Chapter 1: A Very Awkward Briefing
Natasha was eating cherries, and Clint had no idea how she could be so nonchalant during a mission briefing like this one.
Actually, he wasn’t sure why she was eating cherries in a mission briefing in the first place, but Coulson was ignoring it, and so Clint tried to ignore it too, even though he was pretty sure she was doing it just to fuck with him.
(Except her lips were nearly as red as the fruit, and she licked her fingers every time she took a pit from her mouth and dropped it into the bag. That was distracting in the extreme.)
But anyway, back to the mission briefing, which was probably the most absurd and embarrassing Clint had ever experienced. He'd experienced a few embarrassing debriefings, but that's another story for another day.
Coulson's expression was completely deadpan when he said, "Agent Romanoff, Agent Barton, you'll be going undercover as the new entertainment at The Boom Boom Room in Budapest."
Clint had unfortunately just stolen a cherry from Natasha's bag, and he promptly inhaled it. Natasha whacked him on the back, and he spat the cherry out. "Jesus Christ," he coughed. "Are you serious? ‘The Boom Boom Room?’"
Coulson looked thoroughly unamused, but Clint could see the ghost of a smile lurking around Natasha's mouth. "Yes, Barton, I'm completely serious," he said. "One of The Boom Boom Room's owners is an arms dealer who's been linked to HYDRA. We need the two of you to infiltrate the club and gather intel on the mark."
Clint couldn't help himself; he snickered the second time Coulson said the club's name. And then reality filtered through the absurdity of the situation, and Clint held up a hand. "Wait. We're the 'new entertainment?'" he said. "Just what does that mean?"
Clearing his throat, Coulson slid a portfolio over to Clint and Natasha. What was in the portfolio promptly made Clint choke again.
"It's a live sex club?!" he exclaimed.
"Yes, Barton," Coulson said.
"And by 'entertainment,' you mean Natasha's going to be stripping, and I'll be a bouncer or a bartender or something, right?"
Natasha's laugh was just a little unkind, he thought. Coulson gave him a look that bordered on exasperation. "You're not usually this dense, Barton," he said. "No, you will not be 'a bouncer or bartender or something.' You and Agent Romanoff will be on stage."
Clint could feel the color draining from his face. It wasn't that he didn't want to have sex with Natasha (and fully sanctioned sex, for that matter; it was an order!). Hell, he and Natasha had fucked plenty of times. They were two attractive people who had very stressful jobs and a lot of chemistry; Clint always thought it was inevitable that they'd get naked together.
But he wasn't an exhibitionist by any stretch. He liked his sex to happen in relatively private locations, and sex with Natasha was... well, an intimate thing for him. He had no idea what it was for her, because being Natasha, she never talked about it. Whether or not she felt the same as he did, he didn't want to experience that kind of intimacy on stage in front of a bunch of leering, horny Hungarians.
"Just think, Clint," Natasha said with a smirk. "You always talk about how unfair it is that I have to use my body for this job. This will level the playing field."
She had a point, but he was still the complete opposite of enthusiastic about this mission. He was a sniper, for god's sake, so why should he have to do this undercover shit? His brain nudged him into not saying that out loud and reminded him that five months before, he had requested more undercover ops. Coulson would just roll his eyes anyway, and Natasha would give him that withering look that made his balls crawl up inside his body.
It sounded like he was going to need his balls on this mission, anyway.
"Fine," he said aloud, giving in to the inevitable. "When do we leave?"
"This afternoon," Coulson said, a look of satisfaction on his face (presumably because he didn't have to argue with Clint anymore). "You'll arrive in Budapest tomorrow morning, which will give you time to set up your safe house and perform recon on the club. Your support team will arrive in the afternoon and set up shop in a second safe house. I'll leave the... strategizing to the two of you."
Natasha sucked the flesh off of another cherry, and Clint fought the urge to put his head down on the table.
Chapter 2: Setting Up the Safe House (oh, and having sex)
Here's where it starts getting porny. Enjoy! :D
Budapest was a really lovely city, but Clint really didn't have any attention to spare for its charms. He was too busy worrying about having sex on a stage in front of a room full of leering people.
They set up their safe house in an apartment a couple of kilometers from the club--close enough to make a quick escape, but far enough away that immediate canvassing of the area wouldn't turn them up. The apartment was already wired for S.H.I.E.L.D.'s usual security setup, so it had to have been used in a prior operation. Clint wasn't sure if it was a coincidence or not that it was so close to The Boom Boom Room.
He snickered again.
Natasha looked up from the security camera output on her laptop. "Something funny?" she asked, a hint of a teasing smile at the corner of her lips.
"Nothing," he said, rubbing a hand over his face. "So, what's the plan?"
She leaned back in her chair, stretching out her legs and crossing them at the ankle. "We're due at the club at 2100 hours tonight," she said. "My contact, Mariska, set everything up. The owners think that we're an established act, and that Mariska booked us while we're in Budapest on vacation. She'll introduce us to them when we get there. We go onstage at 2200. After that, under the guise of tidying up, we can snoop around in the offices and see if we can find anything useful. The owner we're focusing on is Kovács István."
"I'm guessing you'll be talking to him, since my Hungarian is fucking terrible."
The smile that had been hovering on her lips finally made a full appearance. "Well, if you need to ask him where the bathroom or the airport is, you can talk," she teased. "Otherwise, I'll do the talking."
She reached into a portfolio on the desk and tossed him his newly faked passport. They never used the passport they entered the country with as identities, even though both were fake. Flipping it open, he saw that he was now James Ryan Drake from Long Beach, California. "Aw, that's a boring name," he said. "Wouldn't a guy who makes a living doing sex shows have a better name than James Drake?"
"James Drake is classy," Natasha said. "I'm Karolína Karlíková, originally from Prague, but I moved to Long Beach to live with you. Luckily Karolína speaks fluent Hungarian."
"Karolína's pretty good," Clint mused, tucking his passport into the inner pocket of his leather jacket. "But I think my cover should have a porn star name."
Natasha rolled her eyes at him, still grinning. "Please don't complicate this mission," she said with a laugh.
"How about Buck Dangler?"
She honest-to-god snorted with laughter. "Oh god, no."
"Mike Hawk? Oh, that one's fitting."
Natasha had a hand over her mouth by this point, and he wasn't sure if it was to stifle laughter or hide her look of horror at his mental file of porn star names.
"How about Dick Hertz?"
"I absolutely refuse to fuck you on stage if you use that name," she said from under her hand.
"Dirk Bendover? Oh! And yours could be Ivana Bendover!"
He threw his head back and laughed, and so he didn't see her launch herself out of the chair. He grunted when she tackled him, wrestling him onto his back on the couch and clamping her hand over his mouth. "Shut up, Barton," she said, still laughing. "You're James Drake, and I am not Ivana Bendover."
"So I can't be Captain Ass-tronaut?" he said, his voice muffled by her hand.
"You," she said, glaring down at him, "Drive me insane."
And then she removed her hand from his mouth and proceeded to kiss the hell out of him.
While it was an unexpected turn of events, it definitely wasn't an unpleasant one. It took Clint's brain a second to catch up with what was being done to his body, but when he caught on, he grabbed her ass where it hovered over his hips and pulled her firmly against him.
"Tasha?" he mumbled as her mouth drifted over to suck at his earlobe. "Not that I mind, but what are you doing?"
She lifted her head and gave him a smirk. "Rehearsing," she said.
Clint grinned in reply. "Shouldn't we get naked, then?"
Much to his disappointment, she sat up and straightened her shirt, shifting to sit at the other end of the couch. "We really should run through our... plan of action," she said, her expression mostly serious, but he could still see that hint of a smile lurking around her lips.
"Well, for my dick's sake, I sincerely hope the plan isn't 'Crawl on top of Clint, kiss him, hump him for a second, and then leave him hanging,'" he grumbled, pushing himself upright.
"Aw, poor guy," she teased. "Have you ever been to a live sex performance before?"
He snorted. "No," he said, and put his hands up when she raised her eyebrow at him. "What? No, I haven't! I've been to strip joints, yeah, but if I want to watch complete strangers fuck--"
"You'll do it through your scope?"
Crossing his arms over his chest, he returned her raised eyebrow. "No," he said. "I watch porn, just like every other horny, lonely, red-blooded man."
Her smile made a reappearance, and the sight of it sent warmth zinging through him. "If you're that lonely, Barton, I'll have to buy you one of those Realdolls," she deadpanned.
"Just make sure it's a redhead."
The words popped out of his mouth before he had a chance to think them over, and her eyes widened a little bit.
"Uh..." he said. "I mean--"
"Or I suppose if you're that lonely, you could just come to my room," she interrupted, her lips curved in a tiny smile. "Now, back to the mission."
Clint ducked his head to hide his grin. "Okay, the mission."
"So I'm sure you have the gist of what's going to happen already," she said, all back to business. "It's sort of like stripping in that you have to put on a show. We can't just get up there and fuck. They expect the show to last around twenty minutes. Shorter than that and the audience feels cheated, but if it goes on too long, they get bored."
He covered his face with his hand and laughed. "Sorry," he said. "This is just the most bizarre conversation I've ever had. Please, go on."
Peeking through his fingers, he saw her shaking her head at him. "Such a prude," she teased.
"Hey, you didn't think I was a prude on that mission in Tokyo."
That got a full-fledged grin out of her, teeth at all. "Anyway," she said, leaning over to snag the portfolio off of the desk. "This club has a... particular setup on its main stage."
She handed him an 8x10 photograph, and he felt his eyes get wide. The back wall was draped with red velvet (what else did he expect in a sex club?) and the stage itself was painted black. There were cushions and bolsters of all different sizes (and he made a mental note to ask Natasha to make sure those were cleaned before the show), but the most prominent feature was...
"That's a St. Andrew's Cross."
Natasha smirked at him. "Familiar with BDSM equipment, are you?" she said.
He didn't bother to answer, just stared at the photo. The cross was covered in black padded leather with purple restraints for wrists and ankles, and it was braced against--oh good god, he thought--a small iron cage.
"Jesus," he said, for lack of anything better.
"No offense, but I don't think we should try for any serious BDSM play up there," Natasha said. "We've never done that before, and I don't think this is the right opportunity to try it out."
It was Clint's turn to smirk. "But there is a right opportunity?" he said with a leer.
She rolled her eyes again, but he saw the little smile on her lips. "I was thinking we should try to use the cross, though. Maybe some light bondage and teasing," she said thoughtfully.
