The first thing Clint realized when he opened his eyes and pushed himself up out of his bed was the throbbing in his head. With a groan, he moved the short distance from the hall to his kitchen. The second thing he realized was that he was not alone in his apartment. "Kate?"
"Not here," a silky voice called back. She looked up from where she was reading a newspaper at the table. "It's just me."
"Natasha," he said, surprised. "What are you doing here?"
"You got banged up pretty bad last night. Kate wasn't here when I took you home, and I didn't want to leave you alone. Just in case." She lowered her eyes.
"Of course not." Clint shook his head. "But you hate coming all the way out here."
Natasha stood. "Yeah, well. I don't hate you. Usually," she added with a wink.
He laughed. "Thanks. How long have I been out?"
"About ten hours. How's your head?"
He shrugged. "Ah, it's nothing a few aspirins and a hot shower won't fix."
"Are you sure? Let me see," she said, already reaching out to part his hair with her fingers.
"I'm fine," he insisted. "Are you hungry? Sorry I didn't have much in the fridge.."
"It's fine," she said with a wave. "But I could eat. Do you want to order takeout? I'll pick it up while you shower."
He grinned. "Actually, I have a better idea."
Natasha settled against the wall in between Aimee and Wendy, looking out over the streets. "So you all do this often?"
The pink-haired Aimee offered a friendly smile. "Barbeques on the roof? Hell yeah!"
A big man came over, handing her a plate. "A cheeseburger for the pretty lady. With extra ketchup."
Clint looked up from where he was talking with a couple of children. "You hitting on my friend there, Grills?"
"Course not, Hawkguy. I would never dream of putting moves on your woman."
Natasha smiled. "That's alright. I'm not his woman."
"You're not?" Wendy asked incredulously. "But Clint never brings home a date."
Natasha raised an eyebrow. "He doesn't? Ever?"
"Never," Aimee said solemnly.
"Really, guys? We're talking about this?" Clint said irritatedly. He took a seat in a folding chair next to Natasha, glad when Grills loudly recognized her as an Avenger and announced it to the group.
"Not even Jess?" She whispered, leaning closer.
He rolled his eyes. "The only time she ever came here was to put me in my place," he muttered.
"Is it because you live so far? And in such a crappy neighborhood?" She grinned widely so he would know she was teasing.
"Eat your food," he answered.
"Seriously, it's like, the best cheeseburger you will ever taste," Wendy said with a nod.
Natasha took a bite. "You weren't kidding."
"She never kids about food," Clint told her. "And that's Grills. I don't know what his secret is. Even though he knows mine, apparently."
Natasha smiled with ease when the neighbors all started to jest with each other.
"Are you having fun?" Clint asked, reaching out to take her empty plate and toss it in the trash.
"Definitely," she replied with a nod, unconsciously wrapping her arms around herself.
"A little," she admitted.
"It does get a little chilly up here sometimes. Here." He unzipped his hoodie and shrugged out of it, draping it across her shoulders.
She smiled. "Thanks."
Someone pulled out a large bag of marshmallows and placed them on sticks for the kids to toast on the grill. When they were finished, one of Simone's boys brought a handful of them over to Clint. He held one out to Natasha, and she eagerly ate it out of his hand, laughing as she wiped the gooey residue from the corner of her mouth.
After awhile, the residents of the building started to slowly disperse until it was just the two of them left on the roof.
"That was fun," she said sincerely. "I can see why you like it here."
He smiled. "Yeah, they're good people."
She leaned her head back. "I can't believe you can see so many stars right here in New York."
"That's the benefit of having outdoor lights that don't work. I guess someone should really talk to the landlord about that, though."
She laughed, zipping his sweatshirt all the way up.
"Come on, it's cold. Let's go back inside," he said, placing a gentle hand on each of her arms and rubbing thoroughly.
"Seems like you're feeling better," she noticed once they were back inside his apartment.
He nodded, patting Lucky on the head."Much."
"Well, it's getting late. I suppose I should go."
He shrugged. "What for? Just stay here. We can hang out."
She thought for a moment.
"Come on, Nat. We never get downtime like this. Let's watch a movie or something. You can crash here if you want."
