Maria Hill had a dilemma. On the one hand, she really wanted to see the end of the movie they were currently watching, but on the other hand, she really wanted to keep kissing Natasha Romanoff and forget that anything else existed.
So really, it wasn’t much of a dilemma.
The two of them were currently stretched out on the couch in The Three Bears’ adult living room, with Natasha on her back and Maria half seated, half sprawled out on top of her. Which was actually a change from how they usually did things - with Natasha on top and in total control of the proceedings. But they’d been feeling adventurous that night, and Maria had all too eagerly agreed to take charge.
In the three weeks since she’d found out that they were actually in a relationship, they’d basically spent every night together at one of their apartments. At first Maria had protested, not wanting to take all of Natasha’s time away from her other lovers, but she had insisted that it was fine, and that Clint and Bobbi were spending most evenings at HQ anyways, working on various projects or spending time with their handlers before the upcoming holiday season.
Not that SHIELD agents were necessarily able to take time off for Christmas or what have you, but sometimes, when the world was quiet and less chaotic, a few of the senior agents could take a few days to themselves to travel and see their families. This year it wasn’t just Hand that was potentially going to be absent, but Coulson as well.
Maria had already known about Hand’s girlfriend, Isabelle, but was genuinely surprised to find out that Coulson had a girlfriend as well. A cellist that lived in Portland, supposedly. This of course meant that there was no way Maria would be able to take time off, but that was fine. She hated the holidays anyway, even though she finally had someone to spend them with.
“Hey you. Less thinking, more kissing,” Natasha suddenly interrupted, reaching up and poking Maria in the nose in order to refocus her attention. “I can practically see the thought bubbles above your head when you go quiet like that.”
Maria scrunched her nose at the poke and shifted her body downwards so more of her weight rested on Natasha, and not on her tiring arms. They’d only been making out for half an hour, and before that had actually been watching the movie. Maria had never seen 300 before, and even though it was an awful movie to make out to, she had genuinely been enjoying it and was kind of curious to see how it would end.
Natasha however, seemed to care less about the movie and was more interested in the small strip of exposed skin on Maria’s back. Even though it was obvious that Natasha liked touching her without a barrier of clothes in the way, she had never once gone past what Maria was comfortable with.
Tonight felt different though. Tonight Maria got the sense that Natasha really wanted to reach her hands further up under her shirt, and to be honest, Maria kind of wanted her to do so as well. She still wasn’t ready for sex, however, or for even taking her shirt off entirely, but she thought she might be ready for a little under the shirt groping. She trusted Natasha wholeheartedly, and knew if she did give permission for this, that she could change her mind at anytime and Natasha would stop, no questions asked.
Adjusting herself a little more so that she was leaning her full weight on top of her girlfriend, Maria reached behind herself and grasped one of Natasha’s hands, gently pushing it upwards and under the hem of her shirt.
Natasha eagerly took the hint and continued moving her hands even when Maria let go of her wrist. “You sure about this?” she asked, stilling her movements once her palms were pressed just below Maria’s shoulder blades.
“Yes, I’m sure,” Maria responded, nodding her head quickly.
“Over the bra or under?” Natasha asked, a single eyebrow raised in question.
“Over, for now at least,” Maria answered after a few moments. She studied Natasha’s expression, looking for any subtle signs of disappointment, and was relieved not to find any.
“Works for me,” Natasha grinned, lifting her head up in an attempt to initiate a kiss.
Maria leant her own head down, meeting her girlfriend halfway. She felt goosebumps breaking out down her neck and arms as Natasha’s hands travelled up her back and sides, the girl's palms smoothing over her skin as she made circular motions across her body. It felt amazing, and Maria was kicking herself for not having let Natasha touch her like this sooner.
“You need to sit up a little if you want me to do anything else,” Natasha instructed after a few minutes, their lips parting just long enough to recenter themselves and take in some desperately needed deep breaths of air.
Maria could barely hear her over the extremely loud, and no doubt bloody battle scene that was going on across the room. She understood what Natasha wanted however when a hand slipped down her side and began to tickle the spot where their stomachs were pressed together. Grinning, Maria shifted her weight to her hips and pushed up, her hands bracketing either side of Natasha’s head.