Clint cleared his throat, and she grinned at him, a little hint of a blush on her cheeks, and he wondered if she was imagining tying him to the cross or being tied to the cross. He resolved to try both, because in for a dime, in for a dollar.
"Do you want to plot out the whole performance?" he asked, trying to approach this professionally.
She gave him a thoughtful look, tapping her fingers on the portfolio in her lap. "No, I think we can improvise most of it," she said. "As far as I remember, we seem to be pretty good at this sort of thing."
"As far as you remember?" he repeated. "Am I going to have to jog your memory, Agent Romanoff?"
Her smile sent his blood flowing south. "Maybe," she said. "So the main thing we need to focus on is showmanship. Oh, and this place expects bareback, just so you're prepared."
That sent Clint's train of thought screeching off of its rails. When he and Natasha had sex in the past, they had always used condoms. Both of them were healthy, and he was certain Natasha had other means to keep from getting pregnant, but the idea of having sex with her without a condom between them was... well, frighteningly intimate. Oh, he wanted it, wanted to spill inside of her, but the idea was more than a little intimidating.
She exhibited her uncanny ability to pick out his thoughts just by reading his expression. "Are you okay with that?" she asked.
"Are you?" he replied.
Her eyes dropped to her lap for a second, and when she looked back up at him, she'd pulled her bottom lip between her teeth. "I am," she said, her voice soft. "I've never done that before, though. But I want it with you."
Clint's heart felt like it leapt into his throat, and he swallowed hard. "All right," he said. "As long as you're okay with it."
She smiled at him then, a genuine smile that was devoid of teasing or sarcasm, and god, he was probably in love with her if he were truthful with himself. She put the portfolio back on the desk and crawled to his end of the couch, lightly brushing her lips against his. "Want to jog my memory?" she purred.
"I think that's a good idea," he said, suddenly rambling because she was unzipping his jeans and sliding her cool hand under his boxer-briefs. "Re-familiarize ourselves with the territory, as it were. Oh Jesus, that feels good. Oh, and it's been a while, so this is a really good idea."
Her tongue darted out to glide over her bottom lip, and he pulled her in for a kiss. "Need me to take the edge off?" she said, brushing her nose against the side of his.
That got a laugh out of her, and then they got naked. They ended up sixty-nining on the couch, and it really had been a while since Clint had fucked anyone (who was he kidding? He only ever fucked Natasha.) because he had to concentrate very hard on archery forms and baseball stats to keep from going off in her mouth when she came against his tongue.
When her legs stopped shaking, she got up and turned around, sinking all the way down on him in a hot glide that shocked them both. She was soft and tight and wet, and god, there was so much heat; he hadn't realized she would feel so much hotter without that thin sheet of latex between them. She stared down at him, her eyes heavy-lidded and her lips parted, and she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.
Her hands scrabbled at his where they rested on her thighs, lacing her fingers with his so she could brace herself. "Oh my god," she breathed. "You feel so good."
He groaned and rocked his hips underneath hers, slipping a little deeper into her, and she gasped, her fingers tightening around his.
Try as he might, he couldn't stay focused, no matter how much he wanted to commit every second of this to memory. It blurred into heat and gripping tightness and the glorious sound of Natasha's moans. She leaned back against his bent knees when she came, her back arching so that her long hair brushed against his legs, and she cried out his name, practically screamed it.
Wrapping his arms around her waist, he hoisted himself upright and turned them so he was sitting up on the couch and she was astride his lap. Still shivering, she pressed herself against his body, burying her face in the curve of his neck, and he held her close, stroking his hands over the soft skin of her back.
If he thought the actual fucking was intimate, it was nothing compared to this. She clung to him, her breathing slowly returning to normal, and her lips were pressed against his skin so that he could feel the warmth of her breath.
"Tasha," he said softly, twining his fingers through her hair.
She lifted her head and looked at him for a moment, her expression unreadable in a way that made his heart pound. But she knew he was trying to read her, so she smiled and cupped his face in her hands, pressing a sweet kiss against his lips.
And then she started rocking her hips just right, and he thought his eyes were going to roll back into his head.
"Oh god," he groaned, clutching at her back.
She smiled again, against his lips, and her hips rolled perfectly so that he slid in and out of her gripping warmth. "I know how you like it," she purred. "God, you feel good. I love how you feel inside me."
It was over embarrassingly quickly with her saying things like that in her low voice, and she felt so fucking good. He gripped her hips and pushed his cock in as deep as he could, groaning desperately, and coming inside of her was just as amazing as he had imagined.
As he slowly came down, he could hear her unsteady breathing punctuated by soft whimpers. He knew the thought could probably get him punched if he said it aloud, but it felt like he had marked her by doing this, like he had made her his. He stroked her hair and enjoyed the warmth of her body pressed against his, and he realized that she had marked him a long time ago. It had just taken him this long to really see it.
Eventually she pushed herself upright, and he sighed a little at the loss of touch. There was an inscrutable look on her face again, but he only saw it for a second before she grinned at him, and damned if that look didn't get him hot all over again.
"Think that took the edge off?" she said softly, resting her hands on his bare chest, and he knew she could probably feel how his heart was still pounding.
Clint made a show of stretching his back and shrugging. "Yeah, I guess so," he said. "You're pretty hot, though, so I'll have to think about Nick Fury in women's underwear during the show to keep myself in check."
She laughed again, which made her tighten up around him in a rather delicious way. "Come on," she said, carefully getting off of him and leaving him groaning on the couch. "We should get cleaned up and do recon on the club before tonight."
He knew she was right, but his dick would much rather stay in the safe house and have lots more sex. When she sauntered across the small living room, he could see wetness slicking her inner thighs, and his brain started to agree with his dick.
"Barton," she said. "Shower. Now."
"Am I showering with you?" he asked.
Tilting his head back, he saw her raising an eyebrow at him, her gorgeous, naked body propped against the door frame. "You are if you get off your ass right now," she said.
Chapter 3: Suiting Up (in a manner of speaking)
The shower took a little longer than expected, but there was still plenty of time for recon in the afternoon and evening, and then it was back to the safe house to eat dinner and get ready.
Clint had been worried he'd have to wear some ridiculous getup like a male stripper would wear (lamé speedos or a jock strap or something equally horrifying), but Natasha just tossed him a pair of jeans and a dark grey t-shirt. "Lose the underwear," she said with a grin.
"I don't have to wear a banana hammock or something?" he said, stripping off his dark sweater.
She snickered. "No, thank god," she replied. "I wouldn't be able to keep a straight face if you did."
"Hey now, I'd look hot in one of those," he said, tugging the shirt on; it was a size too small, but he liked the way she gave his chest an appreciative look.
The jeans were tight, too, but they made his ass look fantastic, if he said so himself. He actually admired it in the mirror for so long that he missed Natasha stripping off her own sweater and jeans. So she was naked when she slapped him on the ass, and he turned his attention from his own reflection to his nude partner.
"You're going like this?" he teased, waving a hand at her nudity. "Not going for any kind of seductive mystery?"
Natasha rolled her eyes at him, a grin turning up one corner of her mouth, and she stepped into the most ridiculously sexy pair of panties he had ever seen. He'd been expecting a g-string or something stripper-ish, but she chose a low-slung bikini with bands of black silk surrounding pale gold lace. She adjusted them on her hips and then bent to retrieve her boots from the suitcase, and her ass looked just as amazing as his did.
She smacked his hand when he copped a feel, but she was grinning, and Clint liked this easy, flirty camaraderie. He had been worried things would be awkward after doing something that intimate, but she was actually more relaxed around him than ever, and it felt good.
He settled on the bed to watch her get dressed, and after she tugged the boots on, he was glad he was seated. The boots were high-heeled and made of soft leather that stretched all the way up to mid-thigh. His brain clicked over the red soles, and he wondered if S.H.I.E.L.D. had footed the bill for those babies, or if Natasha had them stashed away in her closet for a special occasion. Whatever their origin, he sincerely hoped he'd get to see her wearing them again.
She stood from the edge of the bed and checked the backs of the boots in the mirror, adjusting the laces at the very top, and he was completely enthralled by the sight of her. The black leather of the boots and the black silk of her panties contrasted sharply with her pale skin, and her bare breasts were distracting in the extreme. His mouth actually watered a little when she bent forward a bit and her breasts swayed with the motion.
"Looks like your jeans are getting a little tight, Clint," she said, putting her hands on her cocked hips.
He imagined he looked like the wolf in those old cartoons, tongue flopping out of his mouth and eyes popping out of his head. "Has the show started already?" he asked. "I think I have a few singles in my pocket, but you'll have to work hard for them."
"Shut up," she said fondly, bending again to get the rest of her clothes.
"Stop showing off your gorgeous ass like that and I will," he replied.
She shook her head at him and wrapped a scrap of black leather masquerading as a skirt around her hips. It zipped from waist to hem, and he thought that was very convenient and that he couldn't wait to get his hands underneath it.
Next, she stopped to put on her makeup, and he knew she was doing it topless just to fuck with him, the minx. He was going to have to break out the Fury-in-panties mental images early if she kept that up. When she was finally satisfied with her smudgy eye makeup and her gloss-slicked lips, she turned back to him, sashaying across the small bedroom.
"You're going to have to stop being so sexy, or I'm going to have to go jack off in the bathroom before we leave," he said flatly, rubbing his hand along the erection straining against his jeans for emphasis.
Her grin was absolutely perfect, and yep, he was head over heels for this woman.
"Sorry," she said, not sounding sorry at all. "Help me into my top?"
He wasn't sure how he could help (other than by cupping those gorgeous breasts and wrapping his lips around her nipples), but she held up a shiny square of what looked like shimmery fucking chain mail, and he wasn't sure how the hell that was even a shirt.
She tied two ribbons around her neck so that the shirt (if it could be called that) dipped down to expose a whole lot of cleavage, the solid metal links draping over her full breasts like liquid. "Can you tie it in the back?" she asked, pulling her long hair over one shoulder.
There were two more ribbons, and he tied them across the smooth plane of her back, unable to resist dragging his fingertips over her skin. She turned around, uncomfortably close to him, and those boots brought her up to his height so it was easy for her to lean in close and swipe her tongue across his bottom lip.
"How do I look?" she purred.
"Like you need to be bent over and fucked hard," he rumbled in reply, pleased at the way her cheeks flushed. "Maybe we should do that. I could get you all slicked up."
"You're so crude," she said, but he knew he could see real affection in the quirk of her lips.
