BAND-AIDS

By Alpha Flyer


A/N: A duo of comment fics/prompt fills - held together by a common theme.

I had the title for the first one (based on a line from Leonard Cohen's divine "Hallelujah") kicking around in my head for several months, but didn't do anything with it until Inkvoices hit us with this, on an "All Things Friday" edition on be_compromised: "Your challenge, should you chose to accept it, is this: downtime, featuring a plaster (or Band-Aid, or whatever they're called where you are)."

I don't own the characters, and even though I have some Band-Aids, I lay no claim to the trademark.


1. Not A Victory March


She looks at him across the room where he sits on the bed, battered and bleeding, cursing softly as he tries to close up the gash in his forearm with a Band-Aid. His face is pulled into a frown of concentration as he sticks one side down, pulling the wound together before tacking down the other end of the plaster to create a make-shift clamp.

"Is that going to hold?" she asks, for the sake of saying something – anything – other than what she really wants to say.

You could have died out there.

"It'll fucking have to," he growls, still angry at himself for letting the bullet get that close to him, and to his shooting arm, yet. He's been cursing up a blue streak ever since it happened.

I could have lost you.

"There anything to drink in this dump?"

S.H.I.E.L.D. safe houses don't come with minibars so chances are no, but the last agents to use this one were Evans and Miyazaki and that ups the probability of finding at least an empty bottle by about thirty percent.

Natasha tears her eyes away from her partner's hunched-over form. Even covered in blood and grime, those arms never fail to get her in the gut – but right this moment he needs something other than watching her drool over his biceps.

Shit. When did this happen? When did my mouth start to go dry at the sight of Clint Barton's skin?

She rummages through the formica-fronted cupboards in the kitchen. Most of Tirana is a dump on a good day; inside a three-story walk-up that dates back to the days before Mother Teresa found God (or Enver Hoxha tried to convince his people that God's name was Mao) it's positively screaming for a can of kerosene and a match.

Evans and Miyazaki had been here to investigate the ring that brings Moldovan and Albanian women from their dreams of a secretarial job in Milan to the flesh markets of Amsterdam, St. Pauli and Soho but had been made and left in a hurry; Barton and Romanoff were detailed to finish the job and bat cleanup. They did, and went on to Phase Two with extreme prejudice. Of course, the trade will likely continue (it always does; crime does, in fact, pay nicely), although the need for new management should slow down things for a while.

"Bingo," she calls out. "The finest local raki. Time to live it up."

There's a groan from the area where the bed is located, and she pokes her head around the corner to make sure it's his response to the quality of the incoming beverage, rather than the discovery of another bullet wound.

"It's not like I'm not in enough pain already," Clint complains, and if he weren't one of the toughest guys on the planet, his tone might just be characterized as a whine of epic proportions.

"Suck it up, you big baby. It beats drinking what comes out of the taps in this place." (The previous tenants did finish off the bottled water, the bastards, and no one has bothered to restock.)

She takes a dishtowel of dubious pedigree off the rack and walks over to the bed where Clint has peeled off his tac vest and is now sitting cross-legged, dressed only in a black tank top and his cargo pants. (At least he pulled off the combat boots.) The side of the tank looks damp, but in the light of the single bulb it's hard to tell whether it's sweat or blood. Probably both; they got him on his shooting side, and that wound is not exactly shallow.

"Inside or out?"

"There enough for both?"

She nods, and starts pouring some of the clear liquid onto the towel.

"Most of the bottle. They must have left in a hurry."

"Or else that stuff is even worse than I fear."

Clint grimaces a little when she starts to clean the gash with the alcohol-soaked towel.

"Should have waited before you put that Band-Aid on, I could have just poured some right over that hole," she says matter-of-factly. "Now, I have to make sure not to ruin your surgery skills. That takes longer."

Natasha flings the red-stained towel behind her and picks the bottle back up from the nightstand.

"Here," she says, as she hands it to him. Glasses, at this stage, would be an affectation; besides, they're probably filthy. "Shëndetësor."

Clint takes a deep swig, and promptly pulls a face.

"Fuck, that's like turpentine."

He shakes his head, wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and knocks back another big swallow.

"I guess the good news is, by the time my head'll feel like splitting, we'll be on the QuinJet and Coulson can dole out the good chems."

He gives her one of those sideways looks that he always uses to check whether she found one of his cracks amusing. Their eyes lock, and suddenly it's like all the oxygen got sucked out of the room and she can't find her breath.

She is not sure when it started, that burn, but she feels it clearly now. What began as warmth in the pit of her stomach has turned into a sharp ache with the speed of kick to the gut. It's becoming a response she just can't shake anymore, not when they're like this, still pumped on adrenaline and needing - not wanting - to come down, and she knows he feels the same way. She can see it in his eyes, now darkening with want, and hear it in the hiss of his breath.

His hand on her hip sears like a bullet, as he pulls her down beside him on the bed. Almost in defiance, she raises the bottle to her lips even as his mouth closes over one of her breasts; she can feel his teeth and tongue on her nipple through the rapidly dampening fabric of her t-shirt and bra. That swallow turns into a ragged sob and the raki burns into the back of her nose, momentarily enveloping her with its fumes.

She barely has time to set the bottle down when Clint pushes her down on the bed, lifts his leg over hers and straddles her, pinning her underneath his strong, solid body. He pulls her arms over her head, holding her hands in one of his (the good arm, she notices dimly) and bends down for a searing, raki-infused kiss that is as much a claim as it is a declaration, and that leaves them both breathless.

She could fight back, of course, but she won't, not this time. He's the one who gave of himself today - his blood for hers, he won't be able to pull his bow for weeks - and it is only right that he take something back. She does, however, bring up her knees behind him and shoves him down on top of her, letting him know in no uncertain terms that she is far from being helpless, or passive.

His tongue has left her mouth and is now trailing a path down her neck, his hand still clamping down on hers as they grind together. It doesn't last long in that position though, as he seems driven by a need to get closer to her skin, and for that he needs both hands. He succeeds in ripping off her shirt and flings it across the room; his own follows in rapid succession and he laughs, darkly, in triumph.

It's always like this now, it seems, and it's never less than spectacular - this coming down from the high of battle, this falling into each other (whether in celebration or mourning, its all the same). She thinks that at some point they should really give it a name, some time when they don't still hear the crack of guns echoing in their heads.

But not now.

"Careful with that Band-Aid," is all she can say, before words fail.