of 10.”
Clint refuses to ask how they lost two points, so he just snatches the bowl of popcorn from him, and sits back down on the loveseat with Natasha, studiously ignoring his peers.
Life is good.
Actual Plot ensues.
Super duper thanks to Koren M for helping me with this chapter! I very literally could not have done this without you. Thank you for smacking me upside the head (but, you know, nicely and all that) and making me fix this damn thing!
Mistakes are, as ever, my own.
“We need you guys for this one.”
It’s early still; they’ve just stumbled out of Clint’s bedroom to find coffee, but Steve is already there, standing in his kitchen, waiting for them. Steve doesn’t come right out and say it, but the look in his eyes is asking if they can handle it. Clint hates that he has to ask.
Natasha is the first to recover, all business as usual.
Steve explains as quickly as possible, telling them about an attack that in Central Park and the reports of blue skinned giants and the horn-helmeted man who led them. As he listens, Clint is both enraged and worried at the same time. He wants revenge, wants answers, but what if he doesn’t like what he finds? He’s learned to be wary where Loki is concerned.
He pushes those fears aside, and with a “Give us five minutes,” Natasha is out the door to suit up. Steve stays behind though, gives Clint an appraising look, then nods, as if he’s decided on something.
“See you up top.”
Clint is in the Quinjet and running through take off procedures four minutes later, and the Avengers (rather, the four of them who can’t fly) are wheels up in the expected five minutes. On normal days, they could never do this – Tony would gripe or Bruce would hesitate - but when the shit hits the fan, they run smoothly, a well oiled machine.
They find the park on fire, and Clint’s stomach clenches as he sets them down in too close to the flames for comfort, worried that they might not be able to return to the plane until after the fire has been extinguished.
They slip out of the jet and into mayhem.
As it always does, the fighting passes in a blur. He’s shooting and shooting and there seems like there will never be an end and he’s not even sure he wants there to be, so lost is he in the meditation that is archery.
The battle moves from the park into the city proper, and he vaguely registers that they are winning, but he doesn’t let himself feel victorious, can’t until they’ve wiped out the threat.
At last he hears Thor over the comms; the last of the blue-skinned goons has been felled by Hulk, and the two of them have Loki in custody.
Triumphantly, he calls out to Natasha, looks around for her. She was there beside him just a moment ago . . .
When he sees her, spies her amidst the rubble, he doesn’t recognize the pile as being his partner, can’t comprehend what he’s looking at. He takes a step, then another toward her, and suddenly he’s running and falling to his knees over her collapsed form.
He’s shouting as loud as he can because he’s watching his life crumple before him and fuck he doesn’t know what to do and there’s so much blood and it’s all over her face and he can’t tell if she’s breathing.
She isn’t moving, oh, god, she isn’t moving. He can’t stop screaming for help because no one is coming and oh, fuck, he can’t touch her because he doesn’t know what will happen and fuck fuck FUCK.
Then Tony is there, and he’s saying something but Clint doesn’t understand anything except that it’s Natasha lying there, bleeding in the middle of the street and why isn’t anyone doing anything?
Someone grabs him around the shoulders, and the grip should be easy to throw off, but they’re too strong, and now Tony is picking her up off the ground and he’s taking off and . . .
Clint knows he’s panicking, he knows he’s out of control, but he can’t stop running through every scenario that could have led to this moment. He’s never been this terrified in his life, and he doesn’t know what to do.
At some point he realizes that the person holding him back is Steve, and he’s talking.
“ . . . be okay, Clint. Tony is taking her to a hospital right now.” Steve releases his grip, and Clint turns, stares at the blue-suited man, tries to process what he’s saying.
Steve nods. “Yeah, he’s taking her to Metro General. Come on, I’ll go with you.”
By the time they make it across town, Clint has blown through the worst of his initial panic, but darker fears have started to set in. He and Steve are recognized as soon as they set foot in the door (how could they not be, dressed as they are?), and a nurse shows them to a waiting room. And then they wait, Steve sitting and looking worried and Clint pacing furiously.
“Which one of you is Clint Barton?”
Clint whips around when the doctor walks into the room.
“That’s me.” He’s impressed with himself; his voice is almost steady.
“Agent Romanov is awake and asking for you. If you’ll follow me?”
Awake. Awake is good. Awake means not dead. Awake means alive and breathing and still with him.
He follows the doctor through the double doors, anxious for more information.
“How is she?”
The doctor’s explanation is clinical, and Clint is grateful for it. He rests easy in the way the man catalogues the extent of Natasha’s injuries, the calmness he exudes as discusses her, as if there isn’t anything Clint needs to worry about.
“She was hit in the head pretty hard, which is what knocked her unconscious. She’s lucky though, most people would end up with more than a concussion and a bloody forehead.”
The doctor doesn’t know about Natasha’s enhancements, doesn’t need to know, because ultimately, it doesn’t matter. They’ll all be out of here in a few hours, before the inevitable questions have the chance to get asked.
He’s grateful that she’s alive, ecstatic even, so he’s almost afraid to ask, but he has to know.
“She’ll be okay?”
The doctor smiles, full of sympathy and genuine happiness. He imagines that doctors in crisis centers don’t get the chance to give good news very often.
“Yes,” he says. “With a little rest, she’s going to be just fine.”
The doctor goes over all the dos and don’ts for taking care of her as they walk back to her room, making sure once again that Clint knows what to do in case of an emergency, how to nurse her through the worst of it. Clint listens with half an ear; he’s been here before, taken care of her with a concussion, just as she’s done for him. It’s different now, though, closer. Scarier.
But she’s going to be fine.
The doctor doesn’t follow him into the room, giving them some privacy. Clint closes the door behind him.
“Hey.” Her voice is weak, but there is no better sound.
He walks over to her, sits on the edge of the bed. He starts to reach out for her hand, but stops himself, presses his palm against her blanket covered thigh instead.
Natasha smiles up at him, but she looks tired, especially with the bandage covering the left side of her forehead and part of her scalp.
He looks down at his hand, sudden shyness creeping up on him. “I was worried about you, Tash.”
“I’m fine.” She pauses a moment, takes in her surroundings. Then, sounding more like herself, she adds, “Well, I’ll be fine once they let me out of this dump.”
He knows she will be, she always is.
“Do you know what happened?”
“I must have gotten clipped there at the end. Doctor says it’s just a concussion, though.”
He pauses, the events of the day washing over him, and it’s like he’s back there in the road all over again, screaming and confused with Natasha bloody and unconscious in Tony’s arms. The thought of how close he came to losing her today is a special kind of hell, one he knows will haunt his dreams, will drag him breathless out of Technicolor nightmares and make him be stupidly protective of her for months. It’s Brazil and the bullet all over again, and there isn’t anything he can do about the guilt he feels for not being there for her. How can he possibly express that to her?
But then he looks up, his brow furrowed, and she’s frowning back at him, and he knows that she understands. They share a crooked smile.
“There was a lot of blood,” he says, and though it’s all he’ll ever say about her injury, he knows she’s reliving those strange days in the hospital long ago, when he perched by her bedside and refused to leave until she could walk again.
She motions toward the bandage on her brow. “It’s superficial. Gimme a week, I’ll be kicking your ass again, Barton.” She’s exaggerating; she’ll be up and mission ready in two days, a side effect of what the people of her birth country did to her.
He wants to laugh, wants to keep it light, but it just isn’t possible, not for him, not anymore. He slumps down, forehead resting in his hands. Jesus, he thinks he might even fucking cry. It’s like he’s on an endless emotional rollercoaster, one that gives him just enough time to think that maybe he’s done, but then zips upward with a jolt and dumps him over a sharp precipice into a freefall. What the hell is wrong with him?
And then Natasha is there, her hand on his shoulder, and he lets himself fall beside her. He can hear her heart beat through the hospital gown, a steady thrum against his ear, and he clings to her for a long time, clutching at the physical proof that she’s still alive and breathing beside him, unwilling to move even though he should be the one comforting her, not the other way around.
He tilts his head up at long last, meets her gaze. Even though it’s on the tip of his tongue, he doesn’t ask her to be more careful in the future. He doesn’t ask her to try to avoid dangerous situations or keep herself on the sidelines, he just stares at her.
He cannot ask her to promise him things he wouldn’t be willing to do himself.
So he kisses her instead, heedless of their situation.
It’s sweet at first, tender and comforting in its simplicity. The heat creeps in almost as an afterthought, filling his limbs slowly, weighing him down, yet the urgency is not so great as it was before.
“Tash . . .” he whispers, then strokes the injured side of her face with the lightest of touches. “I . . .” He isn’t sure how the sentence is going to end, but Natasha does.
“I love you, too.”
He kisses her again, not as chastely as before, and he feels her breath quicken.
He forces himself to back off, unwilling to hurt her. “I should go.”
Natasha makes a faint noise of protest. “No,” she says, force behind the word. “Please. Stay.”
He looks at her worriedly. “I don’t want to do anything that could hurt you, Tash.”
She glares at him, unamused, and he hadn’t realized it, but it wasn’t until now that he really believes that she’s going to be okay.
“If you leave right now, it would hurt me. And it’s a concussion, not a death sentence.”
“I don’t know . . .” He knows it’s just a concussion, knows that this is Natasha and she’s shaken off much worse, but he’s hesitant, nervous, and he hates himself for it.
She grabs his hand, drags it to her breast and holds it there. “I’ve had a really terrible day, and if you don’t shut up and fuck me, I am going to maim you.”
He can’t quite think clearly after a statement like that, but Natasha is calm, calculating. “Lock the door and pull the sheet,” she orders, motioning upward to the privacy curtain.
He complies without thinking, and she watches him with half-hooded eyes as she bites her lip and sighs. She’s breathtaking, even now, rumpled in a hospital bed with half her face covered, and he wants her keenly.
Clint slides back into the cot with her, rolling her onto her good side and tugging open the ties on the back of her hospital gown. For once, he appreciates the garment, since it means that Natasha is naked underneath.
She’s keyed up though, stiff against him, so he murmurs into her ear, “Relax for me, baby.”
He trails kisses down her neck, then moves on to her shoulders, delighting in the little shudders that ripple through her back as he works his way around. He smoothes his hands over her flesh, carefully avoiding the darkening bruises he finds there.
She leans back against him, shifts her hips against his, and dammit, he wants to fuck her right now, but he won’t, he can’t.
“I want you.”
Her simple declaration hits him low in the gut, aching, piercing, and he wants nothing more than to bury himself inside of her and watch her come apart in his arms, but she’s hurt, maybe still bleeding under all that gauze, and even with her altered physiology, he refuses to risk it.
So he tries to remove himself from the equation, pretends that the appendage between his legs doesn’t exist and that it isn’t straining painfully against his pants, and instead of unzipping himself, he moves his hand to her ass, cups then squeezes one cheek before slipping his hand between her legs. He licks the side of her neck, tasting the saltiness of her sweat there.
“I want to feel you come,” he says, then nibbles on her earlobe, and she presses her ass against him in reply.
Clint drags her closer, tucking her into his embrace until she’s got her head puddled on his bicep. He runs his free hand down her bare side, memorizing the feel of her skin beneath his palm, then slides his fingers over and down her hip, once more seeking the warm place between her legs.
Natasha moans when he finds her clit, and the moan turns to a pleading whine in the back of her throat when he varies his pressure and twirls his fingers. She starts to stiffen a little, tries to use her legs to buck up harder against him, but he won’t let her, forcing her to still her limbs.
“Relax, sweetheart. Let me do this,” he mumbles against her neck. He knows she hates giving up control, ceding power to him, but she must be a little off her game because she doesn’t argue for once. Instead she just sighs, rolls onto her back, relaxes into him as he traces patterns around her clit.
He leans down at an awkward angle to kiss her, but she’s so warm, so pliant beneath him that he doesn’t care about his own discomfort; he just wants to watch her face as she enjoys herself. And boy, is she enjoying herself, sighing and gasping in time with the motions of his fingers. Her breath is erratic as he increases his pace, and when she comes, she bites his lip, hard, and he can taste the metallic tang of blood in his mouth.
The little bit of exertion was a lot for her, and she’s already half asleep, too dazed to even notice when he slips out of the bed and shuts himself in the tiny bathroom. Then it’s a repeat of the other night. He unzips his pants quickly, eager to touch himself, and he glances around the room, searching for some lubricant. Finally, his eyes settle on a tiny bottle of hand lotion resting on top of the soap dispenser.
He shrugs. Floral scent or not, that’ll do.
He squirts the contents of his bottle into his palm, warms the liquid there for a moment, and then finally he wraps his hand around his cock and starts to pump. He strokes methodically at first, braces his hand against the wall for support, but then images of Natasha, naked and wet and tight pop into his mind, and he can’t keep a steady rhythm. He races over the scenarios that have played themselves out in front of him in recent days- Natasha above him, below him, beside him, and behind him. Then just as suddenly, it’s Natasha moaning, Natasha screaming, Natasha calling out his name as she comes, clenching tightly around him . . .
He pictures her just a few minutes ago, focuses on the image of her face buried into his shoulder and her hand fisted in his shirt while she cries out a curse, and he gasps, choking down her name, forcing himself to be quiet, but he’s spurting all over his hand and Jesus fucking Christ.
He cleans himself up quickly, eager to get back to her in the other room. He slides carefully into the cot behind her, tucking the thin, worn coverlet around them. Natasha’s mostly asleep when she snuggles up to him, and his heart melts a little when she smiles and whispers his name.
It’s quiet, intimate, and not at all like they’ve ever been, but maybe they should be.
Natasha checks her wound.
First of all - THANK YOU to everyone who's been following. You have no idea how much I appreciate your support!
Secondly - I am going to be out of town until Sunday afternoon/evening, so there won't be an update until sometime on Monday. I've got the next several parts written, of course, but they're going to need some tweaking before I put them out for the world to see.
Special thanks to Koren M for her beta and lovely suggestions - you've made this a far better story than it should be :-)
Clint checks her out of the hospital an hour later, after helping her into the bathroom to wash up and change into some clean clothes. She probably should feel worse right now, what with the concussion and the stitches in her forehead, but the sweatshirt and yoga pants feel nice against her skin after that wretched hospital gown, and Clint’s being so sweet and caring .
Shit. There she goes again being sappy. It’s irritating her more the longer it drags on, and she wishes that this fucking drug would run its course already. She’s had enough of all the kittens and bunnies shit; she’s ready to get back to punches and blood.
Well, she guesses that she’s still got a handle on the last two things, all things considered. She grins, recalling the particularly satisfying crunch that frost giants make when you connect with their faces.
The doctor makes her take a wheelchair out to the door, and Clint pushes her quickly, knowing that she wants to get this over with as soon as possible, and she can’t help but love him for it. There’s a limo from Tony waiting for them, and she has to lean on Clint far more than she would like in order to make it from the chair into the backseat. As the car pulls away from the hospital, the motion makes her dizzy, so she puts her head down on Clint’s shoulder and naps.
The next thing she knows, it’s dark, and she’s been bundled under the covers in her bed, the familiar form of Clint curled up next to her.
She must have stirred or mumbled because Clint’s also awake, looking at her in the darkness.
Natasha nods, rubs her eyes and winces when she brushes too near to her wound. “Yeah. Just really tired.”
Clint pulls her in closer, the sheet between them preventing accidental contact as she rests her head on his chest and throws one arm over him.
“Yeah, you kind of passed out there for a while.”
“Well, thanks for . . .”
For what, exactly? Watching over her in the hospital? Carrying her to bed while she was passed out? She doesn’t know what to say.
As it turns out, that’s okay because Clint doesn’t need to hear whatever it is she was going to say, he just runs his palm over her hair and says, “You’re welcome.”
“Did we get him?” she asks, no need to clarify who she means.
His voice wavers slightly. “Yeah. He’s down in holding. We’ve all been taking turns monitoring him until Thor can get back with some kind of Asgardian magical handcuffs or something.”
“Anyone get anything out of him yet?” She wants a crack at Loki herself, is half tempted to jump out of bed right now to take it, but she’s tired, wounded, and not at her best. It will be better for everyone if she waits until she’s slept more, maybe eaten something.
“No one’s tried. We were all waiting for you.”
Natasha smiles at that. It’s good to know the team lets everyone play to their strong suits, even when injured.
“Have you gone down?”
Clint shifts against her, clearly uncomfortable. “No.”
She lets him drop it. They’ll head down together later, and she’s confident that they’ll get their answers. She lays against Clint then, in the quiet, listening to his heart beat and trying not to think about anything at all.
She doesn’t know why she breaks the silence, but she does.
“Hmm?” he murmurs, sounding half-asleep.
“Do you think we’re going to be okay?”
He sucks in a breath, and she knows that he’s been thinking the same thing, wondering, worrying, and maybe, just maybe, even hoping.
“You mean you and me?”
“Yeah, you and me. Whatever this is that’s been happening.”
“Yes.” He says it firmly, as if he can will it into existence.
She wants to believe it, too, but she can’t stop herself from asking, “How do you know?” She’d be terrified if she allowed herself to think about the alternative Terrified that she was in too far, too deep, and that she was going to lose him and herself in the process.
He chuckles, a low rumble in his chest, then speaks, the nervous lilt that always accompanied such confessions thick in his voice.
“Because we’re us.”
She gets it, thought it herself even if she didn’t dare to entertain the idea that lingered around the edges of her mind. They know each other too well, have been partners for too long, and have been through too much together for anything else to happen. Maybe she just needed to hear it from him to really believe it, to really think that maybe she could actually fall in love and have a happy ending, whatever that meant.
She reaches up to brush her hair away from her face, accidentally grazing Clint’s cheek as she does so. She winces a little, jerks her hand away, even though she knows it’s too late, and fuck, she was too damn tired for sex right now.
And then she notices something. Or, rather, notices the lack of something.
Clint’s noticed it, too, and suddenly they’re both sitting upright in bed. He hits the light on the bedside table, and they squint in the sudden incandescence. He’s staring right back at her, wide eyed and open mouthed, gaping at the realization.
Then, as one, they slowly raise their hands, extend them toward each other and gently touch their palms together.
Nothing. Just the warmth of another human being.
They giggle nervously, not really believing it.
“Um, wow,” he says, looking baffled. He doesn’t sound like he’s entirely convinced.
She looks from their hands, now clasped together, back to him, his face, his lips. “Well, there’s only one way to be sure . . .”
She leans in, catching the knowing look he sends her, once more meeting each other halfway.
When they kiss, it’s both everything and nothing like it was before. His lips are warm and soft, like they always are, always have been, and she feels the familiar ache in her stomach (though that could just be the concussion), but for the first time in nearly a week, she doesn’t immediately want to jump on top of Clint and ride him until neither one of them can’t move.
They break apart, staring at each other.
“You feeling any urges I should know about?” She asks tentatively.
He shakes his head, smiling a little. “Nope.”
She’s giddy for a long moment, and then Clint ruins it. “Well, no more than usual.”
She smacks him on the arm, but with little force, especially coupled with the grin she’s giving him. “Jackass.”
He reaches for the light, but hesitates, and when he starts speaking, she can tell that he’s nervous again.
“So, uh, you still want to be here?” He can’t even look at her when he adds, “With me?”
Natasha’s heart breaks a little at that, and it’s then that she knows, truly knows, that she loves him. Not just because she was injected with some crazy, alien sex drug, but because she actually loves him, Clint, her partner, her best friend, the only person she really trusts.
And because she can’t bear the thought of breaking his heart since that would hurt just as much as breaking her own, she doesn’t say any of the dozen snarky comments that spring to mind when he asks. She doesn’t try to deflect or hedge or pretend.
She just tells him the truth.
“Yes, with you.”
He looks at her, hope in his eyes. “Yeah? Even now?”
She nods, her face solemn. “Yes. As long as you want me here.”
He’s got this expression that she’s never seen before and it’s difficult to parse, all grimace and grin. “I’ll always want you here.”
Because there isn’t anything else to say, she just answers, “Okay.”
The next time she wakes up, hours have obviously passed because light is creeping in through the slats in her blinds. Clint is snoring softly beside her with his arm draped possessively across her, and Natasha can feel his breath on her neck every time he exhales.
It would be really comfortable if she didn’t have to pee.
Carefully, so as not to wake him, she shimmies out from under his arm and hurries to the bathroom. She still feels a little woozy from her head injury, but she knows that the feeling is apt to last for a while, and she’s not too worried about it.
She pulls the bandage off her face after she washes her hands, inspecting the surgeon’s work. There aren’t too many stitches holding the skin in place, and she can already see that her forehead has started to knit back together. All in all, not so bad.
She fumbles around a bit under the sink to find more gauze, carefully redressing the area. Because of her enhanced physiology, she’ll be able to leave the area uncovered sooner than the doctor’s recommended 48 hours, but she’s going to play it safe for once and leave it on for at least 24. Besides, she knows if she doesn’t redress it right now, Clint will force her to as soon as he wakes up.
