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the courage to love (like a wound that never heals)

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Kinktober 2017

Day 06. Bonds (Telepathic or Empathic)


 

 

<<She is so fucking beautiful .>>

 

The thought that flitters through Maria’s mind isn’t hers. She stumbles to a stop and turns slowly to meet Natasha’s gaze in surprise.

 

It’s early in the morning and Natasha did not sleep well the night before. Maria can feel how tired she is, and she assumes it's that very exhaustion that allowed Natasha's careful control over her thoughts slip for even a moment. Like she forgot for a brief second that her thoughts weren’t just hers anymore. Natasha’s eyes widen with horror when Maria turns towards her, and Natasha’s all consuming panic is something that Maria can feel all too clearly.

 

“Natasha,” Maria murmurs quietly, and Natasha stares at her for just a couple more heartbeats before she turns and runs from the room.

 

**********

 

Maria and Natasha had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. If they'd been just five minutes earlier or five minutes later everything would have been fine. But, instead, they happened to be walking by the lab where the new experimental communications device was being tested. It exploded, to the surprise of absolutely no one. A lot of experimental tech exploded the first time it was tested. (And often the second third and fourth times, too.) The surprising part was how big the explosion was.

 

The blast wave took out the entire wall of the lab. It exploded into the hallway without any warning, and Maria barely had time to shield Natasha’s body with her own before they were buried under the rubble.

 

They were unconscious for fourty minutes, and after some extensive testing it was determined that the energy from the explosion did a hell of a lot more than just knock a few walls down. The tech had been based on the telepathic abilities of an alien race they’d encountered; something SHIELD’s scientists had hoped to recreate using a mixture of alien and SHIELD technology. Being able to communicate telepathically with your team while in the field could have unimaginable benefits. It’s a fantastic plan in theory. But in practice, when two agents are telepathically linked without their consent, it becomes a bit less than ideal.

 

Natasha and Maria learn all of this when they wake up, and they can immediately feel one another's reactions. Their faces remain completely impassive, but Maria can feel Natasha’s fear as if it were her own and Maria’s panic squeezes Natasha’s heart like a vice. The scientists swear up and down that the effects should only be temporary, but when pressed they cannot give even a guess of how long it might last. Anywhere from a few hours to a few months; they simply do not know.

 

Aside from their unasked for telepathic and empathic bond, and a few minor scrapes and bruises, both women are given a clean bill of health and sent on their way. The doctors try to send them home but Natasha and Maria both scoff and ignore their recommendation. They both have work that needs doing and this is just a minor inconvenience.

 

Natasha and Maria deal with it by avoiding one another. As long as they’re a fair distance away from each other their thoughts don't come through as clearly. Though they quickly find out that their feelings always do. No matter how far apart they are they are always aware of what the other is feeling. Like a quiet buzz in the back of their minds, they ignore it as best as they can.

 

(The other thing that they quickly realize is that ignoring it just isn't always an option.)

 

**********

 

Maria is sitting at her desk trying to go over the details of an upcoming op, but her focus keeps fracturing. She can feel the way hunger rolls through Natasha’s body, and Maria doesn't understand why she's still sparing with Clint instead of stopping to eat something.

 

Twenty minutes pass and Natasha continues to expend more and more energy that she doesn't have to spare. It becomes painfully obvious that Natasha has no intention of breaking for lunch, and Maria makes a sound of frustration as she locks her computer and pushes away from her desk.

 

<<You stubborn idiot.>>

 

The random thought catches Natasha off guard and gives Clint a chance to land a punch. Natasha staggers and she turns away from his apology to meet Maria’s annoyed gaze.

 

“You need to eat something.” Maria holds out a paper bag from the deli down the street and Natasha blinks.

 

“I'm not..” Natasha starts to deny her hunger and sighs when she remembers that it's useless.

 

Maria is very carefully staring at a spot above Natasha's head, refusing to really look at her, and Natasha frowns as she moves towards Maria and the food she brought. Natasha realizes what the problem is when she takes the paper bag from Maria and their fingers brush. The expression on Maria’s face never shifts. She still appears just as mildly annoyed as she did a second ago. But Natasha can feel the way she trembles, and she understands why Maria won't look at her dressed in only her sports bra and gym shorts.