As Maria’s upper body began to rise, the shirt she was wearing tightened unexpectedly around her chest and throat, and instead of sitting up like she’d originally intended to, she was actually hoisted entirely off of Natasha and up into the air. Half a second later she found herself flying backwards, her head and back eventually slamming into the nearby wall as she was tossed clear across the room.
“Maria!! Clint, no! Stop!!” Natasha screamed as Maria hit the wall and slid down to the ground.
What happened next felt like slow motion, as if the present moment was somehow elongated so that she could take in everything that was happening around her. Agent Barton was standing next to the couch, his back to Maria for a fraction of a second before he turned around, his hand reaching into the waistband of his jeans. As he turned his attention entirely on Maria, his hand came swiftly up beside him so that his .40 cal Smith & Wesson was pointed directly between her eyes.
At the same time this was happening, Agent Morse was reaching for Natasha, desperately trying to hold the girl down so she couldn’t get off the couch to try and intervene. Natasha was still screaming Maria’s name, her arms and legs flailing about as she desperately tried to break free.
Once she realized what Clint had in his hand, Maria’s focus shifted entirely onto him, everything else seemingly fading into the background. Her mind’s initial instinct to panic drop was quickly overridden, the very real threat to her life causing a chemical surge throughout her body that completely shut down the ability to access her Little headspace. It was a built in safety mechanism that all Littles had, to keep them from dropping in situations where they were likely to die if they did.
And Maria had absolutely no doubt that Agent Barton would kill her on the spot if she so much as blinked threateningly in his direction.
“Don’t shoot her! Please! It’s not what you think!” Natasha shouted from where she was still being held down on the couch cushions by Agent Morse.
“Oh it’s exactly what I think it is,” Clint answered, his eyes never leaving Maria’s own as he took a step closer to her. “We asked you Nat. We asked you and you lied to our faces.”
Maria had no idea what the man was talking about, though his words were of little consequence to her as long as his gun was trained on her forehead. He could say whatever the fuck he wanted and then still decide to shoot her in the head.
“I didn’t lie! Clint! Please! Maria, tell him! He’s going to kill you if you don’t tell him!” Natasha screamed, bucking up against the larger form of her girlfriend laying on top of her.
It actually surprised Maria that Agent Morse had been able to hold her down that long, but then Natasha most likely didn’t want to hurt Bobbi by using any of her Black Widow moves on her. Which, in a way, actually reassured Maria. If Natasha really thought Clint was going to kill her, she wouldn't just lay there and let it happen, right?
“You have five seconds to convince me not to kill you, Hill. Though to be honest, there's nothing you could say that would justify molesting a Little,” Clint told her, his jaw tight as he forced the words out. It was obvious he was only giving her this opportunity in response to Natasha’s pleas, and that if it were entirely up to him he'd have pulled the trigger by now.
“Maria, just tell them! It'll be okay, I promise!”
“Clocks ticking, Hill,” Clint instructed, shifting his stance a little so he wouldn't lose his balance after firing the gun.
“I- I can't…” Maria stammered, her heart racing in her chest as she thought of the possible reactions the two agents might have to her secret. What if she told and they didn't believe her? She couldn't drop right now in order to prove it, so they'd only have her word to go on. Well, her’s and Nat’s word, but Maria highly doubted they'd trust their lover now after having just accused her of lying to them.
“Maria please, they'll believe you! Trust me on this!”
“Two seconds left, Hill.”
“I- I'm-” Maria faltered, swallowing heavily. She knew she had to tell them, but the words felt stuck in her throat.
Maria watched in slow motion once again as Barton's finger pressed ever so slightly on the trigger. Closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, she finally managed to utter the words she hadn’t said aloud since she was 18 years old.
As soon as the words left her mouth Maria tensed up, expecting Clint to disregard her response and simply shoot her anyway. Except, there was no gunshot; no blinding pain from a bullet piercing her body. There was only silence, save for the sound of her heart beating frantically in her chest.
Once a handful of seconds had elapsed with still no reaction or pain, Maria finally pried her eyes open and took in the scene before her. She’d known Clint was still standing in front of her since she hadn’t heard him move. What she hadn’t expected was the expression on his face, or the fact his gun was no longer aimed at her head, but instead was pointing at the floor by his left foot.