Natasha can still hear him sawing logs in the other room, so she takes a moment in front of the sink. She doesn’t do it often, but sometimes it can be good, grounding even, to take a long look in the mirror.
She could really use some grounding after yesterday.
She sighs, blowing a wisp of hair out of her face. She isn’t sure how she feels about all of the change that’s taken place recently. She was just starting to feel like she’d gotten in control of her life, that she had a chance to make up for some of her past wrongs and could somehow balance that ledger of hers. She had gotten used to working with a larger team, started to feel like she really belonged somewhere, like she had more friends than just Clint.
And now, just when she thought that maybe she could have a real home, here with the rest of the Avengers, when she could finally believe that she had a place she really belonged among people who appreciated her for who she was and didn’t try to mold her into something else, this had to go and happen.
It’s not the sex that bothers her, not in the slightest. She’s been fucking him for years, only him, actually, because SHIELD doesn’t make her use her body the way the Red Room did and when it comes down to it, she’s never really liked people to begin with much less wanted them between her legs. But with Clint, it was nice, good even, a calming center to her life that she could find every time she killed someone in the name of making the world a better place. He grounded her, made her feel human when all she could see was the blood dripping from her hands. He was her best friend and her partner, and that was great.
But she wasn’t supposed to be in love with him. Sure, she loved him, she’d have to be an idiot not to the way he treated her, but it was the kind of love you felt for a close friend, not the kind that made you smile when you were alone and try to imagine what the other person was thinking at that moment. That kind of love was a distraction. That kind of love got you killed. But that kind of love was precisely what she felt for Clint.
And shit, she had thought that it would all disappear and they could go back to normal when the drug finally wore off.
She peers out the open bathroom door, looking back at Clint, tangled up in the sheets and dead to the world. She’s supposed to want to get dressed right now, supposed to be heading down to see what that piece of shit in holding thought he was doing when he injected them with whatever it was.
Instead, her heart lurches in her chest, and she kind of wants to snuggle.
She, Natalia Alianova Romanova wants to snuggle.
Seriously, what the hell?
Well, fuck that. Head injury or no, she didn’t get to be where she is today by screwing around, so she gets dressed, quietly slipping into one of her uniforms.
And if she drops a kiss to Clint’s forehead on her way out the door, well, she can always deny it later.
Wherein we learn more about Loki's intentions.
I am so sorry that this took so long to get out. Life really intervened with fic the past couple weeks. Mea maxima culpa!
I hope you enjoy it!
Clint finds Bruce standing outside the holding area, staring through the one way glass. Natasha was inside, watching Loki. Her side of the bed had long gone cold by the time he woke up this morning, and he wonders just how much of her morning she’s spent here.
He looks over at Bruce, who’s sipping from an oversize coffee mug. “How long has she been in there?”
“An hour, give or take.”
“He said anything yet?”
“The usual threats, something about world domination and so on.”
“Nothing about us?”
“Not that I can tell.”
They fall silent and watch Natasha work Loki. It’s a kind of dance, one that he’s always been fascinated to see. He’s not a half bad interrogator himself, but Natasha has it down to an art form.
He rather suspects that it’s one of the reasons that he fell for her in the first place.
The pair have gone silent, and after staring at Loki for one long moment, Natasha turns abruptly on one heel and walks out of the interrogation room. She’s glowering when she comes through the door.
“What did you find out?” Clint asks.
She looks at him as if she’s surprised to see him there, but it’s momentary. She turns to Bruce first.
“What else did you find in our blood?”
Bruce grimaces, and Clint knows this isn’t going to be good.
“I wanted to wait until I knew more . . .”
“What else did you find, Banner?” Clint cuts in.
Bruce takes a deep breath before he answers. “It sounds impossible, but we’re pretty sure they’re nanobots.”
“Nanobots?” Natasha is starting to sound worried, and he catches a slight quaver to her voice.
“What kind of nanobots?” Clint asks, a thousand different scenarios playing out in his head. He doesn’t have much experience with nanotechnology, even working with SHIELD, and every encounter with it has ended badly for everyone.
“As far as we can tell, they’re duds.”
“Duds?” Clint asks, frowning.
At the same time, Natasha says, “As far as you can tell?”
Bruce nods at them both. “I think the malfunction was an unintended side effect of the drug that accompanied it. Apparently, Earth nanotech and Asgardian magic don’t play well together. Dr. Pym is running some more tests right now, but we think that the drug somehow turned off the nanobots. Short circuited them somehow.”
“What were they supposed to do?” Clint rubs one hand over his eyes, feeling mildly uncomfortable at the idea of so many little robots swimming around in his blood.
Bruce shrugs. “We don’t really know. I was hoping that Natasha here could get Loki to tell us, though clearly the interrogation hasn’t been going so well . . .”
“I’ve cracked harder cases,” Natasha says drily, and Clint can tell that she’s annoyed, though from Loki or Banner he can’t say.
Clint’s brow furrows as he looks into Loki’s cell. “So, the drug, was what then, just some kind of distraction? Meant to throw us off until he could put the rest of his plan into motion? Use the nanotech against us?”
“Well,” Natasha began, quirking her eyebrow at Clint. “It definitely was a distraction.” She turns toward Bruce. “But I don’t see how he thought we wouldn’t notice them.”
“The design is pretty advanced, so I don’t think that they’re something that Loki came up with on his own. I’ve asked Tony to look into it.”
Clint nods. “And they’re advanced enough that you wouldn’t see them unless you took a closer look.”
Natasha starts heading toward the door then, and Clint can tell that she’s itching for some exercise. He’s gets his confirmation when she speaks.
“Unless you need me for something, I’m going to go for a run. I need to think this through.”
Clint just nods at her, gives her the space she craves.
As she opens the door, Bruce calls out. “Can you stop by the lab again later?”
“Sure,” Natasha throws over her shoulder, and then she’s gone.
Clint doesn’t run into Natasha until he heads down to the lab, and it’s very much on purpose. He’d even avoided the gym they both favored in deference to her, and he’d kept to the roof for most of the afternoon. Eventually, though, he goes in search of Bruce.
Natasha’s sitting knock kneed and looking younger than she ever was on the examination table in the main room. Bruce and Hank Pym are talking to her, but from the second he walks through the door it’s clear she only has eyes for him. Pym notices first, follows the track of her stare out to where Clint hovers in the entrance.
“Oh, hello, Agent Barton!” Pym, despite repeated requests to the contrary, still falls back on politeness. “I’m glad you’re here. We have some things to discuss.”
That doesn’t sound good, but since when has he ever gotten good news in these rooms?
Clint makes his way over to Natasha, and she looks worried, as if she doesn’t know quite how to react. He’s just a little more uneasy now; he cannot fathom what would upset her that much.
Bruce searches his face carefully when Clint walks over, saying, “Actually, Hank, I think maybe I’ll take them into observation three. Privacy might do us some good here.”
Pym nods, doesn’t argue, just steps away and gets to work. He hunkers down over a centrifuge, clipboard in hand.
They’re led into a little room with multi-colored ducks marching around the top border of the room, and Clint likes the purple ducks in the room especially; they seem friendlier somehow.
He is suddenly struck with an image from long ago, another life, really, when he was a child and his mother spent all day putting up circus wallpaper on one wall of his bedroom. His father had nearly put her in the hospital for that waste of money, no matter that the old woman down the street had given them the paper, leftover from covering a room for her grandchildren, no matter that his mother had done all the work by herself and it hadn’t cost them a cent.
He smiles at the recollection though, because his mother, for all her faults, had loved him and had tried to make him happy. Many things in life are out of his control, but he can control how he chooses to think about his past.
Natasha boosts herself up onto the examination table, still looking like she’s about to burst out of her skin.
“So, what’s up?” Clint tries to keep the emotion out of his voice, and he thinks he’s marginally successful. Ever since he left Bruce behind in interrogation earlier, he’s been forcing himself to think about anything and everything else, whatever he can to keep his mind of the tiny machines inside of his body.
“I know we’ve already talked about it a little, but I think you need to hear it directly from me, too.” Bruce is obviously stalling, trying to talk about other things for as long as possible before breaking the news, whatever it is.
Clint braces himself, sits down next to Natasha, the thick paper covering the cushioned table crinkling loudly in the silence of the room. He looks at Natasha as he sits down, and she’s got an unbearably concerned look on her face.
Bruce continues, pulling a thin manila folder out of his clipboard. “Tony got back to me about the nanobots.”
Bruce flips open the folder, leafs through the papers inside, then pulls out one sheet and hands it to Clint.
“What is this?” Clint can’t make heads or tails of what he’s looking at beyond the fact that it’s clearly inorganic, and the legend in the bottom right hand corner of the photograph says that the image has been magnified to an incredible degree. So, the spindly, spidery things are clearly the nanobots, but that’s all he knows.
“The nanobots are packed fairly densely in your blood, just over 800 IU/L. They must have had time to replicate before they died . . . ” Bruce trails off.
Clint stares at the image, his heart skipping a beat in his chest and a sinking feeling deep in his gut. Tentatively, he asks, “They replicated? Are you sure they’re dormant?”
Bruce nods. “Yes, they’re completely inactive, and from examining Natasha, it doesn’t look like they actually did anything to you.” Bruce pauses then, looks away. “But, they’re the same type Doom used in his little . . . experiment last year.”
Of course it would have to be those nanobots.
Doom, ever missing the point of compassion when it came to science, had injected ten college students with a special, new type of nanotech last year. The promise of a few thousand dollars was enticing, and the students had signed up for his trials willingly, but Clint doubted they’d had a clue about what would happen to them.
It had started off innocuously enough, of course, with Doom using the nanobots to control little, simple things, things no one would even notice, like lunch choices and where to study after class. But Doom had increased his influence over the students little by little, changing them so slowly that by the time anyone had realized what he had done, the kids were pulling bank heists and killing anyone who got in the way.
The worst of it had been at the end, after the Avengers had been called, after they’d figured out what was going on. The team had surprised the students mid-heist, and when all the hostages were either dead or out of harm’s way, Doom had forced the students to kill themselves right in front of the Avenger’s helpless faces.
The idea that Loki had injected some of those things inside of him, inside of Natasha was horrifying, and it stirred up the memories of the battle of New York all over again. Clint repressed a shudder, took a breath, tried to calm himself down, tried to will himself to believe that if Loki had wanted to, they’d both be dead right now.
Clint swallows around the lump forming in his throat, and when he’s sure he can trust his voice, asks, “So what went wrong? Why aren’t I trying to kill you guys right now?”
He doesn’t miss the look that passes between Bruce and Natasha, and he knows now for sure that her worried look is for him, that she and Bruce have already discussed Clint’s reaction. He wants to act differently for them, he wants to prove that he isn’t so affected by all of these events, but he’s not sure that he can.
“As near as Pym and I can tell,” Bruce starts carefully. “The drugs that were introduced into your system at the same time interacted with the nanotechnology. We think that the drug treated the nanobots like an invader and short circuited them.”
Clint knows that he should be asking other questions right now. He should be wondering why the fuck some alien sex drug would short circuit Doom’s nanobots, or whether the same drug was messing with other things in his system, but all he can focus on right now is that the nanobots aren’t active, that something has prevented Loki from taking control of him.
“So they’re completely dormant?”
Bruce smiles tightly, still not sure how Clint is taking the news. “Dead, actually.”
“Can they be reactivated?”
Bruce shakes his head. “It’s unlikely. I did some work on them last year after . . . well, after, and I couldn’t get them to restart. You should fully pass them all in two weeks or so, but I’d like to keep testing your blood for the next six weeks or so, keep a close eye on you. Just to be sure.”
Six weeks to be certain that the little robots in his blood wouldn’t wake up and make him into a killer, a murderer. Six weeks of testing to ensure that he wouldn’t betray everyone who trusts him, the people who work with him and depend on him. His life is a careful balance of right and wrong, action and inaction, all focused on doing what was right for the greater good, and he cannot live with himself if the choice is taken away from him. Not again.
And it’s that last thought that triggers him, sets off the downward spiral of self-flagellation, and he can’t stop himself from slipping into it, and suddenly it’s two years ago all over again and he’s at the SHIELD base in New Mexico and Loki is touching his chest with a glowing scepter and all of his free will is gone as if it never existed in the first place. He remembers everything, every detail, every facet of the whole sordid affair, right from the moment that Loki took him over until Natasha kicked the Asgardian out of his brain. He still sees the faces of the men and women he killed in his darkest nightmares, staring at him with dead, accusatory eyes as he tries to run away from them. He can still see in perfect detail the way so many, too many SHIELD agents fell to the ground, lifeless, with arrows in their bodies and their blood spilling onto the ground. Most of all, he remembers the bleak period that followed, the drinking, the overworking, the fighting that could never quite displace all the guilt that plagued him.
He cannot go through that again.
Clint wants to run away, now, far away from this room where Bruce just laid out precisely what he’s got inside him, things designed to take his power and control away from him, so that Loki could run his body once again. He wants to climb into a shower and scrub himself bloody, even though he knows that it won’t do anything to get the tiny mites out of his system. He wants to ask Bruce for a blood transfusion, because anything is worth the risk to feel clean, to feel safe in his own skin again.
Natasha touches his arm, drawing his attention, and when she meets his eyes, he knows that she can see exactly what’s running through his head right now. He wants to let her in, he really does, he wants to let her pull him out of this, but he can’t, he won’t burden her with this shit. He needs to be alone, he needs to work this out by himself.
He turns without excusing himself, and makes a beeline for the door.
“Clint?” She asks, and he hears an offer of comfort in her voice, one that he refuses to take.
He pauses briefly though, some part of him still reaching out to her, needing to reassure her despite all of this crap. “I just . . . can’t right now, Tash. I need to get out of here for a while. I need to be alone.” He doesn’t add please, knowing she can hear it in his voice. He just slips out the door and tries to outrun his demons.
Clint and Natasha have a long talk.
Thanks for sticking with me, everyone! I know updates have been few and far between lately, and I am sorry for that. This update is long, however, so I hope that helps!
Special thanks to Koren M and eiluned for their help on this chapter. I <3 you guys!!
She isn’t too surprised later that night when JARVIS tells her that Clint is waiting in her foyer. She’s been expecting him, and in fact, had he not shown up when he did, she would have sought him out. She pads out to the entranceway to meet Clint, tying her damp hair up and out of her face as she walks. Her forehead is already starting to feel better, and she’s left it open to the air to scab over.
It’s been a long damn day, what with interrogating Loki and Banner’s tests on top of the constant worrying about the nanobots. If she stops for too long, she swears she can feel the things crawling around inside of her, eating her from within. She just spent a solid two hours in the bathroom and parts of her still don’t feel clean. That, she thinks, will be a long time coming.
Natasha finds Clint shifting nervously from one foot to the other, still dressed in the t-shirt and jeans he’d donned that morning. He looks uncharacteristically anxious, as if he isn’t sure that he should have come.
“Hey,” she says, smiling shyly in his direction, encouraging him inside.
“Hi, Tash.” He looks her up and down, then says, “I didn’t wake you up, did I? I’m sorry, I should have had JARVIS check before I came.” He turns, starts to walk away. “I’ll just . . .”
She reaches out, lunging a little to bridge the distance between them, and she puts her hand on his arm. She squeezes lightly, reassuringly, trying not to scare him away.
“No!” she says, using more force than she had intended. She swallows and tries again, softer, calmer this time. “No, don’t go. And you don’t need to ask before you come in here.”
It’s like they’ve taken a step back in their relationship, back to the early days, back when neither one of them could get a good read on the other and they spent more time apart than together. It’s an odd situation to be in, terribly awkward, and she hates being awkward with him. She doesn’t want to regress, she refuses to.
She tugs on his arm. “Come on in. I was getting ready to make tea, if you want some.” She knows he prefers coffee, but he nods and follows her into the kitchen anyway.
He takes a seat on a stool by the counter while she busies herself with the tea, setting the kettle to boil and pulling out two mugs. If she’s being fully honest with herself, she takes longer than strictly necessary to do it, but Clint isn’t going to call her on it, and he’s probably grateful that she’s giving him time to figure out what to say.
But eventually the kettle clicks off, and she pours the tea, and now they’ve got nothing to do except sit and stare at the swirl of the hot liquid in their mugs while it steeps, so she says the first thing that comes to her mind.
Clint half-chuckles, half-snorts. “Yeah. Nanobots.”
She sighs, already out of small talk. She leans hard against the counter, pondering.
And then, out of nowhere, she starts to freak out a little. “What the living hell was Loki thinking? Was he even thinking? Did he think that Banner wouldn’t figure it out? Or Stark?” She gestures widely as she rants. “I mean, fuck, Clint, we work with two of the smartest people on the planet, one of whom also happens to be the richest – how could Loki possibly think that we wouldn’t figure it out eventually? Motherfucking nanobots,” She finishes lamely, then takes a sip of her tea. It’s still too hot, and it burns her tongue.
Clint snags the tea bag out of his own mug, uses the thick pads of his fingertips to squeeze it out.
“I . . . thought about that, too, Tash,” he says, and she can hear the hesitation in his voice, can see him in her mind’s eye wandering through the streets of the city, trying to work through the madness. “I’m not too sure he planned it all the way through.” He tosses the used tea bag across the room, and it sails neatly into the garbage can. Anyone else she would have yelled at for trying such a shot, but this was Clint. He never misses.
“He’s not exactly the greatest strategist,” she says as she looks up from her tea, focusing on Clint. “Sure, he was good at the plotting and scheming part,” He snorts at this, but she presses on, “But the follow through left something to be desired.”
She scrutinizes his face as he stares at the cup in his hands. It’s risky, bringing up New Mexico, but she knows it must be bothering him, so she presses on. “I think he got damn lucky when he ended up with you that night.”
“Well, at least someone was lucky that night,” Clint mumbles. She knows it still tugs at him, eats away at him in the middle of the night. He still blames himself for the all the deaths Loki caused, and it will always be a source of pain and regret.
She reaches out, puts her hand on his. “And I was lucky to get you back.” She speaks as sincerely as she can, tries to put everything she feels for him into her voice, and when he meets her gaze, she can tell that he knows she means well, even if he’s still unsure that he deserves it.
“Nat,” he starts, but he pauses, and the silence stretches into minutes while she lets him gather his thoughts. Eventually, he says, “I’m sorry about today.”
She looks at him uncertainly. “Today?”
He pulls his hands back, retreats into himself. “For running out on you.”
Natasha laughs. “Really? Because I hadn’t done it to you earlier?”
She can practically see the cogs spin in his head. “I guess when you put it that way . . .” he says, but she doesn’t buy it, narrows her eyes at him and frowns. He’s obviously still caught up in self-recrimination, and she hates that he’s trying to deflect, trying to pretend that he’s fine when it’s perfectly clear that he isn’t.
“You’re completely transparent, you realize.”
They share a smile, his a bit sheepish. “Why can’t you just be like all the other girls and let me distract you with my wit and good looks?”
She half-chuckles. “Your wit and good looks are very distracting, sweetie,” she says, the last word dripping with honey. Then she sobers, removes the levity from their conversation. “But I’ve known you too long for that.”
He takes a long pull from his mug, silent and brooding.
He exhales, fiddles with the handle on his cup, stares at his hands. “I wasn’t prepared for this. Not again.”
He sounds defeated, she realizes and she’s struck then with just how much this must be bothering him, how much the promise of Loki once again being in charge of his body has affected him.
“None of us were prepared for it,” she says, trying to give him some measure of comfort.
He thumps his fist on the counter, rattling their mugs, and then he fixes his gaze on the gash on her forehead. “I should have been. I knew better, and you paid the price for it.”
She scoffs at that, understanding his guilt, but finding it unwarranted. “That could have happened on any mission, in any city, anywhere. Don’t beat yourself up because I let my guard down for a few seconds. You don’t get to take the blame for my mistakes.”
“It’s not . . . I just . . .” His anger deflates as suddenly as it rose up, and he tries to distract himself, raising and lowering his mug without taking a drink. “He compromised me before, turned me into a monster, and it ended with half the city in rubble.” He looks her right in the eye and says vehemently. “There is nothing that can change the fact that it was my mind that came up with the plan to attack the Helicarrier.”
She’s known that he’s felt guilty about Coulson and the others for a long time, but she had no idea that there was this much blame and torment still living inside him. He was good at pretending everything was okay, though, they both were, and she supposes she isn’t really surprised that he’s hidden this away from her all this time. It makes her want to scream and cry and embrace him all at once, and she has to fight the urge, knowing that he can’t deal with any of that right now. This isn’t something that she can fix with a hug and a kind word, nor is it something that he’s going to move past overnight. This is the red in his ledger, and she wonders if there is anything either one of them can do to wipe it out.
She doesn’t know what to say to him, doesn’t know what to do, but then Clint starts talking again.
