The room is dark, and it smells like salt and sunshine.
She's on the bed, glowing in a white dress, like the universe was built around her, around this moment. Clint sees the future stretched out in front of her-- her skin, his mouth, the echo of whispered words and the smell of sweat and sex.
But now there is him, and there is her, and there is a dark room and a white dress.
"You left," Clint says.
Kate looks up at him, her face alight somehow, the room ghostly with the glow that is her. "You made it easy."
The bed is soft under beneath him as Clint kneels, reaching for her.
"I miss you," he says.
"I know," she replies, like she's Han Solo. Which, to be fair, if either of them was ever going to be Han Solo, it was going to be her. She stretches out her arm, taking his hand and pulling him towards her.
Their mouths connect, a kiss that he never thought they'd have, a moment that he never thought they'd get. It's bittersweet, it's wrong, it's the most right he's ever felt. She's a bowstring, she's a bullseye, she's a cowboy movie at midnight, the lights of her flickering across his eyes like static.
"Clint," she whispers, her voice full of need, of want, of something that he pretends could be love, if he weren't him and she weren't her.
He opens his mouth to reply, to say her name, but instead he wakes to sun streaming through his curtains and the sounds of his neighbors in the hall.
Kate is nowhere.
"I had another dream about her," Clint tells Barney, who is blithely uninterested in hearing his dreams.
"That's nice," Barney shrugs.
Clint sighs and sips his coffee. "You're an asshole."
"Right back atcha, little brother."
Kate is in New York, her arms full of presents and the smell of exhaust and candied nuts warm in her nose as she hustles through the wintery streets.
She rounds a corner into springtime, her coats disappearing as she steps into the park. There's Clint, shirtless and gleaming, the sun pressing freckles into his skin like a caress as he lazily tosses a tennis ball to Lucky.
"Clint," she says, and he looks back at her. His face changes as he does, disgust shifting to sadness shifting to a smile that doesn't reach his eyes. Her heart feels heavy.
"I got you something," she tells him, but she didn't. She got him something back when it was Christmas, and her hands are empty now, so she steps forward into his personal space and leans up, kissing him gently on the side of his mouth.
"What was that for?" he asks, shock shifting across his face.
His hand is warm in hers as she leads him forward, the park falling away like their clothes, and his arms are solid around her, safe and steady.
"I want you," he breathes, his stubble rough on her skin as he lays hot kisses across her throat.
Kate doesn't answer, just pushes him back into the bed and straddles his hips. "You can't have me," she tells him, reaching down to trace his abs with a fingertip.
A strangled noise escapes his lips, his clever fingers gripping her hips and trying to move her. "Why not?"
Her breasts brush against his chest as she leans down to whisper in his ear. "You know you don't deserve it," she says. "You gave me away."
The look on his face is part pain and part fear and part arousal, and for a moment Kate is afraid of him in turn. He opens his mouth, her name poised on his lips, his eyes begging her for something she doesn't have.
Kate wakes with a jolt, the dog on her feet and the cat on her chest and a pain in her heart.
"I keep having these dreams," she tells Marcus, who is making pancakes. "About my boss back home."
"Are they dirty dreams?" he asks, casting her a look over his shoulder. "Cause no one wants to hear about your sex dreams."
Kate peers down at the classifieds, pretending that she's reading them for real. Her silence is telling, she knows, but she has to talk about it, has to get it out.
"They're just-- real," she says. "And-- you ever have a dream, and want to call the person in it?"
His laugh is more of a snort. "No," he says. "You're thinking of my husband. He gets mad at me for things I do in his subconscious."
"Well," Kate sighs. "When does he get home?"
"I don't want to think about you," Clint tells her, his mouth hot on her neck. "I don't want to think about you and I can't stop."
Kate grins, arching her back and rolling her head to give him more access. "You touch yourself while thinking about me?" she asks, her voice hitching as he nips her collar bone.
"Do you?" he counters, sliding a hand up her thigh.
"Only when I'm asleep."
She doesn't know how they got here, how she found herself spread before him, vulnerable and aching, but here they are. She's in bed with Clint Barton, and she can't get over how good it feels, how right.
But the truth remains that she left, that she walked away from him. The last in a line of people that did so. The latest disappointment.
"Are you mad at me?" she asks, as he kisses between her breasts, his fingers teasing her sides, running feather-light down the line of her body.
"Furious," he says, before sucking her nipple into his mouth.
She wants to say something, wants to apologize, but the truth remains that Kate isn't sorry. She isn't sorry she left him, and she doesn't think he wants to be lied to. So instead she gasps and grabs at his hair, pulling until he relents.
Their eyes meet, in the light-dark nowhere space that they inhabit, and it's all Kate can do to stop the words that threaten to betray her. "I--" she breathes, but Clint shakes his head.
"Just show me."
She does, twisting her hips to roll them, settling on top of him and leaning to kiss him fiercely. He tastes like coffee and regret, like nights on the couch and laughing on the roof, like pain and hurt and Clint in a way that she thinks she always knew he would.
He pulls her close, his hands hot on her spine.