Behind him Maria could see that Bobbi had stopped fighting with Natasha, and the two of them were now sitting there motionless, staring at her. Bobbi with a look of disbelief, and Natasha with one of encouragement.
Shifting her gaze back to Clint, Maria watched as he slowly placed the gun back into the waistband of his jeans. Which, while unexpected, was definitely not unwelcome. Not that he couldn’t still murder her with his bare hands, but at least she had a fighting chance against him now if he did still decide to attack.
Clint may have been bigger and stronger than her, but she was a cornered animal that didn’t want to die.
Not like this. Not because of this.
“You’re Little?” Clint asked, finally breaking the silence that had engulfed the room.
Maria opened her mouth to respond but then quickly closed it, nodding her head. She was afraid if she tried to speak right now she’d end up crying instead.
“You're Little,” Clint repeated, though more as a statement of fact and not a question this time.
Maria nodded once more, her anxiety increasing the longer this played out. She was still expecting Clint to hurt her, so when he started moving in her direction she flinched and tensed up, squeezing her eyes shut. Not exactly the best defense against an oncoming attack, but she was working entirely on instinct now and freezing in place was what her mind was telling her body to do.
Which may have worked out in her favor, since the next thing she knew Clint had his arms wrapped around her and was pulling her into a hug.
Instead of stiffening even further at the unexpected contact, Maria actually relaxed, her body seemingly melting into the man's embrace. Clint smelled good. Not as good as Natasha, but still pleasant and enticing, and Maria quickly found herself burying her face in his neck. She'd never thought of Clint Barton as anything other than an agent before, but in that moment all she could think of was Brother.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” Clint murmured softly, rocking the two of them from side to side as they hugged.
Maria wasn’t sure if he was apologizing for pulling a gun on her, or for the circumstances surrounding her deception, but it really didn’t matter in the end. His apology felt genuine, and Maria snuggled further into his arms as the Little side of her brain began to wake up again.
“Maria?” Natasha asked, no longer on the couch and instead standing next to her and Clint. She placed a hand on Maria’s back, rubbing gently in both an effort to soothe the pain from being tossed into the wall, but also to get her attention. “Maria, honey, now’s not the time. We still need to talk about this while all of us are adults.”
At Natasha’s words Maria snapped out of the foggy haze that had started to descend over her mind. Shit. Fuck. She definitely didn’t want to drop right now. She was already beginning to feel vulnerable and exposed as the initial high from Clint’s unexpected hug wore off. Pulling out of his arms, she turned and leaned her body into Natasha’s, still needing the contact of another Little, but preferring one she already explicitly trusted.
“Come on, let’s go into the playroom. We’ll order pizza and then figure out where we all go from here,” Natasha suggested, already beginning to walk both herself and Maria towards the door leading into their Little apartment.
It turned out that getting pizza all over herself wasn’t just a Toddler thing, but was actually a Natasha thing in general. The poor girl had barely finished her first slice and already there was a puddle of sauce collecting on her pants. Which wouldn’t have been that big of a deal, except for the fact she was currently sitting in Maria’s lap. So any food that fell onto Natasha inevitably ended up on Maria’s clothes as well.
“For someone who hates doing their own laundry, you sure do like making a mess of yourself,” Maria commented, reaching around Natasha in order to snag another garlic knot from the pile before them. There was no coffee table in the Little apartment’s main room, so they were essentially having an indoor picnic on the floor.
“Life’s too short to worry about staining your clothes,” Natasha responded back, shrugging her shoulders as she opened her mouth expectantly, her attention now focused on the food in Maria’s hand.
Rolling her eyes in mock annoyance, Maria held her garlic knot in front of Natasha, allowing the girl to take a bite out of it first, before bringing it to her own mouth for a taste.
Across from them Bobbi smirked, shaking her head in obvious amusement at the display. “Don’t listen to her, Maria. It’s just a ploy to get you to undress her in the end. She hates baths, but she likes being ‘cleaned up’, if you know what I mean,” Bobbi explained, raising and lowering her eyebrows suggestively.
Natasha scoffed at this, but didn’t bother offering a rebuttal.
Maria, on the other hand, turned bright red at the suggestion and adamantly shook her head. “We haven’t- I mean, I’ve never-” she stammered, looking between Bobbi and Clint as her heart began to beat faster in her chest.
