The chime of the elevator sounded, echoing just slightly across the open space and Clint froze for a split second before something akin to panic hit. Not that he would ever admit that he panicked about anything… ever.
He’d been in the middle of setting up for his latest prank, which would be ruined if he was caught in the act, so without a thought he hopped up onto the counter and pulled himself up into a large air vent, carefully closing the grate behind him.
It took only a few seconds, so by the time he could hear a familiar laugh he was out of sight, no trace left that he’d been there.
It wasn’t the first time he’d used these vents as a means of traversing the tower (which was how he’d known this particular grate was unscrewed already), so shifting as quietly as he could, he settled in to wait and watch until the room was empty again, a small grin forming as he saw his two favourite women enter the room.
“I mean really,” Natasha bemoaned, a wry grin on her face as she referenced a recent incident with a former S.H.I.E.L.D agent, “Is it really so hard to find a guy that won’t damn near wet himself just because he accidentally saw me nude, all I was doing was having a quick shower. Honestly, he reacted worse than Steve did that one time.”
“Steve? You mean Cap? Nooo,” Bella gaped, her eyes shining with amusement.
“Yep, he got all red and did that ‘looking anywhere but you’ thing that he does. I wasn’t even completely bare,” Natasha smirked, “I told him that was the only time he’d ever get away with calling me ma’am.”
Clint watched silently from the vent as Bella descended into laughter, suddenly feeling like he maybe shouldn’t be listening in to this conversation. As much as he loved that Natasha had unusually taken a liking to the shy woman since she’d started with the team as their medic, and unofficial lab manager under Bruce, her attempts to draw Bella out of her shell sometimes made him a little unsettled.
He had a hard enough time keeping Bella from straying into his thoughts at the best of times.
She was tiny and cute, adorably awkward, made him laugh, and had the prettiest eyes he’d ever seen. She made his inner Neanderthal want to just drag her off to his room so he could keep her all to himself while he did things with her that you didn’t discuss in polite company.
Of course, he wasn’t about to actually tell her that. Rejection would be one thing, but there was no way he wanted to make things awkward for the team if she didn’t feel anything for him; and as good as he usually was at reading people, he just didn’t know when it came to her.
Bella snickered as she snapped a fresh pod into the coffee machine and hit the button waiting for it to start up.
“So, what about you?” Natasha asked suddenly, making her blink in surprise.
“Me? No, no one’s been seeing me naked.” Bella grinned, making Natasha snort inelegantly.
“I think that’s the problem,” She cackled, bumping Bella lightly with her elbow, “What about finding you a guy?”
The sudden rosy blush that spread from Bella’s cheeks right down her chest took Clint by surprise, and he was surprised neither of the women appeared to have heard him fidgeting uncomfortably in the metal vent as he wondered just how far down that blush actually went.
If he’d been paying closer attention he might have seen the tiny spark of awareness that flickered across Natasha’s face.
“So… there is a guy you want then,” She pressed, giving Bella her best faux intimidating stare.
Bella’s face felt like it was absolutely flaming as she looked at the older woman, trying to think of any way to get out of this line of questioning.
“It’s Clint isn’t it?” Natasha asked bluntly, already knowing the answer and grinning when Bella twitched, “Don’t even try to deny it, you know you want him as your own personal Cupid.”
The dry amused tone plus the bizarre imagery had Bella laughing in spite of herself.
“Okay, okay,” She finally admitted sheepishly, “Yeah… I mean, it’s just his smile, and the way his eyes crinkle when he laughs…and oh god, those arms.”
“Not to mention he’s got a really fine ass.” Natasha leaned forward with a grin her voice low and conspiratorial, and then chuckled when Bella’s eyes widened comically, “What? Just because I don’t see him that way, doesn’t mean I don’t have eyes.”
Clint honestly wasn’t sure whether to blush or preen like a peacock at their words as he vaguely heard Bella humming in agreement while Nat laughed delightedly.
Well, now I know. A slow grin spread across his face, though it quickly creased into a frown as the conversation below him continued.
“Doesn’t matter,” Bella was smiling, though to a trained ear the sadness was clear in her voice, “I’m not sure he even notices I exist half the time.”
“Oh pfft, he notices,” Natasha disputed with a smirk, “And if he doesn’t make a move then he’s an idiot.”
Their travel mugs now filled with steaming coffee, both women turned to leave the kitchen, but not before Natasha turned slightly and looked right at the cover disguising the vent where Clint was perched, raising her eyebrows.
Of course, she knew I was here the whole time, Clint thought with a flash of wry amusement, damn woman knows everything.
His prank completely forgotten for the time being, he slid from his hiding place and scratched his head thoughtfully, frowning slightly at the stray cobweb that clung to the strands of hair under his fingers.
He needed a shower, and then he needed to think about seducing a tiny medic.