 

“See something you like, Hill?” Natasha teases, and it has the desired effect. Maria’s eyes automatically shift to take in the woman standing before her, skin glistening with sweat and hair tantalizingly disheveled. Maria cannot stifle the arousal that spikes through her, and Natasha's satisfaction settles upon her like a blessing.

 

“Just eat that, will you?” Maria doesn't snap at Natasha, not really, but her tone isn't exactly friendly either.

 

With Maria’s embarrassment thrumming beneath Natasha’s skin, she doesn't take it personally. Instead she opens the bag of food as Maria turns away. Natasha shouldn't be surprised that Maria knows her favourite sandwich order, but she is.

 

<<Thank you.>>

 

Maria glances over her shoulder as Natasha’s words drift through her mind and she offers Natasha a small smile as she leaves the gym.

 

**********

 

Natasha has a chance to return the favour two nights later. It's shortly after three am and Natasha lays awake in her bed, staring at the ceiling as she waits for Maria to call it a night. The other woman is four floors away, sitting up in her apartment trying to finish the last of her paperwork before she goes to bed. Natasha can feel Maria’s exhaustion in her bones. It's a strange kind of emptiness that she isn't enjoying, and she cannot sleep while Maria is pushing herself this hard. Natasha gives her until three thirty, and when Maria is still fighting to stay awake Natasha gets out of bed with a frustrated groan.

 

Maria isn't surprised by Natasha’s sudden appearance in her living room. Maria felt her coming, and there isn't a security system in the world that can keep the Black Widow out. “I'm almost done,” Maria says without looking up from her papers.

 

Natasha considers her for a moment and she sighs quietly before settling beside Maria on the couch. Maria watches, stunned, as Natasha helps herself to the stack of the papers.

 

“You don't need to do that,” Maria tells her.

 

Natasha glances at Maria out of the corner of her eye. “You're not going to bed until you're done. Which means I'm not going to bed until you're done, since I can't sleep while you're torturing yourself like this. So yes, Maria, I actually do.”

 

By the time they finish the paperwork it's after four and Natasha simply curls up on Maria’s couch, too tired to go back upstairs to her own apartment.

 

<<You can take the bed,>> Maria thinks at her, and Natasha groans in response.

 

<<Too far. This is fine.>>

 

Maria hums softly and rests her head against the back of the couch. She absolutely understands what Natasha means; the bed feels a million miles away right now. Maria decides to just close her eyes for a minute or two to gather her strength, and the next thing she knows the room is filled with early morning sunlight and Natasha is gone.

 

**********

 

They continue like that for weeks, forcing one other to take care of themselves. Maria marches Natasha down to medical when she returns from a mission with a bad burn along her shoulder, and in return Natasha forces Maria to call in sick when she falls victim to the flu. They are both vaguely annoyed by the other’s interference, but they grudgingly do as they’re told and they don’t waste time arguing about it.

 

Three and a half weeks after the accident their bond is still going strong, and it’s Maria’s turn to lay awake in the middle of the night. She had been sleeping peacefully until Natasha started screaming. In a manner of speaking, at least. Natasha’s mental shriek wakes Maria from a dead sleep, and the waves of terror that follow are almost paralyzing in their intensity. Maria is out of bed and halfway to the elevator before she realizes that Natasha isn’t being attacked.

 

Maria knows that Natasha suffers from nightmares. It isn’t something they’ve ever talked about, obviously, but Maria has seen her running laps around the helicarrier in the middle of the night in an attempt to exhaust herself into a dreamless sleep. Maria has noticed the way that Natasha always avoids going to bed for a few days after particularly difficult missions, and she has seen Natasha in the mornings after a bad night. Maria has seen the way Natasha stares into her coffee cup with haunted eyes first thing in the morning before she’s had a chance to recover from her dreams. Maria knew that Natasha had nightmares. It wasn’t a secret. But she never understood how bad they actually were; not until that moment.

