A Gift For: frea_o
> > My request: I think those five times so-and-so did something and 1 time they didn't/Other So-and-So did instead are some of the cleverest writing I've ever seen, so something in that nature would be amazing. Dealers choice about the situation because no specific request is coming to mind.
> > A fic where both Clint and Natasha take it upon themselves to lend Steve a hand in acclimating to the 21st century. Again, bonus points if they give him conflicting advice and confusing him. I love a good friendship fic, with Steve especially.
> > Things I like: Bantering is my biggest weakness, and flantering (flirting/bantering) kills me dead. Another weakness is competent characters going out, kicking ass, and taking names. I like a strong romance without too much sap. Chill!Clint makes me laugh. Huge fan of a well-written Maria Hill, too. Go weak in the knees every time a fic passes the Bechdel Test. Love a good plot twist and an unreliable narrator, good action scenes, and better dialogue.
> > I don't want to receive: Dark, dub-con, rape, angst, smut, Loki as anything but a villain, lots of swearing (some is okay, but I prefer it spiced for effect rather than volume), slash, intense jealousy, anything crossed over with anything Moffat has ever touched.
Authors Notes: Not sure how well I addressed the specifics, but I did try!! This was lots of fun to write. I hope you like!!!
Banner by inkvoices
As Natasha sat at Clint's bedside for the third day, her mind wandered back. Anything rather than focusing on the comatose state of the man in front of her. The man who would be giving her that look – the one that everyone else thought was him being bored but which she knew was him giving her the death glare – if he knew his partner was pining at his bedside.
Death look aside, Natasha's gaze kept returning to Clint's lips. What? It was better than watching the useless beeping machines attached him. All the spy could seem to think about were the highlights of her interactions with that really, really awesome part of Clint over the years.
The first time Natasha's lips touched Clint's it was in the line of duty. She had acquired the information S.H.I.E.L.D. needed from a mark and now needed to get out of the situation without burning her bridges. To that end, Clint stalked into the party, walked up and kissed her. The contact was clinical, forceful, without true emotion but with a hell of lot of intensity – and designed to look plenty emotional to those watching. It was certainly enough to make the mark believe that her presumed-dead boyfriend had returned from overseas and wanted her back.
In the mark's mind, the lovers went back to Indiana to pick up where they left off. In their employer's records, the partners left Connecticut, went back to S.H.I.E.L.D., and went back about their duties. In Natasha's memory, the kiss sizzled.
Natasha had kissed a lot of people in her lifetime. Frankly, having been in the seduction business for a while, Natasha had come to the firm conclusion that kisses could change the world. After getting men into bed and killing them became routine – which happened fairly quickly – Natasha began a game with herself in which she challenged herself to accomplish the same ends with less. How far did she have to go? How much did the mark require? In doing so, she came to the conclusion very, very quickly that a well delivered kiss was infinitely more powerful than sex. She didn't bother telling her handlers – as long as she delivered the goods, who cared how she did it?
So kisses were something with which Natasha was familiar, and that first kiss with Clint...it was something to behold. She had noticed Clint as a man before – they had kept it professional, but she wasn't dead. Hello, those arms? The kiss, though. It wasn't supposed to be emotional, and it wasn't. Neither was electricity, and that was the closest thing to that kiss. Pure, raw power that crackled down to her toes.
At first she wasn't sure if Clint had felt the same way, but she was a smart girl. It didn't take long to figure out that she wasn't the only one that felt the heat in that kiss. Clint's cues were subtle. Eyes flicked the other way when she turned to him, a hand pulled away lest he touch her, flinches when she brushed against him.
Yeah, he felt it, too.
They would argue later about who initiated it. “You kissed me.” “No, you kissed me.” “Says you.” “Your face.” “Your face that kissed me.”
Running away from Braddock's men, Natasha turned down an alleyway, Clint close on her heels. They could see immediately that it was a dead end, a brick wall too high to scale. Neither of them took the time to swear about it. Instead, they instinctively split across the alley, each testing the doors of the cars on their respective sides.
Natasha let out a low whistle and Clint rushed to her as his partner climbed into the silver Honda. As he got in, she was flipping down the back seat and climbing into the trunk. Natasha heard Clint engage the door locks from the inside. As he pushed in next to her and pulled the seat closed, the two of them heard a voice call from the street for Kratz to “check the alley”.