"That's why you l-like me," he replied, but he knew she had heard his verbal stumble.
She looked pensive for a second, and he started to mentally kick himself, but she smiled again and pressed a cinnamon-flavored kiss against his lips. "Come on," she said. "We should go."
Chapter 4: Making the Mark
The Hungarian and Russian dialogue comes from various "speak Russian/Hungarian!" websites, so I apologize if they're wrong. ;D
THE BOOM BOOM ROOM, in gigantic pink neon letters. Clint started laughing the second the sign came into view. He'd hoped it had been some sort of weird translation problem between Hungarian and English, but nope, that was actually the club's name.
The club was busy, and as they got out of their cab and walked around to a back entrance, Clint was a little surprised to hear a lot of English being spoken in the line. "American and British tourists," Natasha whispered by way of explanation. "Budapest is known for its sex tourism industry. Some come here for prostitutes, others dip their toes in by going to strip bars and sex clubs like this one."
Natasha's contact, Mariska, was a pretty, middle-aged woman with bottle-blonde hair and dark, dramatically arched eyebrows. She greeted Natasha in Hungarian and then switched to good but heavily-accented English for Clint's sake. "There's a dressing room for the two of you," she said, leading them down a dim hall. "It's here, just down the hall from the owners' offices."
She shared a significant look with Natasha, and after they had stepped into the dressing room, his partner retrieved an envelope from her duffel bag (which, much like his own bag, had a more comfortable change of clothes along with a choice selection of weaponry) and passed it to Mariska, who smiled grimly and tucked it into the waistband of her skirt. "I will introduce you to Mr. István and Mr. Szabados in a moment," she continued, smirking. "They are pleased to have such a well-known American act in their club. They will be in their offices until your performance, so I would suggest waiting here until then. After your performance, they will be in the club itself. They like mingling with the clients."
The dressing room was small, but it had a window big enough for Clint to climb out of. Mariska smiled when she saw Clint looking at it. "It's the only dressing room with a window," she said.
"Köszönöm," Natasha said softly, clasping Mariska's hand. "Where will you go after tonight?"
Mariska smiled. "Szívesen, nincs mit," she replied. "I am tired of this place anyhow. I think it is time for a holiday."
She patted the envelope and grinned at them both. "I will bring you to meet the owners in twenty minutes," she said. "They will probably talk until your ears fall off. And then it will be time for your show."
With a wink, she left the dressing room, closing the door behind herself. The next twenty minutes or so were spent carefully assembling and loading guns, and then just as carefully tucking them into bags and hidden holsters inside of their jackets. They obviously couldn't pack heat on stage (well, other than the heat Clint usually packed, he thought with a snicker), but they'd need to be prepared once they were doing the snoopy part of this job.
The meeting went exactly as Mariska said: the two owners talked a whole fucking lot, and since their English was broken at best, Clint spent a lot of time looking politely lost. He actually spent that time sizing up both owners. Szabados was a slightly round man, and Clint’s brain supplied "jolly" to describe him, though jolly was an adjective usually reserved for Santa Claus and not a sex club owner. He clasped his hands in front of his belly and laughed a lot.
On the other hand, their mark, István, was a weedy-looking guy whose eyes kept crawling all over Natasha in a way that made Clint want to shoot him in the crotch. He could tell Natasha loathed the guy on sight, too, because underneath her bright, flirty smile, he could see the coldness in her eyes and a sharp set to her jaw when she listened to him talk.
Unfortunately, István didn’t give off any obvious "I'm an arms dealer working for creepy terrorists" vibes, not that Clint had expected him to come right out and announce his side business. Too bad, too, because if he had, they could’ve pulled off this mission without having to... perform.
Mariska stuck her head in the dressing room and said something in rapid Hungarian that made the owners nod and shuffle toward the door. István, however, groped Natasha’s ass as he walked by, muttering something to her, and Clint had to stuff his hands in his pockets to keep from grabbing the little fuck by the throat.
When the door closed, Natasha turned to face him, and Clint realized that István was a lot closer to death than just what Clint was imagining doing to him. Her face was stony and cold with fury, and as soon as the hall outside quieted, Clint put a hand on her bare shoulder. He knew he was taking a chance when she was that pissed off, but after a tense second, she relaxed and let him stroke her arm.
"Хуесос," she muttered. "I hope I get to shoot him. Or at least break his fucking arm."
"I'll stand back and let you have the first shot, if the opportunity arises," he said, pressing a kiss against her forehead. "After that, I make no guarantees."
A knock at the door made them both tense, but it was just Mariska again. "It's time," she said, motioning to them to follow her.
Clint's stomach suddenly twisted with nerves as they walked through the darkened halls. Natasha slipped her arm into his and kissed his cheek when they stopped by the edge of the stage. "Don't worry," she whispered. "Just focus on me up there."
"I don't think that'll be a problem," he muttered in reply, letting his eyes drift down to her cleavage.
The last thing he saw before she stepped out through the velvet curtains was her sly smile.
Chapter 5: The Show (Part One)
I'll be writing the next parts on the drive to San Diego this weekend. For some reason, road trips make for great writing time.
Feedback is appreciated! :D
Clint could hear Mariska introducing them over the loudspeaker in Hungarian and English, and when Natasha slipped through the curtains, the background music was drowned out by the sound of cheers and catcalls. Tipping his head to the side a little, he watched her slink around the stage, swinging her hips and teasing the audience.
They'd planned this out beforehand; she would go out first, do her thing, flirt with the audience, and then he would come out and play the jealous lover. And it really wasn't difficult to conjure up a little bit of jealousy, because watching her flash her ass at a room full of tourists was dredging up an ugly streak of the emotion in him.
He didn't know if it was because of what they had done earlier or what, but he found himself hating the fact that all of those people had their eyes on her. And he certainly wasn't used to feeling possessive about anything to do with Natasha. Hell, she would probably kick his ass for feeling like she was his.
But he thought it might be worth it to take that chance.
She swayed to the music in a slow circle, her hands roaming over her body, and he had never realized just how graceful a dancer she was. He'd seen her fight, of course, and she always moved with a deadly sort of grace, but when she turned that strength and muscle control to something like dancing, she was utterly beautiful.
Clint couldn't figure out exactly what he was feeling. Nerves, of course, and he was turned on by watching Natasha move, but that arousal was laced through with jealousy and a nearly overpowering need to go out there and show all those assholes leering at her who got to fuck her, who she belonged to.
Oh, she would definitely kick his ass if she ever managed to pry that thought out of his head.
Her fingers drifted across her cleavage, playing at the edge of her top, and her eyes flicked over to where he lurked behind the curtain. That was his signal; she'd riled up the audience enough, and now it was time for him to do this thing.
He took a deep breath and let a mantle of arrogant bastard settle over him. The curtain parted when he flicked his wrist, and he swaggered out onto the stage.
The stage lights were bright enough that he really couldn't see anything beyond the edge, which was a relief. He quickly discovered, though, that he didn't even care about the people out there. Natasha was watching him out of the corner of her eye as she turned her back to the audience and slowly, very slowly, bent forward. The black leather skirt slipped up, exposing her pale thighs and the silk-and-lace curve of her ass, and that was perfect for getting into his character.
He heard her gasp when he grabbed her ass, and she turned her head to look up at him, flipping her red hair out of her face. When he slid his fingers firmly between her thighs, gripping her mound, her face slackened with pleasure for a second, and she grabbed at his pants leg, using it to pull herself back upright.
Leaning in close, she licked at the seam of his mouth, but when his grip loosened, she slipped away, taking a few steps in that swingy little saunter. Even though it was something he would never even think of doing to her in any other situation, it just felt right for James Drake to do onstage.
He covered the distance between them in two strides and grabbed her arm, yanking her around to face him.
She looked shocked, and that made him feel powerful. For a second, he could read defensiveness in her posture, but she shook off her natural reaction in the blink of an eye. She sagged against him, letting him manhandle her, and when she looked up and caught his eye, what he saw there nearly took his breath away.
She trusted him.
It wasn't something they had ever really discussed; they just moved as a team and trusted that they had each other's back. But this? This was different from a mission, different from a firefight. He trusted her with his life, and he knew she had slowly come to trust him with the same. That look in her eyes said she trusted him to know her, to know her limits and just how far he could push her before she would break.
It was humbling that she would put that much of herself in his hands.
Wrapping his arm around her back, he held her against him, leaning close. "You like this, don't you?" he murmured. "You like it when I'm in control."
A grin turned up the corner of her lips, and she tugged at his grip, trying to pull away. "Put on a show, hotshot," she whispered.
Swiftly switching his grip to both of her wrists, he pulled her across the stage to where the St. Andrew's Cross stood against its little cage base. When he pushed her back against the padded leather X, she bit her lip, and he realized that she looked excited. That look of anticipation turned him on more than anything else, because she wanted him to tie her up and do unspeakable things to her.
He cuffed her wrists to the cross one at a time and then knelt and fastened the ankle cuffs, leather strap wrapped around the leather of her boots. And then he got to his feet again, taking a moment to admire his handiwork. Natasha tugged at the cuffs, giving him a predatory look that sent heat lancing through his body, and he loved that she could look so dangerous even when she was tied up and helpless, or at least looked that way to the audience.
He knew better than to think being tied up made her helpless.
Stepping in close to her was like getting right up against the bars of a tiger's cage. She smiled at him like she was daring him to move, and he felt a thrill of arousal at this power game. Well, she was the one tied up (for the moment, anyway), and he planned to take full advantage of that.
The ties on her top came loose with a tug, and he tossed the shiny scrap of a shirt toward the curtain before putting his hands on her, cupping her heavy breasts and teasing her nipples until they were stiff under his fingertips. Her lips had parted on a gasp, and she watched him with heavy-lidded eyes.
He could hear the crowd's noise, but it was at the edge of his awareness. The loud music helped Clint filter everything else out.
She squirmed when he ran his hands down her stomach, struggling against the cuffs a little. He pressed his body against hers, catching her lips in a scorching kiss, and he slowly tugged on her skirt's zipper, inching it up toward her waist, exposing her pale thigh and then the silk and lace of her panties.
The skirt slipped off just as easily as her top, and he stepped back to admire her bound, near-naked body. He loved how she looked, stretched out and straining against her bonds, licking her shiny lips and looking at him like she wanted to eat him alive. She was beautiful, vulnerable and dangerous at the same time, a temptation that he couldn't resist.
