This fic is set in the New Avengers: Breakout prose novel universe, since it's effectively a PWP, you needn't have read that to follow along with the story.

This story would not exist (or, at least, would not have been posted) without the assistance and advice of the inimitable EuphoricSound. Needless to say, this one's for you, bb.

Thanks also go out to eiluned and Amanda for reading this and pointing out my mistakes. Thanks youse guise!

And, as always, thanks to all the lovely people who've been following and reviewing and just generally making this fandom awesome. Much love!

He tried on four shirts before settling on a plain black tee. Apparently inviting Natasha over to his apartment for weapons practice turned him into a sixteen year old girl.

"The shade really brings out your eyes, Barton," he snarked into the mirror. He rolled his eyes at himself for good measure.

He splashed some water on his face, then ran his fingers through his hair, trying to straighten it a little bit. Sure, she'd seen him naked and half-covered in mud, but that was no excuse not to put forth a little effort, right?

A knock at the door shocked him out of his preening, and the nerves he'd been fighting all morning came back with a vengeance. He chastised himself for it; Natasha wasn't coming here for anything other than a lesson, no matter how much he'd wanted otherwise.

Besides, he didn't date coworkers.

The knock sounded again, and he had to fall back on breathing techniques he'd learned as a sniper to catch his breath.

Oh man, this was stupid.

Casting one last look in the mirror, he hurried to the door. He slowed when he neared it, not wanting to appear rushed. His stomach twisted when he looked through the peephole. It was her all right, dressed from head to toe in black, looking beautiful and deadly all at once and carrying a brown paper bag tucked under one arm.

"Get a grip," he muttered, then opened the door.

"Hi," she said.


They blinked at each other for a minute before she held up the brown paper bag and said, "I brought beer."

"Oh, thanks," he said. "I wasn't really sure if you'd want anything, so . . ." He trailed off, unsure where he wanted the sentence to go. He was so absorbed in trying to come up with something to say next that he missed whatever it was she said, just registering the slight narrowing of her eyes.

"Sorry, what?" he asked.

"I was just wondering if you were going to let me inside or if I was supposed to stay out here all day," she said with a raised brow.

"Oh! Right. Sorry." He stepped off to one side, ushering her in. "Please."

He watched her as she took in her surroundings, as she cast her gaze about his apartment, her eyes lingering on his couch and the ancient tv across from it, the lack of decorations on the wall. It was spartan, to be sure, but he was hardly ever here long enough for that to matter.

Natasha didn't comment on that, not directly. Instead, she said with a smile in her voice, "No kitchen table? I thought all Americans had them."

He shrugged. "Not this American. Besides," he said, taking a few more steps into the room. He took down the sole framed picture on the wall of what was, in other apartments, the dining room. He grinned at her. "If I had a kitchen table, I wouldn't have a practice area."

"Excellent use of space," she said approvingly. She slipped off her jacket, revealing a form fitting t-shirt that showed off her curves, and he was pretty sure she wasn't wearing a bra underneath it. He raked his eyes up and down her form, realizing he was far more starved for the sight of her than he would like to admit. He swallowed hard, then forced himself to look at her face.

She was staring at him with a strange little half-smirk on her face. Busted.

"Where can I put my coat?" she asked airily.

It took him a moment, but he was proud of himself when he managed to point out the coat hooks on the wall behind him without doing anything too idiotic. Of course, when she walked by him to hang her jacket, she brushed up against him and ruined all of that. He felt the curve of her breast against his arm, the heat of her skin against his, and suddenly he was back in the jungle, sweating and covered in mud with her legs wrapped around his waist and her fingernails digging into his shoulders. Had someone turned up the thermostat without his noticing?

He took a deep breath and cleared his throat.

Quite the opposite of him, Natasha was perfectly composed as she turned to face him, her expression as inscrutable as it had been at the baby shower.

"Knives first?" she asked.

He nodded and showed her to the table where he'd arrayed an assortment of his knives, and he ran her through a quick run down of the benefits of each type.

"I'm not a novice," she said midway through his explanations, waving him off. "I've thrown a knife before."

He laughed, more at himself than anything else. "Yeah," he said. "I know you have. Sorry."

She ran a finger down one of his black steel throwing knives, and he wondered idly what it would feel like to have her do the same thing to his chest.

He shook himself.

"Let's see what you can do, then," he said, picking out a set of knives. Down to business now, he watched her closely as she took each knife, casting them at the target with rapid succession.