The two of them barely breathed as they heard car doors being checked. Right after the Honda's door was checked, they heard a light tap on the glass, most likely from a flashlight being held up to the interior. While the criminals chasing them were fairly inept, neither Clint nor Natasha heard their pursuer exit the alley, which likely meant one of two things – the person had a light step and their exit hadn't been heard or the person was still in the alley.
Natasha tapped in Morse code against her partner's face. Stay.
Yes, Clint tapped back.
Hours passed. While standard city sounds filtered into the trunk, neither spy moved, years of stealth training paying off.
Around what might have been three in the morning, Clint tapped against Natasha, Sleep. I have watch.
Not in a position to argue, Natasha allowed her eyes to close. Frankly, it was a welcome respite. Not because she was tired of being quiet or because the two of them still faced the threat of being caught after so long, but because for the past several hours, every part of her body had been pressed against her partner's, and the adrenaline from their flight had long since left. Now she was left with her partner's breath in her face, his nose against hers, his legs wrapped around hers, their heads resting on each others arms. Frankly, she hadn't achieved this level of intimacy with anyone in her past – ever. Sleep was an escape.
An hour or so later, Clint tapped her face, waking her for her turn at watch. As she came to, she tapped against his face again.
No longer willing to hold out, she pressed her lips to her partner's, to which he immediately responded. Still careful not to rock the car in any way, their lips were the only part of either spy that moved. Natasha felt as though she were sipping Clint's lips, pulling on his bottom lip like a fine wine meant to be savored.
His breath mingled with hers as Clint's tongue carefully slid out to lick across the seam of her lips. She opened her mouth and breathed him in. She delicately pulled his tongue into her mouth, noting again that the car was not moving in any way, no outward sign whatsoever being given of the intense racing of both of their heartbeats.
Clint took a deep breath, matching her tongue's movements with his own. For someone who had spent a considerable amount of time analyzing kisses and their power, Natasha suddenly felt like the greenest schoolyard novice. Instead of tensing up, though, the lithe assassin relaxed even further, surrendering fully to this kiss, this moment, which seemed to stretch on to infinity.
In the long run, it didn't matter who started it, only that it confirmed what both had long suspected – that this was something they needed to explore further. And later that day, after the Honda's owner thoughtfully and unwittingly delivered the pair to a safer part of town and the two of them were able to leave the car and reach their safe house, Clint Barton and Natasha Romanoff were able to explore what had started in the trunk of a Honda in a dark alley in an unnamed province of eastern Europe. And while those explorations were extremely enjoyable for both of them, neither ever forgot those first stolen moments in an alley.
Natasha looked down at her partner as she held his hand in hers. That evening had changed everything. Neither of them was an excessively demonstrative person, but it hardly seemed worth it to deny something that clearly worked between them. So they expanded their partnership. And it worked. The rest of S.H.I.E.L.D., of course, speculated as to their relationship. Natasha and Clint both knew about the speculation, of course, but kept their feelings about each other private. Until, of course, the whole “airborne Titanic” debacle, as it came to be known...
For two days, S.H.I.E.L.D. watched via satellite as Agent Natasha Romanoff crouched in the middle of a battlefield under a sheet of vibranium that had broken off from the hull of her downed Quinjet. The only survivor of the crash, Agent Romanoff was alive because she had the presence of mind not to try to emerge from the protection offered by the now scrap sheet of material.
At four hour intervals, a faint tapping could be heard that translated to Alive followed by four more hours of silence. The operation was supposed to be aerial surveillance of a civil war zone in an eastern African nation. S.H.I.E.L.D. wanted to send its best partners, but Agent Barton was still in Medical with a cracked femur following his most recent urban cliffdiving exercise during their last mission. So Agent Romanoff was sent in alone, and S.H.I.E.L.D.'s “uncrashable” new plane turned out to be as reliable as the Titanic, leaving the former Russian trapped in the middle of a battlefield.
Coulson was sent to inform Agent Barton of his partner's situation, and only an intravenously-administered sedative kept the archer from storming out of the helicarrier's hospital wing and racing off to save her. Barton was going to be in a wheelchair for at least a week and was in no condition to run after his partner. Still.