Clint dropped to his knees, dragging his hands down her body from breasts over her flat stomach to her hips. There, he caught the waistband of her panties and tugged them down over the curve of her hips, pulling them down to mid-thigh, as far as they would go with her legs spread-eagled on the cross.
She was already wet; her panties were damp, and he could smell the sweet, musky scent of her arousal over the club's miasma of cigarettes and booze. Pressing his face against the silky skin of her upper thigh, he slid his hands up the soft leather of her boots, bringing them up to frame her hips, and with a nip to her soft inner thigh, he buried his face between her legs.
He could hear her cry over the pounding music, and her body stiffened against the cross and under his hands. Her scent overwhelmed him, and she tasted so fucking good.
Clint loved eating her out, and he could do it for hours. He loved how she trembled against him, how he could make her lose control. She had told him once that she had never let anyone else do that for her, and so being allowed to go down on her felt like she had granted him an indulgence. He was the only man she trusted with this intimate act, and he treated it like a privilege, a blessing that was his and his alone.
Cutting his eyes up, he saw that she was looking down at him, her bottom lip sucked between her teeth. He grinned up at her, and she shivered in response, her cheeks flushing. Keeping his eyes on hers, he touched the tip of his tongue to her clit, and she jerked like he had touched her with an electrical current.
The little nub was swollen as if he'd already been sucking on it, and he realized that she was intensely turned on by... he didn't know, maybe the whole situation. He knew she loved sex (from first hand experience), but he'd never pegged her as an exhibitionist or as someone who would get off on being tied up. In fact, he always thought she'd be more of a tying-people-up kind of girl, and having that expectation turned on its head thrilled him.
He closed his eyes and gave it his all, licking and sucking until she was thrusting her hips against his mouth. Her breathing was shallow and quick, and he loved that he could do this to her, bring her right to the edge and hold her there until he was ready to let her come. The power was heady, as intoxicating as her scent and taste.
She was keening at him, a wordless plea, and he decided to oblige her. Wrapping his lips around her clit, he flicked hard with his tongue, and the result was immediate.
Natasha's body strained against her bonds, and she cried out, shuddering hard against his mouth. He kept lapping at her, wringing every last spasm out of her body, and when she went limp against the cross, he sat back on his heels, stroking the bulge in his jeans.
She tipped her chin up at him slightly, and he rose to his feet, crowding her again, brushing his nose against her cheek and stroking his hands over her breasts and up her smooth arms. "My turn," she whispered with a wicked smile.
Chapter 6: The Show (Part Two)
Whew. I nearly killed myself with this chapter. As always, feedback is highly appreciated!
Edited to Add: I'm so sorry for the delay in chapter 7! I went to Comic Con and promptly ended up in the hospital with an intestinal obstruction. [facepalm] Right in the middle of vacation, too. I have most of it written, but I promise I'll finish it up ASAP and get it posted. :)
Clint unbuckled the cuffs around Natasha's ankles first and slowly rose to his feet, dragging his hands up her body. She squirmed, squeezing her thighs together when he slipped a hand between her thighs, fingers dipping briefly into her pussy, and god, she was so wet.
"Open your mouth," he rumbled, his mouth against her ear and his cock hard against her naked hip, rasping against the denim of his jeans.
Her lips parted, and he removed his fingers from her clenching heat, bringing them up and slipping them into her mouth. He felt rather than heard her moan, and she sucked her taste off of his fingers with an enthusiasm that bordered on obscenity. When her tongue started playing at the little web of skin between his first and second fingers, he stifled a groan and tugged his fingers free from her mouth.
"You want to suck something else, don't you?" he said, running his thumb over her soft lips.
A wicked smile curved her lips, and she suddenly caught the pad of his thumb between her teeth, biting down just hard enough to hurt, and that pain twisted into tightly coiled arousal.
"Shit," he hissed, pulling his thumb away. "Aren't you a naughty little thing? What do you want to suck, hm? Tell me, or I'm just going to leave you tied up here while I jack off."
"Oh please, let me suck your big, fat cock," she purred, smirking at him.
"Tell me you want to suck my cock," he growled. "I want to hear those words, or you don't get what you want."
Her smirk faded, and for a second, there was just sheer want in her expression. "I want to suck your cock," she said, her voice low and desperate.
His dick obviously knew it was the topic of conversation because it twitched in his pants, making him groan. "That's my good girl," he said.
The look on her face was halfway between intensely turned on and ready to kick his ass for that comment. Clint laughed and reached up with both hands, flicking open the buckles and releasing her wrists from the cuffs. Her hands were immediately on him, tugging his snug t-shirt over his head, and he could still taste cinnamon from her lip gloss when he sank his hands into her hair and kissed her hard.
Her hands worked at his belt next, yanking the studded leather loose, and it was pretty obvious she wanted him naked. He stepped on the heel of one heavy motorcycle boot and then the other, stepping out of them, and Natasha quickly stripped his jeans down his legs, yanking them off of his feet along with his socks.
She stayed crouched at his feet, gripping his hips with both hands and smiling up at him. She was close enough that he could feel the warmth of her breath, and his cock definitely paid attention to that sensation. He was so hard that his erection strained away from his body, practically begging for her mouth.
He shuffled back a step when she pushed at his hips, thinking she was just adjusting him so the audience would have a better view until his ass hit the skin-warmed leather of the St. Andrew's Cross. In a flash, she had his ankles cuffed and was slinking her way up his body, letting her breasts brush against his aching cock.
There was really no use in fighting, even if he was just pretending, because he really, really wanted to be tied up and at her mercy. She kissed him as she cuffed his wrists to the cross, the sharp nips from her teeth a sweet contrast to her soft lips and clever tongue.
"Don't you worry," she whispered in his ear, stroking one hand down his stomach to wrap around his cock. "I'll take good care of you, Clint."
"Don't you mean James?" he muttered back, and for a second she looked startled and a little shamefaced.
He'd never known Natasha to get distracted during a mission, and even though he knew it was dangerous, he was still rather flattered that she was distracted because of him. It made warmth build in his chest that had nothing to do with being turned on beyond belief.
She looked at him, straight in the eyes, and that inscrutable look was on her face again. He wished more than anything that he could read her mind, because he knew she probably wouldn't ever come right out and tell him what she was thinking.
He wished that look meant she was just as mixed up in her feelings for him as he was for her.
"Thought you wanted to suck my cock," he said, a little verbal nudge so they could both get back into character.
The faintly uncertain expression disappeared as if she'd wiped it away, and she gave him a crooked grin, twisting her wrist in a way that made his dick jerk in her hand.
She took a step back and bent at the hips, giving the audience a good view, and as she lapped at the head of his cock, he watched her slide her fingers between her legs.
Goddamn, he thought, clenching his hands into tight fists. She's going to kill me.
She sucked him bent over like that for a minute, but he could tell the angle was frustrating her. She ended up dropping to a crouch, which let her hold his cock in one hand and also gave him a much better view of her fingers working between her thighs. Groaning, he tugged ineffectually at his bonds, desperate to sink his hands into her hair or touch her face or something. Being bound was both thrilling and frustrating as hell; he wanted to touch her so badly, but he loved being completely under her control.
Pulling back for a second, she looked up at him, her pink tongue swirling around the head of his dick, and she fucking winked at him. Clint only had a split second to wonder what that meant before she swallowed him whole.
He was pretty damn sure every single person in that club could hear the noise he made, even over the absurdly loud music, but he didn't give a fuck. Hell, it probably made the show even better. And he was a rather well-endowed guy (and had been told so by more than one partner, so it wasn't just his ego talking), so he was pretty damn impressed that she could take him all the way in.
Well, the little part of his brain that was still functioning properly was impressed. It had mostly shorted out in complete shock because Natasha was deepthroating him, oh dear god.
She held him there for a moment, his cock completely enveloped in the wet heat of her mouth and throat, and then she swallowed around him, and Clint honestly thought he was going to blow his load right then and there. He dug his fingernails into his palms, just barely holding on, and thankfully she pulled back, letting him slip out of her mouth.
Looking up at him, she gave him a rather wicked smile, the same one she used when she managed to take him down on the sparring mats. The smile quickly slackened, though, and he watched her fingers work faster between her thighs until she suddenly shuddered, and oh god, she just made herself come, she was so turned on from sucking his dick.
"Oh Jesus, I need to fuck you," he groaned.
Shivering one last time, she slowly rose from her crouch and brushed her fingers against his lips before leaning in to lick her wetness away. He caught her fingers between his teeth and sucked them into his mouth, savoring the taste of her pussy.
He expected her to uncuff him, but instead, she stepped away, looking around the stage. There was what looked like a padded sawhorse to the side of the St. Andrew's Cross (Clint's brain helpfully suggested that it was a spanking bench, but he wasn't sure exactly how or why he knew that), and she dragged it over in front of where he was bound.
It suddenly occurred to him what she was about to do, and he had just enough time to give his dick a stern warning to keep it under control before she rubbed her ass against his hips, reaching between her legs to line up him right where she wanted him.
They both gasped when the head of his cock slipped in, and she reached out to steady herself on the bench, shifting her legs so she had more control over her movements. Her next move was a long push back onto him, her cunt slowly yielding and taking him in.
God, he wished he could see her face as she impaled herself on his cock.
Natasha shuddered when he bottomed out with her ass pressed firmly against his groin. His hips jerked involuntarily, and she gasped, one hand coming back to grab his hip for a second to keep her balance.
Gripping the bench tight with both hands again, she pulled forward until he nearly slipped out of her, and then she slammed back, crying out with the delicious movement.
She fucked herself on him hard and fast, and Clint had to keep a tight rein on himself because this was just too good. He knew from the angle and how her legs were starting to tremble that his cock was hitting her g-spot with every thrust, and when she suddenly keened and shuddered against him, he had to think of the unsexiest things imaginable to keep from coming along with her.
She came so hard, her legs nearly gave out on her, and while he was proud to have been a part of that, however inactive a part, he was desperate to get loose from those cuffs and get his hands all over her. "Untie me," he growled, yanking at one wrist cuff hard enough to make the cross creak in protest.
With a final shudder, Natasha slipped off of his cock and unsteadily turned to him, kneeling to unbuckle the ankle cuffs first. When she released one arm, he immediately wrapped it around her, sliding it down her back and over the curve of her ass. Her inner thighs were wet from her orgasm, and god, he had to get back inside of her. "You're a little exhibitionist, aren't you?" he growled against her ear. "You like getting fucked with all these people watching."