“Look, Nat, I appreciate that you’re trying to help.” He rubs his hand quickly over his eyes, pinches the bridge of his nose before continuing. “But this isn’t something I want to talk about right now, okay?”
She thinks about it, knows better than to leave it alone, knows that this is the kind of thing that will fester, will become a liability in the field. Equally, though, she knows that they’ve had a long fucking day, and pressing the issue right now won’t do either of them any good. So she’s willing to let it drop, to put it off for another day. But because she has to be able to trust her partner, she says, “Okay. We can do that. But you’ve got to work it out, Clint. If you don’t want to talk to me . . .”
He raises a hand to stop her. “I do. And I will.” He’s staring into her eyes as he says it, and she can see his capitulation there, coupled with his silent plea. “But, just, not right now. Please.”
She nods, sips at her tea, and then she changes the subject back to their more immediate problem. “I want to talk to our friend in the basement again before Thor gets back.”
“Think you’ll get anything out of him?”
Natasha shrugs. “Worth a shot. Unless you have a plan?”
He raises his eyebrows at that, and she can guess that his plan for Loki involves skydiving without a parachute.
Clint pushes his chair back and leans forward, resting his elbows on the counter. “I don’t understand what he had to gain from injecting us with those things. Us, you and me in particular. It’s a bit elaborate for revenge, don’t you think? And then attacking the city?”
Natasha doesn’t want to tell him about the subtext of her conversation with Loki, she wants to put the past behind them, wants to forget about Loki and aliens and nanobots, but the universe likes to conspire against her. She breathes in and out once, then again, takes another sip of her tea, and she gathers her courage.
“I think he views us as the ones who got away.”
Clint looks at her quizzically. “I don’t understand.”
“Today, when I went to see him . . . It’s kind of hard to describe.” She pauses, thinking about how to put it all into words. “He couldn’t stop staring at me.”
She levels her gaze at him before continuing, “And I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right, most men can’t.” Clint smiles at that, nods in rueful agreement. She wouldn’t be as good at her job if it weren’t true. “But this was different. It was like . . . like he thought of me as some kind of possession. Like he wanted to take me home and stick me in a bottle and preserve me for display.”
She shudders a little at the memory, takes another sip from her mug. “I’ve seen that look before, Clint, in Orsha.”
She only has to say the name of the town, and she knows he remembers. Remembers the shitty surveillance detail they’d been on, remembers the crappy Opel they drove out of Minsk on the way to Moscow and the way they’d made fun of SHIELD’s travel stipend while holding hands to prevent frostbite. She knows he remembers the ratty hotel they’d found in Orsha, and the seedy nightclub they’d gone to in search of their mark.
She remembers it too, the way she’d tried to infiltrate the mark’s ranks, but she’d ended up drugged, gagged, and thrown into the trunk of a car. She remembers the stink of unwashed human flesh in the tiny room she’d been locked in with sixteen other girls, none of them a day over 14. She remembers being lightheaded and half-dead from the drugs they kept injecting her with, a special cocktail cooked up by the man himself.
Though she doesn’t remember much from that room, just the smell really, the mark, Maslov, she remembers him with perfect clarity. Most of all, she remembers the way he looked at her when he opened the door and came at her with a meaty paw. The way he touched her, tore her clothing, a revolting, vile glint in his eye.
She also remembers cutting the man’s throat with a steak knife he’d stupidly left in his room after he ate, and she remembers the way the blood gushed over her hands and through her fingers as she cut, pressed with all of her might, and how good it felt to set his corpse on fire.
But the expression, the way he looked at her, secure in the knowledge that he could do whatever he wanted to her and she could do nothing to stop him, that look was the same. The sick desire, the cruel hope, the nauseating lust that permeated his gaze, that look would stick with her for the rest of her life. And that was the look that Loki had given her today.
“Jesus, Tash,” Clint hisses, and she’s glad that he’s here right now, glad that he was there then to pick up her pieces, and glad that he only needs a single word for explanation. He stands up, pushes his half drunk tea aside and walks around to where she’s leaning on the counter. She looks up and stares at him, unsure.
“I’m compromised, Clint.”
And there it is, the crux of it. She’s got too much riding on the outcome not to feel out of control. Loki has always managed to dredge that up in her, he’s always had her figured out, and it terrifies her. She knows now that he wants to own her, rather suspects that he wants Clint in the same position, and she’s not entirely certain that his capture isn’t all part of some bigger, loftier scheme.
Clint reaches out, touches her chin. “Stop that.”
“Stop what?” She asks, even though she knows. Sometimes it’s just nice to hear him say it.
“Thinking so hard. It’s been a long day for both of us, and tomorrow will be just as bad.” He takes her hand in his, pulls her into his side. “Let’s go to bed.”
It’s the best suggestion she’s heard all day.
They head back to Natasha’s bedroom, each lost in their own thoughts. He strips off his jeans as soon as he crosses the threshold, and then the lights are out and they climb into her bed as if they’ve done this a thousand times before, and Natasha thinks that perhaps they have.
Coming together is as natural as breathing, both of them seeking the comfort of the familiar after the emotional upheaval of the day. At first, they kiss slowly, without urgency, neither one of them needing this to go anywhere, and it’s pure bliss to just run her mouth over his, tasting him and breathing him in. Minute by minute, she feels herself grow warmer under his hands, more pliant beneath him, and she’s starting to ache deep inside.
It’s different, yet still the same, and she’s not worried right now about reality or her feelings or Loki, just how nice it is to have Clint pressed up against her in bed, running his hands over her body. Her hands are roving, too, moving up and down his sides, slipping under his t-shirt to feel his abdomen, crossing around his back to tug him in closer.
Before she knows it, she’s wet and burning for him, a slow flame kindled by his persistence. He breaks their kiss sloppily, dragging his lips over her jaw line before dropping down to her chest, and he sucks on one rigid nipple through the thin fabric of her tank top.
He shifts so that he’s lying on top of her, between her legs, and she sighs against him as he tugs the top of her shirt down, exposing her breasts to the cool air. He leans in again, kissing her peaks, and the temperature variance has her blood singing in her veins.
Without even meaning to, she breathes out his name, and it’s uncomfortably close to begging, but she can’t bring herself to care as Clint’s hand makes its way up her thigh and then into her shorts.
He looks at her, the faint light revealing a grin plastered across his face even as he lightly bites her nipple, and she is lost to the sight. He dips two fingers inside of her, and she can’t stifle the gasp that erupts out of her, touching off yet another grin and chuckle from her lover.
Clint removes his hands, tugs on the sides of her shorts, and she lifts her hips to help him shed the offending material. He tosses her panties over one shoulder, then presses his lips to her ankle, slowly working his way up her calf, her knee, her inner thigh until he’s laying flat on his stomach between her thighs and teasing her mound with featherlight touches of his lips.
She moans out something, she isn’t sure what, so mindless with want, but Clint understands, brings his mouth fully against her, swirls his tongue around her clit, and finds that spot, that special one, just there with his fingers.
It isn’t long before she’s grasping at her own breasts, squeezing and pinching herself to heighten her pleasure, and then he sucks hard on her clit and she convulses, thrusting her center against his face.
Natasha is happy that he took the edge off, but she still wants him, still needs to feel him inside of her, and he’s clearly very happy to oblige as he takes a moment to peel his own clothes off. She feels her arousal grow again as she watches him disrobe, and she can’t tear her eyes away from his cock, fully erect and glistening at the tip as he climbs back in between her legs.
He extends one hand to her uninjured cheek, brushes at something, and frowns a little, and it’s only then she realizes that her eyes are leaking. Clint doesn’t even need to ask aloud if she’s okay, just looks at her in that knowing way of his, but she nods and he understands, so he doesn’t stop.
He grasps himself firmly in one hand to guide himself into her, and she can feel herself stretching around him, accommodating his size as he slides into the hilt. He closes his eyes when he’s seated all the way inside of her, biting his lip, then he arches down over her and kisses her.
He picks that moment to start moving and it’s like the ground is shaking right along with them. Clint snakes his palm down between their bodies to rub lazy circles around her in time to his thrusts, and it isn’t long before she can feel herself winding up, tighter and tighter and she knows she’s just about there, so very close, and oh, god, he better not stop.
He groans her name against her lips, his voice strained with want and need and base lust, and it’s that particular combination of sounds, the way it reverberates inside of her as he breathes against her mouth that presages her fall over the edge of the abyss.
She comes without a semblance of her usual control, quaking and shouting and clawing at his back. She feels Clint break just after she does, pumping into her, intensifying her orgasm with his and she could spend her entire life doing this with him and never get tired of it.
She’s a bit agog at her own thoughts when she finally comes back to herself, wondering how she ended up here, an idiot, a child in love.
She puddles her head on his chest, drapes her arm possessively over Clint’s waist, and she looks up at him to find him staring down at her with all the same affection she feels for him in his eyes.
He touches her face again, and he’s got her breathless again without even trying, without even wanting to do anything about it.
“I love you,” he whispers, a terrified look in his eyes that makes her heart clench, and she knows exactly how he feels.
So she tells him.
“I love you, too.”
It’s stupid and it hurts and it’s going to compromise them, but they’ll worry about that later because for right now, it’s kind of wonderful, too.
Wherein our heroes go to Asgard.
Thanks, as ever, to Koren M and eiluned for looking this over and telling me how to make it not suck. I <3 you guys!
Thor returns from Asgard the next morning, magical handcuffs in tow.
“Greetings, friend!” Thor calls out when he comes upon Clint outside the interrogation room. “My brother has not given you further cause for alarm, I trust?”
Clint smiles at the big guy. “Hey, Thor.” Clint turns back to the one way glass. “No, he’s been the picture of helpfulness.”
“He has said little, then.” Thor stands next to Clint, unconsciously taking up the same brooding gesture, crossing his arms and glowering.
“Pretty much, yeah.”
Thor sighs, then says, “My father wishes to extend an invitation to you and Agent Romanov to visit our home in Asgard.”
Clint raises an eyebrow at that, genuinely surprised. “Really? For what?”
Thor looks saddened, chagrined even. “He wishes to formally apologize for my brother’s behavior. My father regrets that he was unable to keep my brother in check, and he hopes to make amends for his error, however inadequate such an apology may be.”
Clint understands it, even if he doesn’t quite comprehend. He’s been invited to a lot of places in his day, but another realm, another world? That would certainly be a first. “Let me talk to Natasha about it?”
Thor nods. “Of course, Clint.” He turns his attention back to Loki and Natasha. “Has she learned anything?”
“Nothing much, but she thinks it’s personal. That he was after us specifically, and the attack on New York was just for fun.” Clint shudders a little at the thought.
“It does sound like my brother.” Thor shakes his head ruefully. “He was not always like this. He was good and kind before he let the resentment take hold. Would that you had known him then, instead of under less . . . positive circumstances.”
When he first met Thor, first realized that the blond was his tormentor’s brother, Clint had wanted to hate the long haired god, wanted to blame him for turning Loki into the creature that took away Clint’s free will and killed his friend.
He finds now, though, that he cannot bring himself to hate this man. Thor is one of the most pure-hearted men he has ever had the fortune to meet, and he knows now that Loki’s twisted soul is a product of his own machinations, his own psyche, and Thor never knowingly participated in the torment.
“Well, big guy, we all have people in our family that turned out a little bit different than the rest,” Clint says because he knows exactly what it’s like to have a brother who doesn’t quite live up to your expectations.
“Thank you.,” Thor replies sympathetically. “I would like to talk to my brother now, before we transport him back to Asgard.”
“Can you send Tasha out?” Clint asks, and because Thor is kind, he does not ask Clint why he does not do it himself, just nods his assent. Clint knows he can do it himself, he does, he can, really, but the room with its cell is so very small and Loki will be so very close . . .
“Still nothing but creepy looks,” Natasha says, interrupting his contemplation.. “You notice anything I missed?” she asks, not because she expects that he did, but because she likes to be sure.
Clint shakes his head. “No, nothing. I’d sure like some answers from him, though.”
“At least we’ll get him off our hands now,” Natasha says, bracing her forearm on the glass and leaning against it. “Maybe the Asgardians can get him to open up. I wish I could be there when they get their hands on him.”
Clint rests his back on the glass beside her. “Well, actually, funny you say that. Odin’s invited us to Asgard.”
Natasha looks as shocked as he felt when Thor told him. “Asgard? Like, the other realm Asgard?”
Clint nods, chuckles in disbelief. “Yeah, I know.” He lets that bit of information sink in for a moment before adding, “What do you think?”
“Why does he want us there?” Natasha asks, immediately suspicious. Clint has never been happier to hear Natasha sounding like her old self again.
“Thor says his old man feels guilty about all the shit he’s put us through,” Clint summarizes, and Natasha raises an eyebrow at his word choice. “Well, I may have paraphrased a little. But I don’t think it could hurt.”
“So you want to do this? Go with him?” Natasha asks, hesitating.
Clint shrugs. “I don’t think it could hurt to have a few extra eyes on Loki when we move him,” he says.
Natasha smirks at that, touching the sidearm at her hip. “I’ve got a few ‘eyes’ to spare for him.”
Clint returns her smile. “Fair enough.” He pauses, weighing whether to add his other reasons.
Natasha is more perceptive than most, though, particularly when it comes to him, so she asks, “What aren’t you telling me?”
Clint raises his hands in mock outrage. “What? No, nothing.”
She just stares, crossing her arms. He shuffles under her scrutiny, feeling for all the world like a truant schoolboy.
“Out with it, Barton.”
“It’s Asgard, Nat! Another planet!” He gestures wildly as he finishes.
“And you want to play cosmonaut.”
He turns the full wattage of his smile on her. “Don’t you?”
Natasha turns her eyes upward, but she nods and he can see that she’s been won over, even if she doesn’t want to admit it. Instead, she says, “Maybe we can get some better answers out of our fine green garbed friend here if we try him on his home turf.”
He sobers a bit. Despite his excitement, this is a serious matter. “Do you really think they’re going to let us have a go?” In every prisoner exchange Clint’s taken part in, once the criminal was handed over, you also tended to lose your chance at further contact.
Natasha shrugs, knowing just how unlikely that is. “We can always ask nicely.”
He directs a glance over his shoulder where Thor is talking to his brother, though from the looks of things, talking at his brother is more accurate. Clearly, he’s having no more luck than they have.
Clint turns back to Natasha. “So,” he begins, drawing out the syllable. “What do you think we need to pack for a trip to another planet?”
The trip to Asgard is neither as spectacular nor as memorable as Clint thought it would be. In fact, it’s kind of anti-climactic. The bridge that Dr. Foster helped repair looks flashy from the outside, all glitz and flashing lights as it folds time and space, but for the passenger, the journey is over in an instant, almost before it even begins.
The first thing they see of the other realm is a strange, bronze colored chamber, the dome of which is covered in what looks like clockwork, and Clint is reminded of a Jules Verne book he read once long ago. The tall gatekeeper bids them welcome, allows them pass through the wide door onto a multicolored path, and Clint swears he hears the hint of growl as Loki passes by.
The path is long, and the colors shift unnervingly beneath his boots, but Clint marches on, focusing one eye on Loki and the other on the spectacular view unfolding in the distance. He can make out the towers of some great building, and the bright sunlight gleams off the tips of the golden spires.
He catches himself gasping when they turn one last corner on the bridge and the glory of Asgard is laid out before him.
It’s huge, bigger than anything he’s ever seen, bigger than his brain can really compute, and he wonders just how powerful these people are. He feels puny, mortal, insignificant standing in the shadow of the great palace, and he’s willing to bet that it isn’t just gold colored paint that covers every surface he can see. Thor chuckles, but keeps a firm grip on his brother’s shackles until they reach the palace itself, and if Natasha boggles at the sight of the godly residence, she hides it better than Clint does.
Thor hands Loki over to a quartet of fierce looking warriors, brutes that Clint would not care to mess with, silent, brooding beasts of men. Clint is still wondering if the guards can rightly be called men at all when Thor leads them on to his father.
If Clint were a lesser man, perhaps he would be intimidated by Odin, and the approach to the All Father is clearly designed to inspire awe. They are led down a long hall, though it may more properly be deemed a room, as the corridor is nearly as wide as it long, and every available surface is covered in gold or glass. Clint swears can feel the weight of infinity pressing down on him from the vaulted ceilings.
The throne room itself more than matches any he’s ever seen on Earth (which, honestly, is the oddest qualifier he’s ever had to use), and Odin, as it turns out, is both everything and nothing like he expected. He looks kinder than legend would have him believe, but there is a calm, restrained strength rippling underneath the impossibly ancient façade. The king peers down at them, the two mortals, from atop his throne, looking for all the world like a gold-plated Nick Fury, and Clint quells the sudden and inexplicable urge to giggle. He thinks he’s done a good job of hiding it, but Natasha, of course, notices, and she presses a sharp elbow into his ribs. He exchanges a barely perceptible shrug with her as Thor introduces them to his father.
“Greetings, humans of Midgard,” Odin booms from on high. “I bid you welcome to my abode. My son Thor speaks favorably of your exploits in the city of New York. I am honored to receive such noble warriors in my home.”
Clint isn’t sure what to say to a god when being welcomed, but luckily for him, Natasha handles it like a pro.
“It is we who are honored, All Father,” she says as she inclines her head, and Clint follows her lead. It seems best, given the situation. He listens carefully as Odin speaks with Thor and Natasha, but he doesn’t have much to add beyond the occasional nod of agreement. Natasha has always been better at handling the interpersonal side of things, and he is more than happy to let her shine.
The conversation is brief though, necessitated presumably by affairs of the state, and it isn’t long before he and Natasha are led off down another vast corridor by one of the guards, this one appearing strikingly similar to the quad who marched Loki away. Clint wonders idly if the guards are clones of some sort, or if he’s just really that bad at telling aliens apart.
The guard shows them to a suite of rooms, takes his leave with a promise to return in an hour to lead them to the feast in their honor. Or, at least, he thinks the guard means an hour when he tells them that he is giving them time to bathe and dress, but maybe on Asgard those things take longer. Maybe Clint’s not the best judge of such things anyway; if this were a mission, the two of them could be ready to go in twenty minutes.
The first thing he notices when he enters the room is that Natasha is not shown to separate quarters. Once, the assumption that they were together, a couple, would have rubbed him the wrong way. They were professionals, dammit, not a pair of codependent lovebirds. But, really, it doesn’t matter, not now, not here, and he feels better in this strange place with Natasha at his side.
“So,” he says, looking around the front room of the spacious suite, prodding everything in sight. “Do you think we’re going to get the chance to talk to Loki again?”
Natasha scoffs. “I have a feeling that our dear All Father prefers control too much for that.” She says his title with sarcasm, but he can tell that she’s just as off put by the situation as he is.
“Maybe if we talk to Thor.”
“Perhaps,” she agrees. Natasha heads back to the door, scrutinizes the locking mechanism. She turns a few dials, sighing happily when the tumblers snap into place. She tests the door, turning the handle with a firm tug, but it doesn’t open. “That’s better,” she says, satisfied.
Still exploring their surroundings, they wander into the adjoining room to find a large, sumptuously furnished bedroom. Clint’s already getting ideas about breaking in the bed if he gets the chance, and he directs a leer at Natasha when he catches her eye.
She rolls her eyes at his look, but he can tell that she’s interested. She stretches, arching her back and grimacing. “We have got to find the bathroom. I need to get clean. I feel . . . dusty.”
He’s noticed it, too, the strange feeling that appeared as soon as they set foot on Asgard. It really does feel like he’s covered in a thin layer of dust, like it’s clinging to every surface of his body from head to toe, even underneath his clothes. Not for the first time, he wonders how Dr. Foster’s Einstein-Rosen bridge really works.
“Let’s go figure out if they have running water,” Clint says and leads the way into the ensuite, letting out a low whistle when he sees the accommodations. He expected it to be nice, of course, but this was . . . something else. Even Natasha looks vaguely impressed by the marble and gold covering every surface.
She isn’t daunted though, and she saunters over to the small pool masquerading as a bath tub, peeling off her shirt as she goes. Her hair is up off her neck today, and he’s immediately distracted by the curve of her shoulders and the play of light on the muscles of her back. He walks up behind her as she bends over to scrutinize the controls, puts his hands on her hips and drags her back against him.
She whips her head around, and there’s a dangerous glint in her eyes. He would have an easier time believing it if her glower weren’t accompanied by a gasp and a wriggle of her hips, brushing against his rapidly growing hardness.
“You’re making it difficult for me to figure out the magic bathtub, Clint,” she growls, and because he wants to clean off at least half as much as he wants to be inside of her, he busies himself with disrobing instead, keeping his own gaze firmly fixed on her derriere as it sways back and forth in time to her motions.
“Hah!” she cheers, victorious. “Got it!” The tub is filling quicker than anything of its kind would at home, and he wonders if he can convince Thor to give Tony the specs for these things.