She wasn't bad, not by any stretch of the imagination; he wouldn't want to be pitted against her. All the same, he could see why she wanted pointers.

"You throw like a Russian," he said, and she raised her brow as if asking whether he expected anything different. He shrugged at her.

She walked to the target and removed the knives. "Show me?" she asked, holding out the blades.

He took them from her, skimming the pads of his fingers against her palm. He thought he detected the barest hint of a shiver roll through her at the contact, but her face was calm, placid and undisturbed. Maybe it was all in his head.

She licked her lips.

Okay, so maybe it wasn't all in his head. She was the one who brought up the "seduction arts" back in the jungle, after all.

He turned toward the target, feeling the weight of her gaze heavy on him as he aimed. He threw, forming a tight cluster around the bull in a matter of seconds. It wasn't normally how he practiced, but he didn't see the harm in showing off for his guest a little.

"You do not hold your knife like I do," she said, and he thought he heard the thickening of her accent. Good to know that he wasn't the only one affected by their proximity.

"I like a pinch grip," he said, forcing himself to focus on the weapons, on the technicalities of description. He hesitated for a moment over the table, looking for a different blade. "You might do better with something heavier."

He handed her one of his favorite knives, one he'd had with him since his circus days. He gathered the weapons from the target, and when he turned, he caught her peering closely at the blade.

"I do not recognize this type," she said, turning it around in her hand.

"That's probably because I made it," he said. It hadn't been his best effort, but it was a good knife, and it had served him well over the years. She looked at him appraisingly, as if she were seeing him with new eyes. She hefted the knife in her grip, flipped it around a few times.

"Nice balance," she said at last, and he felt his cheeks start to heat up. He wasn't a narcissist, but he did feel a surge of pride that she approved of his work. To cover for the redness he was sure would appear on his cheeks (if it hadn't already), he took up a position behind her as she aimed.

He started to put his hands on her, to show her how to adjust herself, but then he hesitated, stopped himself short of touching her, unsure how she would react.

"Can I . . . ?" he asked, and she threw a quick glance over her shoulder to look at him. She nodded curtly.

He put his hands on her arms with more self-assurance than he felt, moving her limbs slightly, giving her tips about how to line up her shot, how to throw, when to release. He was close enough to her that he could smell her shampoo, and it felt like all the air had been sucked out of the room. It was dangerous, being this close to her, touching her, wanting more. He wasn't sure how he kept up his instructions, how he kept her from noticing his reaction to her, but this time when she threw, her knife sunk in the center of the target with a satisfying thunk.

"Thank you," she said, and he thought he could hear the excitement in her voice, her satisfaction at a job well done. She collected her weapon. "Again, I think."

She didn't come to stand beside him when she came back, but neither did he dare approach her. He wasn't sure if he could make himself let her go this time.

She threw the knife, the blade landing in the center again, and she grinned at him, her teeth bared.

It was going to be a long afternoon.

As much as she hated to admit it, he was getting to her.

She'd spent more time than strictly necessary getting dressed this morning, picking out her tightest shirt and sweeping on makeup (even though she never wore any when she was off-mission). Her primping had been overt enough that Jess had commented about it over coffee, had asked her laughingly who her "big date" was. Natasha silenced that laugh when she'd answered her roommate, and she'd recognized a momentary flash of jealousy in Jess' eyes.

At the time, she'd brushed it aside, insisting to herself that her relationship with Clint was not primarily sexual, that she was going over to his place to learn something from him, not to jump his bones.

As time wore on, she became more and more aware of the fact that she had been lying to herself.

Every time she brushed up against him, she had to force herself not to gasp. Every time he gave her instructions in that blissfully deep voice of his, every time he adjusted her fingers or shifted the placement of her legs with the pressure of his palms, it was like a punch to the gut.

She needed to get control of herself. This whole exercise was supposed to prove that she didn't want to get into his pants, not prove that it was the very reason she made this date with him in the first place.

By some small miracle, Clint was attempting to keep his distance, almost as if he were resisting the same insane, phantom tug of desire that she was. His reticence to approach her lasted until she picked up a larger knife, one with a wicked curve to the blade.

"If you want to throw that accurately, you're going to need to hold it differently," he said, and he reached out to her, put his hand on her shoulder. It felt like he was burning through her shirt, searing her skin.

"Stop that," she said, her breath coming in frustrated pants as he adjusted her grip on the knife. She tore her hand away with more force than she'd intended, recklessly pulling the blade toward her body, heedless of the danger.

"Careful!" he admonished, as if she were an idiot. But then, she was here, wasn't she?

