I dare you
It all started back when they were both still strangers in an odd state of limbo between enemies and partners. There were no Avengers, no aliens, no magic and no one to boss them around out in the field where they called all the shots and either they did their job right or they didn't bother to come back at all.
Clint silently watched his partner from the corner of his eye growl in frustration as she promptly threw the binoculars she had been staring through for the last 3 hours onto the ground and angrily pushed herself to her feet. He noticed the way she was half limping and rolled his eyes.
"You need better posture while crouching for long periods of time – otherwise that is going to keep happening," Clint said without moving an inch from the initial position he took up at the edge of the ridge they were lying on. His riffle was exactly where he wanted it to be and he was going to keep it that way. He had no problem staying in one place for hours. However his partner was another story.
"Shut up Barton – I wasn't built for long term stake outs. I hunt targets – not wait for them to take their damn time in the burning sun," Natasha said as she tried to ignore the pain shooting up and down her calves – she should have been paying attention to the building tension but she was too damn proud to keep shifting her weight when he could lie still for literally days if he had to. The damn bastard pissed her off.
He chuckled at her irritated tone.
Sometimes he thinks there is an equal chance of her shooting him as there is of her saving his ass.
"Why the hell did we get a mission the middle of nowhere Barton?" Natasha asked pacing behind him to get some feeling back in her legs.
"Cuba is hardly the middle of nowhere Romanoff," he said as he continued to peer through his sniper scope and scanning the scarce dirt roads running along the base the cliff they were perched on.
"Holding a stake out in the Cuban mountains waiting for a drug trafficking convoy that may or may not pass by this location is what I consider a shit mission in the middle of nowhere," Natasha muttered as she continued her swift walking. She was the running type – not the sitting for endless hours type.
"Patience, dear Natalia…is not your strong suit," Clint said dryly. He didn't need to look up to see the scowl on her face.
She whipped a bag of bullets at his head in retaliation. He didn't even flinch – it made her even angrier.
"'Don't call me Natalia," she hissed. She hated that name. She hated everything related to her past – there was a reason she chose a new one when she accepted his offer to join SHIELD.
"You won't let me call you Natasha so what am I supposed to call you?" he asked with shrug.
"Romanoff is just fine," she said irritably. He didn't need to look up at her fuming face to feel the rage coming off of her in waves – whoever said Natasha Romanoff was emotionless was an idiot.
"After 6 months you'd think we'd get past last names wouldn't you?" he asked glancing up at the agitated Russian but otherwise made no comment about her intense dislike of anyone using her first name – whatever she chose it to be. He had the feeling last names were a way she kept a good 50 mile distance between her and the rest of the world. Well too bad for her – once you're Clint Barton's partner there is no way things are going to stay so cut dry and cold professionalism. He just didn't work like that.
"Get a different partner," she said without a second thought. He didn't even bat an eyelash.
"No," he said simply. Natasha shot him a withering look.
"Why?" she asked suspiciously. She never understood why he wanted to be partnered with her of all people. She didn't realize until she was already halfway through the SHIELD welcome mat that he was more than just a normal field agent – he was one of their best.
And before she came along he had always worked alone.
"Because I like mine just fine," he said with a half shrug.
"Apparently you are the only one," she muttered under her breath – he heard her easily because of the small distance between them.
"You have your own charm Natasha," he said simply – without any flowery buttering up. It was simply the truth –but she still didn't believe him. She never did.
"Yeah when I'm doing my job and pretending to be what targets want to see – I'm downright charming indeed," she muttered darkly. Clint paused as he listened to her bitter tone.
"I wasn't talking about the Black Widow – I was talking about you," he said without looking at her. He felt her stiffen immediately behind him and the silence that followed confirmed that she wasn't happy with him.
Sometimes he wanted to tell her to just chill the hell out and live a little – but then she would probably shoot him between the eyes and that would be the end of that.
"You know what I love about drugs Natasha?" Clint asked suddenly. Natasha glared at him.
"Don't call me Natasha," she growled. He ignored her and continued anyway.
"They make even your lovely growls sound like sweet lullabies and conveniently – they are very, very flammable," Clint said holding up a packet of ammunition between his two fingers with a slight smirk on his face. Natasha narrowed her eyes at his little barb but couldn't deny his second statement. There was only one problem.
"You're going to blow us all up if they're jacked up on ether of all things," Natasha said shaking her head. The man was insane.
"How much are you willing to bet on that Nat?" he asked with a devilish grin. Natasha was about to strangle the damn sniper.
"The fuck are you doing to my name Barton?" she shouted in frustration. Clint simply smirked and continued to watch for movement – not that he was really expecting anyone before evening. In the meantime inspiring Romanoff to pull her own hair out was a much more entertaining pastime. Natasha took a calming breath and pinched the bridge of her nose. Honestly – no one infuriated her like Clint Barton did. She still didn't know why she bothered to stick around. She could have ditched his sorry ass in any number of missions over the last few months – but she never did. She didn't analyze the potential reasons too closely. She didn't think she would like what she'd find.
"I'm trying to find one that fits," he said suddenly out of nowhere. She paused and gave him a quizzing look.