“You’re a genius, babe,” Clint grins, sliding his jeans down and stepping out of them.
“What have I told you about the pet names?” There’s no bite to her tone, though, just a quirk of her lips.
He beams at her. “Never in public?”
Natasha snickers and rolls her eyes, then gets to work on her own clothes, undoing her belt and working the fastenings on her jeans. She’s staring at him, raking her gaze up and down his bared body, and though he’s still in his underwear, there’s no way she’s missed his interest in her nudity.
She’s standing in just her bra and panties when she reaches up behind her, doing some unfathomably complex feminine motion to undo the catch of her bra, and his mouth dries out as she slips the straps slowly down her arms, one at a time, teasingly leaving the cups for last.
He licks his lips, dry mouthed at the sight. And because he must have been hit over the head once too often, he asks, “You . . . you sure we should be doing this here?”
Natasha slides her fingers along the edge of her panties and says the greatest four words he’s heard all day. “I locked the door.”
He can’t stand just watching her any longer, so he moves toward her, invading her space. From this distance, he can see that she is just as interested as he is; her pupils are dilated and her nipples are puckered, even though the room is warm.
“See something you like, Romanov?” He puts a hand out, splays his fingers across her stomach, then glides upward slowly, coming to rest over her racing heart.
“Possibly,” she says coyly, licking her lips. She reaches for him, too, plays with waistband of his boxer briefs. “I think you’re a bit overdressed for the occasion.”
He quirks his lips. “I could say the same about you.”
“You’ll have to fix that, then.”
He trails his hand down to her waist, grabs the edge of her panties, then slowly pulls them down over her hips. He crouches low on the floor to help her step out of them and tosses the scrap of fabric over his shoulder when he’s done.
She’s beautiful from this angle, standing over him, powerful and pale, her hair a shock of red next to the expanse of bared skin. At this moment, he wants nothing more than to watch her come, watch her fall apart around him. He wants to make her scream.
Clint supposes he should be more surprised by this reaction, that she can elicit such a primal response in him even without the assistance of alien drugs, but he’s not surprised, not at all. He’d be more surprised, in fact, were he not interested in making her come apart at the seams.
“Fuck, Natasha,” he says, gripping her thighs and tugging on her resisting hips. “You smell so good.”
She raises an eyebrow, but he can tell she’s pleased, and then she spreads her legs a little, lets him slide a hand in between her thighs. He runs the rough pads of his fingers along her slit, dipping inside her briefly to test her wetness, and she hisses her pleasure at him. Tentatively, he leans in, presses his mouth to her mound, and he stretches out his tongue to taste her. She’s aroused and unbalanced, and he can feel her legs quake, but she grabs his shoulders and leans into him.
Then, abruptly, just when her shivers are starting to change into something else, she breaks away, takes two steps back, leaving him bereft. She steps one foot neatly over the edge of the tub, then the other, sinking down into the water and removing herself from his view. Still thunderstruck, all he can do is stare at her perfect body as she slides away from him. And then she lifts one hand up out of the water and crooks a finger, beckoning him toward her.
He stands, so keenly aroused and cloudy headed that he forgets he’s still in his jockey shorts. He’s halfway into the tub himself before he notices the expression on Natasha’s face, the particular way she holds her eyebrows that means, “Aren’t you forgetting something?”, and he looks down, sheepish.
“Right,” he says, feeling like a teenager again, clumsy in his own skin. She’s always done this to him, made him overeager and reckless, and he’s not really surprised that she’s capable of it even now.
He starts to strip off the shorts, but she stops him with a hand. “Wait,” she says, and he looks at her quizzically. “Turn around first. I want to watch you bend over.”
Well, shit, okay. If that’s how she wants to play it. He knows he’s got a cocky grin plastered on his face as he turns around, but he doesn’t care. He appreciates looking at her, her curves, the cords of muscle that ripple under her skin as she moves, and it’s gratifying on the rare occasion that she lets him know that she likes the view as much as he does.
He tries not to be too silly about it as he turns around, tries to keep it straight forward, but knowing that she’s watching has him hard as steel, and he’s already proven that he does stupid things when he’s aroused. He grabs the elastic waistband of his briefs, tugs them slowly over the swell of his ass, and he looks over his shoulder back at Natasha, needing to see her reaction.
She’s leaning back on the far side of the tub, eyes fastened on his lower extremities, and she’s breathing hard. He slips the fabric lower, and one of her hands shoots up out of the water to cup her breast, and he watches as she flicks one nipple lightly with a nail before rolling it between her fingers. He starts to bend then, dragging the fabric lower on his body, and he can tell her other hand is working between her legs from the way the water sloshes around her.
His shorts in a puddle in front of him, he starts to stand, wants to join her in the bath, but she calls out, breathless and choked. “No, stay like that. Please.” And because he can’t deny her anything, especially when she uses that voice, he does, and fuck it if he’s not so aroused that he might just come here and now, without even a touch from her.
She’s moaning like something out of a porno behind him, and he wants to turn around, wants to jump on her, wants to fuck those moans right out of her, but he doesn’t. He just waits, bent over in front of her, relying on his years of practice as a sniper to control his libido.
At last, she gasps, a strangled sob that echoes on the marble, and that’s when he turns at last and takes the two strides to the tub, sliding in next to her as she rides out her orgasm. When he wraps one arm around her, she reaches up and kisses him, sucking hard on his bottom lip, and then she murmurs, “You have the greatest ass, Barton.”
He laughs and kisses her again, brings her up to her knees with him. “Can I fuck you?” He asks because this isn’t going to be gentle or slow, and he watches the arousal blaze back up behind her eyes, and she nods rapidly.
“Yes, please,” she whimpers, and it’s nearly his undoing.
“Grab hold of the edge,” he commands, and she quickly obeys, bending over now for him, and she shakes her ass invitingly.
Never one to disappoint, he grabs his cock and guides himself into her, thrusting all the way to the hilt. She’s still relaxed from her first orgasm, so he goes in easily and his balls make a satisfying thump against her. He holds on to her hips as he begins to move, sliding in and out of her with thoughts of puppies and ice cream dancing through his head as he tries to restrain himself from coming too quickly. He wants, no, he needs to feel her come, needs to feel her clench around him, needs to feel her grip him as he reaches orgasm.
Clint reaches down around her, folding himself low over her back, and he uses one hand to massage her breasts while the other stimulates her lower down. She’s actually hard against his fingers, her clit perked up with increased blood flow, and his good intentions start to slip out the window as he realizes how aroused she is.
“Harder, Clint,” she groans, and he leans back up and places one hand on the curve of her back as he fucks her.
“Shit,” she says, frustration thick in her voice. “I can’t . . .”
He stops himself instantly, ignoring the urges of his pelvis. “What’s wrong?”
“My knees . . .” is all she can manage to grind out, but he understands. His own are starting to bother him too. Expensive as it may be, marble is not exactly easy on the human body. He withdraws from her, shifting until he’s sitting with his legs stretched out in front of him, and he pulls Natasha with him. She slides backward to close the distance, not bothering to turn around, scooting back on his thighs until she’s hovering over his hardness.
She cranes her neck and looks down on him. “Is this okay?”
“Oh, yeah, baby. This is just fine.”
And then she sinks down on him with a throaty grunt, resting her weight on his thighs rather than her knees, and fuck it if everything isn’t right with his world, no matter that they’re 50 billion miles or whatever from Earth.
He reaches around her, his hands finding her breasts, and she starts keening his name deep in the back of her throat, and finally, fuck, yes, finally, he can feel her start to tighten up. Knowing that she isn’t going to last much longer, he lets loose, his hands dropping back on her hips to facilitate her motions up and down on his shaft, helping her ride him for all that he’s worth. She clutches at his lower thighs even as she starts to clamp around him, and he focuses on the feel of her in his arms, the rocking of the water around them, the filthy way her voice is echoing around the room, and just as she slips over the edge, he’s there, too. They come together, shattering into a million pieces, and it’s even better than he imagined when she told him to bend over because he’s buried deep inside of her, inside of the one person who’s really gets him, the one person he doesn’t mind seeing him trip over his own goddamned underwear, and she feels so fucking good and tight as she comes, drawing his own orgasm out for longer than he thought possible.
She droops back against him, twists her face into his neck, and he hugs her to him, wrapping his arms around her waist. Even though it’s a bit of a strain, he adjusts his face so he can look down at her, revel in the way she’s so completely relaxed against him, eyes shut and smiling.
At last, without bothering to open her eyes, she says, “We need to get cleaned up.”
He knows she’s right, but he doesn’t want to move. “Can we stay like this for just, maybe, one more minute?”
She nods her agreement, and they do, letting the water soothe them. And when they finally do part, it’s with smiles and quiet laughter, and he kisses her and caresses her as they wash up, just happy to be in her presence.
A feast in Asgard.
Thanks to eiluned and Koren M for the beta! You guys have improved my writing so much! Thank you! Any mistakes, however, are my own.
As ever, I LOVE hearing what you guys think!
When they finally come out of the bathroom, she feels strangely relaxed for being on another planet in a castle inhabited by gods. The hot water worked out the kinks in her body that the sex didn’t, and she’s already decided that she’s going to allow herself to feel the happiness that bubbles up inside of her whenever Clint gives her a few orgasms.
That doesn’t mean, however, that she’s suddenly going to be another person, so when the knock comes to the door, she pulls one of her pistols out of her bag and aims it toward the sound. She tosses a second gun to Clint, who catches it neatly and tugs the towel tighter around his hips. They walk out into the front room of the suite, and then, holding his gun out of the line of sight, Clint unlocks and cracks the door open.
“Hi,” he says, but his voice isn’t tense nor is his posture stiff. She takes this as a sign that she can relax her aim, too, but she doesn’t put her weapon down just yet.
She can’t see who’s at the door from here, and she doesn’t catch all of the conversation, but after a minute, Clint nods his thanks to their visitor, closes the door, and brings a package into the room.
“They sent us clothes,” he says, humor writ all over his face. “Apparently, someone thought we didn’t know how to get dressed up for a feast.”
“You were just going to wear jeans,” Natasha says without emotion.
Clint shrugs. “So?”
She expresses her exasperation in Russian, the easy kind that she knows he understands, then places her gun on an overly ornate side table. Somewhere in the back of her mind she wonders if they got the fancy suite or the one they let out to the guests they don’t really trust around the silver.
Clint isn’t fazed by her reaction, knows there’s no bite it, and he puts the package down to open it.
“So what did they give us?” she asked, not really sure what to expect.
He digs out several lengths of cloth, and it’s only through careful inspection that they figure out who is supposed to wear what. The fabrics themselves are beautiful, lush, and they don’t feel quite like anything Natasha has ever worn before. Her dress glides through her fingers like silk, yet it is too heavy, too thick to be the same fiber that she knows.
When they determine that the tunic, leggings, and cloak are for him and the well trimmed gown with its matching bodice are hers, things go a little quicker. Clint’s outfit is easy enough for him to put on, but he has to help her into hers; she can’t quite reach all the fastenings on the back of her bodice. He skims his hands along her spine and across her shoulders when he finishes lacing her up, then brushes her hair aside to drop a kiss on her neck.
“You look lovely, Nat,” he says, her heart clenching a little at the roughness in his voice.
She looks over her shoulder at him, catching the gleam in his eyes and feeling it all the way in her toes. “Stop that. We have a feast to go to.”
Clint grins and grabs her around the waist, holding her to him as she starts to move away. “We’re the guests of honor! I’m sure we can be a little late,” he whispers. She twists in his grip, intending to break his hold and push away from him, but he’s leaning in to her and he’s so very close and maybe he’s right . . .
She’s still kissing him, tugging his collar and starting to squirm when they are interrupted, again, by a knock at the door. She groans against his mouth in frustration, but they break apart. Clint goes for the door, grabbing his pistol on the way.
It’s the guard who led them to the rooms, and he’s ready to lead them down to the main hall for the feast. Natasha gives herself a quick once over in the mirror, and after tucking just one more knife on her person, they’re on their way.
She didn’t think she would be, but she’s surprised when they are led into the banqueting room. She was expecting a lavish hall, resplendent with gold and velvet, which it is, but it’s much smaller than she thought it would be, more intimate and personal.
But if the room is not what she was expecting, the spread laid out before them is. The sumptuousness is simply unfathomable, and the little girl that lives inside of her, the one who used to spend her days on nothing more than a crust of bread, cannot believe the sight. The tables are filled with all kinds of delights, from the vaguely recognizable to the slightly disturbing, and the faces crowded around them are just as finely dressed as she and Clint are. Simply put, it is astounding, and she can finally see how Thor would find Stark Tower relaxing in comparison.
Their long-haired teammate greets them with a grin, raising his flagon when he sees them. “Greetings, friends!” He motions widely with one hand. “Please, come this way!”
They are led down the center aisle between the tables, to the end of the hall where Odin and a woman who must be his wife preside with their son at their side. Thor stands as Clint and Natasha approach, dismissing their escort with a nod.
“I trust you found the facilities to your liking, my friends?” Thor asks courteously.
Natasha knows this isn’t Clint’s thing; he can speak in public if he has to, but he prefers to deal with the world at a distance and let her be the interpersonal liaison. So, just as on their missions, she takes the lead.
“Yes, of course. Everything is lovely,” she says, meaning every word. “And thank you for the clothes. We didn’t have appropriate attire for such a feast.” She thinks about the dress she had packed, black and made from about a tenth of the fabric she was currently wearing, and she represses a shudder about showing up here in it.
“You have my mother to thank for that,” Thor replies, nodding toward the aged woman sitting next to him. “Have you met my Lady Mother Frigga?”
She supposes by this point in her life, after Helicarriers and the Chitauri and interstellar travel, she should stop being surprised by things, but she’d read up on Norse mythology after she met Thor, and well, it’s really, really cool to meet actual gods.
Boy, would Clint just love to hear her say that.
Thor introduces them to his mother, and again to his father. The power before is undeniable, equally so the restraint, and she hopes to have a grain of that reserve when she is their age. Well, at the age they appear. Natasha is under no illusions that Odin and Frigga have anything approaching a normal lifespan.
They are shown to seats on the dais, but it is clear that they are not really intended to sit in them for long. Most of the other guests, courtiers and the like, Natasha supposes, get up and mingle shortly after the first glass of wine is served, and she watches as the partygoers form fleeting, temporary groups by the walls and around corners of the tables. The mood is more jovial than she expected; the atmosphere is relaxed when she assumed there would be polite tension, and she finds that she likes this surprise.
She spies another woman across the room, eating and drinking with three men who are recounting a story loudly enough that Natasha can hear most of it. The dark-haired woman looks up, as if sensing Natasha’s eyes on her, and then beckons her over with a smile.
Natasha is interested in this woman who is not dressed like the others, who surrounds herself with warriors, so she nudges Clint, tells him where she’s headed, then makes her way across the room.
“Hello,” the woman says, pulling a chair out for her. “You must be the Warrior Natasha I have heard Thor tell of. I am the Warrior Sif.”
Natasha smiles as she sits. She already likes her.
Clint is happy to see that Natasha has found someone she gets along with here; they’d certainly not expected to do much talking to anyone, not expected any of this, but here they were, and it was good to see that she was making the best of it. From where he sat, it even appeared to be genuine, the enjoyment writ large on her features, and he leaned over to Thor to find out more about the woman she was speaking to.
“Ah, I had hoped the two would meet. That is the Lady Sif,” Thor says, a hint of pride in his voice. “Lady Natasha shares many characteristics with her, least of which her immense bravery and fortitude in battle.”
Clint nods, understanding why Natasha would be drawn to such a person, and he hopes that she will tell him more about the discussion later.
He’s starting to feel awkward here, trying to make conversation with people who are so different from him. He manages back home, back on Earth, but here, the people around him are actual gods, and even though it isn’t quite intimidation that he’s feeling right now, it is something closely akin to it. He doesn’t have any commonalities with these people, and his natural reticence is only exacerbated by that fact.
Even Thor’s attention is gone now, focused on friends who have gathered around him, and Clint feels so very, very alone until he feels the gaze of Odin, the All Father himself fall upon him. The god lifts his hand, gestures to invite him closer.
“My son tells me that you have fought bravely by his side on many occasions.”
Clint isn’t so sure about that. He’s usually relegated to the high ground, picking off foes from a distance, which isn’t exactly side by side. “Well, we’ve seen a few battles, sure.”
“Nonsense. Thor, though unstinting with his praise, does not offer it unless warranted. You are to be commended for your valor.” Odin raises his glass in a toast, and Clint has no choice but the drink with him. He’s already starting to feel a light headed from the little bit of the mead he’s drunk; apparently it’s stronger here than it is back home. He’s going to have to be careful with how much he has tonight if he doesn’t want to make a complete ass of himself.
“Thanks,” Clint says as he sips lightly.
Odin, on the other hand, drinks deeply, obviously not affected by the strength of the honey wine. “I hope you will forgive me this indelicacy, but I am old, and I do not like to mince words.
“I am sorry for the suffering that my son Loki has caused you, both in the past and more recently. I should have done a better job at reining him in, at keeping my eye on him, and I deeply regret that my failure has caused you pain.”
Clint is taken aback at how forthright the god is; he’d rather expected that there would be no actual apology, not one in words anyway. He’d assumed that this meal, if one could call such lavishness a meal, was Odin’s apology.
“It wasn’t your fault,” Clint says, believing it. And it wasn’t, not really, not in the way that counted. He’s learned from Thor that Loki always felt slighted by this man, felt like he was second best in his father’s heart, but that wasn’t an excuse for what happened in New York long ago, and it wasn’t an excuse for injecting him and Natasha with nanobots. Loki did that all on his own.
“I thank you for your forebearance nonetheless. Know that you and your teammates, both here and on Midgard may call upon me for aid in the future, and if it is in my power to grant it, I shall assist.” Odin drains the content of his goblet in one swallow then, and Clint assumes the conversation is over until he speaks again. “I understand that you have questions.”
Clint laughs at that, and Odin almost looks surprised. “Yeah, you could say that I do, sir.”
“Then, by all means, please, ask,” Odin says kindly.
“Well, uh, I guess all I want to know,” Clint shoots a glance down toward Natasha, “All either of us want to know is why any of this happened.”
“Indeed. Then we are much alike.” Odin nods thoughtfully. “The mind of my second son is a maze. We intend to question him tomorrow. You and your companion may be present at the proceedings, should you wish it.”
Clint doesn’t even hesitate, “Yes, we’d like that. Thank you.”
“Very well. I shall send an escort in the morning.” Odin looks down the table where Thor is laughing with his friend. “I do not know what more we will learn, however. My son has told me that the Lady Natasha is unparalleled in obtaining information.”
“She really is.” Clint doesn’t fight the surge of admiration and pride welling up in him, even lets out a toothy grin. Then, sensing his opening, he asks what he knows Natasha would. “If it’s all right with you, she wants to try again. Questioning him, I mean.”
Odin raises his eyebrow as he considers the request, and Clint is struck once more with how much the god reminds him of Fury. At last, the old man nods his agreement. “This is amenable. Perhaps my son will be more forthcoming in my presence.”
“I have a hard time believing that anyone wouldn’t be, sir,” Clint replies, taking another sip from his cup. It’s surprisingly quaffable for something that must be at least hundred proof.
The All Father laughs, a great booming thing that draws the attention of much of the room, and Clint shares a quick grin and a shrug with Natasha from across the room. Who knew he was so hilarious?
When Odin gathers himself and speaks, he does so in a perfectly matter of fact tone. “All creatures behave differently in my presence! It is one of my many gifts.”
Clint cocks his head at that, interested. “Really?”
“Even you, young warrior.”
He hasn’t been called young in a very long time, isn’t really sure he deserves the adjective anymore, but he supposes he’ll take it where he can get it. He starts to wonder though, if and how he’s been acting differently since arriving in Asgard.
Now that Odin mentions it, it was rather odd for them to screw in the bathtub earlier; they were in unfamiliar territory with fewer weapons than they would like, and very little backup (if, indeed, Thor could be called little). And then after they had dressed, when they were kissing and debating being late, it had been difficult to pull away from her embrace. The feeling had been familiar . . .
“Sir?” Clint asks, fighting a quiver in his voice. Odin looks down at him. “Thor told you about the drug Loki gave us? The one he injected us with?”
“Ah, yes. It is a common enough elixir here, though I have heard tell your people have nothing quite like it, despite your many advances since my last visit.”
Clint clears his throat, not really interested in all the additional information, but trying to be polite nonetheless. “Yeah, well, could it be . . . reactivated?”
“The elixir is quite potent, as I’m sure you noticed,” Odin levels a disconcertingly perceptive look at him. “And yes, I believe it could be ‘reactivated’, as you say. In fact, I have been told that it reacts very powerfully when in proximity to my person.”
