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Can't Have the Dream Without the Nightmare

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It surprises her, when he asks.

"It's just - isn't that my line? Hey, keep the lights on, handsome, I want to see your face?"

"You think I'm handsome?" he tries to joke. That's what he does, tries to keep it light and casual, because this is casual. Could be. Might be?

Maybe if he keeps it casual, when she leaves, the part of him that keeps thinking he will break in half when she goes will manage to stay together.

She rolls her eyes and how can she think that he wouldn't want to see that at all times?

"I hope so, if I'm getting ready to fuck you, doofus." A scrunchie is tossed on top of his nightstand. "You can keep the lights on if you need 'em, Hawkeye."

He doesn't, really. He doesn't need to, not anymore. His hearing's mostly restored, thanks to Wanda and a few other Avengers related incidents that Clint doesn't want to think about right now.

So no, he doesn't need to. But he does want to, because watching other people talk used to be a necessity. He used to need to watch every curve and twist of another person's lips to ensure that he wasn't missing something important. It was never just lips, of course, because people talk with more than just their lips, and he used to need to watch for every cue from every part of their face.

Now he just lies on the bed and watches, from the confident smirk and eyebrow lift that accompanies her shirt's drop to the floor to the almost shy grin and head duck that slips over her face as her fingers fumble with the clasp of her bra.

"I can help you. I'm great at bras," he says, and he watches as she glances up and her mouth twists again as a laugh escapes.

He's always liked watching people laugh, which is why he could have absolutely have stayed at that circus, if things had been different.

But he'd be missing so much.

Like the determined look Kate gets when the bra falls to the floor - the way her brows crease together as if she has a task that she is going to preform. It's the same look she gets when she has her bow in her hands. So it's a good task. A task she wants. A task she loves.

There's no more shyness, no more fumbling as she strides to the bed.

"Remember how you said you didn't want to sleep with me?" Both brows raise in a challenge as her knees meet the mattress. Clint wants to reach up and touch, but he's too busy watching. So he lets her hands touch first, and that first contact is calloused hands and sharp purple nails running through his chest hair and a downward head tilt that allows her to watch too.

"Kind of an odd thing to bring up right now, girly girl." An indulgent shake of her head follows that, reminding him that she knows each and every one of the ways that he is full of shit, and she still wants to be here.

"Remember how you said you would never lie to me?" Her tongue pauses on her top of her teeth as she forms the "i," drawing the syllable out. It's both obnoxious and adorable.

"Okay, if we're going to start listing all my faults, we're going to be here for a while." That earns him another eye roll and her shoulders rise and fall with a sigh.

"Well, I was hoping we would be here for at least a little while, Hawkeye. Here with all of your many, many issues."

She sticks her tongue out at him, nose wrinkling up as she does so, but it's the last part that Clint focuses on. His issues are obvious and laid out for her to see, and she still wants to be here.

It's enough to make his hands finally jump into action. One hand starts at her knee and moves upward, while the other steadies himself on her hip. The skin is soft, occasionally marred by a stray scar, and a complete contrast to the rough finger tips on his chest.

Her lips press together as she struggles to hold back a moan, and it's enough of a reminder to Clint that he needs to keep watching, even as his fingers take delight in exploring every inch of her.

~

She keeps staying, is the ridiculous thing.

So she's at his side, metaphorically if not exactly literally, when they end up defending the small Brooklyn "toy" store from a hold-up. The woman who owns the shop is wearing a sweater vest that makes her look like she should be teaching second graders, so when Kate calls it a "toy" store, the upturn of the left side of Kate's mouth makes no sense.

Then the crook starts rambling, and Kate's amusement makes much more sense.

"You can't blame me," the crook says. "Those vibrators are fucking ridiculous. What are they, made of gold? You sell a vibrator for that much, you can afford to part with some cash to help a fellow out."

"Men, always unappreciative of the value of a good vibrator," Kate says and Clint is pretty sure that her arrow comes dangerously close to the crook's crotch on purpose.

She's vicious, his Katie-Kate.

The crook falls down then, grasping at his wound, but he's stupid enough to keep arguing. "Maybe your partner needs assistance, but I don't."

