Natasha knew someone Clint could- should? Would? Obviously would go to, for his… thing.
Literally for this thing.
If only the laugh track in Clint’s own head didn’t sound so damn derisive.
It wasn’t like Clint needed help with sex or for sex. He’d been having it for…. Shit, more than half his life at this point. He knew what got him off and he knew how to get his partners off- whether it was just one or… several.
Clint knew what to do with his body. He might not be able to trust anything else- not his dumb brain or his questionable feelings or, hell anyone or anything in his life- but he could trust his body. And, okay, he could trust Natasha.
So he’d told her. About his… thing. Not about his dick, since she was fairly well versed in that as both a user of and occasional bystander to Clint’s dick.
But about the thing. The thing he’d never considered, never realized, never even…
Clint would go so far as to say that it was actually Natasha’s fault that this thing was even a thing at all.
Because she’d been the one to point out that for this mission, for this particular smuggler of guns and humans and drugs, Clint would be the better choice for the role of honeypot since Natasha - and she’d said these words, blank and chill as a Russian blizzard, to Phil Coulson and Maria Hill and Jasper Sitwell’s faces- “could fuck better than most with a strap on but the target would be more interested in Clint’s ass.”
Clint had almost died, trying to choke down his shocked laughter. Phil had, of course, maintained his facade of “nothing can or will phase me after having to rescue you two reprobates from a sinking Chilean cruise ship and you were both in flying squirrel costumes so don’t even try.” Hill’s eyebrows had bounced- literally rising up and down several times as she tried to get ahold of herself. And Sitwell had gone so red and sweaty so immediately that Clint had take both a mental and a physical- typed into his phone and texted to three of his burner phones- to never sit near him again.
But Natasha had been right- both about the strap on and about the target’s preference for Clint’s ass over any of Natasha’s…. charms.
And that wasn’t new. Not being the honeypot and not playing it for another guy. Work aside, Clint had always enjoyed sex- okay, he’d enjoyed it starting around his fourth time because the first three attempts had been awkward and awful and embarrassing and no, he would not talk about them no matter how many tequila shots Sharon tried to force on him. And he didn’t much care who he had sex with so long as they were willing and eager and, well, not a Nazi or a kid. He was easy and didn’t feel bad about that.
The new thing, the thing- the thing that had lodged into Clint’s brain and shaken up his entire world view and itched under his skin for the entire thirty-nine hours he’d spent with the smuggler and then six hours after while Clint and Natasha raided his warehouse and estate and then the four hour flight home and the two hour med check and the five hour debrief and the hour long mandatory psych eval and the six hours of shitty sleep and half hour of breakfast consisting of just coffee until finally he’d sat down beside Natasha in the gym and spilled the whole damn thing to her-
The thing was -
“He called me pretty,” Clint said and glared down at the battered running shoes on his feet and regulation socks - because having quarters on base and access to regulation clothing meant he didn’t need to do laundry.
Natasha, sat beside him and stretching out while glaring at the handful of other agents in the gym, probably sizing up who she would bully into being her punching bag for the day, didn’t say anything.
“Like, he said…. he said I was a pretty boy and …”
Clint closed his eyes and sucked in a breathe and worked really damn hard not to spiral.
“And?” Natasha prompted, voice sharp and cutting right through Clint’s rising panic.
“And,” Clint licked his lips, told himself that this was just like jumping off a building, “and that I looked like the kind of pretty boy who wanted to be… wanted to be a -“ Clint could feel his face heat, way past a normal blush and right into tomato red territory- “wanted to be a princess.”
He wouldn’t be surprised if Natasha made him repeat it, because if she’d been able to understand a single slurred word of what he’d just mumbled he’d be shocked- and relieved, and horrified, and-
“Well,” Natasha made the word a drawl, a copy of the way Clint himself said the word and it had him snapping his gaze over to her immediately.
Shit. Was his face the same color as her hair?
Fuck. It probably was.
“You are a very pretty boy,” she said once she’d caught his gaze.
Clint had no clue how he could blush harder or hotter- but he sure as shit did with her words and her sharp eyes on him.
“I’m not. I’m- I’m big and bulky and-“
“And very, very pretty.”
He looked away, had to duck his head and only just resisted the urge to bury his face against his knees.
She let him wallow for maybe a minute and a half.
“So. Is this you telling me you want to be my pretty boy? I’ve got to run some intel by Hill this afternoon but tonight I can find a place for us to… explore that.”
Clint coughed, choked on his own damn spit, and frantically shook his head in the negative.
He felt ridiculous enough having even said the words in the first place. The very idea of…. of indulging in it, in this thing- it was enough to have the damn soles of his feet burning in shame. But for Natasha? Tiny, deadly, gorgeous Natasha to…. to ever call him- to treat him- like that? No. No. He couldn’t.