Cue the sexy times!
Thanks to eiluned and Koren M for helping me with this chapter! You guys are the best. And readers, if you haven't checked out their stuff - GO NOW! They're awesome!
This is the SECOND chapter I posted today, so if you feel like you've missed something, make sure to look back a chapter :-)
Enjoy! And feedback is always appreciated :-)
She’s feeling entirely too drunk for what she’s had tonight, especially on top of the food Volstagg insisted she try. He wasn’t wrong, everything was delicious, but there were only so many things she could fit in her stomach.
She’s surprised to realize that she’s had a good time here, that she actually liked Thor’s companions. Admittedly, some of that was due to the tales of Thor’s adolescence that they shared with her, and Natasha couldn’t wait to see Clint’ reaction to the stories. Schadenfreude aside, she rather likes Asgard now that she’s gotten past the pomp and circumstance of first impressions. Moreover, she’s glad that she took the initiative to speak with these . . . idiosyncratic companions of Thor’s.
She almost didn’t let herself, though, when she saw Clint struggling awkwardly to make conversation at the head table. She knew he wouldn’t leave the feast; his manners were too good for that, but he looked so keenly uncomfortable that she nearly went to him. But then Odin struck up a conversation with him, and Clint seemed engrossed in whatever they were talking about.
Now, though, she feels the warm wooziness of alcohol flowing through her system, a wooziness that she isn’t used to feeling – she always cuts herself off before she loses this much control. Slipping her hand through her overdress, she grips one of her guns for comfort.
“Are you quite well?” Sif leans over toward her while her male compatriots continue to laugh riotously about some recent escapade of theirs.
Natasha forces herself to relax, on the outside, at least. She trusts these people, well, as much as she trusts anyone, but her unexpected altered state is making her nervous, and she wants Clint.
Because she feels safe around him.
Fuck it all if that realization isn’t also making her uncomfortable. And here she thought her hormones were going to stop return to normal once the sex drugs were out of her system. Apparently not.
She looks at Sif, who is still awaiting a response. “I’m just tired,” Natasha demurs. “It’s been a long day.”
The dark-haired woman nods at her, and even though Natasha can detect a hint of skepticism, she says, “Do you wish for me to lead you back to your rooms?”
Natasha comes to her feet, steadying herself from the threatening wobble. “No, but thank you. I need to get back to Clint.” She extends her right hand to Sif, intending to shake hands, but she is surprised when the other woman stands and clasps Natasha at the elbow.
“It was good to speak with you, Warrior. I hope that we may have another chance at it someday.” Their eyes meet, and Natasha sees a respect there that she returns.
“You as well,” she replies sincerely, and with a shouted “Goodbye!” to the Warriors Three, she turns and looks for Clint.
She finds him standing quietly in a corner, sipping from his goblet, and she can tell that something is bothering him.
“What’s wrong?” she asks without preamble, turning to lean against the wall beside him.
Clint breathes out harshly, eyes wary. “Odin and I had a little chat.”
He smiles at her, and she remembers the glances they shared, and warmth pools in the pit of her stomach. She wants to blame the alcohol, but really, by now she knows better.
“What did he say? Did you ask if I could talk with Loki?”
“What?” he looks baffled for a minute, as if he weren’t expecting her question. “Oh! Yeah, yes. He’s agreed to it. Someone will take us down to wherever they’re holding him in the morning.”
“Sounds good. So what’s bugging you, then?”
“Have you . . .” he begins. “Have you felt . . . weird since you’ve been here?”
“You mean more than I should from being light years from Earth? Because I’m pretty sure that whatever is in those cups isn’t mead - I’m feeling pretty tipsy.” Relaxed, too, she has to admit, now that she’s standing near Clint, and the drunkenness doesn’t feel quite as terrifying anymore.
“I noticed that, too. No wonder Thor can drink us all under the table.”
“Super soldiers don’t count, Nat.” He pauses, continues to give that heart wrenching grin of his. “But yeah, different than that. Like, Loki’s sex drug weird.”
She thinks about it for a moment, but only for a moment because that’s all it takes to realize that she has been acting out of character. Her thoughts and her actions are far from normal, and now that she actually stops to consider it, it was really idiotic of her to trust a door lock to keep people out of the bathroom when she was with Clint earlier. Her gun hadn’t even been in the same room, for Christ’s sake!
“Yes. You could say I’ve been feeling . . . off.”
He looks grim. “I was afraid of that. Apparently, being in Asgard has reactivated the remnants of the drug.”
“So, all that back in the room . . .?”
“Yep.” He takes another swig of his drink.
Natasha shrugs. “Well, we know how to handle it. We’ve done it before.” He looks at her with base interest, and she rolls her eyes at him. “Not what I meant, Barton,” she says, but she’s grinning now, and she knows they aren’t going to last long when they finally make it back to their rooms. She was already feeling pretty aroused from the kiss earlier and even knowing the reason for it doesn’t dispel the notion that she wants to tear his clothes off and lick every inch of his body.
From the looks of him, Clint must be feeling the same way. He tosses back the rest of his drink and places the empty cup on a nearby table. “You want to get out of here?”
“Thought you’d never ask.”
They find a guard and make it back to the room with a surprising amount of decorum for two drunk people who can think about nothing other than getting their partner naked. Natasha is actually feeling pretty proud of herself until Clint loses his ability to control himself and pinches her ass. She’d like to think that the guard doesn’t notice, but his slightly widened eyes as he wishes them good night tell a different story.
As soon as they’ve made it in the door, Natasha locks it, and then he’s on her, shoving her against the door and running his tongue along the roof of her mouth. It’s inelegant, to be sure, and not something that she would even really like on a normal day, but she’s drunk or high, maybe both, and she’s really horny. It doesn’t hurt that he tastes incredible.
“Jesus, Clint, I need you to fuck me,” she manages to get out in between frantic kisses, and this would really be so much easier had she been able to wear her own clothes. She feels like she’s swimming in the yards of fabric, cut off from the sensation she desperately craves.
He’s thrusting against her, but it isn’t enough, she wants him in her, now, minutes ago if she’s being honest, and the mere thought of it has her moaning between him and the door. He chuckles wickedly and kisses his way down her throat, grabbing at her breasts through the thickness of her bodice and whispering her name roughly, a cross between a curse and a prayer.
She knows exactly how he feels.
She works the fastenings of his cloak, stripping it off him so that it pools by his feet, but there is still so much fucking cloth between him and her, and she’s squirming for him, aching. She makes a frustrated noise, and he chuckles at her.
“That bad, baby?” he asks, nipping at the flesh of her décolletage. Some part of her, a little part in the very back of her mind, registers that he’s done it again, knows that he’s calling her one of his stupid pet names again, but that part is kicked into submission by the rest of her because all those nicknames have been doing lately is making her wet. And curse the man anyway because he fucking knows it, the way he’s grinning at her response and says, “What do you want me to do about it, sweetheart?”
She bites her lip, breathing hard through her nose, and she can scarcely keep a complete thought in her head much less articulate requests. It’s not a problem for Clint, and he takes matters into his own hands.
“Maybe this?” he asks, dragging one of his hands away from her breasts to press against the juncture of her thighs. She shakes her head. It isn’t enough.
“This then?” He hitches up her skirts in the front, gently teasing her thighs before pulling one of her legs up around his hip. He thrusts against her, and it’s closer to what she craves, but nevertheless, it falls short.
She sobs his name, too far gone for the teasing, and he must see it because he kisses her, whispers, “I want to be in you, Nat.”
She nods vigorously, mindlessly, gasping when he steps away, feeling the loss of contact acutely. She manages a strangled, “No!” in protest, but all it does is elicit another depraved chuckle from him as he pulls off his tunic. She knows she sounds stupid, and maybe she would feel that way, too, but she’s with Clint and there really isn’t anything she could do to truly embarrass herself in front of him.
He’s bare from the waist up now, and she knows she should let him concentrate on removing the rest, but she can’t resist reaching out a greedy hand to touch him, to caress the smooth muscles of his chest, his abdomen, his sides. She can see the outline of his rigid cock underneath the leggings he can’t seem to unfasten, and dammit, he needs to hurry up.
At long last he’s free, his penis bobbing enticingly in front of him, so she lowers her hand to cup him even as he steps closer to her, nuzzles her neck and groans.
“I love it when you touch me,” he mutters into her throat, and then he’s all business, pulling her skirts back up and dragging her legs around his lips. It feels like she’s climbing him, maybe she is, and then he tilts her hips just so, pressing her firmly into the door frame for balance. She takes one of her hands from his shoulders to guide him into her, and then finally, yes, finally, he’s inside of her and she feels full and whole and everything is right.
It’s an athletic position, and she knows that they can’t manage it for long, but that’s all right because she was close before he ever entered her, and with the addition of the pad of his thumb making frantic circles around her clit, she’s pushed over the edge. She cries out, not giving a single fuck who hears, and her brain shorts out to the point that the only way she figures out that he came too is the trickle of semen that runs down her leg.
He kisses her then, dropping her back to her feet, and she can still taste the arousal there, behind the backs of her eyes and in the base of her spine, just like it was when they were first injected with this crazy shit.
“You’re perfect,” he says, face so close to hers that his eyes cross a little. She giggles, which turns into laughter as he mock pouts at her, but then he kisses her again and she falls into him, running her tongue along his, nipping his lips, and enjoying the way his body feels against her.
“I think I’m overdressed,” she says when they come up for air, feeling silly to be so completely clothed when he’s just got his pants around his ankles.
“Bedroom?” he suggests as he toes off his shoes. She glides off in that direction while he rids himself of his pants, and if she didn’t know already that sex made him giddy and nonsensical it might have been more of a surprise when he grabs her from behind and carries her the rest of the way to the bed. She even finds herself playing along, giggling and pretending to struggle against him because she’s wearing a fucking bodice and they’re in a castle on another planet and why the hell not?
He tosses her down on the bed and she bounces a little before coming to a stop, then she flops backward.
“Oh,” she moans, sinking down into the plush opulence. It feels like she’s floating on a cloud. “This bed is divine.” She’s so far gone that she doesn’t even care that she’s made a pun, when normally she’s more careful about that kind of thing. She doesn’t want to encourage him, after all. “You need to get over here,” she purrs.
Clint doesn’t climb into bed, not right away, but stands with his legs up against the edge instead. “Let’s get you out of all this first,” he says, hands on her hips.
She frowns, but flips over anyway because, well, for her, sex with Clint is always going to win out over sleep. The bodice loosens bit by bit as he undoes the fastenings, and when he’s got it fully opened, he starts on the dress below. He presses his lips against her spine as he reveals the flesh below the garment, and she shivers each time he touches her. He’s moving slowly now, taking his time with her, but she can feel the steady thrum of anticipation that always accompanies his proximity, and she knows that it won’t be long until he’s ready for her again.
He nudges her side, silently urging her to turn over, and she complies, pulling her arms out of the dress sleeves before laying back again. She raises her hips so he can pull the rest of the gown away, taking special care with each of her weapons as he uncovers them. After tugging off her boots, she’s finally just as naked as he is, and it’s only then that he climbs into the bed, sliding in beside her as he holds her gaze.
“I’m sorry,” he says, and for the life of her she has no idea what he’s talking about because everything seems pretty great from her perspective, but then he adds, “I wouldn’t have taken us here if I’d known it would do this.”
“You mean reactivate the drug?”
She reaches up to touch his cheek. “You didn’t know. Right?”
The guilt in his eyes is as touching as it is painful. “No, but . . .”
She shakes her head. “No buts. I’ve regretted so many things in my life, Clint, and I know you have, too. Can we just agree to . . . not? Not regret or over think or worry about it because I am too tired for that.”
“Yeah,” he murmurs, no longer meeting her eyes, and she knows he’s listening, but he’s not really taking in what she’s saying. It’s kind of a revelation for her, too, though, so she can’t really blame him for that. Maybe it’s the resurgence of the drug or just the good liquor, but she isn’t mad about the situation like she was before, doesn’t want to rip Loki’s smirking face off for injecting her with this drug. The nanobots, sure, but the drug hasn’t hurt her, not really.
She props her index finger under his chin, forcing him to look up at her. “Don’t do that to yourself. I just . . . all I want is to be here with you right now, okay? For whatever reason. It doesn’t matter.”
He pulls her to him in a crushing hug, so tight it feels like her ribs might burst, but then again that could just be the throbbing of her heart. He buries his face against her throat, and whereas once it would make her nervous to have someone else against such a vulnerable part of her, she’s instead struck by how much she loves this man.
She can’t keep all of it in, the swell of emotion is too great, so without even really thinking about it, she whispers it to him, right into the ear next to her lips, and when he lifts his head, there’s a trace of redness in his eyes. She doesn’t have long to contemplate it because he’s kissing her again, and she can feel his love and his anguish and his joy all mixed together because she feels it, too.
His hands begin a tortuous path down her body, stopping to pinch and squeeze all his favorite spots before coming to rest below her navel. He slides his fingers lower still, teasing the hairs on her mound, and she spreads her legs encouragingly.
“Yes, please,” she whimpers, not caring if it’s her brain or the drug that makes her ready for him because either way she wants him, she wants this, and nothing could ever be enough. He nudges her labia apart, pinching her clit lightly between forefinger and thumb, and she bucks up against him. He grins against her mouth, then plunges his fingers inside of her, and the full feeling is back, but different this time because he’s found that spot, that one place that makes her feel like she’s floating and ripping apart all at once.
She gasps for air when he pulls away from her mouth, but she still can’t quite catch her breath because he’s latched on to her nipple now, pulling and stretching and plucking it with his teeth. Then she’s coming, hard and fast against his hand, and when she can think again she wants nothing more than to wipe that self satisfied smirk right off his face.
She pushes him off her with both arms, rolling him onto his back on the bed, then straddles him. He’s not quite recovered yet, still half-flaccid against her, but then, she’s always liked a challenge. She rolls her hips, undulating as she runs her hands up her body, and she watches his eyes track her movements. His pupils dilate and he’s stopped blinking, so she can tell that he’s interested, but he’s not quite there yet, so she cranks it up another notch.
“Like what you see?” She asks, palming one breast and moaning a little. He nods, his hands shooting up her torso to play with her tits, and fuck, she’s getting aroused by her movements now, too. She pries one of his hands away and brings it to her mouth so she can suck on his thumb, and when she bites it, he makes a strangled noise in the back of his throat and ah, the rest of him has joined the party.
She raises herself up onto her knees and reaches down to position him, and they both sigh in relief when she sinks easily down onto him.
This time, it’s different when they rock together. There’s less urgency, less of a need to reach some end goal, and instead it feels leisurely, like taking a walk or holding hands or watching the stars. He’s grabbing on to her and she’s grabbing on to him, and just the act is enough, satisfying in its simplicity. And maybe they move like this for only minutes or maybe it’s hours, but it doesn’t matter because it’s him and her, Clint and Natasha, here and now and together.
In which our heroes get complacent, and Natasha learns that guns don't solve every problem (but that's why there's knives).
He comes awake feeling the warm weight of Natasha pressed against his side. His mind is fuzzy and he’s a little disoriented; there isn’t any external light filtering into the room, just a low blue glow coming out of the walls, and at first he doesn’t know what woke him.
Then he feels Natasha’s leg around his waist and her slick center is working hot against his hip, and he’s suddenly and painfully hard, even though he’s not fully awake.
“Tash?” he murmurs, drawing a palm up along her arm to rest on her shoulder.
She breathes heavily into his ear, nearly panting, then rolls half on top of him, her breasts soft on his chest. “Hey,” she murmurs, then kisses him sleepily, dragging her lips over his slowly and licking the corners of his mouth
He snakes a hand down to cup her ass in reply, digging his fingers into her firm flesh and relishing the twinge of pleasure he derives from it. Maybe it’s because of the resurgence of the drugs or because he’s not fully awake yet, or maybe it’s just because Natasha is really fucking hot, but when she presses back against his hand, moaning, the desire to bury himself inside her intensifies. Heat radiates from every pore of her body, and his skin feels like it’s burning everywhere she touches him. She’s so fucking warm, and he can’t think much past that right now, can’t focus on anything except how perfect it feels to have her on top of him, kissing her and skimming his hands over her flesh.
He rolls them over, coming to rest between her thighs. He doesn’t bother keeping his weight off her, noticing how she slides her limbs around him to draw him closer, and his suspicion that she likes the weight is confirmed when she sighs into his kiss.
He’s hard, and when the tip of his cock brushes her, they both shudder. He grinds against her center for a long moment, using his hand to help slide his glans against her clit, and her arms reflexively tense around his shoulders. She sucks his lower lip into her mouth and cants her hips toward him, silently begging him to ease their mutual ache, and she sighs breathily when he sinks down into her.
He loves it when they’re like this, slow and soft and quiet and he can feel her every breath while she’s in his arms. He loves having the luxury of fucking her at his leisure, without rushing for anything, without even caring if he gets off because it’s so good just being with her, just being in her, surrounded by her, enveloped and warm.
He rocks in and out of her slowly, holding his mouth to hers, sharing his air with her, and listening to her breath catch in her throat. He slips his hand down from around her head to palm her breast firmly, then pinches her nipple until she cries out. He blazes a trail with his mouth to replace his hand with his lips. He bites gently, and then he feels her flutter around him, bucking her hips off the mattress. She keens, scraping her nails across his back, and then she’s coming, drawn out and hard, rippling around his cock until he can’t help but follow her into bliss.
He rolls off her after a long moment, a warm, content feeling settling over him, and just as he’s drifting back to sleep, he feels her curl back into his side.
Clint is half awake and running his fingers lazily through Natasha’s hair when the chime sounds in the room. She jerks awake, bolting upright and reaching for her gun at the sound.
“I think it’s just the wake up call, Nat,” he says gruffly, looking up and smiling gently at her. She stares for a long minute before putting her gun back down on the table beside the bed.
“Sorry,” she says, looking around in the semi-darkness. The lights in the room are slowly raising, at just the right speed that her eyes are adjusting without discomfort. Not for the first time, Natasha feels a bit of wonder at the strange technology of this world. “Where’d the noise come from, anyway?”
Clint shrugs and scrubs his hands over his eyes to dispel the last bits of sleep. “Probably the same place as the magic blue nightlight.” He reaches out to skim his hand across her shoulders, feeling a crackle of arousal pop in his stomach. “We should get dressed,” he says, even though he has no true desire for follow through.
“Mmhmm,” she murmurs, scooting and turning toward him. “We really should,” she says, leaning over him, putting her hand on his cheek. She’s curving down, staring at his lips with intent and moving closer when the knock sounds.
Clint pulls a face and huffs, sagging backward. “Seriously? These Asgardians have lousy timing,” he gripes, but kicks his legs over the edge of the bed and searches for his pants. Leaving Natasha in the bedroom, he walks barefoot into the front room, carrying her gun in one hand. He trusts these gods, these aliens well enough, but experience has taught him to be wary.
As it happens, his caution is warranted.
When the door explodes inward, all he feels is the white hot pain of something piercing his side. Then he slams backward into the floor and there’s nothing but blackness.
She’s zipping up her suit when an explosion shakes the room, and she drops instinctively to a crouch, fighting the urge to run blindly through the door she saw Clint traverse not a minute before. She slinks across to the room to find a weapon, letting her training take over, letting it force the panic she feels to the back of her mind where she can ignore it and concentrate on the things that are going to keep her alive.
She hears voices coming from the other room, at least six of them, speaking a language she doesn’t recognize but somehow still sounds vaguely familiar.
She clips her gun belt on, checks the magazine. It’s full, so as long as these guys are like the Chitauri and susceptible to projectile weapons (and if luck decides to smile upon her), maybe she can make it out of this in one piece.
She refuses to consider whether or not Clint is even alive to make it out of this at all, one piece or not.
Thumbing off the safety, she inches toward the door to the front room where she can hear the hostiles still talking. They sound pissed off about something.
She whips around the door jamb, aiming and firing as she zigzags into the room. Two of the tall, blue creatures fall instantly, blood blooming between their eyes, but the others level their own weapons at her and bright lights flash, exploding where they impact the wall by her head. There’s no time to wonder what they are shooting at her as she rolls and skids to a halt behind a heavy piece of furniture for cover, little flecks of wood raining down on her as the aliens fire again.
She takes a moment to catch her breath, going over the probable positions of the blue giants from the sounds of their footsteps and the direction their shots come from. Three blasts land on the wall opposite her, and she takes that as her cue to spring into action.
She comes out from behind her cover at a run, picking off two more of the creatures, leaving just two standing. She raises her gun to fire on one; it’s a clean, easy shot, and she’s sure to make it.
And then her gun clicks, empty.
She doesn’t waste her breath by cussing, just launches herself at the alien, dodging as it fires, hoping that its compatriot won’t be willing to risk firing on a friend to pick her off. The creature is taller than she thought, its blue skin almost translucent, and when her fist connects with its face, her hand burns with cold, unearthly frostbite.
