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the highest reaches of human endeavor

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The first time is—well. It’s the first time.


Natasha’s not a virgin; she hasn’t been a virgin in years. But she’s never chosen someone before, she’s never been allowed to pick, so when Clint Barton kisses her and heat curls deep in her groin, every sexual technique she’s ever known goes straight out the window.


Which is probably why she manages to knee him in the face when he goes down on her, elbows him in the chest when chest when he’s shifting up to slide into her, and actually rips a few layers of skin off his back when she comes.


To his credit, Clint’s really nice about it. Natasha’s pretty sure he didn’t come, but when she’s finished shaking he moves out of her gently and ties off the condom, tossing it into the trash bin before sprawling back down on the bed beside her. Natasha fights to regain her breath, not looking at him. “So,” Clint says, just the faintest hint of a Midwest drawl to his voice. “That was fun.”


Natasha swallows. “I’m usually better at that,” she manages, and Clint gives her an absolutely filthy grin.


“Really?” He says, cocking one eyebrow. “You’ll have to show me sometime.”


“Maybe I will,” Natasha says, and there’s more confidence in her voice than she feels.




The next time is Budapest.


Clint takes two bullets to the chest and Natasha nearly has a heart attack before she remembers he’s got Kevlar on, but even with the vest he’s mostly purple-green by the time they get back to the hotel.


“You look like shit,” she tells him when he steps out of the shower, towel wrapped around his waist. It’s slung low on his hips and she can see the V of his obliques. She wants to run her tongue over it.


She tells him so, and Clint smirks at her, slow and smug. “Be my guest,” he says.


Natasha pulls his towel away and pushes him down on the bed. His cock is stirring between his legs and she nuzzles it with her nose, feels his chuckle before she hears it. One of his hands comes down to tangle loosely in her hair and she presses a kiss to the tip of his cock before she takes him into her mouth.


It’s not long before he’s writhing under her, his fingers tightening in her hair. “Nat,” he says, and his voice is strained. “Tasha, come up here, I need you.” She squirms her way up his body, wet and throbbing between her legs.


Except halfway there she slips on a loose bit of sheet and the sharp point of her elbow goes straight into the darkest point of one of his bruises. Clint lets out a pained yelp and Natasha rolls away, reaching for him and already gasping apologies, but Clint shakes his head, holding up a hand while he catches his breath. “Clint,” she says, because his breathing sounds raspy and for a moment panic begins to flare up in her chest, but he manages a grin.


“It’s okay,” he says, breathless. “Nat, it’s okay. You just knocked the wind out of me, that’s all.” He scoots back against the pillows and holds his arms out to her. “Come here.” She goes to him, curls up next to him. He’s still half-hard and she reaches down to touch him, but he catches her wrist. “I think I’m good,” he says, and she flushes, embarrassed. “No, that’s not what I meant.” He kisses the top of her head. “You’re beautiful, and you’re sexier than sexy, but I think…it’s just been a long day. Rain check, okay?”


Natasha looks up at him. “Clint,” she says. “I’m sorry.”


He looks at her like he knows everything she’s not saying, and he kisses her head again. “Hey,” he says. “Want to see what Budapest has for cartoons?”


In the end, they get room service and watch Monsters, Inc. dubbed in Hungarian. They spend a few hours kissing and Natasha relaxes into the feeling of his mouth. They don’t try to have sex again, but Natasha thinks they’ve done something better.




“Sorry,” Clint says, and he looks absolutely mortified. “It’s just—there was a lot of vodka, and I swear this doesn’t usually happen—”




It’s hot as all fuck, and they’re both sticky with sand and blood by the time they get back to the hotel in Cairo. “Absolutely no part of this mission was a good idea,” Clint says, pulling his shirt over his head and shaking sand out of his hair. “None of it. Oh, my God, I need a shower.”


“Do you want company?” Natasha asks, before she can stop herself, and Clint stops dead in his tracks. She feels immediately stupid for asking, because seriously, after the last three attempts, it’s probably just a really bad idea.


But Clint grins at her. “Sure,” he says. “You know what they say—save water, shower with a buddy. Come on.”


They fight over the water temperature—Clint wants it freezing, Natasha’s happy with lukewarm—and the bottle of shampoo—“you do not need that much,” Natasha says, “you’ve barely got any hair anyway.”—and the loofah—“I have very delicate skin, Nat, thanks very much.”—but it’s actually not so bad, and by the time they get out they’re damp and mostly clean and in far better moods, so when Clint kisses her Natasha actually purrs, arching into him.


“You’re really stunning,” Clint mumbles into her neck, kissing his way down over her shoulders. He pulls one nipple into his mouth and she keens but makes sure to keep her elbows planted firmly on the sheets. “I know you hear that all the time. But really. You’re beautiful.”


Natasha swallows very carefully, because something about the words you’re beautiful in Clint’s voice does something to her. “Thank you,” she says, and he kisses her hip in acknowledgement.


She’s shaking and desperate by the time he slips on a condom and slides into her, and her fingers scramble for purchase on his back when he moves. He’s got a way with his hips that makes her squirm and she’s close, so close, she leans her head back—


And then she’s opening her eyes and Clint is looking down at her with something like panic written all over his face. Her head hurts. “Oh, thank God,” he says. “Nat, can you hear me?”


“Yes,” she says. She tries to shake her head to clear it, and immediately regrets it. “What happened?”


“You hit your head on the bed,” Clint says, and he looks so incredibly guilty that it’s almost endearing. “And…you passed out. Just for a bit, but—uh. It kind of scared the shit out of me.”


