Ahhhh better late than never! I sinceriously (bonus points if you get THAT reference) meant to get this out days ago, but I was a distracted person (potty training a 2.5 year old is no task for the weak willed or minded) and I didn't get it to my betas in time. But here we are! The long time coming finale of Not So Easily Defined. This whole fic started as a one-shot and then it got lengthened by reader request. And now finally concluded. We've seen Clint play cupid for Thor, Steve, Tony and Bruce and now, finally, he gets to play cupid for Natasha in what I hope is a fluffy, fun clintasha chapter that makes you all happy :D
This was beta'd by my wonderful friends JRBarton and Kylen. My third beta, Arlothia is busy at work on a fic of mine for another fandom at the moment.
There are implied sexy times so just be aware, as usual with me, nothing is shown or spoken about, just...hinted. This fic hasn't had any of that and I figured I should warn you.
I am nothing special, of this I am sure. I am a common man with common thoughts and I've led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten, but I've loved another with all my heart and soul, and to me, this has always been enough.
Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook
February 14, 2013
Natasha's Room, Avengers Tower
Natasha arched her eyebrow at her own reflection, giving herself one last critical once-over. Make up? Immaculate. Hair? Still shorter than she liked, but styled into soft waves that brushed her shoulders. She stepped back so she could see more of herself in the mirror. Outfit? Well, if the form fitting, silky emerald green evening gown didn't leave Clint drooling at her heels then the boy didn't have eyes.
As if on cue, a sharp knock came at the main door to her apartment suite.
She checked her reflection in the mirror one more time and then left her bathroom. She snagged her heels off the floor as she went and carried them with her out into the main living space. Another knock came at the door.
"Really, Clint?" she called out as she padded in bare feet to the door. "You practically live here and you're knocking on the door like we're in middle school." She glanced at the clock as she reached for the handle. "And you're doing it fifteen minutes la-" she trailed off as she jerked the door open and caught sight of what was waiting for her on the other side.
Clint was wearing a tailored black tux, complete with a sloppily tied bow-tie and a black coat tossed over one arm. He was standing casually, a hand hidden behind his back and looked a little frazzled.
"Sorry I'm late," he offered, not yet seeming to notice her gaping jaw or wide eyes. "Tux's are a bitch and I hate them," he added bluntly.
Natasha just continued to stare, taking her time running her eyes over him – from perfectly styled hair down to his expertly shined dress shoes and then back up to meet his eyes. The frazzled look had faded and in its place was a self-satisfied smirk.
She felt her own lips quirk, unashamed at getting caught staring.
"Well, the payout was definitely worth the wait," she assured. "Except the tie." She dropped her shoes to the floor and stepped closer to adjust the bow-tie until it looked less like a two-year-old had tied it. "You never did learn how to tie one of these things."
Clint shrugged a shoulder, just as obvious about running his gaze up and down her body as she had been when she did it to him.
"You know how often I wear crap like this?"
"Not often," she answered with a chuckle.
"Exactly. Definitely not enough to bother learning how to tie a damn bow tie."
She stepped back when she'd fixed the tie and couldn't help but feel a measure of pride when he finished his visual appraisal and immediately shook his head in amazement.
"Damn, woman," was all he said. But with the way he was looking at her, it was all he needed to say for her to get the message.
"You don't look so bad yourself, Barton," she teased.
"Yeah, well, combat boots and a leather jacket wouldn't have exactly fit in where we're going."
Natasha stepped back to slide her shoes on even as she gave him a curious glance.
"And where exactly is that? Because all I know is that Pepper showed up on my doorstep an hour and a half ago with this dress and started issuing orders. I was actually kind of impressed that she didn't crack under questioning."
Clint narrowed his eyes.
"You interrogated Pepper?"
Natasha shrugged and reached for her coat hanging on a hook near the door.
"I only count it as interrogation if I actually get information. She must have had some sort of training."
Clint tilted his head in agreement.
"Well she is dating Tony Stark. That's a kind of training all on its own."
Natasha laughed, and then arched a brow at the hand Clint still hid behind his back.
