The funny thing about being best friends with someone you used to have really great, loud, and exhausting sex with is that you'll either never touch them again without recoiling like you've stuck your fingers into a toaster, or you'll have lost all compunctions about physical contact with them for as long as you both shall live. Maybe that depends on your general outlook on sex; whether you think it's something inherently shameful, even if it's amazing, or whether it's about getting naked and having fun.
Luckily, neither Clint nor Natasha ever had much of a concept for shame to begin with.
And that is why, after roughly a decade of avengering together, all of it as deeply entangled exes, no one raises an eyebrow when Natasha climbs onto the excessively large couch in the common area and curls up against Clint's side. It's been a shit day, fighting slimy, stinking sewer monsters in the pouring rain. Now it's 4 AM and everyone's showered and changed into some variation of sweatpants-and-t-shirt, and hardly anyone's in the mood to go to sleep. Clint assumes that adrenaline highs are one of these things that will always apply, no matter how far from regular human someone's anatomy has gotten. Which makes sense, he supposes. Fight or flight, instinctual responses to danger and stress; those are pretty basic. Lizard brain and all that.
Natasha nudges his arm away so she can get even closer, and she doesn't say anything about it; there's no need for that. He doesn't either, just raises it so she can get more comfortable, and wraps it around her middle once she's settled. Her warm weight is a familiar comfort, immediately works its magic and elevates the bone-deep exhaustion that makes his body feel like it weighs roughly a ton. It also soothes the agitated thrum that persists, even now, after the battle's long over, and the whirl of nerves that's permanently running through his head these days. He closes his eyes, and he doesn't quite drift off, but it's some sort of rest and therefore more than welcome. When he opens them again, he's lost some time – the conversation has moved on and there are a few less people in here now – but Natasha's still there. Clint listens to Lang delivering anecdotes from his days as a permanently unlucky thief, nods and laughs in the appropriate places. He watches Cap frown about it, and Stark grin gleefully about that, and it's weird and it's wonderful and it's the closest he's ever gotten to something like home.
The room empties out slowly, everyone else filing out with a yawn and a wave until it's just the two of them left. Clint doesn't plan on moving anytime soon, could wait for morning right where he is, and gives a discontent huff when Natasha stretches out against him, yawning as well, and then pushes herself upright.
Her smile in response is fond and amused, the way someone would look at a puppy who's being especially adorable, if a little dense. She stands and extends her hand, and ohh, well yes, that changes things.
The song on the radio is nothing special, none of their classics, but it's got a rhythm and it'll do. Clint takes the offered hand and lets her pull him up, places his hands on her hips once they're both vertical. He's a shit dancer, undeserving of her easy grace, but that's never bothered her. Dancing well isn't the point, and it's not like he can do much damage when he steps on her toes with bare or socked feet. There's no one around to judge or criticize, and this, too, is familiar and comforting. They've been in love once.
He's nineteen and she's ageless, lying between tangled sheets half-dressed, and he's forgotten what time of day it is. They got in late last night – or early this morning, depends on your angle – and the curtains are drawn. Light gets in regardless, because this a cheap motel and no one gave a shit when they outfitted it, the fabric flimsy and somewhat transparent, and it dips the room in a warm glow, some sort of urban eternal twilight. Clint blinks and rubs his eyes, turns his head to check whether this place has a clock on the nightstand. It does not, and so he stays where he is and instead looks at the sleeping form next to him.
Natasha's hair spills out all over the pillow, around her head, and stray red locks have fallen into her face. He knows better than to tuck them away – been there, done that, got the black eye – but he inches closer and blows out a long, measured breath in her direction, trying to at least dislodge the strands that are covering her eyes. All that achieves is a slight flutter, and they must be tickling her nose, because she scrunches it and mutters something unintelligible in Russian.