"Show me," he whispers again. "Show me, huh?"
Kate nods and she slides down his body, laying kisses on scars and freckles, enjoying all the marred skin and the imperfections. Clint is imperfections, she thinks. He's a pot that should have exploded in a kiln, a note that's a half-step sharp. He's off, just a little, and that might be her favorite thing about him.
His dick, however, is perfect, and Kate mouths soft kisses along the side of it, humming happily as she does, her stomach flipping at the idea of what she's about to do. His eyes are blue-- strikingly and seriously blue-- and she holds them with her gaze as she opens her mouth and sinks down onto his cock.
The noise Clint makes is almost inhuman, a whine and a shout and a grunt, like this is more than he could hope for, more than he dared to think possible.
She thinks she can relate to that.
It's been a long time since Kate has sucked anyone's dick, but this is natural, this is right and good and she knows what she's doing. She's not scared, she's not worried. She's just moving, her head bobbing and her tongue swirling and her eyes closing as she moans softly, sending the vibrations along his nerves to the heart of his pleasure center.
Her scalp burns and she realizes it's from his fingers, that he's holding on to her hair, that he's trying to control himself. Always trying to control himself.
Their eyes meet again. The blue is almost gone, replaced with the fathomless black of his blown pupils. His mouth opens and closes, his lips forming a word that doesn't escape into the air as he comes.
And she wakes in California, her sheets soaked with sweat.
The dreams haunt her day. Even buying catfood seems weird, she feels Clint's ghostly eyes hot between her shoulderblades as she stalks the aisles of the store. She finds herself wishing that Harold would show, would at least have a story for her.
No one shows. No one calls. Kate is alone with her thoughts, and her thoughts are full of Clint Barton.
Her fingers shake as she dials the phone, the number too familiar for her own comfort. She's not sure what she'll say-- 'Hey, had any good dreams lately?' seems like a good opener, but the voice that answers is tobacco-rough, gravelly and mean in a way that Clint's never was.
"What?" the man says by way of greeting. It's not Clint. It's not Clint. That has to mean something.
"This is Dolores from the Metropolitan Opera Company," she says, putting on her best salesperson voice. "Is Clint Barton available to discuss his subscription?"
It's not a code. They don't have a code. You have to admit you need a code before you can have a code.
The man covers the phone with his hand, a scratching noise that does very little to cover the way he barks. "Hey, you subscribe to the opera?"
Clint's voice is soft, muffled and obscured, but it's there. She can hear it.
"We don't want any," the man says, and Kate hears the unmistakable sound of being hung up on, the kind of sound you only get with a phone like Clint's that actually hangs up. She sighs, and stands to start the coffee maker. She's not sleeping tonight, not if she can help it.
The memory of Kate's mouth on him is electric, it thrums through Clint's veins like music. Kate. Him. Sex. It seems too good to be true.
Tonight he can't sleep, though he's trying. The apartment is too hot, and too cold, his brother is snoring, and too quiet. Everything is wrong.
If he's not going to sleep, Clint might as well get some work done. He sits up in bed, his feet hitting the ground, which turns to ice.
He's skating, watching John Wayne fight enemies who can't aim, moving without trying. She's here, he can feel it, and he has to find her. He has to get her hand in his, has to touch her, feel her, taste her.
But he can't see more than a flash of black hair ahead of him, darting between skaters and away as he tries, in vain, to reach her.
"Hey," she says, her hand landing on his back. How she got there is a mystery, when she was just in front of him.
"You real?" he asks, regarding her critically, trying to find some kind of tell that shows that she's a Skrull or a doppelganger or a life model decoy.
"No," Kate shrugs. "But neither are you."
He can't argue with that, and he lets her lead him into the bedroom, his clothes falling to the floor as he does, shedding them like snakeskin.
"I--" he starts, but Kate shakes her head.
"No," she says, stepping into his space. She's naked, too, nude and exposed to him and she smells like lilacs and it makes his mouth water. "No talking."
He kisses her instead, trying to get it through to her in some way, trying to be the person she seems to want him to be. He kisses her for all the times he didn't kiss her, all the times he didn't touch her, all the times he didn't say the things he should have said.
And she kisses him back, her hands playing on his body, reaching down to cup his ass and up to pinch a nipple. He lifts her, lets her get her legs around his waist before backing her into the wall, still kissing her like he means it.
He does mean it.
"Clint," she whispers, her voice soft and broken.
He shakes his head and drops a hand between them, pressing his thumb between her legs, finding her clit and moving in a gentle circle.
The noise she makes is a drug, it's an aphrodisiac like he's never felt, and his body responds before his mind can come to terms with the sensation, his cock suddenly hard and aching for her.
She's moving for him as he touches her, the most beautiful thing he's ever seen, ever will see, Kate coming apart on his fingers.
He turns, then, and they tumble, still entwined, onto the bed. She laughs, her head thrown back and her eyes open in surprise. It's been a long time since he's heard her laugh, since they had a simple, easy conversation with jokes and smiles. Clint has spent too much time in the dark, too much time trying to understand why he's so tired and heavy, to allow himself the kind of lightness that Kate brings.