She looked down at the knife in her hand for a long minute, then placed it back on the table. "This was a mistake," she said.

His forehead crinkled in confusion for a moment, but then he sighed. "I'm not sure what you want from me."

She knew how he felt. She'd invited herself over to spite herself, to prove that she could be around him and not fall all over him. She needed to know that what happened in the jungle had been a mistake, a one time deal, temporary insanity brought on by the pressures of defection. The little contact they'd had in the intervening time hadn't exactly confirmed that theory, but she knew that if she really wanted to test herself, she'd need to get him alone.

Judging by her body's reaction to his proximity, she had her answer. It wasn't the one she'd been hoping for.

Still, she clung to the notion that she could overpower her hormones, so she said, "I only slept with you because I needed someone on my side out there." The words sounded hollow even to her.

"Okay," he said calmly. "But if it was just a ploy to get me on your side, then why are you breathing like that?"

She glared at him, but she didn't trust herself to reply, not with words anyway. She took a step back, trying to put some distance between them, trying to catch her breath. She never seemed to be able to fill her lungs around him.

"Natasha," he said, his voice a rumble that rolled through her body, settling somewhere in the pit of her stomach. This was such a mistake.

She turned away, closing her eyes. He said her name again, and she heard him close the distance between them, heard the creak of the floor boards and the shuffle of fabric. He put his hand on her arm once more, and she almost shoved him, almost jerked away, but something stopped her - a little voice in the back of her head, the complete dissolution of her survival instincts – she didn't know, but instead of throwing him off, she looked up at him.

He was staring down at her with a dumbfounded expression, looking as thoroughly baffled as she felt.

He licked his lips, and she couldn't stop herself from staring as the pink tip of his tongue darted out across his lower lip, moistening it. All she wanted to do was chase his tongue with her own, to remind herself of his scent, to see if he tasted different now that they weren't running for their lives.

Later, she wouldn't be able to pinpoint who leaned in first, who was the one to start it, but it didn't really matter because suddenly his mouth was on hers and all she could think about was how good it felt to press her body along the length of his.

He deepened their kiss, sliding his tongue along hers, and she sighed into the embrace. Her arms slipped around his neck, and her fingers reflexively clenched in the short hairs at the base of his neck.

"I want you," she breathed, nipping at the fullness of his lower lip, sucking it into her mouth.

He nipped back playfully, his hands dropping down to her hips, and he ground his pelvis against her. As if it weren't obvious from the way his erection pressed into her belly, he said, "Ditto."

She shouldn't find it charming, the simple, idiotic way he answered her, but she felt liquid arousal pool low in her belly at his response anyway.

Fusing her mouth to his, she dragged him along, forcing him back to the old couch at the other end of the room. They ran into it, stumbling blindly backward, and when he sat down forcefully, she didn't hesitate to climb into his lap.

"What are we doing?" she murmured, writhing in his lap, pressing her core against his erection.

"We're very stupid people," he said, and then it was his turn to suck at her lip, tasting her thoroughly. He worked his way down her jaw, burying his hand in her hair and tugging her head back, holding her still as licked along her neck.

"Completely idiotic," she agreed, shivering and clutching at his shoulders, groaning when he thrust up against her.

"We should stop," he said, sliding his hands underneath her shirt, his archery roughened hands playing havoc with her senses.

All she could manage in reply was an embarrassingly uneven, "Mmhmm."

His hands were on her breasts now, skin pressed directly on skin because she'd forgone a bra. He moaned against her throat when he touched her, kneading the peaked flesh in his hands, It felt like there was a live wire running between them, like electricity was crackling everywhere they touched.

He pulled back from her briefly, looking her in the eye. "Do you want to stop?" he asked.

She pulled off her shirt by way of reply, baring herself to the slightly chilled air, and she felt her nipples harden instantly under his gaze. He brought his hands up, squeezed her gently, and she saw his pupils dilate even as she felt him grow harder beneath her. He leaned in, took one peak in his mouth, and when he bit down lightly, teasingly, a jolt of pleasure ripped through her and spilled out of her with a disembodied sound she did not recognize as her own.

He released her nipple with an audible pop, grinning at her wickedly. She squirmed against him, biting her lip.

"Oh, so you liked that?" he asked her, looking pleased with himself. She shocked herself by not wanting to wipe the expression off his face. Instead, she wanted him to keep at it, to keep licking her, sucking her, and making her feel like her skin was too small.