She grits her teeth through the pain and uses her leather-clad legs to grab her foe by the neck. It grapples awkwardly with her unexpected weight, and she uses the break in its concentration to twist upward with her knife, sinking the sharp tip up to the hilt into its left eye. She grunts when they slump together to the hard ground, and she’s terrified that maybe she only wounded the massive beast, but it remains still when she kicks out from under it. She leaps to her feet, on alert and searching for the last of the hostiles.
She finds it, hovering over Clint, its weapon at his throat. It hisses something at her in its sibilant language, and she doesn’t have to speak a word of it to understand what it’s saying, what it’s promising with its stance.
She wants to grab one of the alien weapons on the ground, pick it up and aim it at this last adversary, but she can’t do it, she won’t risk it. She despises herself a little for not being able to do the one thing she’s always been good at, for not being able to ignore her stupid fucking childish feelings for the man laying on the ground. She hates that she can’t just shrug and attack anyway, heedless of the danger to herself and others.
She would have, once, long ago, but sometime during the long years that she’s fought beside him, bled beside him, patched him up, and watched him cry she must have lost that ability.
She holds her hands up in surrender, and it grins at her, a feral, toothy leer. Natasha barely has time to register the fear brewing in the pit of her stomach when a blade bursts through the alien’s chest. It stares confused at the metal protruding from the middle of its torso, touches the blood tinged edge once, then slumps to the ground, half on top of Clint.
And there, standing tall with a fierce expression on her face and covered in the blood of her enemies is Sif.
“We haven’t much time,” she tells Natasha. “The frost giants have invaded the palace.”
Natasha nods and bends down to try to push the dead giant off Clint. Its weight is too much even for her until Sif lends her strength to the task.
“Clint?” Natasha touches his face, presses her fingers to his wrist to find a pulse. She sags with relief when she finds it, weak, but steady. He’s alive. She releases a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding, closing her eyes briefly before she glances up at the Asgardian who looks down on her kindly.
“He lives?” Sif asks, and Natasha nods. A shout echoes down the hall and more blasts sound. Sif steps on the slain frost giant with one heavy boot, pulling her blade from between its shoulder blades and wiping the blood away with the corner of its cloak. “We must go.”
Natasha grabs Clint’s wrists, ready to drag him along. Sif frowns in confusion, then says, “Can you not bear his weight?”
“No, but as long as you can watch my back while I’m dragging him . . .”
Sif shakes her head, handing Natasha her sword. “Here, hold this a moment. I will carry him.” Sif leans down, and Natasha feels a bit jealous at the ease with which Sif picks Clint up and hefts him over one muscled shoulder. Not strained in the slightest, she reaches out for her weapon. “Thank you, Natasha. We will go now.”
Sif brandishes her weapon and steps carefully out into the hallway. The familiar sounds of fighting grow closer, but the conflict must not have reached them yet because the tall woman sets off at an easy lope.
Natasha grabs her pistol from the floor, the one Clint had taken with him when he’d gone to the door. Almost as an afterthought, she also takes one of the strange weapons from a fallen frost giant before she follows Sif.
In which Natasha and Sif are generally badass.
She follows Sif through a byzantine set of twists and curves, a route through the palace so circuitous that she would be hard pressed to retrace her steps, even relying on the extensive training beaten into her as a child. Sif knows where she’s going though, and without encountering a single Frost Giant, she leads her to a dim corner in a forgotten corner of the golden palace.
Natasha opens the door, which slides easily into the wall, reminding her of a lazy Sunday a few years ago spent watching Star Trek and drinking terrible beer with Clint. She pushes down the sudden pain in her chest at the memory.
Sif crosses the tiny, bare room in two long strides and lays Clint down on the floor in the corner. He still hasn’t moved, hasn’t made a sound, and Natasha can’t let herself think about that because if they’re all going to make it out of this mess she needs to focus.
“What is this room?” she asks because all the other questions are terrifying.
“Many years ago, this was one of the servants’ quarters,” Sif replies, and the way she says many years makes Natasha think of millennia rather than decades.
Sif sheathes her sword and looks from Natasha to Clint, then back again, a look Natasha can’t quite identify in her eyes.
“We must leave him here, Natasha,” Sif says not unkindly, but she is stating the obvious, and they both know they need to move quickly, unencumbered by Clint’s unconscious weight. Any further delay will only result in their enemy gaining a stronger foothold, which is a risk they can not take. Natasha can’t help the moment of hesitation and panic that pours through her, followed closely by a flush of embarrassment when Sif catches the expression on her face.
“I would not leave him were it not the best of many alternatives,” the dark haired woman says. “He will be safe enough.”
Natasha nods, choosing to believe her because she has no other choice. “Can you . . .” she begins, but Sif knows what she is going to say.
“I will wait by the door,” she says. As she steps outside, Sif adds in a softer voice, “We must hurry.” She slides the door shut behind her.
Natasha might feel angry that Sif felt the need to remind her of something so obvious, except that it doesn’t feel like admonishment, just a mild reminder. Besides that, she’s too worried about the man lying unconscious on the floor below her to waste her time with such uselessness. She’s having hard enough a time of dealing with one set of unwanted emotions.
She kneels on the ground beside his head. “Hey, Barton,” she says, because she doesn’t know how else to start. She’s at a loss for words though; there are so many things she wants to say right now, but none of them are quite right to say over the unconscious body of her . . . her what, exactly? Lover? Boyfriend?
She touches his face gently, his hair, his shoulders, checking his pulse when she skims her fingertips down one too still arm. His pulse is stronger now, and though she breathes a little easier for it, she must nevertheless quell the urge to lay her ear against his chest and listen to his heart beat.
“I just want you to know that I’m going after the sons of bitches who did this.” She swallows hard, a hard lump forming in her throat and a suspicious tingle growing behind her eyes. She blinks rapidly, then swipes the side of her hand quickly across her face.
“Look, just keep breathing, okay? Because I can do this, but I really need you to be here when I finish kicking all their asses, yeah?” Before she can think about it too hard, she drops a kiss on his forehead, his lips, devastated that he cannot respond, and stands.
By the time she takes the three strides across the tiny room to the door, she’s composed herself. She opens the door and meets Sif’s gaze unflinchingly.
“Let’s do this.”
“What can you tell me about these guys?” Natasha asks as they hurry through hallways. They’ve been moving fairly quickly toward Odin’s main chamber, the place where Sif believes the first incursion took place, and they’ve made short work of the few blue-skinned men they’ve encountered along the way.
Sif replies in the same quiet tone, wary of being heard, but just as aware that Natasha needs to know more about the invading force. “They are the Jotun, frost giants; they are an ancient race, akin to my own. They are stronger, more powerful than many of the peoples of the nine realms, though I suspect you determined that for yourself.”
It’s not a question, but Natasha nods anyway. Given the glimpses of devastation she’s seen on their trek through the palace, she’s figured out that she got very lucky earlier. Many of the Asgardians had not been so fortunate.
Sif holds a hand out, motioning that they should stop. She tips her head around the corner of a wall quickly, ducking back a moment later. “Two foot soldiers approach. Take the first?”
They share a nod; the camaraderie between them has come easily, and they’ve done this very move several times by now. Natasha pulls her knife, a slim blade that has seen death and saved her life now across two planets. She has the Jotun energy weapon, but it’s noisy, and she and Sif have tacitly agreed that it is better if they keep their movements secret for as long as possible.
The first giant rounds the bend, coming into sight, and Natasha attacks without hesitation. These particular creatures are not as large as some she’s encountered, but even the short ones have a good foot on her. She executes the same move she’d used earlier, grabbing at the giant’s torso to twist her legs around its neck, then shoving her knife upward with all her strength into its eyeball and the meat of its brain.
They collapse to the ground together in a heap, the alien weighing heavily on top of her, and she can’t breathe, can’t move, can barely think as she struggles to push it off her body. But then Sif is there, and she pulls the dead weight away and helps Natasha to her feet. Natasha winces when Sif tugs a little too hard on her right hand.
“Are you injured?” Sif asks, brow furrowed.
“No, I’m fine.” Natasha glances around the taller woman’s shoulder to see the corpse of the second guard in a heap on the ground. “Piece of cake.”
Sif looks at her quizzically, but does not comment on the colloquialism, instead asking, “Did he touch you?”
Natasha shakes her head. “No, but my fist did connect with the face of one of the ones I was fighting when you came in.” She looks down at her hand, the knuckles of which are still burning with cold, though the ache has dulled to the background in light of other events. There’s a bluish tinge to her skin now to go with the pain.
Sif gently takes Natasha’s hand in her own. “This is . . . odd.”
“When the Jotun touch another being, more damage usually results,” Sif says. “I have seen many a limb removed because of their touch.”
Natasha flexes her hand. It’s stiff, but not as bad as it was before, and it’s getting better. She shrugs. “I’ve got a very specific skill set.” She doesn’t add that her skill set is enhanced by the Red Room’s serum, that she heals faster than most humans; it isn’t terribly relevant right now, and certainly isn’t worth the explanation. Even if the damage were greater, she wouldn’t have time to deal with it anyway.
Sif must agree because she just nods and leans down to grab the Frost Giant. She motions with her head toward a door behind her. “We will conceal the bodies in there.”
Natasha opens the door for her, and once they’ve dragged the corpses into the small side room and wiped the blood from the floor, they’re moving again. As they advance down the hall, leaving the small room behind, Natasha is reminded abruptly and painfully of the man they left behind in another room like this one. Alone. Undefended . . .
She shakes her head to clear the thought. She can’t do anything about that right now, and thinking about it is only going to make her sick, so she tries to pick up the thread of their earlier conversation, and she asks, “Is there anything else I should know about the Jotun?” The corridors are narrowing even as they slope ever upward, simultaneously becoming less ornate, and the two are jogging with silent footfall closer together now.
Sif keeps her eyes forward when she replies. “Thor’s brother, Loki is one of them.” Natasha knew that already, has figured it out from various clues, but it’s still good for the confirmation. “I believe that it is he who is responsible for this.”
And maybe if she hadn’t already defeated Loki twice, if she hadn’t encountered the man before, she would be skeptical that a man in a prison cell could somehow orchestrate an attack on a place like this. She knows Loki, though, knows what he can do, what he has done, so she takes the information and stores it away.
“Anything else?” she asks as they ascend a narrow staircase.
Sif shakes her head. “You have done well in battle against them already, and I do not see the purpose in relaying Asgardian battle tactics to you unnecessarily.” Sif presses a finger to her lips and opens a small door, leading Natasha through it.
They creep out onto a walkway that girds the upper reaches of a giant hall, the same hall she’d been led to when they first came to the city. The chamber looks different from this angle, and she can see figures moving below as she and Sif approach the low wall that prevents people from accidentally slipping over the edge. A series of narrow beams crisscross the open span between the walkway, and Natasha imagines that this must be some sort of service set up, though how it was built is beyond her. Even with the narrowing of the walls this high up, the roof span is still greater than any she has seen before, and she wonders how the latticed boards were put into place.
“How did they even get in?” Natasha asks, peering over the edge and down into the massive hall. Twenty or so of the giants are congregated there, swarming about with dead Asgardians littered at their feet.
Sif presses her lips together in a thin line. “I do not know for certain,” she says. “But I believe that Loki had help in the attempt.”
Natasha can believe that. Remembering what happened to Clint and Dr. Selvig, she wonders if all of the help had been willing. “Do you have a plan?”
Sif holds up a hand to silence her, cocking her ear toward the men below. The acoustics of the room mean that they can hear the conversation below perfectly, even if Natasha can’t understand a word of it. Sif listens closely as they talk, her expression unchanging except for one relieved blink at the end.
“These men,” Sif gestures slightly at the frost giants below. “These creatures say that they took the Warriors Three captive after they caught us unawares. Only I managed to slip away.” Sif doesn’t say it, but Natasha can tell that until this very moment, she thought her friends were dead.
“You want to go rescue them,” Natasha says, moving back from the edge and out of view.
Sif nods, sliding back with Natasha. “Yes. We will need their might if we are to save the city.”
Natasha nods, not too pleased with the prospect of two against the attack force here. Frankly, five doesn’t sound much better. It’s something, though.
“And did they happen to say where your friends are?” Natasha asks.
“The cells at the base of the central tower,” Sif says. “If we use the subterranean service corridors, we may be able to gain access to the prison with none the wiser.”
Natasha nods. “Lead the way.”
In which the Warriors Three finally show up, and our heroine kicks some ass.
Thanks to Pamela and Koren for their insights and help with this chapter! I couldn't do this without you guys!
There are 2-3 chapters left (for realsies, this time).
The subterranean service corridors are dirtier than Natasha would have imagined possible, a thick layer of what can only called sludge lining every surface. She thought she was inured to walking through mud and muck and unmentionable filth from long years of practice, but apparently she’s wrong about that, and she cringes at the thought of just how unimaginably old this particular filth could be.
She’d walk through hell if it brought her back to Clint sooner.
That’s the trouble of it, really, the part that makes her angry and happy and distraught and all the other feelings that she’s not supposed to be able to feel. She’s been fighting against this for so long, from letting herself be in love with him that now that she knows she is, knows that it can’t be anything else and has admitted it to him, well, now she’s a jumble of mixed emotions and it’s throwing off her game.
She can’t even concentrate, not properly, not the way she was trained to do, not the way she likes to concentrate, single minded and purposeful. Instead, she’s hyper-focusing on Clint, worried about him, wondering if he’s still breathing, wondering if he’s going to wake up again, wondering if she’ll make it back to him.
All of the possibilities are maddening.
She’s trying so hard right now to put one foot in front of the other, to pay attention to where her footsteps fall and how her breath resounds in the air around her. She’s following Sif as quietly as she can, but the taller woman is putting her to shame. Despite her larger frame, Sif moves without a sound, without even putting a dent in the breeze, Natasha would wager. She should be jealous of the woman’s grace, or at least she should be watching Sif closely, taking notes so she could practice later, try to replicate her movements.
But all she can think about is Clint, lying there on the floor of that tiny room, unconscious and bruised and alone, and instead of being there with him, she’s out here, doing what needs to be done.
Sometimes, she hates being competent.
Sif stops suddenly, and Natasha almost runs into her, to her own great embarrassment. Sif doesn’t seem to notice though, just holds out an arm to signal her to wait, then peers around the corner they’ve come to.
Natasha is further embarrassed that she was deep enough in her thoughts that she didn’t even notice that they’d reached a junction. She really hopes she can blame this lack of focus on the reactivation of those fucking drugs because otherwise she’s going to be very disappointed in herself.
Sif disappears around the corner, and when Natasha looks after her, she sees that they’ve come to a door.
Sif is bent over, peering through a tiny keyhole, so tiny that Natasha cannot believe she sees anything, but the taller woman must find something useful because she turns back and leans close to Natasha’s ear, whispering. “There are five Jotun guarding the cells. I believe that our best chance lies in you freeing my brethren whilst I lay in a distraction. I see the key to the cell. Wait a moment before entering, and I shall toss it to you.”
Natasha doesn’t argue, even if she’s more accustomed to taking Sif’s role on a mission. But she knows she’s smaller, quicker on her feet than the Asgardian, just as she’s aware that Sif stands a better chance of holding off five frost giants for the precious seconds it will take to open the cell.
“Good luck,” she says, meaning it, needing good fortune to stay on their side.
Sif tears the door open and sprints into the cell block, raising her sword and attacking with a shrieking wail. Natasha silently counts to five before following on her heels.
The Asgardian is as good as her word, and the moment Natasha comes spinning around the corner, the key is sailing in her direction. She manages to get it into the locking mechanism to the cell, but then a strong arm grabs her around the neck and fuck, that isn’t someone’s arm, it’s a fucking hand, and it’s cold, freezing around her neck and she can’t breathe and oh, god, she’s going to die and she didn’t even get to tell Clint . . .
She’s clawing at the hand tightening around her neck, kicking and flailing, her vision starting to darken around the edges, and she knows that this is it. The end. No more.
And then she sags to the floor, gasping air into her burning lungs, too focused on finally getting air to look around for her rescuer. She hears the commotion of battle all around her, hears Sif and a trio of male voices cry out in response to the alien sounds of the Jotun, but she does not comprehend them, does not understand how the men who’d been in that cell got out if she never turned the key . . .
When she can breathe again, she looks up to see Sif and Volstagg finishing off the last of the Jotun, the other two men watching with something akin to affection and pride on their faces. Natasha comes to her feet even as the last Jotun falls to his knees, bleeding from a gash in his throat. He slumps to the ground at last, dead.
“Well met, Sif!” the dark haired one, Hogun, she thinks, laughs as he pulls his sword from the corpse of her assailant. “A fine victory!”
Natasha coughs, rubs her throat, and nods at Hogun. “Thanks,” she says.
He acknowledges her words with a tip of his head, then asks, “Did it touch you?”
She shrugs. There is a burning sensation under her chin where the Jotun had come into contact with her skin, but it could easily be the result of being choked.
Sif walks over to her then, reaching one hand out toward her and hesitating. “May I?” she asks, and Natasha nods curtly.
Sif gingerly presses one finger underneath Natasha’s chin, lifting it and gazing at what she finds there. “Curious,” Sif murmurs, her confusion echoed by the Warriors Three as they gather around them.
“You are not part frost giant, perchance?” asks Volstagg, his laughter not quite hiding the seriousness behind his question.
Natasha raises an eyebrow. “Should I take that to mean I’m going to make it?”
Sif’s brow is furrowed as she shares a glance with Fandral. A thousand words are exchanged in that look, and Natasha feels like she’s intruding. For the first time, she starts to get an inkling of what it must feel like for the other Avengers to see her and Clint interact.
“Yes,” Sif says at last. “Though, I think perhaps the Queen may better answer that question.”
Natasha makes a mental note to ask about that later. For now, she’s not bleeding, she’s still breathing, and she’s got more important things to do.
“How did you get out of that cell, anyway?” she asks. “I didn’t think I unlocked it.”
Volstagg’s lips quirk. “Fandral has skinny wrists.”
The four people with her share a laugh at that, leaving Natasha confused and feeling out of place, but she covers her discomfort with an eye roll and chuckle of her own. Glancing over at the cell, she sees there’s a hole in the door, presumably to pass food and water to prisoners. It’s pretty far from the locking mechanism, and she furtively sizes up Fandral.
Skinny wrists, indeed.
The discussion has continued on without her, and after Sif says something Natasha doesn’t catch, Hogun asks, “Have you a plan?”
“We hoped you had some more information,” she says, rejoining the conversation. “Like, where the All Father got off to. And Thor.”
Volstagg looks serious when he responds. “I do not know what has happened to Odin All Father, but Thor was in this very cell when we arrived, drugged and incapacitated. He had barely arisen from his stupor when Loki came with a contingent of frost giants and took him away.”
“Took him? Took him where?” asks Sif, concern thick in her voice.
Hogun shakes his head. “We are not certain, but we believe he has been taken to the training yards.” He hesitates. “We think . . . we believe that Loki wishes to torture, then execute Thor.”
“He wishes all Asgard to attend,” Fandral adds.
“This cannot be allowed to happen,” says Sif grimly.
Natasha agrees; she’s just started to get used to Thor and the way he talks; there’s no way she’s ready to start training his replacement.
They hide the corpses of the Jotun inside the dank cell where the Warriors Three had been held hostage, and then they are again on their way.
She feels like she’s been moving constantly for days, even though she knows the reality must be somewhere closer to a few hours. Time always slows to a crawl for her when she’s working, something that’s helped her out of a tight spot more than once, the deeply ingrained hyper focus allowing her to react quicker than most think possible. Now, though, the tempo of the day feels like it’s stretching her out, wearing her thin, and all she wants is for the motion to stop.
If she’s being honest, she’s felt like this ever since she went to that party with Clint at her back, expecting simple reconnaissance, but ending up injected with strange magic and deadly technology. Her life has been turned upside down since then, and she’s not sure about where she fits in the scheme of things She knows she’s okay physically, she’s been told by doctors on two worlds, but she feels everything crawling around inside of her skin, and she just wants to get off the damn rollercoaster that her life has become.
For all the blood and numbness, the Red Room certainly had been easier.
She shakes her head, pushing that thought aside. It’s no good to romanticize her past; she knew better than that. She knows she is better off, knows that if Clint hadn’t stayed his hand all those years ago, if he hadn’t put his career and his life on the line for her, she would be long dead by now, so much meat for the worms.
It’s getting progressively harder to shake the maudlin thoughts racing through her head, and she wonders how other people, normal people handle this being in love shit because clearly she is not cut out for it. Good thing Clint isn’t either, she thinks, because at least they’re in this together. Unless . . .
