This is just a little side story I've been working on in between writing and editing Stumbling Home. It was prompted by an anon over on tumblr (I'm sidhera there, if you're interested), and it kind of . . . got away from me. I actually went into intending just to write the fluffy side of it, but then, well, Natasha apparently had other ideas.

Enjoy!

Edit: Apparently, I uploaded an older version of the doc than I intended. Well, it's fixed now .


Taste

Natasha liked to graze in his refrigerator, nibbling here and there on this and that, never finishing anything, never really committing.

He would discover half eaten strawberries and nibbles out of the edge of his pizza, and more than once he went for a glass of juice only to find just a swallow left.

It was annoying and frustrating, a constant source of abrasion whenever he opened the refrigerator.

And for some reason he found it really, really hot.

It wasn't as bad at first, back when they were just regular SHIELD agents and not members of an "intergalactic peace force" (Tony's words, not his). Back then, if he even had anything in the fridge in the common area, it had a better chance of rotting than being eaten before he was back in the country anyway, and if Natasha fancied a nibble, well, who was he to stop her?

She started doing it not long after they graduated to being partners rather than an asset and her handler (though he would have perhaps chosen other terms to describe their early relationship).

After a rough mission in the south Pacific and an even rougher debriefing, Clint had wandered back to his quarters to make pancakes for dinner, but he'd discovered about halfway through that all he wanted to do was sleep. So he'd tucked the cooked cakes into a baggie, covered the batter, and promptly passed out in the piss poor excuse for a bed SHIELD provided.

He awoke the next morning (well, afternoon) to Natasha perched on his dresser and staring at him.

"Good. You're awake. Go for a run with me."

She must have taken his incoherent grunt as a yes because she unwound herself from her roost and slipped out of his room. By the time he'd made it to the common area she was long gone, but at least she'd left him a coffee, steam still rising from the hole in the plastic lid. Intending to eat a few reheated pancakes with his coffee (Oh, dear Lord, was that hazelnut? She knew him too well.), Clint opened the fridge to discover one bite taken out of the pancake on top.

There was just the tiniest tinge of Natasha's lipstick around the edge of the bite mark.

He'd actually been a little annoyed that first time. He really wanted those pancakes, all of them, and he'd interpreted it as Natasha once again trying to assert some kind of power over him.

Rather than make a big deal out of it, though, he shrugged it off, didn't mention it, and things went along normally enough for the ex-carnie archer and the deprogrammed Russian spy. If the strangest thing that ever happened to him was his partner trying little bits of his food, well, he should count his blessings.

In Sao Paulo, he noticed that Natasha was very particular about the food she nibbled on. Or, rather, whose food she nibbled on.

The two of them had been sent in as the SHIELD representatives for an international task force commissioned to take down a brutal group of gun runners operating out of the city. He spent most of that long, sweltering month laying on rooftops and crouching in air vents, watching Natasha work her magic. Downtime was limited, despite the number of people working on the case, and he barely saw Natasha except through a spotting scope.

When Natasha took pains to eat parts of everything he put in the unit's communal fridge, he had figured that she was just making sure that no one ate his food before he got to it, using her very obvious bite marks to mark her territory, as it were. They looked out for each other in little ways on all their missions, and he figured this was just Natasha's weird, inscrutably Russian way of making sure that he had food to eat when he got back to the safe house at night.

When the mission went bad and they'd discovered that the Argentine operatives were actually working for the cartel, he wondered if she didn't have other motives in tasting all his food before he got to it. He never had a chance to ask; she was laid up in the hospital for three weeks after taking a bullet meant for him, and then there were other, more important things on his mind.

Sometime in between Sao Paulo and Budapest, he stopped even pretending that he was annoyed with this habit of hers. He'd learned to accept that she was always going to consume the corners of his meals. It was kind of comforting, until one day when it wasn't.

He caught her in the act two days after they'd returned from Latvia, standing with the refrigerator door wide open and holding the leftover half of last night's Reuben ("I needsome regular American food, Natasha. We're going."). She saw him standing there in the doorway, but instead of playing it off and putting the sandwich back, she'd deliberately held his gaze as she took a bite, rewrapped the sandwich, and put it back in the fridge nonchalantly.

The door barely shut before he was on her. He'd practically attacked her, tearing at her clothes while she climbed onto him, and he'd screwed her against the refrigerator door with the taste of his dinner cloying in her mouth.

After the Reuben Incident (as it would forever be in his head), Natasha's little habit was never the same; he just couldn't look at the missing mouthfuls the same anymore.

He knew it was ridiculous, but Natasha managed to condition a response in him with her random sampling, though, to be sure, the motivation for his salivation was a little different than it had been for Pavlov's dogs. To his mind, Natasha's habit was inextricably tied with the rough, fast sex that had accompanied catching her in the act, and Natasha, the minx, knew it.

It had gotten to the point that he could guess her mood just by the number of things in his part of the fridge that were missing chunks. She'd tease him with it, sneaking tastes on the sly for days, maybe as long a week, until she allowed him to catch her at it.

Two weeks after the New York incident, the first night they'd spent in their new quarters in Stark Tower (Tony's words, again – he's not sure an entire floor of the most expensive building in the city could really count as "quarters"), he stumbled down to Stark's floor to have lunch with the other members of the team.

Everyone else was already seated at the overly large table, working on improbably sized sandwiches. Shawarma, he noted, not without humor.

Natasha had her foot propped on the seat next to her, but she dropped it to floor as soon as she saw him walking up.

"Good morning," she said as if she hadn't kissed him awake and slipped out of his room at 7 am.