Coulson set up a TV in his charge's hospital room with the satellite feed patched through. Good or ill, he knew it would be better if Clint had a direct line to the latest intel. Otherwise Coulson was genuinely concerned that Clint would commit an act of violence (or several) to get to the information some other way.
Thirty-six hours after the stand-off began, Clint called Coulson into his room.
“You're planning an op to get her out,” he stated without preamble.
Coulson didn't answer. While they had blocked off Clint's room and the only medical personnel coming in had at least Level Six clearance, the handler still couldn't discuss such time-sensitive information in a hospital room. Which Clint knew.
“Her muscles are going to be frozen, Phil,” Clint continued. “She won't be able to come out by herself. She may be Natasha Romanoff, but no one would be nimble after crouching in a four square foot space for this long.”
Again, Coulson didn't say anything. S.H.I.E.L.D. was very good at what they did and Natasha's physical condition had been taken into account.
Barton took a deep, steadying breath.
“Promise me you have the best in there, Phil.”
“You're here. But everyone out there knows what they're doing. That I can promise.”
Clint nodded, resigned.
“Promise me that whoever designed that plane will be held responsible. Because if you don't, I will find out and I will deal with them. And Coulson, you really don't want me to do that.”
His handler nodded at the marksman. Clearly the plane had not operated as intended, and Natasha was paying the price. (It was found later that an unscrupulous contractor had supplied inferior parts that were used in critical joints on the plane. After Fury found out, the contractor in question ended up shoveling manure on a farm in Montana.)
Coulson left and Clint watched. He stared at the screen as missiles took out the front lines on both sides, as black clad figures ran in and pulled Natasha out. He saw as bullets continued to fly across the field. The archer wondered if the fighters on each side knew who they were shooting at or why or if they were firing simply because they no longer knew any other way to live.
A buddy of Clint's let him know when Natasha's transport would reach the helicarrier. Accordingly, fourteen hours later, Clint groped his way into the wheelchair that until now had sat untouched at his bedside. He maneuvered his way out of his room and into the front waiting area of the medical wing.
He heard rather than saw his partner, complaining loudly that she didn't need to be in a wheelchair, that it was only a graze, and she was going to break that guy's fingers if he didn't let her push herself.
“Stop scaring the staff, Tasha,” Clint admonished before she was even in sight, still around the corner, grateful to his innermost self that this powerful, amazing woman was alive at all and capable of yelling at the medical staff.
He heard indignant cries as Natasha barreled around the corner, throwing herself onto her lover's lap and kissing him with naked desperation. He matched her every emotion, branding her just as intensely. Those watching felt like intruders. Even though the couple was only kissing, it was as though their feelings were laid bare for all to see, and their desperation to reconnect shot viscerally through everyone in eyesight.
Fortunately for the two spies, S.H.I.E.L.D. actually encouraged interagency dating, although they frowned on partners hooking up, and had regulations against direct superiors seeing those under their command. As it was, large sums of money exchanged hands that evening as Barton and Romanoff's romantic relationship finally had proof. Lots and lots of proof.
The two in question couldn't have cared less, intent only upon relearning the feel of each others lips, touch and embrace, memories that had sustained each of them finally brought back to life.
Natasha smiled in remembrance. That was the first time she and Clint kissed in front of an audience, at least when not an assignment, but it wasn't exactly their first public kiss. S.H.I.E.L.D., after all, was not public. No, public came later. At shawarma, actually.
FIRST PUBLIC KISS
Natasha sat there mindlessly eating her food, her brain too tired to wander. As she ate, she stared at the man she loved. The man she loved. Hell, yeah, she did. She was too tired to expend the energy necessary to call how she felt something else. Screw love being for children – she had Clint back and she was going to love him. She didn't care what anyone thought. Ever.
Natasha leaned over and kissed Clint just as his hand reached down to pick up another piece of food. He looked up, as surprised as his exhaustion would allow.
She smiled tiredly in response.
Across the table, the only reaction Tony Stark could muster was a tired, “Hmm. Good to know.”
JUST BECAUSE KISS
Fury had called the Avengers to the helicarrier a little over three days ago. A new possible asset, the Scarlet Witch, had been detained. S.H.I.E.L.D. was debriefing her and Fury wanted the Avengers to meet and evaluate her for themselves.