She doesn’t even realize that she’s spoken the word aloud until Fandral turns to look at her, a frown marring his features, and she can tell that he’s barely containing an urge to press a lip to his fingers to shush her. Chagrined, Natasha quiets herself, tries to quiet her mind using the techniques that Bruce taught her a couple months ago. Deep breath in, deep breath out . . .
They’re outside now, making their way silently away from the palace, and Natasha is struck again by how these Asgardians move. Even covered in plate armor and carrying steel weapons, these warriors are a hundred times quieter and swifter than the best SHIELD agent, and the lack of sound as they jog along deserted streets is almost eerie. Dressed only in her catsuit and no weakling herself, Natasha struggles to keep pace.
She hears Loki before she sees him, a voice echoing around her head as the five of them slow to a halt. The back of a stable is in front of them, or at least, she assumes that’s what the wooden building must be, and from the pitch of his voice, it’s clear that Loki is just starting to get warmed up. Sif shares a nod with Fandral, makes a quick gesture to the group, and Volstagg and Hogun split off, heading down the left side of the building.
Quietly, Sif points upward and whispers, “Roof?”
Natasha nods curtly. “Leg up?” she whispers back, and Sif boosts her up to the roof of the low building before she and Fandral head off to round the right end of the stable. As quietly as she can, Natasha slowly crawls along the roof, inching her way toward the front and Loki’s voice.
“Bring him here,” Loki commands when she peeks over the edge. Several dozen of the blue skinned frost giants are congregated in the square below, surrounding Loki with grim faces. Two of them break off from the group, turn to head into the stable, and Natasha scoots back from the edge quickly, flattening herself against the roof and praying that no one looked up at an inopportune moment.
She hears grunting and muffled shouts below her, the sound of flesh connecting with flesh and the moan of pain that follows it. She’s heard that voice in battle often enough to recognize it as belonging to Thor, and she relaxes a little now that she knows they still have a chance to save him.
She hears chains dragging across the ground then, the shuffle of feet, and then, Loki speaks.
“Brother.” She can hear the loathing in his voice as he sarcastically uses the word. “I confess that I enjoy seeing you in such a state. I trust the chains are not to your liking?” There is humor in his voice, a chortle lurking below the surface, and Natasha dares to creep forward again.
Her heart stops for a moment when she catches sight of her friend, on his knees in front of Loki, chained and bloody. His long hair is matted with blood, sticking to his head unnaturally, and from this angle, she can see rivulets of the dark red fluid have dripped down his face. It is not a pretty sight.
Thor says something that Natasha doesn’t catch, but it causes Loki to laugh, throwing his head back.
“You kneel at my feet and you ask after your parents? How touching is your concern!” Loki leans in, grabbing Thor’s chin and forcing the blond to meet his eyes. He lowers his voice, seething with rage. “Touching as it may be, it is for naught. They both are dead, a fate that you too shall suffer.”
“Why do you continue this, brother? Why do you betray us?” The pain in Thor’s voice is unbearable.
Loki’s voice rises again, shrill and shrieking. “Betray you? What of me, ‘brother’? What of your betrayal?”
“I have always been on your side. Even in your misguided attempt . . .”
“Shut up, you pathetic creature!” Loki punches Thor across the face, silencing him. “You were never on my side! You who presume to lock me away for all eternity with no regard for my rightful place! I was king here, and so I shall be again!
“But you, you will suffer before you fall, and your friends, the humans that you love so dearly and the Asgardians alike, they will suffer your punishment tenfold. I will crush them beneath my boots like the insignificant fools they are.”
Thor laughs, “I do not see them here. I think perhaps they have eluded you.”
Natasha expects Loki to strike again, expects him to loose his temper on Thor, but instead he just smiles. “Oh, you think wrong. For they are already on their way here, caught unawares by my true brethren. And when they arrive, I shall complete the task I set before myself so long ago.”
Natasha doesn’t have long to wonder what he means as Loki holds out a hand to one of his guards. The Jotun places a familiar scepter in his hand, golden with a glowing blue crystal in one end, and she knows then exactly what Loki has intended, what he’s been planning all along. She was right, they were the ones that got away, and he wants to watch them suffer. The cold feeling in the pit of her stomach grows.
“Where did you get that?” Thor manages, sounding as incredulous as Natasha feels. “Father had it . . .”
Loki hefts the staff in one hand, smiling with pleasure. “Indeed your father kept it safe, or so he assumed until I took it from his feeble hand and ran him through with it.”
Thor shouts, enraged, coming to his feet and lunging at his brother, and it is at that moment that Sif and the Warriors Three come barreling out of hiding racing in to the aid of their friend. She hesitates only briefly before drawing the Jotun energy weapon and training it on its makers below. She isn’t certain that she can really turn the tide of this battle, but she knows she has to try.
She fires into the crowd, aiming far away from where the Asgardians are making inroads toward Thor, unsure how powerful this weapon truly is. The blast is loud, and though it fells several of the enemy, she’s also drawn their attention. Natasha runs forward, pitching herself over the edge of the roof and rolling when she hits the ground, barely escaping the return fire.
Then she’s fighting, a deadly dance, and everything else falls away. There is a rhythm to battle, one that she easily finds, falls into without trying, and it’s almost relaxing except that it isn’t. She makes her way to Fandral’s side just in time because the gun either jams or runs out of power, but it doesn’t matter because it’s not working anymore, and he holds the frost giants back while she tosses the useless weapon away and draws her knife. It isn’t much, but it’s what she has.
“Natasha!” She whips her head around at the voice, searching for its origin. It’s Sif, several yards away, raising a long sword in one hand, even as she finishes off a frost giant with her own sword in the other. “Here!” Sif shouts as soon as she meets Natasha’s eyes. She tosses the sword to her, and Natasha neatly catches it, swings it once in an arc to get a sense of the balance. She hasn’t fought with a blade this size in a long time, but there’s no time like the present, she supposes.
The fighting rages around her as she regains her sword feet, but she is still grateful that Volstagg has closed ranks with her and Fandral, happy to have the added help as she fights with the unfamiliar weapon. It’s hard work, and she’s tiring fast, her body not equipped for this, and she’s just starting to think that maybe she’s not going to make it out of this when the Jotun she’s fighting drops suddenly, its head falling from its shoulders.
A tall man in golden armor is revealed when the body slumps to the ground, and he is grinning widely as he swings his sword and takes out another of the Jotun. Natasha doesn’t recognize him, but she knows an ally when she sees one, and feels relieved that more Asgardians have joined in the fracas.
The dozens of Jotun become a single dozen, then a handful, and at last a single giant remains, facing a blood spattered Sif. It takes one long look at the expression on the warrior’s face, and then it turns, running off down a side road. Sif follows on its heels, and Natasha knows the Jotun is not long for the world.
She turns around to survey the battlefield. All around her are the dead, heaps of meat on the ground, and the scent that hits her turns her stomach. The smell is not natural, though perhaps it should more accurately be described as unearthly, and she wonders if she’s going to be able to contain her rising gorge.
“Are you well?” Hogun asks, as he steps beside her.
Natasha nods, resting her hand on his proffered arm. “I just need a moment.”
“The Jotun are not pleasant smelling when living, and their flesh rots quickly once they are not,” he says by way of explanation, correctly guessing why she was nauseated.
She drops her hand, shifting her focus back to other, more important things. “Thor?”
Hogun nods. “This way.” He leads her back toward the stable, inside the building. The battle had obviously spilled inside here as well, more blue bodies littering the ground here as well.
Thor is on his back when she sees him, unmoving, with a cloaked figure crouched over his body. The woman turns when she hears their approach.
“Lady Natasha!” Frigga says with genuine joy in her voice, her attention though, is all on her son, lying bloody beneath her, and Natasha cannot fault her for that. Thor does not look good.
But then Frigga lays her hands on his face, runs them across his temples, and the creases on his forehead ease, the tension drifts out of his body, and Natasha can actually see the gaping wound on his torso start to close, sealing itself before her eyes.
“What . . .?” she mutters to Hogun’s amusement, and she looks to him with a question.
Hogun lowers her voice to a reverential whisper. “Our queen is powerful in the healing arts. It is one of her many gifts.”
Natasha knows better than to ask for more explanation than that. She’s halfway across the universe, after all. She can accept that things might work a little differently here, and she can accept that the queen of Asgard can touch her son’s forehead and close a possibly fatal wound.
Thor stirs at last, looks up with confusion on his face that clears when he sees Frigga. “Mother,” he says, his voice weaker than usual. “I am glad to see you.”
He tries to sit up, but Frigga pushes him gently back down. “Stay there, child. Lay still for a bit longer.” Thor acquiesces easily, and Natasha can tell that even if the wound is closed, he’s still feeling drained.
Frigga stands, looks at them. “Hogun,” she says with authority. “Take me to my son.”
In which Frigga does a lot of talking, Natasha avoids introspection, and Clint returns!
This is the penultimate part - just an epilogue to go now! Thanks to everyone for sticking with me!! <3
Thanks to Pamela, Koren, and Sarah for patiently helping me with this chapter and listening to me as I waded through all of my doubts and fears about this part. They’ve made this story better than it ever would be alone.
As always, I thrive on feedback - anything and everything! Thanks for reading!
Natasha lets her curiosity get the better of her, and after checking on Thor, she follows Frigga out into the yard. Loki is now the bound captive, on his knees before the gold plated Asgardian that interceded on Natasha’s behalf earlier.
“Stand aside, Heimdall,” Frigga says in a tone that brooks no argument. The golden figure, Heimdall, obeys with a small bow, taking a large step back and leaning on his sword. Natasha does not make the mistake of thinking that he is at rest, however; she can see the strength coiled in his limbs, ready to be released at any moment.
Frigga closes in on Loki, sadness and grim acceptance on her face.
Loki scoffs at her approach, a half-hysterical laugh. “You look so serious, most royal mother.”
“What have you done?” Her voice is low, the rage within it barely contained. “Why have you done this?”
“You speak as if I should have stayed my hand,” he says flippantly.
Frigga seems taken aback at that comment, as if she cannot fathom the question. “You . . . you attacked your own people!” she sputters.
“My people?” Loki stares at her, emotions clearly warring within him, and at long last he says, “These . . . inutile miscreants are not my people. They never were; even at my most deluded, I understood that. I have nothing to call my own. Nothing,” he says for emphasis, taking pleasure in the way Frigga flinches at his tone.
“Nothing? We gave you everything . . .”
Loki cuts her off, “You gave your son everything! I was left begging for his scrap.” Loki casts a lustful eye in Natasha’s direction, and she represses a shudder. It’s that look again, the one that crawled under her skin and has haunted the edge of her thoughts ever since the Helicarrier so long ago.
“Is it no wonder that when I find something beautiful, untainted by his hand that I wish it for myself?” Loki continues, working himself into a lather. “Is it hard to believe that I wish these things for myself, and all else that is owed to me for my years of patience?”
“But these humans?” Frigga asks, and Natasha would feel insulted, except that she has the very same question.
Loki chuckles. “They are strange amusements, to be sure, but I should find it most entertaining to watch such pale, beautiful creatures destroy one another.”
Frigga shakes her head ruefully. “What happened to you, my son? What happened to the smiling boy I soothed in my lap?”
Loki’s face changes then, the rage erupting in a rictus of animosity, and Natasha braces herself.
“You are not my mother!” he screams, spittle flying in every direction as he comes to his feet. He’s slipped his bonds somehow, but even as he raises his hand, even as he draws it back, there is no real wrath there, not at her, only at himself.
Frigga holds up her own hand to stay Heimdall who had raised his sword, and she looks at her dark haired son with such infinite sadness that Natasha’s heart breaks for her. Yet Frigga does not brace herself, never believes that he will truly strike her, not even when he starts for her.
And then Loki notices the expression on Frigga’s face, notices his hand in the air, notices the people around him, and he sags, falls back down to his knees, and bows his head.
Frigga steps forward, placing one careful hand on the back of Loki’s head. “You do not have to call me your mother, but you will always be my son.”
He does not look at her, does not lift his face, and when he speaks, Natasha strains to hear it.
“What do you want from me?” He sounds defeated.
Frigga stares down at his head for a long time, so still that she might as well be a statue. Sadness and anger are at war within her, the battle playing out solely in the depths of her eyes and the clench of her hands.
“I want to understand why you have done this. Why you treated your . . . why you tortured Thor, why you drugged the Midgardians, why you assaulted our home.” She swallows. “I do not fathom your purpose, and I would know it.”
Loki laughs. “I have told you. I cannot explain it otherwise.”
Their voices lower then, their conversation made private, and Natasha would be annoyed, except she catches a glint of light in the corner of her eye, looks up to see Sif walking back into the square.
Clint is at her side.
The world stops.
Loki and everything else forgotten, Natasha stumbles over the distance between them. She stops a few feet from him, disbelieving.
“Clint? You’re . . .?” she says, her voice breaking. She can’t breathe, can’t think, doesn’t even know if she’s still sane at this moment. But he nods, smiling at her, covering the last bit of ground between them in a long stride, and then he’s got his arms around her and she can feel his heart beating below her ear, and he’s warm and alive and oh, god, she’s never felt relief like this in her life.
“Hi,” he says into her hair, his voice rough with disuse or emotion or more likely a bit of both. “I was worried about you.”
She squeezes him tightly once, then pushes back, all too aware that they have something of an audience here. “Me, too.”
They share a knowing grin, relief plastered all over their faces, and then Clint shifts his gaze to look over her head.
“I see I didn’t have much to worry about, though.”
Natasha smirks. “When have you ever?”
He chuckles, and then they walk together back to where the Asgardians have surrounded Loki, one hand pressed low on her back. Maybe it would feel overly possessive at any other moment, but right now, she doesn’t want him to let go either.
It turns out that Loki had an accomplice - Sigyn, a pretty blonde woman with a sweet smile, who freed him from his bonds and helped the Jotun enter Asgard. For her role, Odin condemns her to bear Loki’s fate with him, and it is only because of the intercession of Frigga that the woman is cursed to watch over Loki rather than feel the burn of poison at his side.
Guards lead the trickster away from the grand hall, his mouth stitched closed, Sigyn following close behind, and she does not look so much defeated as she does determined.
If Natasha lets herself think about it, she can understand the unassuming woman’s need to help her lover. There isn’t anything she wouldn’t do for Clint, and when Frigga presses her hand against her husband’s arm, whispers quietly in his ear to speak on behalf of Sigyn, Natasha imagines that the queen feels the same way.
Things are slow to return to what passes for normal in Asgard, and she and Clint are left cooling their heels while they wait for the connection between the realms to be repaired. The last of the Jotun had damaged the bifrost in a last-ditch effort to inflict pain upon their enemy, but luckily, they did not quite have Thor’s panache for wholesale destruction.
The pair helps where they can, but there is precious little two mortals can do in the realm of the gods, and eventually, they relax into what some might call a vacation.
Natasha, to her infinite shock, finds a fast friend in the Queen herself.
“. . . and when we opened the door, there was your archer!” Frigga says animatedly at the banquet held the evening after Loki is lead away. Thus far, Frigga has consumed several liters of the sparkling, golden beverage that tastes strangely like mead for a world without bees, but the only outward sign of intoxication is the exuberance with which she holds her conversations. For all her gesticulations, however, her drink manages to stay in her cup.
“Heimdall and I feared he was dead,” Frigga finishes.
Natasha doesn’t say that she had been worried about the same thing. “I’m glad you found him,” she says instead because it’s true.
Frigga nods. “Indeed, as were we. After I healed his wounds, we discovered that we were lucky to have such a warrior at our side.” Frigga curves one neatly groomed eyebrow. “As Lady Sif has told me she was glad to have you at her side.”
“I was glad to have her,” Natasha says, looking across the crowded room to where Clint is involved in some larger-than-life conversation with Sif and the Warriors Three, gesturing and laughing with all those around him.
It warms her heart to see him so relaxed, and she supposes that battle does that to a person (it certainly does for her). Clint had spent the afternoon testing his archery skills against the Warriors Three, and at the report of his victory, Natasha was secretly thrilled and had fought the overwhelming urge to drag him off into a forgotten corridor and kiss him senseless.
She’s still fighting the urge.
When she turns back to Frigga, she sees the older woman looking at her knowingly, a small smile on her face.
“You love him,” she says, and it’s not a question.
“Yes,” Natasha agrees, and she feels something release inside herself, something akin to a breath she hadn’t even realized she was holding. It confuses her for a second, but then she realizes this is the first time she’s admitted that particular truth to anyone other than the man in question.
It’s odd admitting it to someone else, and maybe the only reason that she can do it now is because she will not see Frigga, will not have to look into her eyes day after day when she returns to Earth. Natasha doesn’t kid herself that she would find it quite so easy were Bruce or Steve to ask the same question. It’s true though, truer now that she’s spoken the words aloud, truer still because she felt her heart break a little when she left him alone in that room.
“How did you know?” she asks, morbidly curious as she reaches for her goblet, expecting some horribly antiquated response about lords and ladies.
But Frigga surprises her, and she keeps smiling that inscrutable, crooked smile of hers. “Even if it weren’t writ all over your features, the potion that you were fed would not work otherwise.”
Natasha stops with her cup in midair and frowns. “What?”
Frigga laughs. “The potion that my son gave you, it does not work if the parties are not already in love. It is not a love potion.”
So surprised by that revelation, Natasha doesn’t know what to ask first, so she just lets all of her questions run out in a jumble. “What kind of potion is it then? What does it do? What do you mean it wouldn’t work if we weren’t?”
Frigga chuckles, holding out a hand to slow Natasha’s questioning. “You will be fine. It is a fertility potion, child.”
Natasha chokes. “I’m sorry, what?”
“My brother Freyr crafted it long ago,” Frigga says, continuing as if she doesn’t even notice Natasha’s reaction. “The All Father and I used it ourselves to conceive Thor, as a matter of fact.” Frigga fixes Natasha with a delighted, somewhat dazed smile. “Well do I recall those halcyon days.”
When she can breathe again, Natasha asks, “And just how effective is it?” Her voice sounds suspiciously like a squeak to her ears, and she drinks deeply to clear her throat.
Frigga shrugs a little, a delicate gesture. “It has never failed.”
Natasha leans back in her seat. There’s no way she could be pregnant, not at all. It’s physically impossible.
“It will with me, I’m afraid,” she says.
Frigga looks at her, a piercing gaze, and suddenly Natasha is keenly reminded that this woman is not a woman at all, but a goddess, the queen of them, in fact, and it feels like she can see right into her soul, right through her body. The older woman is silent in concentration for several minutes, and Natasha fights the urge to squirm by taking small sips from her cup.
At last, Frigga says, “Perhaps you are correct to say that it is impossible.” She looks away from Natasha. “But I think that it is equally likely that life will find a way to surprise even the most cynical of souls.”
Frigga turns to converse with the others at the table then, leaving Natasha to her dinner and her own thoughts.
She doesn’t know what to think right now, doesn’t know if she wants to think because if she really stops to consider . . . it, she might have to throw up or scream. Maybe both. So instead of letting herself panic because some alien goddess told her that she was exposed to an extremely effective fertility drug (or, worse still, let herself start to like the idea of it and other impossible things), she focuses on the plate in front of her. And if she touches her belly beneath the table as Frigga laughs and chats with the people around them, she can always blame it on indigestion.
She’s still dazed when Clint approaches her an hour or a day or a year later, sliding up next to her and taking her hand. They walk back to their new rooms, ones without memories of blue skinned giants and explosions, and Natasha finds that she does not even mind that Thor and everyone else sees him lead her out of the room with her tucked into his side.
She’s still silent as Clint undresses her, watches him from without as he pulls her dress from her body and presses her back into the plush mattress. He strips himself bare and joins her, skimming his hands over her body, chasing his fingertips with his mouth, and when he slides between her legs and inside of her, she feels complete, whole in a way that she didn’t expect, and she has to hide sudden tears in the crook of his neck.
He moves within her slowly, long stroke following long stroke until all she knows is the feel of him, the taste of him, the smell. He clasps her close to his chest when they come together, and she doesn’t know what tomorrow may bring, but at least they’ll face it together.
Wherein our heroes go home, have a lot of sex, and generally feel good about life.
They leave Asgard, stepping through the portal and arriving back to a cold, bright Sunday morning. Clint can tell that Natasha is a little unnerved by the difference in the passage of time from the way she doesn’t wait until they’re alone, just slips her hand into his. They were only on Asgard for a few days, but it’s been over a week here on Earth. He grips her hand back just as hard at that revelation. Losing time makes them both nervous.
When pressed, Thor makes a noncommittal pronouncement about the discrepancy in the passage of time that leaves Clint more confused than before, but he chooses to accept it. It makes sense, in its own twisted, Asgardian way, and well, he’s alive, Natasha’s alive, and they get to come home. It’s enough.