"What are you hiding?"
"Oh, this?" he pulled his hand out and held out a set of throwing knives, tied together with a ribbon. "Figured it beat the hell out of flowers."
Natasha couldn't help her smile as she took the knives from him.
"You got me a bouquet of knives."
"Yeah, well, flowers die. Those things have perfect balance and they'll last a lifetime."
Natasha bit her lip in a failed attempt to keep her smile under control. This man. It was like he could read her mind.
She slid one of the knives free of the ribbon and spun it expertly around her fingers. He was right, the balance was perfect. These things would throw beautifully.
She backed into her apartment to set the rest of the knives on the table by the door, but kept the one in her hand.
"Tash?" Clint stepped into the doorway, eyeing her curiously.
She gave him a smirk and lifted a leg, propping her foot on the table and hiking her skirt up above her thigh. She slid the new knife under the strap for the sheath she kept another knife in.
Clint put a hand on his chest and made a sound that had her smirk growing.
"God damn, Natasha, are you trying to end this night before we can even get it started?"
She didn't respond with anything but a coy grin as she put her foot back on the ground and straightened her dress.
"Then we best get this show on the road," she suggested.
Clint's posture straightened and a grin lit up his features.
"Then that brings us to the next surprise."
"Oooo," Natasha smiled in anticipation, "there's more than the knives?"
"What? You think I strapped on this monkey suit for kicks?"
He reached a hand into his tux jacket, retrieving two thin pieces of paper from his breast pocket. He slid them apart, revealing them to be tickets of some sort. She narrowed her eyes curiously.
"You and me, New York City Ballet, tonight."
He handed the tickets over to her and she felt her jaw loosen in shock as she read them over.
Tchaitovsky's The Sleeping Beauty.
"You got me ballet tickets?"
"I know what ballet means to you." Natasha tore her eyes off the tickets to meet his earnest gaze as he explained. "They taught it to you and it's something that could have been terrible and traumatizing, something that you could have hated. But you loved it instead. I know what it is to have something like that, to have something that somehow gets you through when things go to hell. I know what it is to have something come from a horrible part of your life and end up meaning the world to you anyway."
Natasha felt her expression soften. Of course he knew what ballet meant to her. His bow meant the same thing to him.
"Besides," he grinned a little, lightening the moment, "I've never seen a ballet, unless you count all the times I've watched you. And I even promise to stay awake the for the entire show," he joked.
Natasha shook her head in amusement and stepped up to him, pressing her lips against his in an impulsive but well-deserved gesture of thanks. She pulled back after a moment, but only far enough so she could look him in the eye.
He smiled warmly.
"Thank Tony, he's the one that scored the tickets…just don't thank him quite like that."
Natasha huffed a laugh and rolled her eyes as he took her hand and pulled her towards the elevator.
Natasha was enraptured.
As the ballet dancers flowed around the stage, she couldn't tear her eyes away. It was beautiful.
Memories came to her in waves, ebbing and flowing like the tide. Some of them brought back phantom pain and fear, but others nothing but joy. She had loved ballet, despite her teachers, despite what they'd turned her into.
Movement on the edge of her vision caught her attention and she looked to her left, where Clint was seated next to her. He had a coin, a normal quarter, that he was almost rhythmically flipping around his fingers. She glanced up at his face, but he was deeply concentrated on the performance, brow creased as he studied the dancers while they moved. She glanced back down at the coin, watching it flow over his lithe fingers as if putting on its own performance.
It was an absent activity. Clint was rarely completely still unless he had to be. He was always moving in some way. She fought back an affectionate grin as she returned her attention to the dancers. He was actually trying. He was not only staying awake for the show; he was actively paying attention. He was fidgeting with a coin, but if it kept him from getting antsy, she didn't mind.
Abruptly, he shifted in his seat. She glanced over in time to see the coin effortlessly switch over to his left hand, leaving his right, the one next to her, idle on his thigh. The coin kept moving, gliding over the fingers of his left hand as effortlessly as it had the fingers of his right.