She nodded, and his head dropped back against her chest. He lathed his tongue along her sternum, dragging it along the swell of her breast. She guided him along, practically shoved him toward her nipple, and he chuckled at her.

"Patience, sweetheart. We've got all the time in the world."

That really was the crux of the matter. They did, in fact, have as much time as they wanted. There weren't going to be any lab experiments gone wrong suddenly attacking them, no Terror Birds or velociraptors coming out of the underbrush with designs on dinner. Barring any sudden alien invasions or supervillain attacks on the city, they didn't have anywhere to be.

No, this time, they were on their own, without ulterior motives, moving together only because they wanted to, because they wanted to be with each other. It was enough to scare the hell out of her, enough to make her palms sweat and her heart race faster, but it was just as likely those things were symptoms of the way he was worrying her nipple between his teeth so she decided not to think about it. She hadn't had a lot of time for pleasure in her life, not pleasure free of the taint of necessity, and she'd be damned if she wasn't going to enjoy this while she had the chance. From the way he looked at her, the way the pads of his fingers lingered on her skin, the way his breath hitched in the back of his throat when she shifted in his lap, she got the impression that he felt the same.

She dropped her head back as he suckled her, rocking her hips against his insistent erection, desperately trying to create more friction against her clit. When he thrust up against her, she felt the familiar heat of arousal, deep and low and tense as it coiled inside of her. She clutched his head tighter as she neared her release, and she wrapped one arm around his neck while her opposite hand blindly sought his shoulder. His fingers found her breast, and he pinched her nipple just shy of the point of pain and without any further warning, she was coming, twisting her hips violently and choking out his name into the air.

She sagged against him, feeling better than she could ever remember feeling. Even before, as good, as satisfying as the sex had been, she hadn't been able to relax, hadn't been able to drop her guard because she hadn't been sure if he was going to kill her afterward, if he was just using her to get his rocks off while her body was still warm.

Now, though, now it was different. The fragile thing between them wasn't trust, not quite, but neither was it something completely different. Perhaps, she thought, this is what regular people felt like when they slept with people.

She liked it.

He kissed the skin at the edge of her nipple, bringing her out of her reverie, and when she sat back to look down at him, he was red faced and grinning. She bent down and kissed him, curious about the flavor of that smile.

His hands were everywhere, grasping at her flesh, tugging at the waistband of her jeans, skimming over her stomach. She couldn't blame him for the urge, couldn't stop herself from plucking at his clothing, forcing him to stop his explorations to shed his t-shirt.

He looked better than she remembered, here in the bright light of his apartment with the smooth planes of his muscles interrupted by old scars and fresh bruises. She wanted to lick his torso, run her tongue over the jagged edge of a faded scar from a bullet, lap at the sleek half-moon of what was once a wicked knife wound marring the lower edge of his abdomen.

She curved down to do just that when he rumbled, his voice thick with arousal, "I promise my bed is more comfortable than the floor of the jungle."

She smirked and tried to get off his lap, but he tugged her in for one more searing kiss, scorching her insides until all she could think about was getting him horizontal and climbing on top of him.

He grabbed her hand to guide her toward his bedroom. What should have been a brief, if focused walk turned into a drawn out detour, as neither one of them could resist shoving the other against every available surface to press their mouths together and cop a feel. Stripping as they lurched toward the bedroom, they both lost their pants somewhere in the hall.

When they finally reached their destination, she was so lust-crazed that she let him guide her down onto her back, let him run his tongue from the curve of her neck all the way down her body, down the valley of her breasts, along her tummy, dipping into her navel before dropping lower. He rubbed his face against her mound, breathing her in with a groan.

"You smell good enough to eat," he growled, and then he grabbed the edge of her panties with both hands. Raising her hips to help him, he practically tore the thin fabric away from her body. She shifted uncertainly as he settled between her legs, kissing her calves, the insides of her knees, slowly working his face up her legs toward her center.

She wanted him there, wanted to see his head moving between her thighs while she shook apart beneath him, but she wasn't sure about it, wasn't sure why he would want to do something like this for her.

He must have sensed her hesitation because he paused. "Can I do this for you? Is this okay?"

She bit her lip, distracted by the way he looked laying between her legs. "I'm not . . ." she started, gesturing ineffectually. "I don't . . ."

He started to get up, propped himself on his elbows. "I don't want to do anything you don't, Nat," he said.

She squinted at him, uncomprehendingly. "You want to do this?" she asked quizzically.