“Woah, woah, hey. Relax, Maria. Bobbi was only teasing you. We know you’ve never done more than what we saw you doing earlier. Nat may not have told us who she was dating, but she did tell us things. Your being a virgin was one of them,” Clint explained, passing the crust of the slice he’d just finished over to Bobbi, who took it eagerly and added it to the pile she was slowly collecting on a napkin before her.
Maria’s blush only deepened at this, and she shifted Natasha in her lap so she could hide her face against the back of the girl’s head. “I can’t believe you told them that part,” she whined unhappily.
Natasha reached down and patted the side of Maria’s thigh comfortingly. “I’m sorry, that was totally a party foul on my part. I hadn’t meant to tell them, but Bobbi wouldn’t stop grilling me on what the sex was like with my ‘mystery lover,’ and it just kind of came out. We were also drunk at the time, though I know that’s not an excuse. Are you mad?” Natasha turned her upper body in an attempt to catch a glimpse of Maria’s face.
“No, not mad. Just….” Maria faltered, twisting her body along with Natasha’s so she could keep her face hidden.
“Embarrassed,” Natasha concluded, squirming out of Maria’s lap entirely now in order to take a seat next to her on the carpet.
Maria winced at both the sudden visual exposure, and at the mess she could now clearly see on her pants. “Yeah,” she replied, nodding her head as she shifted her gaze to the dwindling pile of food before them. Even though the pizza continued to look and smell amazing, she didn’t feel hungry anymore. “I’m 26. I’m older than two thirds of you.”
Next to her, Natasha wrinkled her nose and shook her head. “Let’s not play the age game, alright? When we lose our virginities isn't important. It’s how we lose them, and with whom, that really matters. Besides, our first virginity is like our second virginity; it doesn’t count unless the emotions are there. I consider Clint to be my first, even though I’ve had other encounters before him.”
Maria didn’t like the way Natasha said ‘encounters’, but decided not to question her about it. She knew her girlfriend well enough by now to know that if she wanted to elaborate she would do so without being prompted.
“Clint wasn’t my first. I had a boyfriend in college who I was pretty serious with. Things just... didn’t work out between us. Natasha was my first girl though,” Bobbi offered around the pizza crust she was currently sucking on.
“Mutual jerk off sessions in the showers aside, I’m still technically a virgin when it comes to sex with another guy,” Clint added, halfway through his fourth slice of pizza now. “So that’s kind of the same thing, and I’m the oldest one here.”
Maria really didn’t think it was the same as her own situation, but she appreciated the sentiment just the same. Even if she was never going to be able to step foot in the guys locker rooms at SHIELD ever again. She couldn’t help but shudder at the gross imagery and quickly shook her head. “I don’t think I’m ever going to lose that virginity myself. No offense, Clint.”
“None taken,” he replied easily, shrugging his shoulders as he finished the slice in his hands and took a bite of the remaining crust. Bobbi squeaked unhappily at this and he winced, quickly passing it over to her. “Sorry, Bob.”
Bobbi took the crust and placed it in her pile, shifting her legs now so that she had both of them outstretched protectively around her ‘treasure’. Maria wanted to know what was so special about the pizza crusts, but when she glanced over at Natasha in order to ask, her girlfriend quickly shook her head. Taking the hint, Maria let it go and instead focused on a particularly large spot of drying pizza sauce on her right pant leg.
The room eventually descended into silence, though it didn’t necessarily feel awkward or strained. Eventually Maria’s hunger returned and she reached out for another garlic knot, her hand accidentally making contact with Clint’s in the process. He’d also been going for a piece of baked dough, but didn’t seem at all concerned at the unintended contact. Maria, however, couldn’t help but think about how that very same hand had been pointing a gun at her head no more than an hour ago.
Sighing, she gave up officially on the food and pulled her hands back into her lap. The whole point of their impromptu pizza party had been so they could talk about what had happened earlier, yet so far no one had asked her a single question about her situation. Were they waiting for her to initiate the conversation? Actually, now that she thought about it, they probably were.