Clint and Natasha had each taken the opportunity to meet Wanda Maximoff, and now stood alone on the deck of the helicarrier as they waited for the rest of their team to report on their own meetings with her. This was possible because the giant ship was sitting in the Atlantic for a refueling operation as opposed to flying above the ocean, and the pair was amused by the chance to get some sun without having to dodge bullets at the same time.
“I don't like Romanians. It's a thing.”
“A Russian thing,” Clint laughed. “Seems kind of unfair to judge her based solely on her national heritage. Seems to me you wouldn't like me either if that's your only basis for determining friendship.”
“You're applying logic, moy yastreb.”
Clint grinned. Natasha only called him “her hawk” when she was speaking about their personal lives, not their professional ones.
“I only have eyes for you, love. You know that.”
“I think I'm allowed to dislike any woman who looks at you like that.”
“Like what?” Now Clint was just giving her a hard time.
Natasha rolled her eyes and cuffed her yastreb upside the back of his head.
“Playing dumb doesn't become you.”
Clint laughed and reached over to give her a chaste kiss. The next thing Natasha knew, Clint was in a heap at her feet.
Instantly she was on her knees at his side, shaking him and checking his pulse, her communicator cuff up to her mouth.
“HAWKEYE IS DOWN! REPEAT! AVENGER DOWN!”
Over the last three days Natasha and the S.H.I.E.L.D. medical team discovered a few things about Clint's condition.
Clinton Barton was in excellent health. He was simply asleep. Test after test concluded the same thing. Clint was fine – no coma, not on the verge of death, just asleep. For absolutely no apparent reason.
Clint needed Natasha to be in the room with him. This was discovered when Natasha went into the suite's bathroom and shut the door, at which time the archer's vitals crashed, sending the machines hooked up to him into a state of frantic beeping and screaming. As soon as she opened the bathroom door back up, though, the machines went back to normal. Natasha used the restroom with the door open after that.
He needed a third person in the room. At first it was subtle, but as hours and then days passed, all concerned realized that Clint's breathing and vital signs were stronger when someone else was in the room with Natasha. The Avengers, Sitwell and Maria Hill then took turns rotating in and out, keeping Natasha company and Clint stable.
Right now it was Maria Hill's turn. Natasha liked Maria, and she liked that Maria worked to keep her mind on other things beyond the impossible situation currently lying in front of her.
“Stark likes the Witch,” Hill reported to the spy.
“Of course he does. Have you seen her outfit? Mine may be form-fitting, but at least it has fabric.”
“Steve and Bruce are both undecided. They want to see her in combat situations, start out slow, see if she can work with the team.”
“Tell me about her powers.”
“We're not sure about their extent. We don't think she is, either. It's possible it's just electrical matter manipulation or it could be actual magic. Basically she thinks about what she wants done and it happens. In one sense, it doesn't matter what the source is. From another point of view, it's everything – notably when it comes to growing her abilities. We need to know their origin in order to help her reach their fullest potential.”
“Can she only manipulate electricity?”
“She's holding back on providing us with the full scope of her powers, but from previous reconnaissance, we know that she can additionally alter perception of reality, use limited telepathy, and essentially cast simple spells.” Maria paused. “She also has a romantic past worthy of a soap opera. Seriously, this woman attracts trouble like a Kardashian.”
Natasha laughed, but broke off mid-chuckle.
“What?” asked Maria, sitting up, instantly on alert.
Natasha looked from Clint to her friend.
“Where was Wanda when Clint collapsed?”
“In interrogation. Why?”
“Call up the tapes.”
Sure enough, at the exact moment Clint fell to the ground, Wanda Maximoff's eyes went blank and the sorceress smiled. It was quick, so quick that unless an observer knew what they were looking for, they would miss it.
Fury himself brought the Witch to Clint's hospital room, followed by most of the Avengers.
“What did you do?!” demanded Natasha.
“Me?” Wanda smirked. “Why, nothing, Widow. I assure you this was all you.”
Fury jerked his grip on the woman's arm. “Explain,” he growled.
“What is there to explain?” the Scarlet Witch remained calm. “The Russian got him into this. She can get him out of it.”
“Why? What is your endgame?” ground out Natasha.