A sigh -a fully body sigh, with a frown that takes over her entire face, telling Clint that she is genuinely disappointed.

Not something he's seen yet, and he'd take the moment to savor, but his honor's just been seriously insulted, so he let's a nice net arrow fly forward and cover the asshole.

"Your trick arrows are still ridiculous," Kate tells him, as the guy is led away by the cops. She's facing away from him then, looking over her shoulder towards the store they've just saved.

"Came in handy this time," Clint tries to argue.

"You too want to come in and help me with the glass clean-up, I'll give you ten percent off any toy in the store," the store owner tells them.

Kate turns back to him at that point, and leans closer to whisper, "How disappointed is Captain America going to be in us if we say yes?"

Her eyes are full of amusement, because hey, when Clint had been 20, he hadn't thought Steve had much of a sex life, either.

"Cap can't say much. When I saved a 'toy' store with him, we got a 50% off coupon."

Her eyes widen, and her fingers go to her mouth to cover up the laugh that might be misinterpreted by anyone else.

"I'll also throw in a free couple's grab bag!" the owner calls.

Kate and Clint spend the next ten minutes cleaning up glass and trying to insist that they really aren't a couple, because that is not the kind of publicity the Avengers need.

They leave the store with a grab bag and a $200 vibrator.

~

It's two days before they have down time to check out their "grab bag."

"She seemed pretty nice and not at all as skeevy as the sex shop I went to on my 18th birthday," Kate says as she drops the contents out onto the couch. "I'll have to send Billy and Teddy in that direction."

"See, I'd never give any of my teammates a recommendation to a sex shop."

"Your teammates are old. Might break a hip."

"I'm telling Cap you said that."

"I'll tell him you said it."

"He loves me more. What happened to the vibrator, anyway?"

"I kept it."

"But I paid for it!"

"Good thing you're rich and can afford it." Kate finally looked up from the sorting she'd been doing and he can - thank god - see her face again. It's carefully blank. Clint doesn't like that at all, and thinks that a woman making that expression has never resulted in anything good for him.

"What's on your mind, girly girl?"

"We're going to play yes or no. I hold up a toy, you get to say yes or no."

"What about you?"

"If I don't hold it up, that's a no, Hawkeye."

Well, of course.

The first one she holds up is a plastic package containing a cock ring. Pretty standard, and it's free and part of a grab bag, so it could be made much better. Still, it's pretty standard shit and it's designed to vibrate against her clit when he's fucking her which makes his job 200 percent easier, so he has no real reason to say no. "Sure," he says.

She places it carefully on the coffee table and keeps her face as neutral as possible again as she holds up a pair of cuffs. Again, cheaply made and full of ridiculous pink fuzz, and it's not as though he couldn't be out of them in five minutes.

"For you or me?" he asks.

The neutral look slips for a minute, replaced with the slightly narrow eyes and pursed lips that remind him, again, that she knows he is full of shit. "Really?" she says. "You need to ask that?"

"No, I just wanted to see what you would say," Clint answers. "They go in the yes pile, Katie-Kate. Until we can get better."

She places them on the coffee table and picks up a package containing anal beads next. Clint fingers them through the plastic, getting a feel for the texture. He isn't expecting them to be made of silicone, but it feels like they are. They're actually probably the most expensive item in the bag, and made well.

He tries to imagine lying back on the bed, even with his ridiculous pink fuzzy handcuffs, with Katie sliding those into him and the couch suddenly feels insufferably small.

"Yeah. Yeah." He clears his throat and offers his most charming smile. "Definitely yes."

Her eyes crinkle in nonverbal amusement, but she places the beads on the table. Two more items - nipple clamps and a gag - are not held up for him to see, before being placed back into the bag.

They're apparently in the "no" pile.

Finally, she holds up a small piece of cloth.

"No," Clint says quietly. He waits for her to become disappointed. He's had people who have been disappointed in the fact that he doesn't like blindfolds. He gets it, gets that it's a silly thing to veto when he's willing to do so many other things.

She simply places the blindfold into the bag.