His gaze never left the stage, though, his attention remained unerringly on the performance.
Natasha felt her lips quirk and on an impulse, she reached over, sliding her hand under his arm and lacing her fingers with his. He didn't jump, didn't flinch, but the way the coin paused in its dance across his fingers gave away his surprise at the gesture.
She saw the corner of his mouth turn up and his hand tightened around hers.
The coin started moving again and Natasha let her mouth spread into a real grin as she turned her gaze back to the stage.
Natasha couldn't stop smiling as they walked out of the theater.
That fact alone made it impossible to keep his own smile contained as Clint held her coat open for her. Wordlessly, and still smiling, she slid her arms into it, allowing him to settle it on her shoulders.
Her smile never faltered as she turned to watch him shrug into his own overcoat.
Clint wanted to freeze the moment.
Her smiles had started to come quicker and easier over their years together, especially when they were alone. But on a whole – in his opinion at least – they were still too rare.
Something in her face shifted, and though her smile remained, it was less joyous and leaning more toward bemusement.
"What?" he asked curiously, glancing towards the street as their car pulled up – Happy was on loan from Tony for the night.
"You," she shook her head in amazement. "You nailed Valentine's Day and I gotta say, I didn't think you had it in you."
He scoffed in feigned affront and moved her towards their waiting town car by pressing his hand to the small of her back.
"I think I should be offended by that," he joked as he opened the door and motioned her in ahead of him. "But I'll let it slide."
He followed Natasha into the car and watched her pull a bag up from the floorboards – a bag he knew hadn't been there when they were dropped off.
He watched her brow furrow in confusion and couldn't help his smug grn.
He loved it when a plan came together.
Natasha stared down at the bag in confusion. It was Clint's, that much she knew, but…
"How did this get here?" she asked in confusion.
She glanced at Clint to find him grinning proudly.
"What's going on?" she asked warily.
"Open it," he gestured at the bag.
She arched an eyebrow and unzipped the bag. She pulled out her leather jacket first, then a long sleeved thermal shirt that looked too big for her. She found a similar one, closer to her size, underneath it. Then came Clint's leather jacket, followed by two sets of jeans and socks.
She looked back at Clint in confusion.
"Time for a wardrobe change," he told her.
He reached forward and knocked on the window between them and Happy. The window rolled down and two sets of boots were handed back. Then the window rolled up again.
"Unless you want to take the bikes out dressed like that?" he gave her teasing grin.
"The bikes?" she wondered in confusion as she watched him strip out of his overcoat, then his tux jacket.
"Yeah." He pulled at his bow tie until it came loose then he wadded it up and tossed it aside before going after the buttons on his shirt. "You think I spent the better part of last night getting rid of that rattle in your bike just to leave her to sit all alone in the garage?"
"But…" Natasha couldn't process what was happening. "But I thought the ballet was our Valentine's Day…"
"It was," Clint agreed, pulling off his dress shirt. "But it was only the first part. There's more."
"More?" she questioned.
"Yes." He chuckled. "Now change."
Natasha felt a slow grin turn up her lips and then she pulled off her jacket.
"You and your bony elbows are gonna be the death of me," Clint groused as he climbed out of the car ahead of Natasha. He rubbed at the tender spot on his temple.
"Well," Natasha grumbled, "you try changing out of a dress in the back of a moving vehicle with you taking up more than your fair share of space."
Clint rolled his eyes and zipped up his leather jacket.
He knocked on the front passenger window of the car while Natasha zipped up hers. The window rolled down and the driver held out first his helmet then Natasha's. Clint handed off Nat's to her and then leaned through the window, accepting the keys the driver held out with an appreciative grin.
"Thanks, Happy, have a good night."
"Yes sir, Mr. Barton," Happy gave him a wave and after Clint stepped back the window rolled up again.
Clint turned to Natasha, who was watching him with a grin he couldn't interpret.
"What?" he asked as he tossed her the key to her bike. She caught it without even really looking and fell into step with him as he led the way to where he and Tony had stashed their motorcycles earlier that day.