Humiliation didn’t do it for him. Never had, probably never really would and she knew that. Shared that distinct lack of attraction to it that he did.
She got to her feet and he had to look up, had to see if she was upset or disgusted or-
But Natasha just smiled down at him.
“Clear your schedule for tomorrow. And go ahead and shave and wax….” she made a sweeping gesture that encompassed his whole body.
“Because,” she leaned down and took his chin in hand, short nails digging into his skin as she pulled him up onto his knees and pressed a hard kiss to his lips, “I know exactly who you can be a princess for.”
She let him go and maybe it was that lack of balance and not her words that had Clint sprawling back.
Natasha sauntered across the gym towards a hulking probie agent who, two weeks ago, had tried to flirt with her. She asked him to spar and of course the idiot grinned wide and lecherous and Clint was still too stunned to even enjoy watching her kick his ass for the next twenty minutes.
NattyLt: 11:45 @ le crocodile contact is James
The text message woke Clint up just after nine-thirty the next morning.
He glared at the phone and contemplated just rolling over and going back to sleep.
NattyLt: gtf up
NattyLt: ur wlcm
Sometimes Natasha’s version of text-speak confused the hell out of Clint, but, well, context clues.
So he sighed and got out of bed.
Senior agent quarters meant he didn’t have to use a communal shower, and an unexpected ‘I’m no longer planning on having you killed’ gift from Fury two years ago of a programmable coffee pot and the foresight of last-night-Clint meant all he had to do was lift the full pot off the burner and take a few scalding gulps on his way into the head to get his first caffeine fix of the day.
He took a quick shower - he’d had a long one last night, meticulously shaving… everything, except for the sparse blond hairs on his forearms. It wasn’t the first time he’d done a full body shave - certainly not the first at Natasha’s request/command either, but he still managed to distract himself with the feel of his own smooth skin as he soaped up.
And, well, one thing led to another and Clint went ahead and jerked off, because it was just something he did most mornings and because his skin was so damn smooth and the sight of his own dick without any surrounding hair was… damn distracting.
He spent so much of his time - his life, his work - feeling pain or guilt and or anger or fear, that those times when he could feel good, when he could experience pleasure, he rarely denied himself. Morning jerk off sessions in the shower were just basic self care, really. And more often than not, the best he felt all day.
Clint didn’t bother to freshen up the shave on his face. He could feel the soft, still nearly invisible hairs of his scruff against his jaw, but it was smooth enough and besides, he was never entirely comfortable completely clean shaven, always needed a day or three’s growth of facial hair to feel settled in his own skin.
He went ahead and downed a few more gulps of coffee before he brushed his teeth, and while he did so he looked up the location Natasha was sending him off to.
Unless she was really in the mood to fuck with him, it was probably the restaurant at the Wythe Hotel in Brookklyn. Which… was not a place Clint could stroll into for - what? Lunch? Brunch? - in his S.H.I.E.L.D. sweats or any of the jeans and t-shirt combos he kept on hand. Even his leather jacket looked too battered for the place.
Which meant Clint went down to requisitions and flirted Max, currently on duty and thankfully not one to hold a grudge after he and Clint had fucked three months ago and Clint had snuck out while the other man was still asleep, into giving Clint a pair of chinos (fucking chinos ), a blue dress shirt and a pair of brown Chelsea boots and matching belt.
“Damn,” Max commented, not bothering to pretend he wasn’t checking Clint out while Clint dropped trou and changed right there in his office.
Clint smirked at him.
“I clean up okay, huh?”
Max snorted and Clint felt his shoulders tense and -
“Dunno if you clean up okay or dirty up okay but yeah, Barton, you’ll do. But I was referring to how big your dick looks bare like that.”
“Oh. Uh. Thanks.”
Clint was the kind of disaster who always anticipated the worst, and when someone happened to say something decent, or, fuck forbid, nice to him, he immediately felt like a fraud who should apologize and explain all the ways in which he was actually not at all worth a compliment.
Natasha had started punching him in the dick when she found out he’d said something self-deprecating, though, so Clint managed to refrain. Because he did have a slim streak of self-preservation.
Clint looked at himself in the mirror Max had against one wall of his office and fiddled with the collar of the shirt. He slipped the top two buttons out, felt stupid, and buttoned them back up.
Max snorted a laugh.
“Roll up your sleeves at least. You look like a serial killer.”
Clint glared at him, but did as instructed and… yeah. The rolled up sleeves were a good compromise.
“Thanks, Max. I owe you at least a hand job or something for this. You going to Cheryl’s retirement party next week?”
Max snorted again and shrugged.
“If you’re gonna be there and there’s a chance to hook up and free drinks? Probably.”
Clint grinned, shot him dual finger guns, and grabbed his abandoned clothes.