She shivered against him, her hands fumbling on the cuff's buckle. The second his other hand was free, he grabbed her by the upper arms and pulled her over to a large, curiously wide-cushioned chair that sat in the center of the stage.
She started to straddle him when he sat on it, but he turned her around, putting his legs inside of hers. Getting the picture, she sat on his cock, squeezing him tight inside of her.
Clint wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her down fully into his lap, then wrapped his hands around the backs of her knees and pulled her legs up and wide apart. If they were here to give a show, then he was going to give them one hell of a show.
She leaned back against his chest and held her own legs, freeing him to wrap one arm around her again and brace himself with the other one, and then he fucked the hell out of her.
This kind of fucking was like what they did when they were coming off of a rough mission, one where they nearly got killed. He felt the same sense of urgency, and in a dimly lit part of his mind, he realized that then, just like now, he was desperately trying to make her his, as if that would keep her safe and always at his side. If he could just hold her tighter, push himself deeper inside of her, it would bind her to him, and he wouldn't have to be afraid of losing her.
She was moaning and gasping and whispering encouragement to him, her breasts bouncing against his arm where it was locked around her waist, and suddenly it was too much. She was too hot, too soft, too wet, too Natasha, and he couldn't hold back any longer.
Burying his face in her hair, he lost control, and he just barely remembered in time that he was supposed to pull out. Reaching down, he gripped his cock and came, spurting between her legs and on her stomach and breasts, and he could vaguely hear himself making a fucking racket, rambling his pleasure as spasms wracked his body.
When he was back in his own head, he realized three things simultaneously: the audience was flipping its shit, Natasha had gone a little stiff against him, and he was pretty sure he had groaned "I love you" in the throes of his orgasm.
Chapter 7: Game Face
I'm soooo sorry for the delay in posting this chapter. There was Comic Con and then there was a medical emergency, and... well, yeah, my writing time has been severely crimped. BUT I'm back and writing again, so I hope you enjoy this chapter, and I'm hard at work on the rest of the fic. :)
As always, feedback is appreciated. :)
It was the most awkward bow in the history of taking bows. Clint wasn't used to getting all that much attention anyway; he was a sniper. He stayed on the periphery, out of the public eye, and he was pretty damn happy there, thank you very much.
So he waved a little awkwardly at the crowd he could barely see and fucking hightailed it off of the stage.
Mariska was waiting there with two robes, and he shrugged his on quickly, feeling weirdly more exposed in front of just her and Natasha than he had on stage. Natasha took hers and draped it around her shoulders, her expression closed off and pensive, and Jesus Christ, she was covered in his come and he couldn't believe he had actually told her he loved her.
Maybe he could pass it off as orgasmic brain damage. He wasn't above lying if it would keep her from bolting, because he was flat-out terrified that she would bolt on him now.
"There is a shower in your dressing room," Mariska said, walking with them to the door. "I will bring your clothes here. Szabados and István are showing off their club to an investor. You will have an hour maybe. Good luck, barátaim."
Clint followed Natasha into the shower, determined to... talk to her or apologize or lie, he wasn't sure which, but when she dropped her robe and stepped under the water, he faltered. She was so beautiful, and goddammit, he didn't want to lie to her or explain his feelings away.
"Are you coming?" she said, breaking him out of his reverie. "We're short on time."
He took his robe off and dropped it on top of hers, stepping into the narrow stall. "Tasha--" he began, but she put her hand on his chest, silencing him.
"Don't," she said. "We need to focus on the mission right now."
Her game face was firmly in place, and Clint sighed. She was right, of course, and he was an idiot for getting distracted. He was probably an idiot all around.
But when he reached around her to grab a bar of soap, she kissed him softly, and he wondered if maybe he wasn't actually a complete idiot for falling in love with his partner.
The back of the club was eerily empty, but as Mariska promised, István's office was unlocked and ready for their brand of pillaging. He stood guard while Natasha hacked into the computer (she snorted in derision at his security measures), and ten tense minutes later, she was at his side, slipping a flash drive into an inner pocket. "Got it," she whispered.
All in all, it was a pretty easy mission, if you ignored the part where they had to fuck in front of a couple of hundred people. Oh, and the part where Clint accidentally confessed his love to his partner.
Of course, the second he had that thought, he knew he had jinxed the mission.
As soon as they were back in the safe house, she plugged the flash drive into her laptop and called up Coulson, and the next hour was spent going over the files, which pretty obviously linked István to HYDRA. The warehouse was in an industrial area on the outskirts of Budapest, and it was ostensibly a shipping company, but the records Natasha had stolen showed that he moved guns through it and supplied small terrorist groups on behalf of HYDRA.
"Looks like mostly conventional weaponry," Coulson said, his voice tinny over the cell phone.
"Unless he's not keeping records of energy weapon shipments in his sex club," Clint said, feeling prickly and irritable. "Does this not stink to either of you?"
"Agent Barton has a point," Natasha said, staring at her fingers drumming the desk. "Why would István keep records of his illegal side business on a pathetically unsecured computer that could be accessed by any number of people working at the club?"
Clint tried to pretend the "Agent Barton" didn't hurt a little, but he told himself he was being oversensitive.
Coulson was quiet for a long moment, and Clint could picture him staring at the files, his hands steepled and his brow creased. "I don't like it either," he finally said. "István could just be that stupid, but HYDRA isn't."
"It isn't likely they'd outsource to a moron," Clint said grimly.
"I'm going to call this in to Director Fury," Coulson said. "The lead is too good to ignore, but I'm not sure we should risk it."
"Pass the buck, boss man," Clint said.
"Stand by," Coulson said. "I'll let you know what he decides."
The line went dead, and a tense silence settled over the safe house. He watched Natasha go over the records again, then go over the warehouse schematic Coulson had dredged out of the Budapest city records, and he wished that she would look at him or something, even though he had no idea what he would say if she did look at him.
"Looks like there's a good perch here," she said suddenly, her voice breaking the silence.
He leaned in and saw that she was pointing at a satellite photo of the warehouse. The building across from the front of the warehouse was a floor taller, and the front of the roof had a nice little maintenance building in the perfect spot for him to keep an eye on everything.
"Yeah," he said for lack of anything better. "Think Fury's going to send us in?"
Natasha pressed her lips together, looking concerned if not a little worried. "It is a good lead," she said.
"I will bet you twenty bucks and a dozen of those vanilla bean cupcakes you love so much that this is a setup."
Her lips quirked into a half-smile, which made Clint feel a little better. "I don't think I should take that bet," she said. "If you're right, you might not be around to pay up. And I hate being teased where cupcakes are involved."
"Nah, you can't get rid of me that easily," he retorted. "I like those cupcakes too much to die before--"
Natasha's phone chimed, and they both sat upright in their chairs. Natasha answered and turned on the speaker. "What's the verdict, Coulson?" she asked.
Clint could hear Coulson's sigh as if he were sitting right there with them. "Director Fury wants us to check it out," he said.
"And you informed him that this is probably a trap that we'll be walking into with our dicks in our hands?" Clint said. "Figuratively speaking."
"Yes, Barton, I told him that the situation isn't sitting right with any of us," Coulson said irritably. "He wants Strike Team Delta to suss out the situation with my team of agents as backup. No guns blazing; just sneak in, see what's in there first hand, and then sneak out."
Clint glared at the ceiling, and Natasha sighed. "Yes sir," she said. "When are we doing this?"
"Be ready in half an hour," Coulson said. "I'll send in a clean up crew to take care of your safe house. We'll take care of the warehouse and then get out of the country."
Chapter 8: The Warehouse (where everything gets fucked up)
I'm so sorry for the delay between chapters 7 and 8! Real life unfortunately has a way of throwing monkey wrenches into my writing plans. But it's here, and I'm working on the rest.
Feedback makes my day!
They were too busy for the next half hour to feel awkward, and Clint was very grateful for that. They packed up their personal effects and got their weapons in order, changing into black tactical gear and arming themselves to the teeth. He checked his quiver to make sure all of his arrow heads were loaded and in working order and loaded his sidearm, slipping it into its thigh holster.
His gun came back out when someone knocked at the door, but Natasha, who had been staring at the security feeds, held up her hand and nodded at him.
Coulson was accompanied by four black suits, each of them wearing dark sunglasses despite the late hour, and Clint wondered how the hell they thought they could be inconspicuous dressed like that.
Then again he and Natasha were both in tactical gear, but at least they tried to not look like a couple of narcs. And they were good at being sneaky anyway.
None of the black suits spoke the entire ride to the warehouse, and while that would normally be fine by Clint (he hated small talk), he would've given his left hand to have something, anything to break up the tense silence. Natasha sat across from him in the van, but she stared resolutely at the gun in her hand, checking the clip over and over.
He had to get his head in the right place or he was going to get killed. Or worse, get Natasha killed. He couldn't afford to be distracted by anything, especially not what was looking more and more like a monumental fuck-up in his relationship with Natasha.
The van stopped two blocks away from the warehouse, and Strike Team Delta sprang into action.
Natasha waited to sneak into the building until Clint was ensconced in the maintenance shed across the street, perched high up in his nest with a good view of everything. "Widow, you're clear," he muttered into his comm.
"Roger," she replied. "Going in."
Gripping his bow tightly, he watched her through the windows, tracking for movement other than hers in his peripheral vision.
"Looks empty," she whispered through the comm. "No movement, no lights. Checking out some crates now."
She moved out of his field of vision, and that slightly sick sensation of paranoia coiled in the pit of Clint's stomach again. "Lost visual on you, Widow," he hissed. "Move back."
"Crate's full of... shit, it's full of stuffed toys," she muttered. "I have a bad feeling--"
"Abort," Coulson interrupted, his voice sharp over the comm. "Get out of there."
Clint heard a sharp pop and Natasha's equally sharp intake of breath through his earpiece, and adrenaline surged through him, leaving his body feeling weightless and his focus almost inhumanly sharp. "Eight gunmen," Natasha whispered, her voice tight with tension. "Maybe more."
"Take cover," Clint said, pushing the button on his bow that triggered his quiver to spit out a grappling hook arrow. "Try to keep their attention."
The arrow sliced through the air and lodged into the brick on the warehouse facade, just above an upper floor window. The blueprints showed that the warehouse was completely open but for a small, enclosed office at the back, and the second "floor" was just a series of catwalks that lined the outer wall and spanned the open space.
"Barton, what the hell are you--" Coulson started, but Clint had already clipped the end of his line to a D-ring he'd bolted into the wall behind him for this express purpose.