"Nothing," she replied, but the grin didn't fade.
They reached the motorcycles and climbed on in near synchronization.
"So, where are we going?" Natasha asked.
Clint tossed her a smirk.
"Wouldn't you like to know," he teased and then pulled his helmet on. Through his visor, he saw her huff and shake her head. Then she pulled her helmet on too. A few moments later, he was leading the way north and out of the city.
Once they made it off the island, he opened up the throttle. On his right, Natasha matched the increase in speed without hesitation. The roads were mostly abandoned and they made quick progress. It felt amazing, to be out on the open road, wind whipping around him, Natasha at his side. It had been too long since they'd done this.
They made it to their destination almost too quickly, in his opinion. But on the plus side, it was damn cold and he was glad to be able to get inside.
They stopped in front of the small cabin off Putnam Lake and both rolled their bikes into a small shed off to the right. He pulled off his helmet and closed the shed after them.
"Where are we?" Natasha asked as she pulled off her helmet and followed him towards the cabin.
"Your observation skills could use some brushing up," he teased as he jogged up the porch steps and reached for the cabin door. "It's obviously a cabin."
Natasha rolled her eyes and preceded him through the door he held open for her.
She froze just inside and he smiled as he slid in behind her, closing the door and then stepping around her. He hadn't actually seen the set up here, this had been Pepper's project. Clint wasn't clear on if she'd done it herself or if she'd hired someone, but either way, she'd gotten it done.
There was a fire roaring in the fireplace, a gigantic flat screen TV mounted on the wall. On the floor between that and the couch was bed of pillows and blankets that looked incredibly comfortable. There was a stack of movies on the floor. And if his nose served him, all the food he'd specified was being kept warm in the oven.
He looked back at Natasha, surprised that she hadn't said anything yet.
She was standing, mouth hanging open, taking in the set up with wide eyes.
"How did you do all of this?" she finally asked.
"Well, I had some back up," he admitted. "I was just the brilliant master mind."
Her gaze focused on him then, a familiar light in her eyes that had his throat going dry in anticipation.
She stepped up to him and reached for the zipper on his jacket, slowly pulling it down and sliding the jacket off his shoulders. Her hands traveled slowly back down his chest and reached for the hem of his shirt.
He made a completely pathetic sound in the back of his throat that had her smirking.
"You're not playing fair," he managed to force out as her hands slid under his shirt and then tugged it up, pulling it free of his body in one smooth move.
"What?" she purred innocently, though the look in her eyes was anything but innocent. "You can't have a movie without a preview."
He groaned when her hands went for the waist band of his jeans. Never one to let her do all the work, he went on the offensive. His hands threaded up into the hair at the back of her neck and kissed her, walking her backwards until they stumbled – mostly fell – onto the makeshift bed of blankets on the floor.
Clint, back braced against a stack of large pillows stuffed against the couch and a blanket tangled around his waist, folded his newest slice of pizza in half and slid it into his mouth. Next to him, wrapped in a blanket of her own, Natasha was tossing down a piece of crust and crawling forward to grab her next slice.
"Pizza," she commented as she fell back against the pillows they were propped on and nudged her way under his arm so she could lay against his chest, "was a great call."
Clint chuckled and watched Ralph Macchio learn the famed 'wax on, wax off' training method on the TV.
"When is pizza not a great call?" he challenged, taking another large bite out of his.
She tilted her head on his chest, her tangled hair tickling his chin.
"True," she allowed.
For a few minutes they watched the movie in silence.
"You know, you didn't have to let me pick the movie," he commented. "I did all this for you."
"I know," she turned so she could look up at him, "but you sat through a ballet for me. So I figured letting you pick the first movie was the least I could do."
"Oh yeah, you're a real giver," he teased.
The elbow to his ribs as she shifted was expected and wasn't particularly painful, but he grunted dramatically anyway.
"I am," she agreed. "I think I proved that before the movie."
Clint smirked. He couldn't argue there.
"You know," he commented as he took another bite of his pizza, "this whole Valentine's Day thing doesn't suck."