Life goes back to normal, or what passes for it here. They slot back into the swing of things almost as if they’d never left, almost as if they hadn’t spent the week before they went to Asgard wrapped up in sheets and each other.
Steve is obviously still embarrassed by the whole thing. He can’t quite maintain eye contact with Clint during certain parts of their debriefing, though he makes a valiant effort, and it’s really rather sweet of the guy, if Clint says so himself.
The debriefing is short, to the point, and there really isn’t much to report when it comes down to it. What can you say about fighting frost giants with the help of Norse gods anyway? They won. Loki lost.
Steve has lingering questions about the trickster, presses the two of them for every bit of information they can remember. Rogers wants to make sense of the world, needs to find the reason behind Loki’s actions. Clint can’t really blame the guy, but he’s learned that sometimes there just isn’t a reason, or not a good one at any rate. Sometimes, you have to let the search for those reasons go or else you’ll never get to sleep at night. If nothing else, Loki drilled that lesson into Clint.
So when Steve finally gives the detailed questions a rest and just asks them if they know why, Clint just shrugs and watches Natasha do the same. They’d talked that morning when they woke up on another planet, decided to move past the need for explanation. Decided not to take for granted the fact that they’d escaped any lasting side effects. Decided to put the past behind them and just live for once.
They head from the debriefing room straight to medical to offer up their veins to Bruce. He wants to run more tests, wants to see if what Freya said was actually true, if the drugs and the accompanying nanobots are completely gone. While drawing the blood, he makes some noise about wanting to give them both a “complete physical” after the ordeal they’ve been through, and his tone suggests that it’s going to require more than just a blood sample and a few deep breaths. Clint isn’t feeling up to being poked and prodded any more than Natasha is, and besides, he figures if he can hold her hand this long without wanting to tear off her clothes and fuck her against the nearest available surface, they’re probably okay.
Not that he would argue if she were interested.
They promise Bruce that they’ll come back the next day, and he can get his tests in then, but for now they just need a break from the lunacy of the past few weeks. They need a chance to feel normal.
They head to the common floor to find something to eat. Tony and Pepper are there, absentmindedly eating in front of their computers. Clint notices that their feet are touching though as he enters the kitchen, and this whole being openly in love with Natasha thing must be softening him up because he actually smiles a little at the sight. It’s not even a smirk.
Tony, of course, ruins the moment as soon as he opens his mouth.
“Oh, hey, it’s the lovebirds. Or maybe that should be lovespiders.” Tony wags his eyebrows at Pepper. “Love spiderbirds?”
Pepper rolls her eyes and smacks Tony across the arm. “Stop it,” she says, then turns to Clint and Natasha. “Don’t mind him. He gets restless when he hasn’t talked himself into mortal peril for a week.”
Natasha drops Clint’s hand to root through the fridge, coming up with half a dozen things to pull together into lunch while he makes the tea he knows she would ask for if she had to (she doesn’t have to ask, of course, because he knows her).
Tony’s still making lewd remarks, but there’s really no sting in them, and Clint just helps Natasha and throws the snark right back.
It gets weird, though, when Tony asks, “So how’s all the sex?” Tony levels his gaze on Natasha. “You knocked her up yet?”
Clint can see Natasha tense for a split second before she schools her expression into one of careful indifference.
Clint rolls his eyes, tries to deflect attention from Natasha, who obviously wants nothing to do with this conversation. “Don’t you have better things to do than ask about our sex life, Stark?”
Tony shrugs, takes another bite of his apple. “Maybe you should have thought of that before you did the horizontal tango in front of literally every security camera between the parking deck and your floor.”
Clint groans, pinching the bridge of his nose. “You already made and distributed copies to all of SHIELD, didn’t you?”
Tony snorts. “First thing I did. You two are an inspiration to us all. I didn’t know you could bend that way, Barton . . .”
Pepper smacks him again, then says, “Don’t let this one fool you, Clint. He had JARVIS delete all the files.”
“Thanks,” Natasha says, joining the rest of them at the table. She hands him a plate as she sits.
“How are you two feeling? Thor told us about what happened on Asgard,” Pepper says, concern in her voice.
Clint shrugs, chewing thoughtfully on his sandwich, lets Natasha take over the conversation because really, he’s fucking hungry and if he discovers that there’s tomato in this sandwich he’s pretty sure he’s going to lock himself in a room somewhere with her in the near future and make her come three, no, at least four times.
Though he’ll probably keep the reason for it under wraps. Natasha probably wouldn’t appreciate him being that much of a Midwestern cliché, however much she enjoys his penchant for flannel and country music.
They finish up lunch pleasantly enough once Tony stops trying to bluster his way through his discomfort at regular conversation, and Clint finds himself pleasantly absorbed in a discussion about the pros and cons of the arrow prototypes he’d tested recently.
Tony and Pepper leave first, heading for the board room a few floors down, and he and Natasha are finally alone, truly alone for the first time since they stepped foot back on Earth.
That will never stop being an awesome turn of phrase.
Clint is washing up when Natasha comes up behind him and slips her arms around his waist.
“Hurry up with that,” she murmurs, and she skims her hand along the waistband of his jeans.
Dishes forgotten, he lets her lead him out of the common area, back toward the elevator. He’s on her the moment the doors slide shut behind them, pressing her back against the wall and kissing her until they’re both breathless.
When she slides her leg up around his waist and rubs against him, he slaps his hand on the emergency stop button. He slips his fingers down into her pants, but he can’t get a good angle to get at her, so he spins her around.
“Put your hands on the wall,” he commands and she complies because he’s still got his hand down her pants and she’s writhing and moaning.
It doesn’t take much to get her off, a few short flicks across her clit and a hand moving back and forth between her covered tits, and he sucks at the skin below her ear as she comes around his fingers, throbbing and loud.
“God, I fucking love you,” he says when he’s sure he’s not going to come in his pants, and she turns back around to kiss him, licking the roof of his mouth and the backs of teeth in a way that should be awkward, but just makes him worry that he’s going to lose it after all.
She laughs, then drops her hands to his waist. “I’m thinking maybe . . .” she says coyly, then looks at him with a strange glint in her eye.
“What?” he asks, even though he has a pretty good idea of what she’s thinking.
It still surprises him when she suggests, “I’m thinking it’s high time you fucked me in an elevator.”
He does lose it at that, his higher brain functions utterly gone at the tone in her voice. Then there’s a shifting of clothes, her pants off and away and his jeans undone and down low over his hips, and then she climbs him, wraps herself around him, and he’s inside her and thrusting, and god he hopes there’s no one waiting for this elevator car because they’re busy right now.
She bites his nipple through the thin fabric of his tee shirt, and his orgasm washes over him unexpectedly. He comes hard and fast, pumping himself to completion in three swift, relentless thrusts.
She laughs again, a proper giggle this time, and he loves her a bit more in that moment because he can wrench that reaction from her, can make this perfectly stoic woman turn into the complete opposite, can make her act like a besotted child.
They tug their clothes in order quickly, still clinging to each other, and he knows that she’s ready to continue this in his rooms because of the way she kisses him as the elevator starts back up.
Mercifully, they meet no one else on the short ride up to his floor, and then she leads him with a spring in her step toward his bedroom. He’s reminded of that first night, so long ago now, when she tugged on his hand and led him through his darkened apartment, drenched in the lust brought on by the sex drug Loki gave them, and it’s the same, but somehow different because he still feels all the same things, all the thick and heady lovey dovey shit bound up in a healthy amount of lust, and he wants to possess her as much as he wants to be possessed by her.
She lies down on his bed, turns a heated glance over her shoulder at him, and he feels himself tugged by an invisible chain toward her.
He comes up behind her, runs his hands over her shoulders and back, kissing his way down her neck, kneeling on the bed and arching over her while he skims his hands over her chest. The mood has changed from what it was in the elevator; they’re no longer racing for something, the goal line has shifted somehow and the point is the act itself rather than the rush of completion.
She arches into him, and he pinches her through the fabric of her shirt and bra, enjoying the throaty noises she makes when he teases her.
She moans an affirmation when he slides his hands under the fabric of her shirt, and he pulls it off over her head, tossing it aside. He stares, still a little awestruck at her body, still tongue tied that she lets him do this to her, that she returns his feelings and wants him as badly as he wants her.
He slides the cup of her bra down on one side, her breast spilling out and he takes one hard, pebbled nipple into his mouth and sucks.
“Oh, fuck, yes, Clint,” she says, and the way she says his name makes him strain against his pants. He’ll never hear enough of that, not if he lives a thousand years on a thousand worlds with shaky concepts of how time should work.
He guides her down onto her back, slides her pants over her hips, then tugs her panties down, too, nuzzling her mound with his nose as he strips her. She’s wet, glistening under his gaze, and she spreads her legs wider as an invitation.
He takes it.
He fucking loves going down on her, loves that she lets him eat her out, loves that she trusts him with his face and teeth in such an intimate area. There’s nothing like it, nothing can compare to that, the trust implicit in the act, and it only turns him on more that he can taste himself inside of her, like he’s marked her somehow. And fuck, the way she tastes while she’s coming apart under his tongue and the way she sighs his name and tears at his scalp, the way she can’t control herself as he lathes her . . . it’s too much and not enough all at once.
He can tell when she’s going to come now, so attuned is he with her little tells. Her fists clench and her breath hitches, the long muscles of her thighs still around his ears, and she presses her pussy hard against his face, her fingers pressing him closer and holding his head still. She can’t stall his fingers though, has no control over his tongue, and he keeps up the sweet torment even as she arches her back, cries out his name, and ripples across his tongue.
He licks her slowly as she moves out of the haze of orgasm, carefully, lovingly, if such a thing can be said, and he watches her with his own lust filled eyes as her dark gaze falls on him, face still between her legs.
“Hey, baby,” she says, and her grin turns wicked even as she trades places with him, helps him get his pants down over his hips. He props himself onto his elbows to watch her as she works, licking a path up his thighs, scratching her nails lightly down his sides, teasingly avoiding the part of his anatomy that strains toward her. He cants his hips, desperate for her mouth, but still is not ready for it when she flicks out her tongue and teases the tip of his penis, lapping away the precum that has leaked there.
“Oh, god, Nat,” he says, drawing out the syllable and breathing hard as she rubs her chin across his glans. She licks him, long and surely, maintaining eye contact as she draws her tongue up the underside of his cock from base to tip.
And then she presses her palm against his stomach and takes him in her mouth and he swears he can feel her tonsils as she envelops him. She’s sucking and her head is bobbing, and goddamn it all he’s going to miss some of the show because he can’t keep himself upright when she’s pumping away on his cock like that.
He feels his balls tighten, draw up into his body, and he knows he’s close, but she must know it, too, must recognize the signs as surely as he recognizes her signs of impending orgasm because she tugs on his balls, lets him fall out of her mouth, and the moment of panic is over as quickly as it arose.
She crawls up his body, sharing that secret smile of hers with him, the little grin strangely warming his heart even as she kisses him, the taste of each other mingling on their tongues, and maybe he could come just from this.
Finally, she straddles him, sinks down onto him with her hands braced behind his head and her tits peeking out over the lacy fabric of her bra, and she’s bouncing up and down on top of his dick, and fuck, she’s hot. He leans up to tug one full breast into his mouth, latching onto her nipple and feeling himself twitch inside her even as he thrusts because she’s just so fucking tasty.
She arches backward then, resting her hands on his upper thighs as she fucks him, and god he loves watching her, loves feeling her, just loves her. And whatever it is that’s been bothering her, whatever it is that she’s keeping from him, he’s sure it’s going to be just fine because they work so well together, here and everywhere, and shit if she keeps howling like that, he’s going to come before he’s ready.
He shifts her, loving the way she leans into his hands as he repositions her onto her knees in front of him, and he slides back into her heat slowly but firmly from behind.
She leans into him, cranes her neck to kiss him, and it’s so fucking filthy and perfect that he’s already close to the brink again. He reaches down, low over her hip as he fucks her, plays with her clit, feels her clench involuntarily as she sighs her pleasure at the action. She moans his name like he’s something special, and god damn it all if she doesn’t make him feel like he really is, and he wants to spend the rest of his life feeling this way.
He swears violently when he feels her come, feels himself go white and starry around the edges while she clenches around him, and fucking hell he’s there right behind her, turning his insides out and pumping into her, clutching at her hips and holding her firmly against him.
They collapse into a heap of sweaty limbs, tangled up in each other and trading lazy kisses as their heart rates return to normal.
The thing that’s been bugging her is back in her eyes then, just behind them, a shadow of doubt lingering when she looks at him. And maybe it’s because he’s stupid, but probably it’s just as much because he loves her, he’s going to have to ask, even though he really should know better by now.
“Nat,” he says, not really going anywhere with it, but realizing that it’s a question. There’s obviously something going on in her head, something she’s worried about, but she’s private and even being in love isn’t going to change that.
She stares up at him, a kind of sadness in her eyes, and she runs her hands over his face, his brow, his nose. She leans up, kisses him softly.
“I just . . . I love you,” she says at last, staring into his eyes. He knows that’s not it, or at least that’s not all of it, but he won’t press the issue. She’ll tell him when she’s ready.
He flips onto his back, pulls her into him, repeating her gestures, running the pads of his fingers over the familiar lines of her face. It’s insufficient, the words, and maybe that’s part of why she’s hesitant, why she stumbles over her words, but he gets that. She makes him stumble, too.
“I love you, Natasha,” he says. Then he kisses her and the ache in his heart eases, just a little.
The sun peeking in through the blinds wakes her. She stretches, her joints and tendons flexing and popping pleasantly as her brain clears the fog of sleep.
“Urnf,” Clint says, or something like it. She doesn’t bother to fight the grin that stretches across her face when she looks at him, tousled and sleepy eyed in her bed.
He clears his throat and tries again. “Hey, good looking,” he says, half a grin on his face, and he turns onto his back, tries to pull her in for a kiss.
“Oh, no,” she says laughingly, slipping out of his grasp and the bed. “None of that until you brush your teeth.”
Clint makes a face, puckering his lips plaintively in her direction and sighing loudly when it doesn’t work.
“The romance is over,” he laments, but follows her to the bathroom anyway.
They take turns at the sink and the toilet, trading glances and smiles, and they don’t even have to say anything to each other because it’s just nice to spend the morning quietly. She’s starting to pull her brush through her tangles when Clint comes up behind her, takes the brush from her. She watches him in the mirror as he slowly, carefully works through the knots he helped form. When he’s done, he places the brush on the porcelain counter top and wraps his arms around her.
She twists around to face him, twines her arms around his neck and pulls him in for a kiss.
She doesn’t mean for it to go that far, not really, but when she feels him stir against her hip she can’t help it, doesn’t really have a reason to, and she lets the desire quicken in her belly, lets him push her back and up onto the counter. Then he’s sliding into her and she’s clinging to him and crying out and fuck, she thinks she might black out from the sheer pleasure that erupts through her when she comes.
She hisses when he pulls out, but then he guides her into the shower and the hot water running down her body almost makes up for missing his heat between her legs. He washes her, and she’s in the mood to let him, especially when he starts to massage her neck and shoulders. He drops kisses along the top of her back, and she starts to feel herself grow interested again. She’d wonder if the fucking sex drugs were at work in her system except for Freya’s insistence that they were gone for good.
No, this reaction, this wanting, craving, yearning has nothing to do with drugs, not at all. Maybe she can only acknowledge it now that they’re coming to grips with the emotional side of their relationship, but the heat between them has always been present. She’s willing to admit it, even if only to herself, that she’s always felt this for him, even when they first met, through all the years of their partnership, even before they started sleeping together. So what if it took being injected with some crazy ass fertility drug and watching Clint almost die for her to figure it all out? It wasn’t ideal, no, but since when has anything in her life ever been?
She looks at him fondly, feeling her heart ache at the sight of him. He’s down on his knees in front of her, pressing her back against the cool tile of the shower and lapping at her center. She threads her fingers through his hair to hold him against her, lifts her leg over his shoulder to give him better access, but he’s not quite hitting the right spot, not quite reaching everywhere she needs.
“Fuck this,” she murmurs, smacking at the shower handle until the water shuts off.
Clint looks up, dazed and damp. “Tasha?”
She drops her leg back down, pulls him to his feet. “I need . . .” she tries to say, but she can’t articulate it, can’t get the words out, doesn’t even know what she means. Clint picks her up though, and she wraps her legs around his waist, clings to him and sucks on his neck while he walks them out of the bathroom.
He throws her down onto the bed but doesn’t join her there, just sinks back down at the edge of the bed and hauls her bodily toward him until her center is on level with his face. He dives in, running his tongue the length of her slit, swirling around her clit, adding his fingers and laughing when she moans. He knows he’s good at this, so fucking good at it, and she can’t get enough of him turning his laser focus on her. The cocksure way he grins against her pussy, secure in the knowledge that he knows how to play her body like a fucking fiddle doesn’t even upset her, just turns her on more, makes her squirm against him.
He reaches up with one hand to play with her breasts, pinching her in time with the thrusts of his other hand and the undulation of his tongue, and she feels herself twist inside, feels the pressure grow at the base of her spine. She feels warm all over, her skin, itchy, and he moves just right finally and she’s coming apart with a shout.
Clint looks up then, a smug look on his face and she wants nothing more than to fuck that expression away, wants to pound him into the mattress until he forgets everything except her name, her face, and the feel of her surrounding him.
When he climbs up next to her, she pushes him onto his back, throwing her leg over him and sinking down onto his hard length in one motion. He gasps, his eyes rolling back into his head as he reflexively digs his fingers into her hips.
She grins at his reaction, and starts rocking, sliding up and down as slowly as she is able until he grunts wordlessly at her and tries to take over.
Pressing one hand to the center of his chest, she says, “No, let me do this.” He relaxes then, cedes control back to her, lets her set the pace. For all that, he does not stop his hands from wandering, running his fingers over her belly and breasts, biting his lip as he rakes his gaze over her, ultimately deciding to focus on where their bodies join.
She bends low then, folds herself down on top of him and presses her mouth to his, the kiss strangely chaste considering what they’re doing.
Without warning, Clint flips them, pulling one of her legs up around his waist and thrusting into her up to the hilt.
“Fuck, Nat,” he breathes into her neck, increasing his pace. “You feel so fucking good.”
She laughs because she doesn’t know what else to do, doesn’t know how to say that she was thinking exactly the same thing without it coming out stupid, but that’s okay because he’s laughing, too, and then he does something interesting with his thumb and they’re coming, together and hard, all laughs and smiles and it’s really fucking perfect.
He kisses her slowly as they return to reality, or whatever passes for it at Stark tower.
“I love you,” he says, brushing a few damp hairs out of her face and dropping a kiss on the tip of her nose. She holds him closer at that, tears strangely close to the surface, and she hides her face in the crook of his neck.
This really isn’t the kind of day she was expecting to have. They have plans to work out at some point; they haven’t trained for what’s either days or weeks, depending on the way you looked at time, and there’s a ton of paperwork to be filed with SHIELD. Instead, she’s staying in bed with Clint, ready for a second shower when she’s still wet from her first, and trying not to cry.
And then Clint says, “Yeah, me, too,” and she suddenly feels one hell of a lot better. It’s not that she needs to be tough around him – they’re past that. She can relax every defense she’s built up over the years around him, knows that she can just be herself, tears and all.
There’s just something about the way he looks her, his eyes red-rimmed and suspiciously misty that makes her feel like this kind of love, the thing that they share is something different than what the Red Room tried to beat out of her. She thinks that maybe they didn’t really understand people at all, her former handlers, because if they did, they would try to foster this kind of strength in their operatives. She’d walk over broken glass in bare feet for this man, and the way he’s looking at her, well, she knows he’d do the same.
Eventually, he rolls off of her, tucks her into his side, and even though they should be moving back toward the shower, they’re both content to fall asleep, to doze in each other’s company for a few minutes more.
She breathes in his scent, lets it permeate her, and she doesn’t know how she got here, can’t figure out how she ended up being okay with all of this, with Clint and her being . . . well, whatever they are and whatever they might become.
She can’t deny that it’s going to take a long time to figure out how to live with this, how to be normal in the middle of lives like theirs, but she kind of thinks that maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be. It’s going to take constant effort, time, and attention, but she wants this, wants him. More to the point, she needs him now, has always needed him to ground her, to pull her back in when she goes too far. She’s better with him, more human around him, and he reminds her that life doesn’t have to be made up of debt and the give and take doesn’t have to be obligatory.
She shifts, turns her back toward him to get comfortable. He hooks his arm low across her waist, holds her closer to him, and when his thumb brushes idle circles against her belly, her heart clenches a little.
The future is uncertain, but it’s always uncertain, and whatever comes, she’s got him and he’s got her, and they’ll figure it out.
Well, that's it! There's a sequel in the works, but I'm going to wait to post that one until I've got the whole thing finished rather than make you lovely people wait so long in between updates. <3!