"What on earth are you talking about?" she grumbled falling back down to her knees beside him and picking up her previously abandoned binoculars. He smiled but didn't respond.
"What time is it?" he asked instead. She glanced down at her time zone synchronized watch.
"7:30 - 20 minutes to sunset," she answered swiftly. He nodded and went back to watching his target zone. She didn't bring up the explosion danger range again – but he knew it was bugging her. However, Natasha Romanoff never asked a question twice. It was little things like this that fascinated him about her in the first place.
"There is a reason I choose the curve of the mountain facing the ocean Nat," he said carefully. Natasha's eye twitched at the unwelcomed nickname but she forced herself to listen to what he was really saying. She glanced behind them at the cliff that went right over the edge and towards the 100 meter drop to the warm Caribbean waters below.
"I am not jumping off a cliff 100 meters above the ocean level Barton," she said with a frown. He glanced over at her when he heard the odd hitch in her voice and waved in front of them.
"Then by all means come up with a better plan to destroy 3 trucks full of illegal drugs and an tiny army of dealers who know how to pack a punch," Clint said invitingly. She scowled at him.
"I could take them out," she said with a determined glint in her eyes.
"Oh yeah? Go right ahead and shine Russian firecracker," Clint said sarcastically. Natasha stared at him for a long moment.
"Okay," she said dropping her binoculars to the floor and rising to her feet to climb down the mountain.
Clint promptly grabbed her arm and yanked her back to the ground.
"Sit down Romanoff and take the easier route for once in your goddamn life," he muttered shaking his head. Damn this woman - she just didn't have any limits did she?
"You doubt that I could do it," she said staring intensely at the hand still wrapped firmly around her wrist.
He knew she could easily turn the tables on him and have him disarmed and unconscious within seconds – but the fact that she didn't spoke volumes of what she thought of him. Clint smiled internally. Natasha Romanoff was an open book when you got the right translator to read her.
"I don't doubt that you could beat the crap out of those idiots and still have time to merrily make your way with a few explosives to take out the cargo before sundown – the fact is that you don't need to get your hands dirty for this job Natasha. I'm trying to tell you something important – take the hint," he said firmly but without malice. She crouched back down beside him and tugged at her wrist. He slowly let go and went back to readjust his scope.
"I still don't like the jump," she said gruffly from beside him. He glanced at her.
"Have you ever been skydiving?" he asked curiously. She snorted.
"Of course – one of my targets was a professional skydiver," she said like it was common phrase everyone used. Clint raised an eyebrow.
"Morbid," he said scrunching up his nose in distaste. Natasha shot him an annoyed look.
"Our entire lifestyle is morbid – so shut the hell up," she said through gritted teeth. Something about how she said that rubbed him in the wrong way. He didn't know what exactly it was but maybe he shouldn't have said what he said next.
"At least I have interests outside of my job," he said carefully. Her stony silence made him feel only slightly bad for what he said. Just a bit.
10 minutes later he started to feel just a tiny bit worse.
"Fuck I'm sorry Natasha," he said with a sigh when he couldn't stand the echoing silence any longer. He was too used to the running insults and snappy commentary she always had going on in the back of his head while he kept watch of his post. She didn't even look at him.
"I don't care," she said with a blank expression. He stared at her with his calm blue sniper eyes that could see things for miles and pierce you right through the heart no matter how fast you were running. He stared at her until he found whatever it was he was looking for.
"You do care," he said simply before he turned away. Natasha didn't bother to respond. He didn't leave it at that though. "Because you wouldn't be about to crush your binoculars into plastic sand if you didn't," he said without looking at her.
She moved to get up again but he promptly tripped her with his foot and caused her to fall forward and nearly slam her face into the hard ground in front of her. She probably would have broken her face if he hadn't shot out his forearm to break her fall and allow her to regain her balance.
"Really need to learn how to accept you have emotions Natasha," he said shaking his head at her in disbelief.
"Emotions make you weak," she growled pushing his arm away. She didn't need his cocky attitude right now.
"Emotionless makes you a void," he shot back. Natasha finally had enough.
"Stop trying to be my friend or something equally nauseating Barton! I don't need your stupid advice and I don't need any emotions okay?" she shouted at him breathing in rapid breaths. He calmly waited until he was sure she wasn't going to pass out frim lack of oxygen before he said anything.
"Partners can be friends," he said cautiously after a few minutes. Natasha stared at him in disbelief. Did the man just never stop?
"Ugh!" she cried in frustration before she just ignored him completely.
They both took a break from all the bickering and went back to watching the roads like they had been doing all day. The silence between them was not uncomfortable – they didn't always have to fill it will unnecessary clutter of useless words.
Clint's entire body went on high alert when he caught sight of a flicker of movement around the corner of the road that curved in from the other side of the mountain.
"It's show time," he whispered to her. Natasha nodded. He closed one eye and focused on the three identical black trucks that rounded the corner at relatively slow speeds.
"It's the cargo trucks from the Intel photos right Nat?" he asked – just for confirmation. He had already memorized the photos. Natasha nodded from beside him.
"It's definitely them," she said firmly. His lip curved into a wicked smile.