“Oh.” Natasha squeezed her eyes shut for a moment, and then opened them. “Did you—um—”


Clint looks horrified. “Oh my God,” he says. “Of course not. What kind of person do you think I am?”


She sees his expression change as he realizes exactly what kind of person she thinks he could have been, and she yanks him down and buries her head in his shoulder before he can see her cry.




Natasha hates camping.


She knows it’s necessary for the mission, and she can do it if she needs to, but she hates it. In the Red Room, the KGB, she was—for all their tortures and manipulation—a very well kept treasure, pampered and spoiled when it came to clothes and housing and food. “I think it’s hilarious, actually,” Clint says as they’re setting up the tent for the overnight, two other agents having relieved them from sentry duty. “You’ll go out and kill twenty dudes on a whim, but God forbid you don’t get a hot bath at the end of it.”


“With bubbles,” Natasha says, because Clint’s humor is contagious, and he laughs. She doesn’t laugh with him, but she does smile, and she thinks that’s enough.


They crawl into the two-man tent together, and it’s not quite comfortable but it’s not uncomfortable either. “C’mere,” Clint says, and Natasha rolls closer to him. She tilts her head up before he even reaches for her and seals their lips together, slipping her tongue into his mouth. He groans a little and she pushes him back, slinking over him. He’s already hard and she grinds down, rubbing against him. “Tash,” he says, a little breathless, and Natasha smiles into his mouth at the sound of her name in his voice.


She reaches down, pulling his sweatpants down to free his cock. It’s a gorgeous penis, actually, she thinks, running her fingers over the tight skin, and Clint makes a faintly strangled sound. “Shut up,” she says, and Clint rolls his eyes and makes an exaggerated zipping motion over his mouth. “Wait, un-shut up. Did you bring any condoms?”


Clint flushes a little. “Uh. No, actually. I wasn’t expecting—I don’t usually.”


“Son of a bitch,” Natasha mutters, casting a last, lingering look at his cock and remembering how damn good it felt inside her. She sighs and shifts off him. “Fine,” she says. “Plan B.”


Clint says “Nat” like he might be about to protest but then she’s moving and sliding around and settling down with her crotch over his face and her lips over his cock. Clint says something that might be, “God, yes” but she’s not entirely sure because his mouth has closed over her clit and it takes her a moment to remember that she was supposed to be doing something with her mouth, too. She closes her lips over the head of his cock, rolling her tongue against him, and he actually whimpers into her, his fingers tightening on her thighs.


It’s not until a few moments later that she begins to feel faint pinpricks, little tickles and nips across her back and shoulders and ass. She’s mostly distracted, because Clint’s got two fingers inside her, one of them crooked just right against her G spot, but then she hears the buzzing and puts two and two together. “Oh, no,” she moans, pulling off him and batting his hand away. She darts under the blankets and curls against Clint as tight as she can, writhing against the itching that’s already started.


He looks slightly alarmed. “What is it?”


“Mosquitoes,” she says, miserably. “I hate camping.”


Clint makes a sympathetic sound. He turns her until they’re spooning and scratches her back for her, and once they get back to SHIELD he teaches her the wonders of Calamine lotion and oatmeal baths.




Natasha finds him on the sixtieth floor.


She’d seen him jump, held her breath for one terrifying second before he shot the grappler arrow and caught himself, but the crash through the window had sent a shudder through her where she stood on the roof of Stark Tower and she hadn’t seen him since.


But she has a job to do, and for the first time in her life she can be a hero, so she puts Clint out of her mind and thrusts Loki’s scepter into the stabilizer. The portal closes and she waits just long enough to see Iron Man plummet through the closing gap in the sky before she drops the scepter and runs.


Well—she tries to run. In all honesty, it’s more of a limping gallop. She counts windows and figures out what story he’s on, and thanks every single one of her lucky stars when she realizes the building still has a working elevator.


Clint’s conscious when she reaches him, propped against a mostly-broken desk and picking shards of glass out of his arm. He’s bloody and battered and covered in dust but he grins at her all the same. “Hey, Tash,” he says. “I heard you saved the world.”


Natasha crosses the room, drops down to her knees next to him, and hauls him in for a kiss.


It’s not good sex, really. It’s not sweet, either, and he doesn’t kiss her eyelids or her cheeks or her forehead, she doesn’t whisper encouragements into his ear, they don’t take things slow or make sure they’re okay. Every muscle in her body hurts and there are pieces of broken window digging into her back and blood from the gash on Clint’s temple drips into her eyes.


None of that matters. It’s fast and frantic. Their hands fumble on the buckles and straps of their uniforms. (“What the fuck is this held to your skin with,” Clint mutters, tugging at her suit. “Superglue?”) Their teeth knock together when they kiss and the strap of Clint’s arm guard gets tangled in Natasha’s hair and Natasha steals a condom from a wallet some poor businessman abandoned on the desk Clint was leaning against and they nearly tear it trying to keep their hands steady enough to roll it on, and by the time Clint’s inside her they’re both so wired and adrenaline-high that Natasha thinks it’s a wonder they hold it together past that moment.


It’s over too soon for both of them but at the end they find a rhythm, or something close to it. Natasha moves her hips in time with his until his pubic bone is hitting her clit with every thrust; she digs her fingers into the soft flesh of his ass and drags him closer to her and he props himself up on one elbow, the fabric of his glove soft against her neck where there should be calloused fingers. Natasha cries out when she’s close, wrapping her legs tight around his hips like she can pull him deeper, and when she comes he’s with her, groaning and gasping into the skin of her shoulder. She holds him close to her and they pant for breath, and Natasha counts his heartbeats in time with hers.


It’s not good sex, really.


But as far as Natasha cares, it’s perfect.