 

It takes a minute for Maria to decide what to do. She knows that Natasha would want her to ignore it, to pretend that nothing had happened. Natasha would absolutely hate that Maria knew this about her, and she would not appreciate Maria’s help in the slightest. Not with this. So instead of running upstairs Maria forces herself to go back to bed, and it’s one of the hardest things she has ever done. Maria lays in bed with Natasha’s screams echoing through her mind for almost thirty minutes before Natasha begins to cry in her sleep. And that is Maria’s breaking point.

 

Maria hesitates again once she reaches Natasha’s bedside. Natasha is curled in upon herself, whimpering softly in her sleep, and Maria isn’t sure how she should wake her. Maria knows that if she shakes Natasha awake while she’s like this that there is a very good chance Natasha will attack her. And that just isn’t an option. Not because Maria is afraid; she would happily suffer whatever injuries she received if it meant Natasha didn’t have to suffer through even one second more of her nightmares. No, Maria couldn’t care less about the injuries she’s likely to get if she shakes Natasha awake. What worries her is the fact that Natasha will blame herself for it.

 

Natasha will take one look at the damage she does and she will use it as proof that she is the monster her nightmares say she is. And that is simply not something Maria can let happen. So she hesitates by the side of Natasha’s bed for a moment and considers alternative options.

 

Maria eventually moves around to the other side of the bed and she crawls in behind Natasha. Maria spoons her, wrapping her arm around Natasha’s waist and pulling Natasha tight against her body. Normally Natasha would have woken the moment the elevator doors opened. But she is lost to her nightmares, too deep in her dreams to even register that she isn't alone anymore. Maria rests her forehead against the back of Natasha’s neck and closes her eyes. <<Wake up, Nat.>> The thought is a soft whisper against the edge of Natasha’s awareness, but Natasha hears it.

 

<<You’re safe,>> Maria promises. <<This is just a dream, sweetheart. I’ve got you.>>

 

Natasha’s nightmare falters for just a moment, and Maria is relieved that it’s working.

 

<<Come back to me, Nat. You’re ok. I’ve got you; I’m right here.>>

 

<<.. Maria.. >>

 

Natasha wakes with a shuddering gasp, and Maria relaxes her grip in case Natasha feels the need to put some distance between them. But when Natasha rolls towards her and buries her face against Maria’s chest Maria wraps her arms around Natasha as tight as she can. Neither of them speak for awhile. Maria gently rubs Natasha’s back as the last fragments of her nightmare begin to fade away, and Maria braces herself for the storm she can feel brewing in Natasha’s mind.

 

Natasha pulls back, and Maria immediately lets her go. Natasha watches her wearily for a few moments. Her emotions are flashing by almost too quickly for Maria to register them, her thoughts and heart racing almost as fast, and Maria reaches out to cup the side of her face.

 

“It’s ok,” Maria murmurs gently. Her thumb brushes against Natasha’s cheekbone, a careful caress, and Natasha leans into Maria’s touch for just a fraction of a moment before something shifts in her mind.

 

Maria is on her back with Natasha straddling her almost before she is aware of what’s happening. And her mind stalls completely when Natasha kisses her. Natasha rolls her hips into Maria, grinding down on her as she continues to kiss Maria senseless. Maria whimpers desperately, completely at Natasha’s mercy, and she struggles to focus her thoughts.

 

“Natasha,” Maria groans as she pulls away from Natasha’s kiss, “stop.”

 

Natasha ignores her, instead moving her lips to the side of Maria’s neck. <<I can feel how much you want me, Maria. I know that you don’t actually want me to stop.>>

 

And, well, Natasha isn't exactly wrong. Maria wants this more than she knows how to articulate. She has wanted Natasha for as long as she can remember. But not like this. Maria can feel Natasha’s desperate need to distract her, to make Maria forget. Natasha is afraid , and she would do anything to keep Maria from realizing it. Including fucking Maria until she doesn't even know her own name, never mind what Natasha is feeling.

 

Maria cries out when Natasha bites into her neck, and she needs to stop this now. Maria flips them, pinning Natasha’s wrists to the mattress, and Natasha smirks up at her. “That’s more like it.” Natasha tries to kiss her again, but Maria keeps her distance.

