Hello my sweet buns! Welcome to chapter 6 of Unmade! I have been horrible about getting these chapters edited so I can post them, please forgive my slackery.
I hope you enjoy the chappie, and look forward to the lemon that is attached to this installment which I will post separately for those that might rather skip the spicy bits. ;)
Also, I finally decided to give the chapters 'real' titles, its something I've debated back and forth since this whole adventure began. SO, some of my author's notes on previous chapters don't make sense any more... I hope we can all just acknowledge that Sara is sometimes prone to bouts of herrpderrp and move along. *happy wiggle*
It was early evening when the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents pulled into the driveway of the home nestled in the woods overlooking the winery and small but abundant vineyards they passed earlier. The house was modest by Stark standards, which meant it was merely opulent by the average person's measure. The structure looked like the brainchild of Frank Lloyd Wright and Frank Gehry: it was sleek and modern in design with panoramic glass windows and asymmetrical open decks jutting out here and there into the trees.
Unseen sensors tracked their movement, causing lights along the pathway to flare to life as they approached the door. Clint removed his dark sunglasses and craned his head back to take in the vaulted entryway. "Not bad for a little cabin in the woods, hmm?" He commented with a dry chuckle. Natasha grinned and punched in a code on the handheld Anthony had given her, disarming the security protocols. The front door unlatched with an audible click, and the agents went inside.
They got settled in quickly, both well acquainted with moving from place to place and adapting to unfamiliar surroundings. In the spacious kitchen Clint busied himself putting away the few days' worth of groceries they had bought in town on the way in. He smiled absently as he placed a box of Natasha's favorite herbal tea and a ceramic mug next to the coffee maker on the counter so she would know where to find it in the morning. He rummaged through cupboards till he found a cutting board and started dicing up ingredients for their dinner. The marksman wasn't a five-star chef, but he was pretty handy in the kitchen and he found a simple kind of pleasure in cooking. Besides if it were up to Natasha they would most likely end up eating cold cereal. The spy wasn't exactly known for her culinary prowess.
Natasha came back downstairs from unpacking and stopped in the shadow of the hallway when she saw Clint at work in the kitchen. He was bent over a small mound of produce and other ingredients, a dishtowel draped over one shoulder, his calloused hands deftly chopping away. He looked… at home somehow, as much in his element here as when he was shooting ferocious aliens out of the sky in droves. It was something she had always cherished and envied about him, he always seemed to be able to separate himself from the horrors of what their job entailed so effortlessly. But this time, it was not so easy. It killed her to see the shadows of grief and anger lingering in her partner's silvery eyes, made her want to go all the way to Asgard to punish Loki personally for the damage he had wrought.
"So are you gonna come in here or keep hiding in the hallway?" Clint called out with a grin in his voice, not looking up from his cutting board. Natasha smiled and joined him in the kitchen, perching on one of the black vinyl-covered barstools on the opposite side of the counter from where he was working.
"Why can't I ever sneak up on you? It's kind of my thing, you know." She asked with a look of mock exasperation. Hawkeye glanced up at her and shrugged his shoulders.
"I'm a sniper. I can't afford to be snuck up on." He responded, chuckling in his throat when she made a face at him. It was a long-standing exchange between the assassins that always ended with Natasha calling him something unflattering in Russian, which she did.
The redhead peered down at his array of ingredients. "Lasagna?" She asked, reaching down to snatch a piece of mushroom from the cutting board and pop it in her mouth. Clint made an affirmative noise, turning away from her to check on the boiling pot on the stove.
"Just like momma never made." He quipped. Natasha smirked and rolled her eyes. At least he was joking about being an orphan again, that was a good sign.
She quietly watched him cook; neither agent was inclined towards idle conversation, but silence between the two of them was familiar and comfortable. Or at least it usually was. Natasha had been running their conversation from that morning over and over in the back of her head all day, and though she was outwardly calm beneath the surface a dozen conflicting emotions whirled within her like frightened sparrows in a cage.