“So um, about my reasons for lying about my status-”
“Nope, nuh-uh, don’t tell us. It’s none of our business why you lied,” Clint quickly cut in, shaking his head. “I’m serious. Whatever your reasons are, they’re obviously valid, and extremely private. Just because you had no choice in telling us you’re Little, doesn’t mean you have no choice in telling us the rest.”
“Clint’s right. This is something that’s clearly very difficult and personal for you. I won’t lie and say I’m not curious, but I understand how important boundaries are, especially in situations like ours,” Bobbi explained, gesturing at the four of them as a group. “And it goes without saying, but you’re secret is definitely safe with us.”
Maria felt her chest swell with warmth at Clint and Bobbi’s statements. She was both relieved, and a little astonished that they would let it go that easily. “Thanks, I appreciate that,” she responded, looking between the two with what she hoped was a genuinely thankful expression. “I’m just- I’m still a little confused. One moment you’re about to shoot me, and the next you’re hugging me? How did you know I wasn’t lying?” she asked, focusing her attention on Clint now.
He shrugged his shoulders, looking down at his lap as he tried to formulate a response. “I dunno, I think part of me always knew there was something different about you. I’ve had, um, feelings, towards you before, that didn’t quite align with a Big-Little relationship. So when you said you were Little, it kind of all clicked into place in my head.”
“Wait- feelings? Aww, were you crushing on Agent Hill?” Bobbi butted in, leaning over and poking her boyfriend in the cheek with the pizza crust she’d just been chewing on.
“What?! No, no, god no. I meant Little feelings, in the Big Brother sense,” Clint quickly explained, his face turning beet red at Bobbi’s suggestion. “No offense, Maria, but I don’t think I could ever see you as anything other than my boss, or my Sister.”
Now it was Maria’s turn to blush, and she brought her hands up to cover her face as she felt her eyes growing wet with oncoming tears. That was twice now he’d referred to himself as her Brother, and she didn’t know how to deal with the emotions surging through her at the thought she might actually one day become a part of their Little family.
“That still doesn’t explain the hug,” Natasha chimed in, reaching a hand out and squeezing Maria’s knee reassuringly. “I know you, Clint, and you were never going to shoot her, but the hug I honestly wasn’t expecting.”
Maria spread her fingers apart so she could peer out between them and watch as Clint floundered for a moment. He seemed more reluctant to answer Natasha’s question than the one she herself had asked.
“When it all clicked into place and I knew she wasn’t lying, I uh- I guess I just assumed something horrific must have happened to her, and my Little instincts kicked in,” Clint explained, before turning his gaze on Maria, even though she was still mostly hidden behind her hands. “In that moment all I saw was a sad Little girl in desperate need of a hug.”
Oh jesus, now she really was going to cry. “But I wasn’t dropped,” Maria protested meekly, rubbing at her face with her palms to try and dry the tears that had already begun to spill down her cheeks.
“So? You think just because they’re in their adult headspaces that I don’t care when one of them gets hurt on a mission?” Clint rebutted, indicating Bobbi and Nat with a nod of his head in their direction. “I mean, technically yeah, I’m worried about my girlfriends in that moment, not my Sisters, but it still comes from the same place.” He brought his hand up to his chest, indicating his heart.
“Aww, you're such a softy,” Bobbi teased gently, giving up her preoccupation with her pizza crusts in order to climb into Clint’s lap. She cuddled herself against his chest and he wrapped his arms around her in return.
“Only for my girls,” he responded, placing a kiss to the side of Bobbi’s head.
Maria finally calmed down and removed her hands from her face, seeing as the other two were now more focused on each other than on her. She looked over at Natasha, frowning when she realized how much she missed having her in her arms. Taking her cue, Natasha abandoned her half eaten slice of pizza and crawled back into Maria’s lap, snuggling against her chest in a similar fashion to what Bobbi was doing with Clint.
It should have felt awkward, sitting there with one third of their triad in her embrace while the other two got on just fine without her, but it didn’t. It was actually rather comfortable. Maria thought it might have had to do with the lack of sexual intimacy in their current displays of affection, but she honestly wasn’t sure.
“You’re thinking too loud,” Natasha quipped, nuzzling her forehead against the side of Maria’s neck.
“She’s right. I can hear you from all the way over here,” Bobbi added, leaning her body far enough out of Clint’s embrace that she was able to snag a pizza crust. Once her prize was in her hand she sat back up, turning now so she was sitting facing Maria and Natasha with Clint’s chest against her back.