"I'm sorry," Clint offers. "It's just - "

"Why are you sorry?" He can't see her face, because she's looking down at the bag as she rolls it into a small ball - getting ready to toss it, Clint figures.

"Sorry I had to veto something that could have been fun for you?"

She looks up then, and her brows are creased together, as if she can't decide to be confused or angry at him. She licks her lips twice, and bites the top lip, before she says, "I'm not sorry that I vetoed the nipple clamps and the gag, so you don't get to be sorry about the blindfold."

"I married the first person who didn't care that I hated blindfolds," Clint says bluntly. "So, uh, it's kind of a big deal."

"Only because you're hopeless, Hawkeye," she tells him, before pulling him close for a kiss.

~

Sometimes he is hopeless, and sometimes he feels really quite helpless.

He's feeling pretty helpless when a clown manages to tie him to chair. Katie's off with her team having the kind of downtime Clint remembers loving, back when the Avengers had been Wanda, Pietro and Cap. So, he's pretty sure that the gun that's aiming for him is going to be the last thing he sees.

He should have paid better attention when Natasha was trying to teach him how to escape from ropes. Or, failing that, when Bobbi had been trying to teach him. He definitely should have paid attention when Jessica had been trying to teach him.

He figures he can maybe get out of the ropes in twenty minutes, give or take, but it's not going to take that long for the guy to pull the trigger. Unless he starts monologuing.

It would be a really great time to start monologuing.

But Clint's not saved by a clown who talks too much. He's saved by Kate's voice.

"Hey! You're missing a Hawkeye. Thought you might want to change that."

The clown turns around, and the arrow does hit his shoulder, but the bullet is faster than the gun, and -

Please don't die. I'll never forgive myself

- and Clint throws himself on top of the guy, chair and all, forcing him to the ground.

"First you ignore my text and make me all worried, then you ruined my second great shot," Kate complains, and when Clint looks up, he's so relieved to see that she's walking normally, and so relieved to see the disapproving head shake that he almost misses the patch of blood rapidly forming on her arm.

~

Kate doesn't deal well with being hurt. Of course not, because she's a Hawkeye.

She slumps on his couch, and glares at the TV and popcorn bowl, and tries to pretend that even two days later, having a bullet wound in the arm she uses for nocking the arrow doesn't hurt like hell.

Unfortunately, Clint is intimately aware of how untrue that is.

"It'll be better soon," he promises. "Another week, you'll be able to - "

The slump grows as she turns to glare at him. "I don't want to wait another week to pick up my bow, Hawkeye."

Then, because he is hopeless and helpless, he says, "But think of what we could do with the downtime."

She throws the bowl of popcorn at him with her good arm. Lucky is still cleaning up the better pieces off the floor, when she says, "At least for a week, you won't have to pretend that you get to be on top."

"Do I ever get to pretend that?"

"You keep trying." Her forehead smooths out, then, and it's almost a smile. Except, she turns too sharply to face him, and he sees the wince that she tries to hide.

"Well, consider it a perk. I'll play nice and ... submissive like."

She stands up and starts walking back to the bedroom. "You're a terrible sub," she tells him, and he can't see her laugh because her back is turned, but he can hear her, which is half-way there.

~

He's lying on his back, pink fuzzy handcuffs holding him in place, the lights are bright, and she's straddling his waist while leaning down to kiss him. When she pulls back, he sees the discomfort come over her face before he fully realizes what it's about.

"Maybe this is a bad idea," she says. The shrug is half-hearted, the kind where her head leans down to touch her shoulder, because it's less painful than moving her actual shoulders.

"We can stop if you want," he says, because that's what he's supposed to say, even if his cock is already hard enough that the very idea of stopping makes him want to cry.

"I don't want to stop." She's all snappish and cranky when she says it, and he can see it in stress that settles across her shoulders, the way the fingers of her hand curl into a ball and the way her brows do their best to join each other. "But everything is ... off kilter. My balance is wrong, leaning feels wrong, sitting up feels wrong, sitting still feels wrong."

"You're an archer, Katie-Kate," Clint reminds her. "You take our arms away, you fuck with everything about us. I get it. I've had my arm fucked with, too."