Bella had been completely serious when she’d admitted to Nat that she had a bit of a thing for the dirty-blond archer. In fact, she’d had a crush on him since she’d first met him, and it had made patching him up post-mission just a little awkward for her the few times he’d needed her to.
He’d put her at ease just by being himself though, cracking jokes and making her smile as she tended to him and whoever else might need it.
Natasha had been the first member of the team to invite Bella for coffee, taking a liking to the shy medic who had nerves of steel when it came to her job. Not many people could stand their ground against Tony, or be around Bruce without giving him fearful looks.
Then gradually she’d spent more and more time with the rest of the team, eventually being able to call them all friends. Even Thor, who’d intimidated the hell out of her the first time she’d been there for one of his visits until she realised he was a big softy when it came to the people he cared about.
The only person who was able to make her nervous now was Clint, though she wasn’t planning on admitting that. It didn’t help that something had changed recently, he was acting differently around her.
She had even asked Natasha if she’d mentioned anything to Clint about their conversation in the kitchen a couple of weeks before, but the former spy had just smirked and sworn up and down that she hadn’t said a word.
He just kept going sending panty dropping smiles her way, leaving her with a tingly warm feeling that made her heart stutter and her thighs clench each time it happened. It was getting harder to act normally around him.
Glancing across the room, Bella’s eyes automatically found him, and she inhaled sharply watching him tilt a beer bottle to his lips, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallowed. Oh god, he’s hot.
The team had come back that day from successfully clearing a Hydra base with no injuries, and while Jarvis was sifting through the mountains of files they had acquired Tony had decided they should have a small celebration.
Unusually for Tony, he’d kept it small and not too extravagant. It was mostly just the team and any of their partners, plus a few people from the tower that they were close to, so it was pretty casual, especially now it was getting quite late. Everyone was there just letting their hair down and relaxing for a while.
“Watch it; you’ve got a little drool.”
Bella jumped and turned to half-heartedly swat at the laughing redhead who easily dodged her.
“You’re getting a bit obvious girl,” Natasha grinned, “And for that matter, so is he.”
“Huh? No way, he just likes to flirt a little,” Bella protested, trying not to get her hopes up despite the warm feeling Natasha’s words were giving her.
“I swear, you’re an idiot, a loveable idiot,” She rolled her eyes fondly, deciding to give her friends a helping hand, “Do you see him looking at anyone else like he’s wishing he could strip them naked with his eyes? He wants you. Trust me, I know Clint.”
“But…” Bella faltered, her wide eyes showing her vulnerability. There’s no way.
Somehow understanding what she was thinking, Natasha sighed and patted Bella’s arm lightly before turning to walk away, tossing one last comment over her shoulder.
“Trust me… and just so you know, he’s not a one night kind of guy.”
Bella swallowed heavily then took a sip of the beer she was holding to combat her suddenly dry mouth.
Somehow Clint had picked that exact moment to catch her eye, giving her the exact ‘naked wishes’ look Nat had described, and though she knew there was no way he could have heard what Nat had been saying Bella couldn’t help the blush that spread across her cheeks.
Clint’s lips quirked into a half smile, his eyebrows rising slightly as he looked across the room at the short brunette who was blushing prettily. Not for the first time, he wondered where that blush would spread to and he couldn’t resist a wink and a slow smirk around the top of the bottle as he drank.
Bella was glad Nat had gone to flirt with Bruce, who was endearingly oblivious as usual. At least she wasn’t there to witness Bella faltering as she tried not to give any outward signs of the effect he was having on her.
She was dying. She really was going to spontaneously combust and die.
All because of the man currently sat with his arm around her, his thumb lightly tracing back and forth over a small strip of exposed skin near her hip where her shirt had ridden up slightly.
The party had wound down and the core team were grouped together on the sofas off to the side of the room, drinking and laughing. Bella had switched to soda after a couple of beers, knowing she was a lightweight but was still enjoying herself.
Somehow she’d ended up squashed next to Clint on the sofa, and she wasn’t sure which was worse; the heated looks across the room or the tingling warmth down her side where she was pressed against him.
Then he had shifted suddenly, moving his arm so that it rested behind her instead of in between them, making Bella’s eyes shoot to his face. To her surprise, she’d found him looking down at her with an easy grin, his arm curling around her.
Somehow he was reducing her to a gooey mess, doing something that could still be considered innocent, while being able to appear completely focused on the conversation around them. Damn secret super assassin training.
She was terrible at hiding her emotions. In fact, right now she was sure it was written all over her face that she wanted nothing more than to be utterly ruined in all the best ways by the man next to her.
Judging by the slightly smug grin on Natasha’s face it appeared that assumption was correct, and Bella wondered if the only reason Tony hadn’t said anything was because he currently appeared to be very distracted by a tipsy Pepper.
Finally reaching her breaking point and feeling in desperate need of either a cold shower or some serious alone time, Bella carefully got up and excused herself, quickly saying goodnight to the group and completely missing the significant look Nat gave Clint.