Maria grumbled at being so easy to read but didn’t contradict their claims. “This is just... really strange to me. I guess I always thought that when I told others my secret it would be this grand revelation, and that my life would be completely different moving forward. Or that I would be completely different,” she desperately tried to explain.
“I dunno, you seem pretty different to me,” Bobbi responded, shrugging her shoulders. “The last time the four of us were in this room together you were ‘Aunt Hill’, remember?”
Maria nodded, shrugging her own shoulders. “Maybe ‘different’ is the wrong word. I've never voiced these things out loud before, so it's hard sometimes to put words to what I'm feeling.”
Natasha sat up straighter in Maria's lap, turning her body so she was mirroring Bobbi once again. “You thought things would be more difficult than what they are?” she asked, leaning her head to the side so she could twist her neck and see Maria’s facial expressions. At Maria’s tentative nod, Natasha placed a kiss to her cheek and straightened out again.
“Not to say that having a gun pulled on me wasn’t stressful as fuck, but this, what we’re doing right now, it feels way too easy and comfortable. I always thought it would take months, if not years to feel this way around other Littles,” Maria sighed, leaning her head forward so she could nuzzle the back of Natasha’s. Her girlfriend smelled really good in that moment, and she honestly wasn’t sure if it was her shampoo, or some sort of Little pheromone she was currently releasing.
“Well, you haven’t dropped around us yet. I think that might be the ultimate test as to how comfortable you are with us,” Clint added, causing Maria to tense up almost immediately. “Yeah, I figured that would get to you. But hey, no pressure or anything. Being Little is the most vulnerable thing any of us can do, so it’s understandable if you don’t quite trust us yet to see that side of you.”
Maria let out the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding, once again grateful that they were being so reasonable about all of this. “I do want to drop for you guys, one day. Or drop with you, even. Just... not for a while. I’m still getting comfortable with Aunt Nat here seeing me like that.”
Bobbi broke out into a huge grin at the nickname. A grin that quickly morphed into something more devious looking. “Hey, speaking of ‘Aunt Nat’, maybe Maria should come with us to the Farm this year? I’m sure Laura would appreciate having another adult around to supervise the three of us, now that she’s got a baby in the house again.”
Natasha perked up in Maria’s arms, and began nodding her head eagerly at Bobbi’s suggestion. “That’s a great idea! Maria could stay as she is, and the three of us wouldn’t have to rotate our drops! I mean, unless of course you wanted to drop at some point. Which would be totally understandable since Laura is the penultimate Big, even more so than Coulson,” Natasha added, practically bouncing in Maria’s lap with enthusiasm for this idea.
Only Maria was feeling anything but enthusiastic and quickly shook her head. “I have no idea what you guys are talking about. What’s the ‘Farm’? Who’s Laura? Why are you rotating drops?” she asked, feeling her heart rate begin to increase at the thought of visiting a complete stranger.
“Laura’s my Big from before I joined SHIELD. She has a farm out in Iowa and the three of us go there every Christmas to celebrate the holidays with her and her family. She’s got a five year old named Cooper, and just gave birth to a baby girl, Lila, three months ago. Normally all three of us drop when we’re there, but since she’s already going to have her hands full with her actual children, we were going to rotate our drops so one of us remained adult at all times. If you went with us, you could be the designated adult. Or you could be a Big, too, if you’re more comfortable staying in that role,” Clint explained eagerly.
Maria felt the first signs of panic begin to form in her chest and she took a few calming breaths to try and stem it’s rise. Not only were they asking her to meet a total stranger and her family, but they also wanted her to chaperone them? Did Laura even know who she was? If she did, then she would already think she was a Big, which meant having to continue her deception. If she didn’t know, then she could be Little, and just refuse to drop. Which sounded fine in theory, except Maria was well aware of the fact it wasn’t always possible to prevent them from occurring.
“Hold on a second, even if I wanted to go with you, I wouldn’t be able to. I need to stay here in DC for work. I’m the only senior agent not taking off for the holidays. If something happened and SHIELD needed me to come in, I can’t be halfway across the country at a farm in Iowa,” Maria explained, feeling herself begin to relax now that she had a legitimate reason to decline their invitation.