He grinned at her disbelief, reaching up to cup her cheek. "Oh, yeah, I want to do this," he said, tossing another one of those sexy grins of his in her direction. "I want to make you come on my tongue."

She lost whatever uncertainty she had left at that, just wordlessly nodded her approval. He dropped back down to his stomach, touching her almost reverently with his palms. He ran his fingers along the insides her thighs, taking his time with her, warming her back up, making her ache for him once more.

At last (finally), he put her out of her misery, plunging his tongue among her folds, finding her throbbing clit with ease, sucking it into his mouth and making her moan wildly with pleasure. He snaked one well-muscled arm up her torso to pluck at her painfully erect nipples, and she squirmed against his face, enjoying it still more when he laughed against her pussy. He plunged two of his fingers into her then, stretching her open, and then he added another, pumping furiously in time with the motions of his tongue.

"Clint," she groaned, not sure what she was asking for, but maybe he did because he crooked his fingers inside of her, pressing up against the inside of her pussy with just the right amount of force that she felt herself shoot up to the edge of pleasure and then right over it, coming hard, harder than she would have thought possible as she cried wordlessly beneath him.

She grabbed at his shoulders when she could see again, hauling him up her body, pulling him forcefully down for a kiss. She thrust her tongue into his mouth greedily, wanting to taste herself on his tongue, to see if she could get an inkling of what had compelled him to do this for her.

She felt her answer nudge her hip.

Grinning at him and feeling totally unlike herself, she said, "I can see that wasn't entirely one-sided after all."

He let out a snort of laughter at that, and it transformed his face, wiped away all the seriousness, making him look boyish for a moment. She couldn't help but smile back, the good humor catching, and for once, she didn't feel concerned about it. If she really was going to do this, if she was going to leave her old life behind (and all signs indicated she already had), if she was going to be an Avenger, well, maybe it was okay to smile during sex. Maybe it was okay to have some fun once in a while that didn't leave a trail of destruction.

"I really would like to fuck you now," she said without preamble because she was feeling particularly open and honest for once, and because it was true.

His grin faded at that, replaced with a slack-jawed look of amazement, and she kissed him soundly. She took advantage of his distraction to push him onto his back and straddle him, taking control of the situation once more. She climbed up his body, idly cataloging all the places she would like to explore further, but for the moment all she cared about was getting his cock inside of her and riding him until they both forgot their names.

She reached down between them, wrapped her fingers around his cock and guided him toward her entrance. Strangely gratified by the way he brought his hands up to press into the crease of her hips, she sank slowly down onto him, shifting her hips and rocking against him as she settled.

"God, you feel good, Nat," he moaned, squeezing his eyes shut and biting his lip. "Not sure how much I can take."

She would consider that a challenge.

She circled her hips a few times, taking careful note of the expressions on his face, moving in response to his minute reactions. He felt glorious inside of her, filling her, stretching her, complementing her in a way that she wasn't used to. They moved together seamlessly, as if they'd always been like this, as if they'd always been completely attuned to each other, and fuck, it was good. Because of that rapport, when his thrusts became erratic, she knew immediately what he needed, what he wanted.

She let him flip them, let him get her on her back and push his cock back inside of her. He thrust slowly at first, obviously trying to prolong this, but she knew it wouldn't be long, couldn't be long because she already felt him start to shake inside of her. He reached under her knee, hitched her leg up over his arm, and now when he moved it felt as if he were fucking her in half, splitting her into a thousand pieces of mindless pleasure.

Even as she felt him start to go over the edge, she could feel her own release flooding her belly, could feel it building somewhere next to her spine and rolling up and down her legs. She slipped a hand between their bodies, fingering herself to completion even as he came, and he kissed her sloppily, wet and open-mouthed.

He collapsed on top of her afterward, and whereas once she would have shoved him away from her, would have pushed out from under him, grabbed her clothes and left, now she shocked herself to realize that she was enjoying his weight, the feel of his skin against her skin, the way he pinned her down and made her feel warm all over. It was a dangerous feeling, one that she would deny if asked, but for now, she was going to let herself bask in it.

Eventually, he rolled off of her to lay on his back beside her, letting out what sounded like an especially contented sigh. He tugged on her, and whether it was the result of the three mind blowing orgasms he'd just given her or something else, she let him mold her to his side. She dragged her leg over his hips and flung her arm across his waist, pooling her head on his chest and listening to his heartbeat slowly return to normal.

She was just about to drift off, was just starting to feel like sleeping when he broke the silence.

"So, uh," he asked against the top of her head. "Maybe we can try axes tomorrow?"