Slipping his bow into the holder on his quiver, he hooked the small harness on his belt to the line and leapt off of the roof.
He could hear Coulson cursing a blue streak at him over the comm, but just barely over the whir of his carabiner sliding down the steel cable. A little part of him was yelling just as much as Coulson that this was probably a really fucking stupid move, but his partner was in there. It was a quick trip across the street, and Clint bent his knees and put his feet front and center. Luckily the window was already cracked, and that helped a lot when he smashed through it.
In a complicated maneuver that he probably would never be able to do again, he managed to whip his bow out of its holder and unclip the carabiner from the line at the same time, just as his feet hit the window, and so when he landed on the catwalk in a shower of shattered glass, he was able to snatch an arrow out of his quiver and nock it immediately.
He saw the cluster of gunmen right away, which was a damn good thing because it wasn't like he had the element of surprise on his side. The arrow hit the guy in the middle of the cluster right in the chest, much to his surprise. Unfortunately, the rest of his buddies turned their guns on Clint.
"Jesus Christ, get the fuck out of there!" Natasha shouted through his earpiece, and he could hear Coulson barking orders at the backup team, but he had to ignore them both. He ran like hell down the catwalk, trying to get to a spot that would force the gunmen to break their cover to hit him.
Bullets pinged off of the metal and brick around him, showering him with dust and shrapnel, and he bit back a curse as a shard of brick sliced his cheek open. The end of this section of catwalk was just in front of him, and he could see a couple of shipping containers about ten feet from the edge. Whipping out another arrow, he severed the chain that stretched across the catwalk's end, presumably to keep people from trying to do what he was about to do.
Feet pounding on the metal grate, he hit the end and launched himself across the gap.
The edge of the container hurt a lot when his midsection slammed into it, but he managed to pull himself up without getting shot in the ass. So that was a good thing.
He didn't think he'd ruptured any internal organs either, which was also nice.
Natasha was cursing a steady stream in Russian over the comm, but he could hear the distinctive pop of her Glocks, hopefully taking out the bad guys. Clint scrambled to his feet, setting his quiver to pop out an explosive-tipped arrow. "Widow, what's your status?" he said, jumping the much smaller gap to the next container. "Where the hell are you?"
"Trying to cover your back, asshole," she replied. "Opposite you."
"Well, get away from them. Hot arrow incoming."
He shot into the center of the group, the arrow lodging into the concrete floor. There was a second where all of the gunmen turned to look at it quizzically, and one stupid fucker even reached for it.
Clint tried to not feel a little bit of schadenfreude when he triggered the explosive.
When the smoke and concrete dust cleared, he was pleased to see he had taken out the entire cluster of guys. And he was displeased to see a door swinging open at the back of the warehouse to admit another ten or so burly Hungarians armed with handguns and a couple of AK-47s.
"Shit," Natasha hissed. "Get down, Hawkeye! Coulson, where the hell is our backup?"
"Time to get out," Coulson said. "I've been authorized to blow the shit out of the warehouse."
"Fan-fucking-tastic," Clint said, dropping down between the containers and running like hell for the last place he saw Natasha. "How long do we have?"
"Well, goddamn, sir, think you could've given us a little more time than that?"
He saw a flash of red hair and was changing direction to meet up with her when something took his leg out from under him.
Clint tumbled to the ground, just barely managing to throw a hand out to keep from going face-first into the concrete. Natasha was shouting through the comm again, but everything had gone a little fuzzy around the edges, as if someone had smeared Vaseline over his eyes.
Her red hair was suddenly in his face, and she grabbed him under his arms, dragging him behind a big stack of crates. "Come on, Clint," she said, an edge of desperation in her voice. "Come on, I need you to walk with me."
"What the fuck happened?" he mumbled, reaching down to rub an ache in his thigh.
His hand came away bloody, and that snapped him back into his head. Natasha pulled a compression bandage out of her belt and wrapped it around his upper thigh, pulling it tight. Her face was white as a sheet, and she was very pointedly not looking him in the eye. "Come on," she said again. "I need you to walk. We have to get out of here."
"How?" he groaned, trying to get his good leg underneath him. "Those fuckers are between us and the door."
"Well, we'd better figure out something," she replied, peering out of their cover for a second and jerking her head back when bullets peppered the wall behind her. "This place is going to blow in four minutes, and I do not want to die on this mission."
"Me either," he said, hanging onto her arm as she tried to get him back onto his feet. "Tasha, I'm sorry--"
"Shut up," she said shortly. "This isn't the time. Give me your bow."
It took a second for her words to process, and he realized he must be bleeding more than he thought. "What for?" he asked fuzzily.
"I'm going to blow the wall open. Give it to me."
He realized he had it in a death grip in his right hand, and he handed it over along with another arrow from his quiver. She got ready for her shot, and he sagged against the crates, reaching down to tighten the bandage around his leg a little more. He was dizzy, and the inside of his leg was wet all the way down to his ankle, and god, he hoped that shot hadn't hit his femoral artery because he absolutely was not going to die before he could talk to Natasha about... everything.
She finally looked at him, and he realized that she was panicked. He'd never seen that look on her face before, and he wanted to say something, anything, to reassure her, but she stepped out of cover, letting the arrow fly and detonating the exploding head just as it lodged into the wall.
And then Clint passed out.
Chapter 9: Laying it All on the Table
See, I told you I was writing! I'd love to hear what you think of this chapter and the fic so far. Just one more chapter to go, omg.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Clint woke up in a hospital room in Budapest first, then passed out again and woke up in New York.
It was confusing, to say the least.
He stared at the IV in his arm for a moment, then pushed the blanket covering his lower half down so he could look at his thigh. A thick, clean bandage covered the top, and he experimentally tried to move his leg, wincing at the deep ache.
He looked up to see Coulson in the doorway, an unexpected and genuine smile on his face. "What the hell happened?" Clint asked, trying to shake off the fuzzy-headedness. "'m I in New York?"
"Yeah, you're back home," Coulson said, closing the door and pulling a chair up beside Clint's hospital bed. "Bullet nicked your femoral artery. Natasha dragged you out just before we blew the place sky high. A surgeon in Budapest cleaned you up, and then our surgeons fixed the rest of the damage. Oh, and congratulations. You get to test drive some new biotech. Something that mimics muscle tissue until your own muscle regrows."
"Oh, that's really great," Clint said, rubbing his forehead. "How long do I have to stay in here?"
"I don't know," Coulson said. "Another couple of days, maybe? Doc should be by soon to check you out."
And then Clint asked the question that had been on his mind since he woke up to an empty room. "So... where's Natasha?"
It was admittedly a little silly of him to hope that she'd be holding a bedside vigil for him; that was far too sentimental for someone like her, but it didn't stop him from wanting it. He'd hoped a little more realistically that she would be the first one through the door instead of Coulson, but the more Natasha-free minutes passed, the lower Clint's heart sank.
Coulson's pleasant expression flickered for a second. "She's taking some time off," he answered. "I think Budapest stressed her out more than she expected."
It was obvious Coulson was choosing his words carefully, and Clint sighed in frustration. He liked Phil very much, but he wasn't about to explain the whole fucking mess to his handler. "So she's out of town?" he said, giving Coulson an out.
"Not sure," Coulson replied, a sympathetic curl to his lips. "She asked to go off the grid for a few days. She's making contact, so there's no need to worry. I think she just needs to regroup."
Clint got out of the hospital two days later, and that biotech was apparently good stuff. He could walk reasonably well, but he still needed a cane and, according to the doctor, would for another week or two. He was supposed to take it easy for those couple of weeks and slowly add more activity when he felt stronger.
That just meant he'd be bored and antsy. Hell, he was already bored and ansty, and that on top of worrying about where Natasha was and why she had bolted made for a very surly Clint.
Three days after he got out of the hospital, Coulson scowled at him in the commissary. "She's in her apartment," he muttered. "And I'm only telling you in the hope that she'll beat your ass and stop you from being such a pain in mine."
Clint muttered a thanks and hauled himself out of his chair. "Oh, and Barton," Coulson said. "If she asks, I told you she was out of town. I did not tell you she's there. I have plausible deniability."
That made Clint laugh, and his next thanks was more sincere. Coulson just shook his head and went back to his mission report, but Clint thought he could see a little hint of encouragement in his handler's expression.
Maybe he didn't need to explain the whole fucking mess to Coulson. He always did have an uncanny ability to know everything that was going on around him, even the stuff he wasn't supposed to know.
Clint wasn't supposed to drive, what with the healing bullet wound in his right thigh and everything, so he took a cab across town. He had no idea what he was planning on saying to her ("Hey, remember when we fucked in that club and I told you that I love you? Ha ha, good times, right?" Or maybe "Not that you're obligated or anything, but it would've been nice to see you in my hospital room after I woke up from getting shot."), but he wasn't about to let that stop him. He was upset and a little stoned on Vicodin, and he was going to talk to Natasha come hell or high water.
She didn't answer the door when he knocked or when he called out to her, so Clint picked the lock on her door. Shady criminal background and painkillers often made for poor decisions, but he was determined.
When he pushed the door open, she was standing in the doorway to her bedroom, wearing just a towel and with a Glock pointed at his head.
"For fuck's sake, Clint!" she snarled, flipping the safety back on and dropping the gun on a table. "Why are you breaking into my apartment?"
That sent his righteous indignation and determination to explain everything to her skidding to a halt. "Uh... well," he said, leaning on his cane. "You didn't answer, and I thought--"
"You thought you'd break in?" she finished, crossing her arms over her chest. "Brilliant plan. I was in the goddamn shower. But what if I hadn't been and I just didn't want to talk to you?"
"Then I still would've picked your damn lock," he replied stubbornly. "So can I come in or what?"
Her mouth tightened, and if he were anyone else, he would've been hobbling away as fast as his bum leg could carry him. But she was his partner and his friend, and he was pretty sure she wouldn't kill him. She probably wouldn't even hurt him.
"Fine," she said shortly. "Make yourself at home."
She disappeared back into her bedroom, and Clint closed the door behind himself before limping over to the couch. A minute later, Natasha was back, dressed in a t-shirt and pair of yoga pants, pulling her long, damp hair into a braid, and god, she was beautiful.
He hoped he could patch things up with her, because he didn't know if he could stand losing her completely.
"Why the hell wouldn't you want to talk to me?"
As opening lines for big emotional explanations and apologies go, it probably wasn't his best.