"Alright." She followed him into the living area, settling next to him on the couch.
He picked up the remote and clicked on the tv, placing his feet on the tiny coffee table.
"I missed this," she said quietly, sinking back into the cushions. "It's good to not have anything to worry about for once."
He grinned. "C'mere," he said, wrapping an arm around her shoulders.
She leaned her head on his chest, snuggling into him.
"You know you can come here whenever you want, right? To just hang out, or whatever?"
She wrinkled her nose. "Next time you come out by me."
"Fine," he said with a laugh. "But you're starting to like it here and you know it. I bet Grills would even fire up the barbeque again to bribe you."
"I thought you don't have girls over," she teased.
"I don't. Not in my personal space. But you're not just any girl," he murmured, lightly stroking her hair.
She was quiet for a long moment. Finally, she said, "I like this."
"Us hanging out."
"Me too," he agreed, tightening his hold on her.
"It's comfortable," she said softly.
"Sure is," he said, swallowing hard.
She tilted her head back to look at him, her green eyes meeting his warm blue ones. She could feel his breath tickling her cheek, and it didn't take much for her to lean forward and press her lips softly against his.
He placed a hand under her chin, his thumb gently stroking her jawbone as he kissed her back. "That's the second time in four months that you kissed me," he said once she pulled away. "Do we need to talk about this?"
"I'm sorry. Should I not have done that?"
He shook his head. "Not anymore than I shouldn't do this," he said, tilting her head back with his hands to cover her mouth with his own as he leaned into her, pressing her against the couch cushions.
"Clint," she said, placing her hands against his chest. "This has the potential to get really messy, really quickly."
"Are you saying you'd let me go farther than just making out a little?" He asked, eyebrows raised.
She swatted his shoulder playfully. "You know what I mean."
He nodded. "Okay, okay. I'll stop."
"Wait," she said, circling her arms around his neck. "I don't think I want you to."
"Lady," he said with a chuckle. "What do you want?"
"This?" He asked, leaning down to kiss her again.
She eagerly kissed him back, sliding her tongue along his lips and slipping inside when he opened his mouth. She ran her hands up and down his arms as they kissed, sighing softly when he gripped her waist.
"How about this?" He asked, lowering his mouth to her neck and planting soft kisses on her sensitive skin.
"Mmm… you're just doing that so I'll do it back," she said, a little breathlessly.
He laughed. "I guess you'll have to find out," he replied with a wink.
She grinned wickedly before leaning forward to press her mouth to his throat, nipping gently along his jaw and pausing to suck at a particularly sensitive spot.
"No fair," he moaned. "You know what that does to me."
"I sure do," she said, pulling his face hungrily to hers.
"Nat… " he whispered in between heated kisses. "Maybe you're right."
"I don't know.. if I can do this without feelings getting in the way."
Her eyes widened. "H-how long?" she asked.
"Awhile," he admitted.
"Oh," she breathed.
He brushed his fingers through her hair. "And you?"
"Wh-what about me?"
"Come on… how do you feel?" He asked, his lips just inches from hers.
"Clint, it's never worked between us," she said quietly.
He shook his head. "I didn't ask that. I asked how do I make you feel?"
Without warning, she grabbed him by the shoulders, tugging him off balance and pulling his body flush against hers. She kissed him roughly, her teeth bumping against his as she tried to devour as much of his mouth as possible in a heated kiss.
"Good answer," he said, nuzzling her neck.
She sighed. "I suppose I'd be lying if I said I didn't have feelings for you."
He placed his hands on either side of her face. "It was never over between us. I'm always going to have strong feelings for you. You know that."
"I know. I just don't want things to change between us. I can't lose you." She wrapped her arms fiercely around him.
"Nat, you're never going to lose me. I promise you that."
"But what about you and Jess? And Wanda? And Janet, for that matter?"
He laughed. "You can't be serious. This is totally different. I've always l-"
"No!" She shouted. "Don't say that. You can't just say that!"
"Okay, okay," he said gently. "But baby, you have to know… it's not just a fleeting thing with you and me. We're always going to be okay."
She nodded. "I guess you're right."
"So, can we go back to making out now?"
She grinned. "Yeah."