"It's 2 o'clock." Tony said, passing a plate to Clint. "Not that I'm judging. You go right sleep until 2 in the afternoon, William Tell."

Clint knew better than to comment; it would only make Tony worse. He just took his plate without a word, grabbing a sandwich and reaching for a bottle of water.

Natasha, who barely glanced up from slicing a tomato, spoke up for him anyway. "William Tell used a crossbow, Stark. Clint uses a recurve."

Tony pulled a face. "Po-tay-to, po-tah-to."

Natasha arched her eyebrow, gripped the knife a little more firmly.

Tony coughed a little. "Duly noted."

And that would have been the end of that, except that Natasha proceeded to pick up Clint's sandwich in front of Thor and everybody, and then she took a bite out of it. And, of course, Tony Stark would never leave anything so blatant go without adding his two cents.

"Hey, uh, Red, there's enough to go around." Tony actually looked surprised.

"I had to check it." Natasha was unfazed, going back to her own plate and her discussion with Steve about Russia in the 1940s.

Clint tried to play it off, swallowing hard and ignoring the sudden straining in his pants, but then he looked up to see the rest of his dining companions staring at him and Natasha.

"What?" He took a bite, intersecting with Natasha's teeth marks.

"I did not know that it was common Midgardian practice to share a repast in such a fashion."

Well, at least Thor's version was nicer than Stark's would have been. Or maybe that was just because of the way he talked. Clint still wasn't used to that.

So he just shrugged. "She had to check it."

Just like he was going to have to return the favor after lunch.

Thoroughly.

The rest of the meal passed without incident. Bruce was surprisingly interesting to talk to, Clint discovered, once you got past the shyness. Eventually, however, he and Tony wandered off to "R&D Candyland," and Steve headed down to the gym to test some of the new equipment ("He even installed pedestal bags!"). When Thor took his leave, Clint was finally alone with Natasha, and he didn't waste time.

She had just put their plates in the dishwasher when Clint grabbed her hips from behind, pressing his renewed erection into her. That she didn't try to throw him or break his wrist was proof enough that she was expecting this.

Then she wiggled, and Clint bit his lip.

"I can't believe you did that in front of everyone." She turned around in his arms as he reproached her, a sly grin on her face.

"I had to check it."

"Mmhmm. Sure." He leaned in to kiss her sloppily. It wasn't his best, but Natasha didn't appear to mind.

He backed her up against the counter without breaking their kiss, and Natasha hiked one leg up around his waist and ground against his hardness as he kissed his way over her jaw, her throat, her neck.

"Stop teasing, Barton." Her voice was uneven and breathy, and there was no better sound in the world.

He took immediate action, and he turned her around and guided her hands down to the counter top.

"Stay." He ordered, then tugged her pants down over the swell of her ass. She wasn't wearing panties, and the shock of it sent a jolt through him.

"Now who's teasing?" He said, running a firm hand down her ass and between her thighs. She was already wet, dripping, really, and he stifled his groan in the curve of her neck. She pushed back against him when his fingers slipped inside her, and just like that he couldn't take the anticipation any longer.

Clint fumbled with the button and zipper on his jeans, which forced him reluctantly to remove his hand from Natasha's warmth, but then he was free and he had one hand on Natasha and the other was guiding his cock into the sublime heat of her entrance.

And then he was inside of her finally and it was as good as it ever was and it had been too long since they last fucked, never mind the fact that they had spent all night in each other's arms.

Clint leaned down over her then, hugging her closer to him, and he let his hands wander where they would, teasing her stiff nipples through the thin fabric of her tank top and slipping down below her waist to torment her clit.

"You're so wet," he moaned into her hair, and Natasha, well past the point of coherent speech, responded by leaning harder against him, encouraging him to move quicker.

Then, as suddenly as they crashed together, she was clenching around him, her forehead flat on the counter and her sharp teeth biting into the meaty part of his palm to restrain her shout. He came right on her heels, exploding as she trembled around him.

They had nearly caught their breath when JARVIS interrupted them.

"Ms. Potts has arrived on the premises and is making her way toward the elevator, sir and madam."

It was only then that Clint became aware of the fact that they'd just lost control of themselves and had sex against the counter in the middle of Tony Stark's kitchen. And it was a little disconcerting to realize that the computer intelligence not only allowed them to do it, but didn't see a need to warn them until they were finished.

Well, given what Natasha has told him about Tony's old habits, he supposed he shouldn't be that unnerved. Or even surprised, really.

As he zipped himself up, Clint asked, "JARVIS?"

"Yes, sir."

"Can you, um, maybe erase the footage of us . . ." His voice had a jagged quality to it, and his hands were still shaking a bit, so he was happy when the AI cut him off.

"I stopped recording when Mr. Odinson left."

Okay, now that was weird and unnerving and all kinds of creepy, but since he was reaping the benefits of Tony's proclivities, Clint wasn't going to complain.

"Thank you, JARVIS." Natasha was looking as impeccable as ever, and he wouldn't be able to tell that she'd come apart less than a foot from where they were standing if he hadn't been a party to it.

"Ready?" Even her voice was steady. It was unfair.

"Almost." He dragged her in for one more scorching, breath-stealing kiss, then they headed for the elevator.

They were deep into a discussion about the merits of the new Stark Industries Quinjet when they crossed paths with Pepper coming off the elevator.

"Hey, guys! I guess I missed lunch?"

Natasha nodded at the other redhead. "There's leftovers in the fridge!"

Pepper gave a little wave, and the elevator doors shut between them.

As soon as they were alone again, Clint looked over at his partner.

"You know," he began, invitation clear in his voice. "I'm pretty sure I've got some apples in my fridge that I haven't tried yet."

Natasha just grinned.


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