Waking her up wasn't his intention, and yet he grins at her, big and bratty, when she props herself up on her elbows and glares. Before she has a chance to chide him, however, he dives at her, tackling her back down onto the bed and enveloping her in a hug. For a moment, she tenses against him, and he braces himself for a fight, an argument, a dressing-down. But rather than chiding him, she relaxes, yields and gives way. Clint seizes the moment and straddles her, leaning in for a kiss. It tastes of morning breath and stale alcohol but he doesn't care. He's about to move things along, rubbing a growing erection on her thigh, when she throws him off, suddenly, and next thing he knows she's sitting on the edge of the bed, left wondering where exactly he took a wrong turn here.
“Nat,” he says, scrambles and folds his legs underneath himself so he's sitting half next, half behind her. Maybe he should follow that up with something, offer words more meaningful than a pet name, but that's never been his strength and she's never seemed to particularly care for pretty speeches anyway.
Clint reaches out, but aborts the motion midway. Nope, whatever this is, a mere hand on the shoulder won't do, he's rather certain. He hops off the bed and kneels down in front of her, tries to ignore how her eyes track his every move. He takes each of her hands in one of his, and he drags her to her feet.
There's a transistor radio, roughly the age of his grandma, may she rest in peace, and he ducks away once he's got Natasha standing in the middle of the room. He settles on the first station he can get to play without interference, and turns it all the way up. The first beats of Come On, Eileen float through the room, and Natasha stands motionless where he's put her, eyeing him like he's lost his mind. Clint doesn't let that deter him. He recaptures her hands, curls one arm around her middle and the other around her shoulder, and he starts twirling her.
Clint has never learned how to dance and Natasha knows ballet, so they're horribly mismatched, but they find a rhythm after a few steps. He's somewhat stunned that she lets him lead, pivot her this way and that, dictate the speed. Right before he knows the song will get faster, he draws back, bringing some distance between them. She hefts a perfectly arched eyebrow at him, and he grins wider. He lays her arms out, crossed at the wrists, grabs them just in time; abandoning all attempts at elegance, he spins them around, wildly, gravity tethering them to each other as she catches on and they both lean back, trusting the other to anchor them, throwing all their weight into it. Clint's hip bumps the plastic dinner table, hard enough that he knows it'll bruise, but he's laughing, and soon she is as well. It's not the first time he's heard her laugh, but it happens rarely enough that it's still special, and it fills him with pride at being the cause.
They collapse on the bed in a tangled heap of limbs, and this time it's her who takes his face between both her hands and kisses him. It's rough and hungry, filled with more emotion and raw, shameless need than he's used to from her, and his head is swimming with it, with her scent and her taste and the love that he knows is slowly consuming him. This time, when he's filling up against her, dick pressed between their bodies, she doesn't shy away. She grinds into it, and smirks, actually smirks and for the next little while the world narrows down to this room, this bed, and nothing but the two of them.
The song ends, and the next is something to be played in a club, fast and heavy beats not designed for dancing together. They've long since passed the point where remaining in each other's arms when they're no longer moving would be awkward, and Natasha threads their fingers together and leads them back to the couch.
“Better?” she asks, and Clint gets the feeling that she's not just talking about the exhaustion, about being tired and yet too wired to sleep, and the resigned frustration that brings. He nods, drawing her onto his lap. He wraps his arms around Natasha and hugs her from behind, chin resting on her shoulder.
It's been a hard couple of weeks; hell, it's been a hard couple of years. They haven't talked about it – the tracksuits and that other Russian redhead, the clown and the attack and the renewed hearing loss, Barney and the battle for his building – and yet he's not surprised she knows, read it in the lines of his body, on his face. He doesn't have to open his mouth to be an open book to her.
And they won't talk about it, because that's not what they do. Natasha straight up doesn't talk about her feelings. Clint might if he's coaxed into a heart-to-heart with the right nudges and cues, but that's not them. Never has been. They have other methods of showing they care, offering support. That's another perk of being best friends with an ex: you don't have to abandon all the little rituals you began when you were still together. Most of them, at least. The ones that involve nudity and bodily fluids don't translate so well into keeping things platonic, but those usually aren't the ones that matter, anyway.