 

<< Stop! >> Maria repeats, more firmly this time, and Natasha goes still beneath her.

 

“You crawled into my bed in the middle of the night, Hill. What else could you possibly want from me?” Natasha growls defensively.

 

Maria sighs. She rolls off of Natasha and moves to sit on the edge of the bed. “I wanted.. I needed to make sure you were ok, Natasha, that's all. Sorry. I’ll go.”

 

It’s the wave of uncertainty that makes Maria stop moving towards Natasha’s bedroom door. She glances back, and Natasha looks so small and so vulnerable sitting in the middle of her bed watching Maria leave. <<I could stay. If you wanted me to.>> Maria offers silently. She can feel Natasha’s reluctance; how afraid she is to admit that she doesn’t want to be left alone. <<I could sleep on the couch, and I’ll be here if you need me.>>

 

<<Would you just..>> the thought trails off but Maria can see what she’s asking for.

 

“Absolutely,” Maria agrees easily, and she rejoins Natasha in bed.

 

Maria settles onto her back and she holds out her arms. Natasha hesitates for just a second before she slowly moves to curl up against Maria’s side. Maria holds her tightly. She trails her fingers across Natasha’s back for a few minutes until an image flashes across her mind’s eye. Maria smiles and she adjusts so she can move her hand from Natasha’s back to her head.

 

Maria gently strokes Natasha’s curls, randomly scratching her nails against Natasha's scalp, and Natasha makes a quiet sound of contentment. Natasha is much calmer than she was when Maria first arrived, but Maria can feel the fear still coiled tightly around Natasha’s spine.

 

<<I’ve got you, Nat,>> Maria promises as she continues to run her fingers through Natasha’s hair. <<You’re safe.>>

 

Natasha slowly relaxes, and when she drifts off to sleep this time her mind is quiet and still. Maria plans to stay up all night and keep watch, but her own exhaustion overtakes her and she soon follows Natasha into sleep.

 

When Maria wakes the next morning Natasha is already gone, and Maria crawls out of bed to go find her. Maria follows the pull of their connection into the kitchen where she finds Natasha pouring out two cups of coffee. Maria smiles when Natasha turns to offer her one of the cups. “Thanks,” Maria murmurs as she inhales the delicious scent. Maria offers Natasha a small smile of gratitude before she turns towards the fridge to grab the cream.

 

<<She is so fucking beautiful .>>

 

The thought that flitters through Maria’s mind isn’t hers. She stumbles to a stop and turns slowly to meet Natasha’s gaze in surprise.

 

It’s early in the morning and Natasha did not sleep well the night before. Maria can feel how tired she is, and she assumes it's that very exhaustion that allowed Natasha's careful control over her thoughts slip for even a moment. Like she forgot for a brief second that her thoughts weren’t just hers anymore. Natasha’s eyes widen with horror when Maria turns towards her, and Natasha’s all consuming panic is something that Maria can feel all too clearly.

 

“Natasha,” Maria murmurs quietly, and Natasha stares at her for just a couple more heartbeats before she turns and runs from the room. Maria puts her coffee on the counter and quickly follows after her. “Natasha, wait!”

 

Natasha stops in the doorway of her bedroom and turns back to Maria. She begins talking before Maria has a chance to say anything. “Look, I’m sorry, but you are . Sometimes I’m going to think things like that. But you made it perfectly clear how you felt last night, so you don’t-”

 

“Woah, wait a minute,” Maria interrupts her. “What do you mean? I made what perfectly clear?”

 

Natasha is not a person who blushes, but the light dusting of pink across her cheekbones is unmistakable. “I can count on one hand the number of times I've been turned down, and I wouldn’t even need all of my fingers.”

 

Maria gapes at her. “You think.. because I refused to fuck you when you were upset and vulnerable that I can’t possibly be interested in you?”

 

Natasha shrugs self consciously.

 

They stand there for a minute, watching one another, and Natasha is surprised by the rage she can feel buiding in the other woman. “Maria. It’s alright.”

 

“It’s really not,” Maria argues. “Christ, Natasha, you deserve so much better than that!”