"We broke the rules." Natasha stated simply as she stood at the foot of the bed, forcing her gaze to the floor when she caught herself staring at the way Clint's muscles rolled and bunched under his tanned skin as he tugged his pants and shirt on.
"Since when is that anything new?" Her partner said with a sarcastic chuckle. He did not want to be having this conversation, especially not right now, even though he had fully expected it.
"Clint." The Widow folded her arms across her chest and stalked over to the door, her tone somewhere between a plea and a warning. She wasn't in the mood for his standard smartass responses to things he found uncomfortable. "Last night shouldn't have-" She began, but the marksman cut her off.
"We needed last night, Tasha. After everything that happened, after how close we came to losing everything… It wasn't wrong to want a reminder that there are still good parts left of the world we saved." He chose his words carefully. Clint understood the redhead almost better than she did herself, and voicing what they both knew last night really meant would only make her retreat further at this point. The pair of master assassins stood in tense silence for a moment. Finally Clint approached and opened the door; it seemed Natasha wasn't going to respond to his words. The archer berated himself for daring to hope his partner would grant them more than one night of giving in to their true feelings. This really was just like Budapest all over again.
The Black Widow lingered in the doorway, her face downturned and partially obscured by her fiery curls. To Clint's amazement, when she looked up a single tear slipped down her cheek and rolled off the point of her chin. "So that's all it was to you then?" She shot back at him, turning her face away in a vain effort to hide her tears.
"You know it wasn't." Hawkeye responded quietly, hooking his finger under her chin and forcing her to meet his intense gaze. "Tell me you regret it. Tell me that now and we won't say another word about it, things will go back to how they were." He demanded, anxiety pooling in his base of his stomach. This was as close as they'd ever come to admitting what they felt for each other, and the seconds felt like hours as he waited for her to answer him.
"Damn you, Barton…" Natasha swore, her voice cracking from the emotion she was still stubbornly trying to keep in check. Clint's loving smile at her reply crumbled her remaining defenses and she couldn't help but melt into his embrace as he kissed her. Love was for children, the Widow knew that. But at the moment her childlike desire to build something new out of the broken pieces she and Clint had been shattered into was all she had. So against her better judgment, she surrendered. Natasha clung to Clint desperately, kissing him with all the feeling she couldn't put into words.
Natasha took a deep, centering breath. The spy was not accustomed to feeling so damn much, or at least acknowledging that she felt anything. It wasn't going to be easy; the life they had chosen didn't exactly lend itself well to relationships. The idea was foolish at best. But when Clint stopped what he was doing to lean across the bar and lightly kiss the corner of her mouth, all her doubts flowed out of her mind like water. Clint was her partner, best friend, her weakness and her strength. He was the only person she trusted completely and the only one she wanted.
Barton finished assembling the dish and placed it in the oven, set the timer and wiped his hands on his towel with a satisfied sigh. "All right, now we kill 45 minutes while this bakes." He turned back to find Natasha had come around to his side of the island, leaning her hip against the edge of the countertop.
"I can think of a few ways to pass the time." The redhead purred, her clear sea blue gaze raking up and down his muscular frame. Her full pout curved up at the corners at the abrupt reaction her little comment garnered from the marksman. His steel gray eyes darkened and the smile he gave her made her pulse quicken and her skin prickle with the need to feel his touch. Natasha's fingertips skidded up over Clint's chest and around his neck as he stepped into her, his lips capturing hers in a deep, hungry kiss. She couldn't suppress a hum of pleasure when he pushed her legs apart with his knee, aligning their bodies seamlessly. The archer swept one hand into her scarlet curls and the other slipped under the hem of her shirt and pressed into the small of her back. They stood entwined for several minutes, teasing, tasting. Natasha had never really enjoyed kissing before, but the lightest brush of his warm lips against her skin was like pure electricity in her veins.
"Do you have any idea how damn sexy you are?" Clint growled against her ear, his mouth wandering lower to nip and lick at her neck.
"Some idea, yes." She responded playfully, her nails digging in to his shoulders as he scraped his teeth across the sensitive pulse point just below her ear.