"Yeah, well, if your arm was fucked with right now, this wouldn't feel so awkward."

"Not going to break my arm for you, Katie."

"Wasn't asking you too, doofus. One of the Hawkeyes has to be in fighting shape."

He gets it, then, because he's hopeless and sometimes helpless, but he understands not wanting to be vulnerable in front of someone you care about. He doesn't want to get it, and he has to fight down the part of him that's angry and disappointed that she isn't trusting him.

But then she's biting her bottom lip and okay, in that instant, he's reminded that he doesn't want to repeat the thing where he's a complete ass when someone needs him not to be.

"Can't break my arm, but we can put us on equal footing," he says slowly. "Hey, bring your bra here, Katie."

She stops biting her lip, and instead crawls off of him - his whole body protests that, but he tells it to shut up, because this is important - and leans over the bed. He can hear a mumbling that he's pretty sure is cursing as she struggles with her balance, and she crawls back over on her knees.

"Gotta say, this seems like a weird kink," she says, holding up the bra with her good hand. "What am I supposed to do with it?"

"Use it as a blindfold," he says calmly. At least he thinks it's pretty calmly.

Both of Kate's eyebrows shoot up, and she shakes her head. "You vetoed it. Besides, you like ... watching people's faces."

So she's noticed. Of course she has. He wonders, briefly, if she knows why. If Natasha and Bobbi have invited her to their Poker games,too.

"You're off your game. I'll be off my game this way, too. It'll be ... equal footing."

"Are you sure?"

No. Maybe. Mostly. "Yes."

She hesitates. She's watching his face. She leans closer, and he can see a wince she tries to ignore as her shoulder twinges.

"You won't ever lie to me, right?" she whispers, and her face is so close that he can feel her not-entirely-steady breath on his face. He can see every concern in those blue eyes and the equally obvious concern in the way her lips keep rubbing against each other.

"Not ever," he promises. "Do it, Katie."

It takes her a moment, because when you only have one good arm, making a knot is difficult. Difficult, but not impossible, and Clint takes the time that she needs to make a knot to try to steady his nerves.

He doesn't hate it. He does want to do this. He wants to do this for her and that's as important as wanting to do it for himself.

It's just not his favorite and okay, maybe it makes him think about the last time he'd been actually blind. But he's not going to think about Barney and all of that right now.

But having everything be silent and dark is too much for him to handle.

"Talk to me, Katie."

He can hear, after all, and it's important that he focus on that right now.

"Sorry," she says. "Trying to focus. Is that okay? Too tight?"

"It's so loose that it might actually off when I begin to move."

"Then maybe you'll just have to learn how to sit still, Hawkeye."

"Didn't we establish that I'm a shitty sub?"

"Mmmhmm. Speaking of, I'm going to undo your hands, okay?"

"Up to you, but I thought you wanted ... " He can feel her hair brush across his cheek as she leans over him. It's a little too much stuff on his face, even if it's her and he's glad when she pulls back, handcuffs in hand.

"I did," she says. "But I figure, you like to watch my face. You're an archer, so your eyes and hands have to be equally sharp. You can't see me, but ... you can still watch me through your fingertips."

"You didn't have to."

"Equal footing, Hawkeye."

She takes one of his hands and guides it to her mouth, and he can feel the sharp turn of her lips and the places where her dimples are.

"Sounds great, Hawkeye."

"I'm going to slide myself on top of you now," she says, and it's dirty enough of a comment by itself, but the feel of her smile at his finger tips, and the way that her tongue keeps accidentally grazing against his fingers as she talks makes it even moreso.

Saying "sounds great" is kind of repetitive, so he just nods. She takes her time, taking him into her, even slower than normal, because she doesn't have both hands to steady herself.

His fingers feel her open her mouth to let out a small "Fuck" when he's all the way inside of her, and the curse is accompanied by an exhale against his fingers.

"You okay?" she asks.

"You've got me," he answers back. "I couldn't be better."

She starts to move, then, and one of his hands stays on her hip to steady her, while the other remains on her lips, and he knows that his words are true.