"Good – no regrets then," he said as he aimed at the center of each truck as it passed by their vintage point. Three consecutive shots echoed around the mountain top. They all made a perfect hit with every single target. Mission accomplished – in 30 more seconds.
Now they were on a time limit to get the hell out.
"Go! Go! Go!" he shouted as he threw the riffle over his shoulder and quickly strapped it to his back before he pushed off the ground and shove her towards the edge of the cliff. They have 30 seconds before the exploding bullets would ignite all the cargo and blow this convoy sky-high. And most likely take out a 60 meter radius of the mountain and land around it – including their little perch.
Natasha dug her heels into the ground and stared at the 100 meter drop with a wary expression. She clenched her fists at her sides – she just hated falling with a passion. Clint was behind her instantly while counting the seconds off in his head. He grabbed her firmly by the shoulders and spun her around to face him and not the foreboding drop.
"Are you scared?" he asked staring at her dead in the eyes.
"No," she said firmly. He stared at her carefully. She was telling the truth. She just didn't want to do it.
"Are you scared to die?" he asked gripping her shoulder tighter as the seconds got closer to detonation time. Hurry up and do something Barton.
"No," she said staring back at him with equal intensity. He blinked - well that was an interesting thought to mull over later. He shook the thoughts out of his head and stared back at her.
"Well fuck that - I sure as hell am, so you are going to listen to me. Natasha Romanoff you are going to jump– with your eyes open, the adrenaline pumping through your veins and no parachute in sight because otherwise you are going to die a coward and I will be your damn witness. So who gives a shit if you're not afraid to die – but are you prepared to die a coward?" he asked giving her a penetrating look.
Natasha narrowed her eyes.
"I am not a coward," she said with a dark look in her eyes. Clint wasn't fazed at all.
"Prove it," he whispered inches from her face. She took a deep breath and was about to turn around when Clint heard the countdown reach zero in his head – too late.
"Sorry, time's up!" he shouted as he shoved her off the edge and jumped after her just as a brilliant explosion covered the sky behind them and caused rocks and debris to fly over their heads - just barely missing them by millimeters.
"I hate falling!" she shouted as they were suspended in free fall for several seconds in the air. Her red hair was messily tangled around her face as she glared at him. She looked like a falling angel. Well…a very scorned falling angel.
"You're a natural!" he shouted back with a stupid grin on his face as they rapidly approached the blue water below. He loved the rush – he loved that she hated it too.
"There's no such thing as being a natural at falling!" she shouted in disbelief just before they hit the water and got pulled into the strong underwater currents below. Natasha growled as she righted herself and kicked her legs into action to push herself towards the surface. As nice as water is with beautiful little tropical fish staring at her from all sides – she would really like some oxygen right now. She gasped she her broke through the surface and sucked in some much needed air. She glanced around and froze.
"Barton?" she said slowly. She didn't see him anywhere.
"Barton Where the hell did you go?" she said angrily splashing around to keep herself above water. He wasn't in sight at all. Now this was pissing her off – this was his brilliant idea in the first place.
"Clint answer me damn it!" she shouted as the worry starting edging into her voice even as she tried to beat it down. Damn him and his flashy mission finales. They always shave years off her already short life expectancy.
"You said my name," someone said from behind her in awe. She whipped around in the water and stared at a soaking wet Clint Barton with his hair plastered to his forehead and the oddest expression on his face. She realized she's never seen genuine shock on his face in all the time that she's known him. But then the anger promptly took over.
"What is wrong with you, you bastard?" she shouted in outrage as she smacked him in the chest. He didn't look like he felt a thing. Suddenly a brilliant smile spread across his face and he did the last she expected from him – he started laughing.
"Have you gone insane?" she asked incredulously. Clint shook his head and suddenly dragged her forward and pulled her into a tight embrace. Natasha froze – that wasn't supposed to happen.
"Isn't it great to feel alive Tasha?" he whispered in her ear as he held her close to his chest. She let her hands hang beside her still in shock from what he was doing. He…he was hugging her.
No one has hugged her in years.
He furrowed his brow when she continued to be unresponsive in his arms.
"Hey - are you okay?" he asked pulling away and giving her silence a worried look. She stared back at him with slightly glazed eyes – as if she was half here and half somewhere else lost in her thoughts.
"I like Tasha," was the first thing that came out of her mouth. For a second he didn't know what she was talking about – but then it hit him and if it was possible his smile had gotten even wider. She suddenly found herself being pulled back into another wet and soggy bone crushing hug.
"I like Tasha too," he whispered in her hair. She was too shocked by the second hug in a row to hear the double meaning in his words. Maybe one day he'd build enough courage to actually let her know.
He'll need to make sure he has a bulletproof vest on that day.
A/N: Clintasha feels – in a badass way! Ha ha – do not fear that this is only fluff! Their dares are going to get progressively worse as the chapters by. It will be amazing and full of awesome Clintasha. It's going to be a lot of Black Widow/Hawkeye missions too – lol am I the only one excited?
Review and let me know what you guys think!
Dare 1: Jump if you're not a coward. Jump because you need to feel alive.