She huffed a little laugh and picked a piece of pepperoni off her pizza, popping it into her mouth.
"No it definitely doesn't. Although, I have to say I was surprised that you were literally everyone's go-to for romance advice."
Clint feigned being wounded.
"I happen to be an expert on romance."
"Saying it doesn't make it true, Cupid," Natasha teased. "I know the truth."
"And what truth is that?"
She grinned and twisted to look up at him.
"That you spell romance with gunpowder, bullets, and knives." She flicked a finger towards her new Makarov holster and the throwing knife that was resting on top of it.
"And ballet apparently, or have you forgotten that already?"
Instead of continuing the banter, her expression softened.
"I haven't forgotten," she assured warmly. "Our version of romance is my favorite," she added softly. Then she smirked, "But you can't blame me for being surprised that everyone else subscribed to our version too."
Clint rolled his eyes.
"They didn't. They all have their own versions of romance, and they all conscripted me against my will. It's not like I was running around in wings with heart-shaped arrows shooting people in the ass and throwing pink confetti."
Natasha's eyes lit up and she stifled a laugh.
"Now that's a visual I can't unsee," she teased.
"Shut up," Clint groused, teasingly nudging her to face forward again. "Watch the movie."
For a few minutes, they did just that.
Then Natasha was twisting to see his face again.
"What were their versions?" she asked.
He gave her a confused glance.
"Who's versions of what?"
"The others," she reminded. "You said they all had different versions of romance."
"Oh…well, you know. Just different than ours...more romance-y…more hearts, less knives. Boring really."
Natasha arched a skeptical eyebrow.
"Come on," she nudged him with her elbow. "You can do better than that."
"You too, huh? You gonna force me into the wings and stab me with a heart arrow and make me psychoanalyze that shit?"
She just stared at him until he sighed.
"Fine. First you've got Thor, who shows Jane he loves her by doing things for her. He's essentially a god. He is a future king. He does things for her, when all his life he's had others do things for him. By learning to cook, by doing that for her himself, he's trying to tell her that he loves her."
Natasha sat up, turning to give him her full attention.
"Then you've got Steve," he went on. "Who shows Peggy he loves her by being there. By showing up. He does it even though it hurtshim, even though he knows he'll never get to be with her. He's a guy that can be counted on, a constant.
"Then there's Tony," Clint smirked, "he wants to yell it from rooftops or write it in the sky. He's loud and obnoxious and he's so in love with Pepper that he wants everyone to know it. He doesn't always know how to show her, but he tries allthe time, usually in a way that makes no sense to anyone but him. But he tries."
She was watching him with a look he couldn't quite decipher, so he just arched an eyebrow and finished.
"Then there's Bruce. Who just…can't. He loves Betty. But he loves her so much that he won't let himself be with her. He's afraid and he's letting that fear make his choices for him. He just wants to protect her. And he thinks the only way he can let himself love her is by doing it from a distance. He thinks that he's doing it for the right reasons but…" Clint sighed, frowning slightly, "I just don't think he gets it, you know?"
Natasha nodded knowingly.
"He asked me to find her," Clint went on absently.
She nodded. "What do you think he's going to do?"
Clint shook his head.
"I don't know. I don't…" he blew out a breath. "I don't think he's ready. But asking for her location is good step so maybe one day."
Natasha nodded, humming thoughtfully as she watched him finish off his pizza.
"You know," she purred, "I was wrong about you."
Clint arched an eyebrow as she moved, shifting to straddling his hips.
"Oh yeah?" he questioned. "What were you wrong about?"
"You do know romance," she smiled, "more than just our kind."
"Ours is still my favorite," he murmured as she leaned in to kiss him.
She pulled back and unwrapped the blanket she had around her torso, letting it fall away.
"Mine too," she agreed before kissing him again.
He could definitely get used to this whole Valentine's Day thing.
End (at long last) of Not So Easily Defined
And there we have it! Hope you enjoyed things long and winding ride. This fic is finally complete...after all this time. *hugs* from me to you and extra hugs if you drop me a line down below ;)