It wasn’t so much that she didn’t want to spend the holidays with Natasha and the other two, or even their former Big and her family, but Maria had only just come out to Clint and Bobbi. She honestly wasn’t ready for anything more than that. What if she dropped unexpectedly? Or panic dropped? There would be no way to get back to her apartment. Back to her safe place. As quickly as her panic had started to recede, it was back building again.
Sensing this, Natasha pulled herself out of Maria’s lap and up onto her feet, turning around and offering her hand now to her girlfriend. “Come on, let’s go get cleaned up in the bathroom. Clint and Bobbi can take care of the mess in here,” she explained as she helped Maria up. Together the two of them headed out of the playroom and into the hallway, towards the master bathroom attached to their gigantic joint bedroom.
Once inside, Natasha shut the door behind them and motioned for Maria to take a seat on the toilet near the bathtub. “I’m sorry, we shouldn’t have ganged up on you like that. I think we all just got over excited and forgot ourselves for a moment,” she explained as she pulled off her pizza sauce stained shirt and shorts and tossed them into the sink.
Maria started to avert her eyes from Natasha’s nearly naked form, but then remembered that she wasn't still pretending to be a Big, and so didn’t have to do that anymore. Not to mention there wasn’t anything even remotely sexual about the girl walking around in her bra and underwear in that moment. Which was probably why they had gone into the Little apartment to eat dinner, instead of remaining in the adult one.
“It’s fine,” she responded, shrugging her shoulders in an attempt to act indifferent and in control of her emotions. She wasn’t panicking anymore, but she didn’t feel at ease, either. “I understand the excitement, I just- I wouldn’t be able to go one way or another, so there’s no point in making plans around the idea.”
Natasha had grabbed a washcloth from underneath the sink and was in the process of wiping down the few areas on her thighs where the pizza sauce had seeped through her clothes. Once she was done she rinsed the cloth off and carried it over to where Maria was sitting, indicating with her head that she should take off her stained pants. “I suppose. But let me ask you this, if you were able to get time off from SHIELD, would you want to go? Even if it was just for a day or two, and then you and I took off on our own.”
Maria thought about the idea as she stood up and began to strip out of her slacks. She’d never been a fan of Christmas, or any of the winter holidays that involved visiting friends and family. Mainly because she’d never before had friends or family to celebrate them with. Her grandmother had been extremely religious, but her father had made sure she never got to spend time with her during those particularly breaks from school. So maybe it wasn’t so much that she disliked the holidays, as she simply didn’t know how to celebrate them like a normal, well adjusted person.
“I don’t know, Nat. I mean, the part about babysitting the three of you is fine. I’ve done that before, and I’m sure it’ll be even easier now, since we’re all on the same page. It’s just the rest of it I’m unsure about,” Maria explained, handing her pants to Natasha as she took the damp washcloth in exchange. “I don’t have the best history with Bigs, especially ‘penultimate’ ones.” Which was both true and false, since he had been that way, but so was Coulson, and she’d never had a problem around her fellow handler.
“Well, Laura already knows who you are, since the last time I was there was when she was giving birth to Lila, and I definitely mentioned you a bunch of times. She thinks you’re a Big, and strictly my Handler and friend, so if you came with us, she wouldn’t even know to use her Big charms on you. Incase you were worried that she would try and Caretaker you and accidentally get you to drop.”
Maria finished cleaning up her legs and carried the washcloth to the sink, rinsing it off before spreading it out on the counter to dry. Next to the sink was a cupboard filled with an assortment of adult clothing, and she quickly located a pair of plain grey sleep pants and began to pull them on. “I mean, yeah, obviously that was a concern of mine. I just- I don’t know why we’re even discussing this still. I can’t take off of work, so figuring out the logistics of the trip is rather pointless.”
Natasha came up behind Maria and began to rifle through the cupboard for her own set of clothes. “Sure, but hypothetically speaking, if you could take off, would you go with us? Just for a day or two? Then you and I can come back here to DC and spend the rest of the week together. We don’t even have to do Christmassy stuff, if it’s the holiday itself that bothers you.”