 

Natasha doesn’t argue with her because she doesn’t want to upset Maria even more. But the self loathing that swirls through her at Maria’s words makes it very clear that she doesn’t agree. Maria’s anger falters and slowly fades, and it leaves behind only a quiet kind of sadness.

 

“You precious idiot,” Maria murmurs, and she takes a step forward.

 

Natasha backs away without thinking as Maria advances on her, until she is pressed against the wall next to her bedroom door and Maria is so close that Natasha can count her eyelashes. There is a question swimming in the depths of Maria’s eyes and Natasha nods slowly. Maria’s hands shake slightly as she reaches out to cup Natasha’s face in the palms of her hands. She kisses Natasha’s cheek first, and then the corner of Natasha’s mouth. Natasha’s hands wrap around Maria’s forearms and she holds on tightly.

 

“You deserve everything , Natasha,” Maria says quietly, so close that her lips brush against Natasha’s as she speaks, and Natasha is the one to close the remaining bit of space between them.

 

Natasha gasps as Maria kisses her, overwhelmed by what she can see in Maria’s mind. Maria is thinking about every moment when she looked at Natasha and saw a hero, saw someone worth loving, saw a woman who deserved to have the stars delivered to her on a silver platter. Maria shows Natasha moments of intense bravery, moments when Natasha has saved the world or sacrificed herself for someone else without a moment’s hesitation. But, mostly, Maria shows her the ordinary moments. Times when Natasha’s laughter has brightened Maria’s day, times when she was thoughtlessly kind, times when she has just been Natasha, and not the Black Widow.

 

Even as Maria kisses Natasha senseless she continues to let Natasha see herself as Maria sees her. A kind, brilliant, and brave woman. Someone with an incredible sense of humor who brightens the lives of those around her. A woman who would do anything to protect the people that she cares for. Maria shows Natasha that she is the strongest person that Maria knows. Someone that Maria would die for without hesitation. Someone that Maria.. loves .

 

Natasha breaks their kiss. Her grip on Maria tightens and she trembles beneath the weight of this new knowledge. “Why didn’t you ever say anything?” Natasha asks, her voice soft and breathless.

 

Maria laughs, like it’s the most ridiculous thing Natasha could have asked her. “In what world would you ever love me back?”

 

“This one, you jackass.”

 

Natasha captures her lips again before Maria can respond, and there is nothing sweet or gentle about their kiss this time. This kiss is full of years worth of hunger and longing and need, and Maria moans into Natasha’s mouth. A thought crosses Natasha’s mind and Maria smiles. Natasha wraps her arms around Maria’s neck as Maria’s hands fall away from Natasha’s face to settle on Natasha’s ass. She tugs Natasha closer, pressing them against one another more firmly, before her hands continue on their way to Natasha’s thighs.

 

<<Hold on,>> Maria warns her, and Natasha hums against her lips.

 

Maria lifts Natasha off of the ground, and Natasha wraps her legs around Maria’s waist. Maria grips Natasha’s thighs tightly, and she imagines having those thighs bracketing her head as she steps them away from the wall. Natasha gasps and her reaction to Maria’s stray thought is so strong that Maria almost stumbles, almost drops her.

 

“Oh, fuck,” Maria groans, and she presses Natasha back against the wall. She inhales desperately. “This should be interesting.”

 

Natasha’s grip on her tightens. “Bed. Or I’m going to have my way with you right here.”

 

The image of Maria on her knees in the hallway with her face buried between Natasha’s legs makes them both stop breathing, and Maria isn’t sure which of them it came from. Natasha whimpers softly and it’s the most beautiful sound Maria has ever heard.

 

“Think about puppies or something,” Maria says as she steps away from the wall again. Natasha is wearing only a pair of underwear and an oversized shirt, and Maria absently caresses her thighs as she moves them into the bedroom.

 

“Yeah,” Natasha scoffs. “I’m going to be able to think about puppies while you’re touching me like that. What the fuck is wrong with you?”

 

Maria laughs as she carefully drops Natasha onto the bed. “Should I apologize or..”