"What?" she said, her brow furrowing irritably as she sat on the window seat.
"I got shot, Natasha. I nearly bled to death. You're my partner. I kinda expected to see you when I woke up, but Coulson told me you'd taken off. What gives? I mean, Jesus, I've held fucking bedside vigils for you when you were hurt--"
"You shouldn't have gotten shot in the first place," she said sharply. "Or jumped into the damn warehouse. I could have easily gotten out of there myself, Clint, but you smashed in and played the white knight, and you nearly got yourself killed!"
That surprised him into silence for a second. Playing the white knight? He wasn't trying to ride to her rescue; he was just trying to back up his partner, but as he opened his mouth to tell her so, a little voice of reason in his head (it was very little and often too quiet to be heard) pointed out that he knew it was a bad decision even as he clipped onto that zip line. Natasha was more than capable of taking out eight guys, even eight well-armed guys, without his help, and if she'd needed it, she would've drawn the gunmen into his line of sight so he could've taken them out from the rooftop.
Clint let out a sigh, rubbing his hand over his face. "Yeah," he said. "That was stupid of me."
"You're damn right, it was stupid," she said heatedly, and even though she acted like she didn't want to talk at first, now she was on a roll. "I don't need you to rescue me, Clint, and I certainly don't need to have to drag you out of a warehouse that's about to be blown up. I thought you were going to bleed to death before I could get you to the van, and I thought we were both going to die because I couldn't get us far enough away from the warehouse."
He looked at her a little more closely and saw fading bruises and scratches on her exposed skin; she must have shielded him from the explosion debris, and Clint had no idea what he was feeling. He was angry at himself for being stupid, angry at her for not understand why he had done that stupid thing, and the fact that she had dragged his sorry, unconscious ass out of a warehouse and then protected him made him love her all the more.
Natasha pulled her legs up onto the seat, hugging her knees to her chest. It was a vulnerable position, and he knew he was the only one she let see her like that. He wanted to go sit beside her and pull her into his arms; she let him hold her sometimes, after rough missions, and he was honored that she would let him comfort her. He knew she was upset, and he knew that he could avoid making her even more upset by getting up and walking out the door, leaving her the fuck alone until she was ready to talk.
But he was Clint Barton. He thrived on making bad decisions, because those bad decisions so often turned out to be good decisions in disguise.
"Tasha, we need to talk."
Her lips tightened again but she didn't respond, and he took that as a sign that he should go full steam ahead.
"We need to talk about what happened at the club. What I said," he continued.
"What was it you said?" she asked, and the cool, feigned ignorance in her voice made him hot with anger.
"Don't even pull that shit with me, Natasha," he snapped, and she narrowed her eyes at him but he was already ass-deep in alligators; he was in too deep to try to scramble out of this mess, so he did the only thing he could do: plowed ahead. "I told you that I love you, and for a while I thought I would just explain it away. Too much adrenaline, too much fucking, too much whatever, but I'm not going to lie and pretend I don't feel that for you. You got under my skin, Tasha, and I fell in love with you. And I think you feel something for me, too."
His words hung in the silence of her apartment as if he'd scrawled them on the air in black ink, and now that they were out, there was no taking them back. His heart pounded in the silence, so loud in his own ears that he wondered if she could hear it from across the room.
Natasha stared at him for a long moment, her lips parted and her breathing unsteady, and he still couldn't read that goddamn expression on her face. For the millionth time, he wished she had come with a manual so he could have even the tiniest chance of figuring her out. But he loved that about her, loved her inscrutability and her little smiles and the way he would catch her looking at him sometimes. He loved what he could read and what he couldn't, and god, he really hoped he hadn't ruined everything with this stupid idea of breaking into her apartment and pouring his heart out.
She made a noise somewhere between a sigh and a moan of pain and dropped her forehead to her knees. "I don't... I don't know what you want me to say," she finally said.
"Why don't you tell me the truth?" he suggested a little sharply and could've kicked his own ass for it at the way she jerked her head up to glare at him.
"Love is for children," she gritted out, her expression shuttering, and now he had fucked it all up.
"That's bullshit, Natasha, and you know it," he said, stung that she would pull out that old excuse. "It's a lie they fed you, and I don't understand why you keep on believing it."
Those words hung in the air, too, but they were written in red ink, in hot blood, and he wished he could take them back even as he knew someone had to say them to her sooner or later.
"Get out," she said through clenched teeth. "Leave. Right now."
It felt like his heart plummeted down to his feet and shattered on the hardwood floor.
And then there was nothing to do but pick up the pieces and limp out the door, wondering if he would ever see her again.
And please don't kill me for two cliffhangers in a row. I promise, it'll be worth the anguish! :D
Chapter 10: Safety Net
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
It had taken Clint hours to fall asleep. He lay in his bed, staring at the ceiling, running through what he said, what she said, what he should have said, over and over until he was ready to beat his head against the wall. But exhaustion finally won out over self-castigation, and he drifted off into an uneasy sleep.
Something woke him up in the dark hours before dawn. He blinked at the ceiling for a moment, trying to decide if he had actually heard a noise or if he'd just dreamed it, but the quiet thump of a window closing snapped him back into alertness, and he pushed himself upright, reaching for the handgun tucked into his nightstand drawer.
Soft footsteps approached his bedroom, and he trained the gun at head-height on the door. "I can hear you, you know," he called. "Gotta gun on your head, so maybe you should rethink breaking into my place."
The footfalls stopped, and Clint held his breath, waiting for whoever was on the other side of the door to do something. He had been dreaming about Natasha, a blur of images that didn't really fit together but that made him ache as they faded away from him, and he was having trouble shaking the dream from his waking mind.
The door slowly opened, and for a second he honestly wasn't sure if he was dreaming or awake. Natasha stood in the doorway, her hands raised. "It's me," she said softly.
Clint thumbed the safety back on and put his gun back in the drawer, using that moment to cover his reaction to seeing her. He wasn't sure if he'd actually expected to never see her again after that evening's fiasco; disappearing would be a pretty drastic reaction, but then he had never seen her that angry or that... spooked. She still looked spooked, her eyes large in her pale face, wisps of red hair escaping from her braid.
"So it's your turn to break into my house?" he said, for lack of anything better.
"You always forget to lock that window," she replied, her lips twisting into something that was almost a smile.
"I live on the thirtieth floor. I don't expect people to crawl in through it."
"That's still pretty stupid for a super spy."
"Tasha," he said, "What are you doing here?"
She pressed her lips together for a second, hesitant, and Clint leaned back against his headboard, willing his body to relax, to be nonthreatening as if he were facing a skittish wild animal.
"I believe it because it's the only way I can feel safe," she said, and it took a second for him to realize that she was answering his question from hours before.
"Why don't you feel safe?" he asked quietly.
"They trained it out of us. They taught us that love is weakness. It's a child's emotion that would just get us killed. If we loved something, they destroyed it. They took it away from us."
She had slowly crossed the few feet between the door and the bed while she spoke, and she climbed onto the mattress at the foot of the bed, sitting on her knees. "They took everything I loved away from me," she continued, her gaze intense as if she were desperate to make him understand. "Love is for children. Love makes you weak, vulnerable. Love cuts your legs out from underneath you. Love is a liability.
"But... it's not. It's trust and... understanding. It's allowing someone to get close enough to really know you, which is the opposite of what they wanted from us. We were alone. But now... I'm not alone, and I don't know how to deal with this. With how intimate we are. With what I feel for you."
It felt like his breath had frozen in his lungs; he was afraid to breathe, to move, because what if he did and this faded like a fever dream? But he had to say it, had to tell her why he picked her lock and barged into her apartment, why he couldn't just let her slip in and out of his bed or his life anymore.
"You want the intimacy without the emotion," he said, trying to keep his tone even and gentle; he wasn't saying it to hurt her, but he needed her to understand him as badly as she needed him to know what they did to her. "I'm sorry, Tasha, but I can't do that. I can't turn it off. I can't pretend that I don't lo-- feel what I feel for you."
Natasha tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and dropped her eyes, and he knew that expression; she about to withdraw again, and damned if he was going to let that happen.
"Everyone I've ever loved, I've lost," he said into the quiet. "My mother. My brother. Every girl I've ever given my heart to has left me. I'm afraid I'm going to lose you, Natasha."
Her eyes clenched shut suddenly, her hands fisting in the material of her sweatshirt. "You're not," she whispered. "I'm not going to leave. I just... don't know how to deal with this."
Clint carefully sat upright, wincing at an ache when he shifted his legs. "Just tell me what you need me to do to help you, Tasha," he said.
She looked at his leg for a moment, a faint frown creasing her forehead. "I'm sorry I wasn't at the hospital," she said, and he blinked a little at the change in topic. "I was there in Budapest, of course, and on the way to that hospital and on the plane back to New York, but once we were here and I knew you were safe... I don't know. I just couldn't take it anymore. Everything just piled up on me, and I... I couldn't deal with it. I had to be alone."
"Did it help?" he asked.
Her gaze returned to his face, and he wanted so, so badly to reach out to her, to pull her into his arms and never let her go again. He hated that he had scared her like that, enough to throw her off balance, because Natasha was rarely off balance. She was the most amazingly adaptable person he had ever met, and things that he would have expected to knock down even the strongest person hardly fazed her.
Now he wondered how much of it actually did faze her, how much she kept hidden under that inscrutable shell of hers.
"Not really," she said with a short shrug, more of a nervous twitch than anything else.
"What do you need me to do?" he asked again, keeping his tone gentle, careful.
She pressed her lips together, pushing her hands into the sweatshirt's front pocket, and he realized with a start that it was one of his old shirts; he could just make out the faded 49ers logo, and he recognized the rip at one cuff, where he had snagged it on an arrowhead years ago. He hadn't even realized it was missing, but she must have made off with it at some point in the past six years of their partnership.
That made Clint feel bold. Leaning forward, he kissed her; he didn't try to hold her there, didn't do anything more than press his lips to hers, and god, even that chaste touch made him want to melt against her, but he wanted to give her every chance to back out.
She stiffened for a second, and then he watched her eyes slip shut. She tilted her head into the kiss, her hands coming up to cup his face, and with a shuddering sigh, she kissed him back.
It felt like a first kiss, like he was just learning the softness of her lips, the warmth of her breath, the touch of her hands. She slowly moved closer to him, sliding her knees across his tumbled sheets, until she was kneeling beside his injured thigh, and then she wrapped her arms around his shoulders and held onto him like he was the only thing keeping her from being swept away.