It was obvious that Natasha wasn’t going to let this go until she gave her an answer, so Maria shrugged her shoulders and nodded her head. “I guess I could do that for a day or two. I’ve never actually been to a farm before. I could hang out with the cows and chickens if I felt uncomfortable. Can you pet chickens? Does she even have chickens?” she asked, not realizing that she was actually growing excited about the idea now.
“She’s got an entire coop full of chickens, and a cow that gave birth to a calf around the same time she had her own baby. Oh, and her neighbor a few miles down the road has a bunch of goats that faint when you startle them. It’s the coolest thing ever.” Natasha explained, her own excitement palpable in the air.
“No way,” Maria gasped, her eyes growing wide at the mention of the goats. She’d seen videos of fainting goats on youtube and agreed wholeheartedly with Natasha’s assessment of their coolness factor. “Now you’re just being mean, Nat. I still can’t take off of work, not even for baby cows and narcoleptic goats,” she pouted, crossing her arms over her chest in the way she often did when she was Little.
Natasha grinned at her in response, having finished pulling on her own set of sleep clothes. “That’s where you’re wrong, Masha. I happen to have it on good authority that Hand is sticking around DC this year, and Sitwell never actually leaves the city, even though he claims he needs the time off to visit his ‘girlfriend in Canada’,” she told her, making air quotes at that last part. “So there’s really no reason Fury wouldn’t be able to give you the week off.”
Maria really should have known better than to trust Natasha when she said something was hypothetical only. The sneaky little shit. Now there was no way she could turn down the offer without appearing like a big fat liar. Groaning somewhat petulantly, she finally relented and nodded her head. “Fine, you win. I’ll ask Fury in the morning.”
Natasha’s grin only got wider at her response. “No need, I already put in the request a week ago and he approved it this morning. I was going to tell you tonight at some point, but things didn’t exactly go as planned,” Natasha revealed, pointing at both of their changed outfits, as if the clothing itself encapsulated the drastic shift in their evening plans.
“You forged my signature on official SHIELD documents?” Maria asked in alarm, her mind choosing to focus on that part instead of the fact that she really had no more excuses not to go to the farm with them.
“Really? You’ve been lying to the organization for years about being Big, and you want to lecture me about a single forged PTO request?” Natasha asked, one eyebrow raised as she stared Maria down.
Maria knew Natasha was right and quickly dropped the act, walking over to her girlfriend and pulling her into a hug instead. “Thank you, for doing that for me. Though I'm kind of confused now. Were you already going to invite me to the farm even if Bobbi and Clint hadn't walked in on us? Because you seemed pretty surprised when Bobbi brought it up.”
“Truthfully? Yeah, my surprise was just an act for the other’s sake. I was already going to ask you to go with us, though mostly I put the request in so you and I could spend some time together here, after we got back from visiting the farm. Clint and Bobbi like the rural landscape and the domestic stuff way more than I do,” Natasha admitted, sinking eagerly into Maria’s embrace. “Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore Laura and her kids, but it’s difficult sometimes to see how easy it is for them to adjust to a normal Big and Little relationship. I mean, you’re the closest I’ve ever had to one, and it’s not even real.”
Maria hadn’t realized how similar the two of them were in that regard, and hugged Natasha closer to her chest. “What you and I have is very much real, but I do know what you mean.” Maria kissed the top of Natasha’s head as she rubbed her back over the fabric of her shirt. “So how does this sound - I’ll go with you guys to the farm, but only for a day or two. Then you and I go somewhere else, just the two of us. Not back here to DC, but somewhere we don’t have to pretend to be something we aren’t.”
Natasha hummed happily at the suggestion, pulling partially out of the hug so she could rise up on her tippy toes and place a kiss to Maria’s lips. “That sounds wonderful. Just you and me, two Littles in love, spending their first Christmas together.”
Maria felt her knees grow wobbly at the thought and she reluctantly let go of Natasha, taking a step backwards so she could recenter herself. They were still in the Little apartment, so they had to keep things PG, or thereabouts. Not to mention Clint and Bobbi were most likely still waiting for them in the playroom. “Sounds like a plan,” she eventually agreed, taking Natasha's hand and gesturing towards the door.
As the two of them walked side by side back into the playroom, Maria couldn't help but think that maybe this year the holidays wouldn't be so bad after all.