 

“What you should do is stop talking.” Natasha pulls Maria down on top of her and kisses her once more.

 

Maria settles against Natasha, straddling her thigh and pressing into Natasha firmly. Natasha whines into their kiss and Maria wonders how strong this connection between them really is.

 

<<Do you know how many things I’ve imagined doing with you?>> Maria asks, taking advantage of their telepathic link so she doesn’t have to stop kissing the incredible woman in her arms.

 

Natasha groans deeply. <<Show me.>>

 

Maria starts slowly. She pictures Natasha writhing beneath her while Maria fucks Natasha with her fingers. Natasha’s breath catches and she wraps a leg around Maria’s hip so she can grind into her thigh more completely. Maria moves away from Natasha’s lips to her throat and she presses her teeth into the soft skin of Natasha’s neck. She’s always imagined Natasha as someone who might enjoy being bitten in all the right places, and the way Natasha’s mind goes blank when she bites down makes Maria shudder.

 

<<More,>> Natasha pleads, <<show me more.>>

 

Maria gives her everything. Every fantasy she’s ever had, and every single one of her erotic daydreams. Maria imagines Natasha dominating her, imagines taking Natasha hard and fast with a strap on, pictures fucking Natasha in the middle of a restaurant, tucked away in a corner booth where no one can see what they’re doing. Maria gives Natasha lazy Sunday morning sex, and nights when she spends hours exploring Natasha with her tongue. She imagines Natasha fucking her slowly and sweetly, and bending Natasha over the kitchen table and fucking her until she can’t stand. And with every scenario they both get closer and closer to coming.

 

“Fuck,” Natasha whimpers. <<Give me all of that.>>

 

<<I promise.>> Maria nuzzles at her neck and rocks into her slowly.

 

Natasha cries out as Maria presses into her, and she holds Maria as tightly as she can. Maria can feel how close Natasha is; it’s like electricity buzzing beneath her skin and it’s absolutely maddening. Maria grinds against her and she gives Natasha her favourite scenario. She gives Natasha their wedding night.

 

Natasha screams as she comes, and her orgasm slams into Maria like a runaway train. Maria stops breathing, stops thinking, stops existing. All that she is aware of is Natasha’s pleasure and they way it floods through all that she is. Maria presses her face into Natasha’s neck as she comes with a sob, and Natasha almost comes a second time from the force of Maria’s orgasm alone.

 

Their thoughts are an incoherent jumble as they lay there together and catch their breath, and Natasha is the first to recover.

 

“We get married?” Natasha asks, and it takes Maria a moment before she realizes how much she actually shared in the heat of the moment. Maria is like a deer in the headlights. Her bliss transforms into alarm amazingly fast, and Natasha takes pity on her. “Why do you assume I’ll wear a dress? What if I want to wear a tux?”

 

Maria blinks, and she studies Natasha for a moment before responding. “You could wear a Halloween costume for all I care.”

 

“Now there’s an idea,” Natasha muses as she runs her fingers through Maria’s hair. Maria laughs with relief and Natasha smiles at her fondly. “Tell me more about this restaurant plan of yours. I never imagined you were full of such wonderful ideas.” Natasha’s grip on Maria’s hair tightens as her mind drifts.

 

Maria shivers at the feel of Natasha’s hands in her hair and the places Natasha’s mind begins to wander. “I think it’s your turn to share,” Maria counters. She lowers her head to mouth along the length of Natasha’s neck.

 

Natasha tilts her head to give Maria easier access to her throat and she hums thoughtfully. “Are you sure? I wouldn’t want to accidentally horrify you. We haven’t discussed boundaries yet.” Her tone is teasing, but Maria can feel how serious she is.

 

“Ok,” Maria agrees easily. She takes a second to make sure Natasha understands; that there isn’t anything she could say that would scare Maria off. That Maria hopes to revisit this before their bond disappears, but she will always respect the boundaries that Natasha lays out for her. Maria presses her lips against the pulse point in Natasha’s throat, and once she is sure Natasha has heard her Maria returns to Natasha’s question.

 

“So,” Maria murmurs seductively, “about this restaurant..”