Clint smirked at the look Nat gave him as she mouthed the words go get your girl. Her meddling was as amusing as it was beneficial. Few people would ever guess just how soft-hearted she was deep down when it came to the people she cared about.
Giving her a subtle mock-salute, he got up and followed behind Bella ignoring the curious glances he got from a few of the others.
She was leaning against the wall waiting for the elevator when he caught up to her, and the look somewhere between startled and shy and hopeful that crossed her face absolutely melted him.
Before he could second guess himself, he was standing right in front of her. Their bodies close enough that each inhale of breath made her chest push up against his almost teasingly.
Bracing one hand against the wall next to her head, Clint lightly cupped her neck with the other, his thumb resting on her cheek. He could feel her heart thumping, racing under his fingertips and it made him grin slightly.
“Am I making you nervous, little swan?”
His voice was low and sultry, stirring up a wave of desire that crashed through her as he stroked his thumb across her cheek, his body pressing deliciously against hers.
The small needy sound that bubbled up from her throat would have embarrassed her, if Clint wasn’t now pressing her tighter to the wall, his hands running almost possessively down her sides and over her hips.
“Feels like we’ve been dancing around each other, but if you don’t want this, say the word now,” He murmured, his lips brushing her ear as he leaned down to speak.
A literal shiver ran from her head to her feet at the look he was giving her and Bella had to shake her head slightly to clear enough to give him the reply he was clearly waiting for.
“What word would that be?” She breathed meeting his gaze steadily, a slightly cheeky smile lighting up her face, “I don’t want to say it by accident.”
“Fuck woman,” Clint groaned, “What you do to me.”
The sudden kiss was gentle but no less intense for it, and Bella’s eyes nearly rolled in her head at the feel and taste of him.
A small squeak escaped her as one of his hands tangled in her hair and cupped the back of her head while the other landed far less innocuously on her ass.
“Too much?” Clint murmured against her lips.
“No… definitely no,” Bella replied, a faint blush lighting her cheeks even as she fisted her small hand in the front of his shirt in an effort to prevent him from moving away.
“Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere,” Clint grinned teasingly, backing away and sliding a hand down her arm to entangle his fingers with hers.
“Where we’re going, though, is away from this corridor. Unless you particularly want Tony to find us here, nosy bastard that he is.”
Bella giggled, squeezing his fingers lightly and reverting to his last name like they usually did when they were joking with each other.
“You trying to get me alone, Barton?”
“I’ve already managed to get you alone sweetheart, what I’m trying to do now is stop myself from just throwing you over my shoulder and taking you to my bed caveman style.”
Another one of those head to foot shivers. She was certain that Clint had noticed it this time too, judging by the amused glint in his eyes.
The slight strained tremor of his hand belied his teasing humour though, and Bella realised he hadn’t exactly been joking.
The small soft sound that left her throat was the last straw for Clint and the tension finally snapped when he turned and headed for the lift without another word, gently tugging Bella along with him.
Bella was quiet while he requested Jarvis to take them to his floor, his husky voice doing things to her insides.
Neither of them said anything else as the doors opened and he led her a little way down the corridor. Feeling sure her heart was pounding loudly enough for Clint to hear it, Bella watched him open his door, her heart actually stuttering then at the smile he gave her.
The room was neat unsurprisingly, with a large TV and a comfy looking couch with a thick blanket folded over the back of it. One wall held several bows, quivers full of arrows and a wide array of other weapons and just to the side of it there was a short workbench nearby, a bow and several tools resting on top of it.
On the other side of the room there was a small kitchenette area and in the wall between that and his work area them there were two doors leading to a bathroom and bedroom. The door to the latter was slightly open and a warm glow came from a lamp, illuminating the room softly.
Her gaze fell on his large neatly made bed and that light dusting of red spread across her cheeks again, prompting Clint to gently brush his knuckles down the flushed skin, enjoying the way her breathing hitched at his touch.
“Blushing again?” He grinned, “What exactly were you thinking to blush like that just from looking at my bed?”
“As if you don’t know Barton,” Bella snorted softly.
“You really need to go back to calling me Clint,” He murmured in reply, “Because it’s just gonna just sound really odd if you scream Barton once I’m between your thighs.”
“Oh,” Bella didn’t have time to gape at him for long.
It took little more than a second for him to pull her against his chest, his head ducking to kiss her thoroughly while she was dimly aware of moving backwards until her legs hit the edge of his bed.
“Don’t forget, just say the word little swan.” Clint broke the kiss and looked at her seriously.
“If you’re planning on being between my thighs shouldn’t you be calling me by my name?” She was aiming for teasing, but the words came out more breathless sounding than anything.
The way he said her name should be illegal Bella thought, and she pushed up on her toes to kiss him again, moaning softly when his hand twisted in her hair, holding her against his lips.
Her last coherent thought was that she really was going to spontaneously combust.