“To see if you're worthy of me, of course. What is the point of my joining your merry little band if you cannot figure out something as simple as this?” taunted the buxom brunette.
“You will never be an Avenger,” Natasha assured her coldly. “Not while Clint and I are on the team. I promise you that.”
“We'll see,” the other woman smiled in a way that could almost be described as benevolently. Fury yanked the Witch out of there before Natasha could attack her.
“All right, Natasha,” Steve said from the door where he had been observing all of this. “What happened when you met with her?”
Natasha thought back. “I asked her where she was from, how she met S.H.I.E.L.D., why she wanted to join, nothing special.” She paused. “As I was leaving, Clint passed me on his way in. She wouldn't have seen my face, but she would have seen his.”
“So she knew you two were in a relationship?” Steve encouraged.
“If she can read facial expressions that well,” Natasha said thoughtfully. “I don't think Clint was trying to hide anything. Our hands...didn't touch. Sometimes we do when we pass each other, but then...no, we didn't.”
“What about on the deck? You said you had just kissed him, right?” asked Bruce, stepping forward from behind Steve. By this point, everyone knew exactly what led up to Clint's collapse topside.
“Right,” Natasha confirmed.
“Okay, I know you're Russian, but are you familiar with the story of Sleeping Beauty?” Bruce seemed to be driving to a point.
“More or less,” she answered him.
“You want her to kiss him again,” stated Maria.
“That may have been what triggered it,” Bruce confirmed.
“She did say the answer was simple,” Steve chimed in.
Natasha turned back to the bed.
+1 MIRACLE KISS
Ignoring the possibility that this could make things worse, instead focusing on the fact that this would indeed be a simple and elegant solution to the problem at hand, Natasha pulled up all of the emotions she had been reflecting over for the past three days. She thought about Clint's love for her, and how the physical relationship was a manifestation of their mutual feelings. It was with all of that love, all that power, that she leaned down to press her lips to those of the man sleeping in the bed.
As she came up, Clint's eyes opened and he smiled at her. Natasha was so relieved, she felt tears prick the corners of her eyes. She hadn't cried in so long that she couldn't remember the last time she had done it.
“What's wrong, beautiful?” he asked, his palm coming up to cup her cheek.
“I was afraid I'd lost you,” she answered simply, again leaning down to kiss him. Clint's hand slid to grip the back of her head, his nails gliding lightly over her scalp.
“Never,” he whispered, only then noticing that they had an audience.
“Um, Tasha, you are aware that we're playing for a crowd here, right?” he noted with a smile.
“Yeah, I think that was part of her intention,” said Bruce with a knowing look.
“I agree,” affirmed Maria as Natasha moved to sit on the edge of the bed, twining her fingers with Clint's.
“Who intended what?” Clint was confused.
“The Scarlet Witch put you under a spell,” Natasha explained. “You fell to the ground asleep right after we kissed on deck. You've been out for three days.” Clint's eyes widened in surprise. “And any time I tried to leave, your stats crashed.”
“And you did best if someone else was in here with the two of you,” Steve said. He looked to Bruce and Maria for confirmation as he continued. “We think that maybe she wanted Natasha to have to kiss you in front of witnesses. For whatever reason.”
“Like the castle of servants that fell asleep when Sleeping Beauty was put into her enchantment,” nodded Clint. Everyone turned to look at him so suddenly it seemed choreographed. The archer turned pink. “What? I read.”
Bruce laughed. “I think she loves a good romance and just wanted the two of you to have to kiss in front of people, but that's just my take on it.”
“The point is a kiss put you out and a kiss brought you back,” said Natasha, squeezing Clint's hand.
“Ah, true love,” the smarm dripping from Tony Stark's mouth as he entered. “Can't believe I missed it.”
With Tony's entrance, the mood was broken and little by little, the crowd drifted away until only Natasha and Clint remained.
“Let's blow this popsicle stand,” said Clint, reaching up to kiss Natasha again. “Have I mentioned that while I was asleep, all I remember dreaming about is kissing you? Let's just say that I'm looking forward to having you alone.”
“I think we can manage that,” smiled Natasha. “But don't be surprised if I wake you every few hours just to make sure I can.” Clint laughed. “Let's make a break for it before the staff here can stop us.”
She helped him out of bed and that is exactly what they did.