After moments that seemed to stretch away into eternity, she slowly pulled away. "I just need you to be you," she said softly. "You keep me honest. That's all I need."
He stroked his fingertips across her cheek, nearly overwhelmed with relief at being able to just touch her again. "Tasha, I'm sorry," he said. "I'm sorry for pushing you when you wanted to be left alone. I'm just... arrogant and impulsive, and trust me, Vicodin doesn't improve those personality traits--"
"No," she interrupted him. "You must be a damn mindreader because you always push me when I need to be pushed. I was stuck. I didn't want to think about what I was feeling, but I needed to. I needed the push. And when I really do need to be alone, you leave me alone. You know me. That's scary, but... it's also comforting."
She gave him a tentative smile, a tiny, crooked quirk of her lips, and he smiled back, brushing another kiss against the corner of her mouth. "Do you need me to leave you alone now?" he asked tentatively.
He didn't want to leave her alone; he wanted to wrap himself around her, re-learn every inch of her, to show her that it was safe to fall in love with him, that he would always catch her when she chose to fall. But she had just told him that he knew her better than anyone else, and he needed to show her that she could trust him to keep that knowledge safe.
"I need a little more time," she said, catching his chin when he started to look down in disappointment, "To come to terms with this. Can you give me that?"
"Of course," he said. "As much as you need, Tasha."
He expected her to get up then, to leave and go back to her apartment, and his heart ached at the idea. But she gave him a thoughtful look for a moment before tugging the sweatshirt over her head and dropping it to the floor. She shimmied out of her yoga pants next, leaving her in her loose t-shirt and panties, and Clint was very, very confused.
"Um," he said. "Tash? What are you doing?"
She turned a guileless look on him, a hint of a smile on her lips, and god, he wanted to kiss her again. "Going to bed?" she said, her voice lilting up a little at the end.
A laugh bubbled up out of his chest. "You know this isn't your bed, right?" he teased, and just being able to tease her made him feel lighter, happier. "This is my bed."
Rolling her eyes, she carefully crawled over him, scooting under the covers on his left side. "Are you kicking me out?" she asked, resting her head on his pillow and pulling the blankets up around her shoulders.
She was joking, but he could hear a little uncertainty in her voice. He slid down under the covers beside her, shifting around until his leg was comfortable. "Nope," he said. "I'm not up for any sexual acrobatics, though, so you're going to have to keep your hands to--"
Laughing, she covered his mouth with her hand. "Just sleep, hotshot," she said.
He moved her hand and leaned in to kiss her, then nudged her to roll over so he could spoon her. Clint fell asleep breathing in the scent of her hair and soaking up the warmth of her body.
She was gone before he woke up, but that didn't surprise him much. There was a note on the bedside table that just said "Thanks" in her neat handwriting, and he tucked it into the drawer before getting up.
That night he woke up to a warm body snuggling up against his back. "Tasha?" he mumbled.
"It's me," she whispered in reply, wrapping an arm around his waist. "You really need to be more attentive. I got all the way into your bed before you woke up."
"Mm, I'll keep that in mind for future break ins," he said, lacing his fingers with hers and falling back asleep.
The bed was empty again in the morning, but he could still feel her warmth on the sheets. He lay there for a while in her warm spot, and then made himself get up and go to HQ.
The third night, he was still awake when she slipped through the door into his bedroom. "Good evening, Agent Romanoff," he said in his best James Bond villain voice. "I see you have fallen into my trap."
The corner of her mouth curled up into a smirk. "That would work better if you had a cat," she deadpanned, dropping her jacket on the chair in the corner.
"Damn, I knew I forgot something."
Her smirk turned into a full smile, and he grinned back at her, putting his phone on the nightstand. "Hey," he said.
"Hey," she replied. "How's your leg?"
"Almost back to normal," he said. "That biotech is good stuff. I left my cane at home today, and the doc told me to start exercising tomorrow."
He watched appreciatively as she peeled her jeans off and put them on top of her jacket; he was giving her space, sure, but he wasn't dead. Her lips quirked again when she caught him looking, and he thought there was a little more slink in her step when she crossed over to the bed and climbed in.
"You're looking more... oh," he said, blinking in surprise when she crawled into his lap, carefully arranging herself over his injured leg.
"Shh," she said, resting the tip of her finger on his lips. "Just let me say what I need to say, because this... isn't easy for me."
His heart was suddenly thumping against his ribs, and he nodded, resting his hands on her bare thighs. Her fingertips were soft but for the calluses on her trigger fingers, and she stroked them slowly across his cheeks, gazing at him as if she were trying to read his mind.
"I fell for you a long time ago, I think," she said matter-of-factly, and it was so Natasha that he had to fight the urge to grin like an idiot. "It just took me a long time to come to terms with it. I think that was the last thing I was holding onto from before, that need to wall myself off, to protect myself by keeping everyone else out. I still felt like I was alone, even when I was with you, and it was... comforting in a cold sort of way.
"But... I'm tired of being alone. And I'm sorry that it took you nearly bleeding to death for me to realize that I'm in love with you."
The words seemed to surprise her even as they tumbled from her mouth. She pressed her lips together on a nervous smile, and he had never seen that expression on her face before; she looked tentative and underneath that... she looked happy.
Clint wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her close, resting his chin on her shoulder as she tucked her face against his neck. A little huff of laughter tickled his skin, and she rubbed her nose against him. "That felt like jumping off of a building," she said, her voice muffled by his shirt.
"Yeah, but I'm always there to catch you, right?"
She lifted her head and gave him her little smile, the one that always made his heart do a somersault. "Yes," she said, "You are."
That smile led to more kissing because Clint could never resist the urge to press his lips against hers when they were curved like that, and the kissing led to her hands twisting in his hair and his sliding up the smooth expanse of her back underneath her t-shirt.
"Should..." she panted, breaking away from his mouth. "Should you be doing this? With your leg, I mean."
"Well, the doc says to exercise..." he said with a cheeky grin, and she rolled her eyes at him with a laugh. "It's fine, Tasha. Hardly even hurts. And if you hurt me, I'll cry like a baby so you'll know when to stop."
"So just like when we're training," she said with a serious nod, and he made a mock-offended noise.
Catching his eye and biting her bottom lip, she slowly pulled her t-shirt up, revealing soft curves and even softer skin, inch by inch, until he thought he would have to sit on his hands to keep from reaching out and just yanking the shirt over her head. She could read that in him, too, because her lips quirked, her eyelids lowered, and she turned up the seductress act a little higher.
"Tease," he said, and she let out a throaty laugh.
"Isn't anticipation supposed to make you want it more?"
"I want you bad enough, Tasha," he rumbled, catching the thin cotton in his hands and whipping it over her head, leaving her hair a tumble of red curls splayed across her shoulders, draping onto the upper curve of her bare breasts.
"You're so impatient," she complained, crossing her arms under her breasts.
"No, now I'm impatient," he retorted, tugging his boxer-briefs down and kicking them off the bed.
Natasha's laughter was the best thing he could imagine hearing. She wiggled out of her panties, and then he pressed her back onto the bed, their lips meeting, bodies writhing together as if they couldn't stand another second without that heated touch.
The lovemaking had all the thrill of a first time, but the elation of discovery was paired with deep familiarity; they were two people who knew the other's body almost as well as their own. She arched up against him as he trailed kisses down the column of her neck and over her collarbone, her hands urging his mouth to her breasts. He loved the way her breath caught in her throat when he sucked at her nipples, ran his lips down her flat stomach, and he loved how she moaned and gasped when he made her come apart with his tongue.
Clint ended up flat on his back in the middle of the bed with Natasha on top of him, taking him inside of her slowly. He didn't know if he would ever be able to get enough of this, of feeling the heat of their bodies coming together, of how tight she was, how wet he made her, of the way she watched him with the corners of her mouth curved into a pleasured smile, the way her green eyes darkened and her breath quickened as she carefully moved on him.
Leaning forward, she rested her breasts against his chest, slipping her tongue into his mouth and swallowing his groan at the roll and pull of her hips. He stroked her back, reaching down to hold her hip with one hand and bringing the other up to smooth her hair back from her flushed face.
"God, you're beautiful," he breathed, stroking his thumb across her parted lips. "I love you, Tasha--"
"Love you--Ah!" she moaned, her eyes slipping shut as an orgasm shuddered through her body.
Holding onto his control by his fingernails, he bucked up against her as she spasmed around him, and the way she cried out his name while grinding on him made him feel like the top of his head would come off.
"Oh god, this is so good," she panted, catching his hands in hers and gripping them tight. "It's so good with you, Clint, so good--"
He rolled her onto her back, groaning at the way she immediately wrapped her legs around his waist. She bit her bottom lip and grinned up at him, and god, he was absolutely crazy about her. Holding her hands tight, he took her, took everything that she offered and gave back to her everything he had.
She came again with a gasp, squeezing him tight, and it was too much, too good, and Clint couldn't hold out anymore. With a guttural cry, he spilled inside of her, shuddering and jerking against her, burying his face in the curve of her neck.
Morning dawned grey, and Clint blinked at the patch of sky he could see through his window. He was warm and comfortable, and he felt really, really good.
Turning his head a little, he smiled at the mess of red hair splayed across his pillow. Natasha was asleep on her stomach, the blankets draped around her waist, and he rolled carefully to face her. Her skin was pale against his dark blue sheets, nearly glowing in the pale dawn light, and he just couldn't resist.
Leaning close, he trailed his fingers down the smooth line of her back, pressing a kiss against the silky skin of her shoulder.
She made a soft, grumbling noise, lifting her head a little from the pillow to look at him. "Sorry," he whispered, grinning at her.
Shaking her head, she cuddled up against him, pressing her face into his chest, and promptly fell back asleep. So Clint did the only thing he could do; he wrapped her up in his arms and fell asleep, too.
In the last couple of weeks, he'd had sex on a stage, accidentally told his partner that he loved her, nearly got killed in a shootout, nearly got killed again in an explosion, scared the shit out of his partner, and nearly lost her. And now she was sleeping with her head on his chest and her arm wrapped around him, her legs tangled with his, and she loved him.
It had been a good couple of weeks.
And that's it! I hope you enjoyed the story, and I'd love to hear what you think!
Enormous thanks to Amanda both for listening to me ramble and whine and helping me out majorly with this chapter, and for... well, listening to me ramble and whine and giving me awesome feedback on the whole story.