Clint kisses her neck, kisses down the plains of her body, taking his time to touch and taste and feel. He'd never really thought about her cunt before, never spent any time in the idle fantasy of going down on Kate Bishop. But it feels right, it feels like he belongs on his knees between her thighs.
Clint has felt that way before, and he's been wrong.
So he chooses not to think, not to take any time to think about Bobbi and Natasha and Wanda and Jess and Cherry and Jan and all the other mistakes he's left in his wake. Instead he kisses her thigh once and parts her lips so he can replace his thumb with his tongue, slipping one finger inside of her.
Kate gasps and then moans, her body going boneless around him. He wonders, for a moment, if she's alright, but then she says his name, her voice smooth and soft and hot, so he doesn't think anymore, he just acts.
Time passes strangely, and Clint is between her legs for a second and a year, he's eating her out like he never wants to stop even as she comes, her hips jumping and his name falling from her lips like a prayer. He realizes he wants to remember every bit of this, just in case he loses her. At the same time, he knows he's already lost her. It's an ending, it's a beginning. She comes and she goes. She is gone.
He crawls up her body, kissing her again, and their eyes meet for a moment. It's enough, it's tacit approval as she nods once, so Clint lines himself up and thrusts his hips, sinking into her body because that's where she wants him, that's where they've been heading for years.
Their bodies move together, like a dance. She rolls on top, her back arched and her head tossed back as she rides him, and he rolls them back, kissing her softly as he moves slowly, as he takes the things she's willing to give and hides them in his heart.
"Clint," she whispers, reaching up to cup his cheek, their eyes meeting.
"I need you," he says. "Kate, I love you."
It's enough, it's nothing, it's everything. He comes, his face open and vulnerable as she smiles up at him, and he wakes tangled in his sheets, sticky and embarrassed like he's thirteen, and needs someone to tell him that wet dreams are just a thing that happen.
Her phone rings in the dark, and Kate pulls off her sleep mask to glare at it. She's been having another dream, a dream where she and Clint are finally fucking. A dream where he goes down on her, and makes love to her, and she feels him shudder apart in her arms. Whoever is calling at 4 A.M. and interrupting that dream better have a lot of money, and be planning on giving it to her.
"Kate Bishop Investigations," she answers, unable to keep the sleep or the annoyance out of her voice.
"Hi," the voice says, and Kate doesn't have to ask anything else. She knows. She's know that voice if it was the last thing she heard at the gates of hell.
"Clint," she whispers.
"Hi," he offers again.
Kate sits up in bed, running a hand through her hair. "What do you want?"
"To hear your voice," he says, like that explains a damn thing.
"Had any good dreams lately?" she asks, before she can stop herself.
The silence is deafening.
"Yes," he replies, when she's started to wonder if he's hung up. "About you."
Kate isn't surprised, but she wishes she were. "You have the one about me blowing you?" she asks. "Or the one where you fucked me without ever saying my name?"
Clint makes a noise that she thinks is distress. "Both."
She doesn't know what to say, doesn't know how to handle the idea that he's in her dreams any more than she can handle the idea that she's in his.
"Me too," she says, finally.
She can see him in her mind's eye, his shoulders hunched as he sits at his counter, drinking coffee out of a mug that hasn't seen soap since she left.
"Lucky is doing good," she says, like they haven't been sharing sex dreams.
"That's good," he says. "Real good. My brother is here."
"Oh," Kate says, nodding. That's who picked up the other day. "Glad you're not alone."
"Coming home soon?" he asks, his voice young and pained.
"Maybe," she shrugs, trying not to think about all the messes she's tangled in out here, all the trouble she's found. "You gonna be there when I do?"
"Maybe," he echoes.
Kate sits and listens to him breathe, imagines the thumping of his heart and the way he blinks when he doesn't know what to say. "Hey," she says, finally. "Take care, okay?"
"Yeah," he says. "You, too. And-- and Kate?"
She can almost hear him working up the nerve to say what he wants to say, almost feels the way he sets his jaw.
"Give Lucky a pet for me."
"Yeah," she says, biting back the tears that threaten to spill down her cheeks, the sharp disappointment that roils in her stomach. "I will. Bye, Clint."
"Bye," he replies.
Kate hangs up before he can say anything else, before he can break her heart into any more pieces. Instead she pokes the dog that's sleeping on her bed, drooling onto the sheets. "Oi," she says, nudging him. "Your dad's an idiot."
The dog has no opinion on the matter, just opens his one eye and gives her hand a half-hearted lick.
She's not going to get any more sleep, 4 A.M. or not, so Kate flips on the light and stands. She pets Lucky on his head once, like Clint asked, before grabbing his leash from the table. "Let's go for a walk," she says. "Maybe we'll find something stupid to do."
The word 'walk" perks up Lucky's ears, and he stands slowly, joining her at the door. "You're good," she says, clipping the leash to his collar. "You're the best man in my life. And that's so fucking sad."
Lucky still has nothing to say-- typical-- so he licks her face, and Kate laughs, opening the door and heading out to face the day.