A quick trip back to his room to ditch the clothes, pick up a spare burner phone, his wallet and a knife for his boot and Clint was on his way to Brooklyn.
He was five minutes early, because Clint was a professional .
And because he was freaking the fuck out.
He’d done a damn good job of just… not thinking about it, this, anything, this thing , all morning.
Now he was being shown to the table reserved for ‘James and guest’ by a host and Clint had no idea what the fuck he was doing and why the fuck had this seemed like a good idea?
But James was already at the table, was already looking up at Clint and smirking and if Clint tried to rabbit now, Natasha would probably cut off his balls. Or email the active agent list the video of Clint singing karaoke in Madripoor four years ago.
James was rising from his chair, broad shouldered and narrow hipped and looking like a model in his black turtleneck sweater and gray trousers and those thighs and -
“Hi,” James said, smirk turning into a smile that flashed even white teeth and a single dimple, crinkles at the corners of his silver-blue eyes and -
“Hi,” Clint echoed dumbly.
James held out his right hand and Clint lifted his own. James’s hand was warm, his skin soft but calloused, his grip firm without feeling like he was making it a statement.
Clint felt like his own hand had to be as awkward as the rest of him, felt like he was just stupidly flopping his arm and wondered if maybe it wouldn’t matter, having that video emailed out - who amongst the active agents hadn’t sang ‘Like a Virgin’ in a platinum wig and pink sequined dress?
The host cleared her throat.
“Marissa will be your server today. Please, enjoy your meal and let us know if we can assist with anything else.”
The host vanished, bolted probably, because Clint was still clinging to James’s hand and staring at his chiseled features - how was that jawline for real? - and his dark hair, long enough on top to have a bit of volume in the style he’d used, making him look like some kind of old school Hollywood movie star.
And Clint really was easy, really didn’t have a type outside of into him and handsy, but this guy…
“Please, sit with me.” James made it sound like both an invitation and an order and Clint found himself finally letting the other man go and moving to obey without thought.
It was only when he was sat across from James that he realized that tone, that way of phrasing, was classic Natasha.
“So, you’re a friend of…”
“Natalia?” James supplied, smile slipping back into a smirk.
Clint let out a breath and relaxed slightly. That didn’t tell him much, but it told him that James was more than passingly familiar with Natasha.
“Yeah,” Clint shrugged.
“Yes. I’ve known her ever since we studied ballet together at the Vaganova Academy.”
Clint knew Natasha had studied ballet, knew that the Red Room had put her into the Academy both for the actual training but also for her to craft one of her first long term cover identities. Clint knew about it, and Phil knew about it, and Maria and Fury did. Maria and Fury because they had the clearance and Phil because he’d been the one to debrief Natasha when she defected. Clint only knew about it because after three shared bottles of Vodka even Natasha opened up about her past and would agree to stupid dares like dancing a solo she had learned nearly two decades ago.
“So you’re… Russian?” Clint asked. Not that James had said a lot, but what he had said had been in nearly accentless English, with just the slightest emphasis on vowels that made Clint think James was a Brooklyn native.
“Nope,” James said with another smirk, further cementing Clint’s original guess. “My ma worked in St. Petersburg for a decade or so, when I was a kid. We moved back here before she gave birth to my kid sister. But Natalia and I studied together for three years, before I left.”
Clint nodded, still trying to piece together a profile for this guy.
“So you’re a, uh, a ballerina?”
Another smirk - maybe it was the guy’s default expression. The endearing eye crinkles seemed to suggest it.
“Danseur, or ballerino. But no. I went to Julliard but…I was good, but not the best” he shrugged. “There are other fields more flexible and more lucrative that that of a professional dancer stuck in the chorus.”
Natasha, who could go weeks without saying a word to anyone without it feeling weird, was friends with this guy? Who had just told Clint more about his life in the last five minutes than Clint had… ever told anyone except for Natasha or Phil?
It both made sense and was impossible to picture.
James didn’t answer right away, gaze flicking past Clint towards a server approaching their table.
He looked back at Clint, and the smirk was at last gone. Instead, he looked serious and his gaze was very intense.
“Shall I order for us?”
Again, invitation and order both.
And usually… usually if it wasn’t Phil or Natasha or Hill or Fury, someone could give Clint an order and nine times out of ten his immediate instinct was to tell them to fuck off. But this guy…
“Yeah. Sounds good,” Clint said.
A smile, not a smirk, and the expression was warm and… something Clint couldn’t quite name. Something that made him feel warm and a little squirmy inside.
James ordered two glasses of something French, and then a string of plates that Clint sort-of recognized from the menu on the table in front of him that he hadn’t even looked at until just now. Most of it was in French, and James’s accent was… vaguely German? It made Clint smirk, and after the server collected their menus, James arched an eyebrow at his expression.
“Where’d you learn French? Berlin?”
James rolled his eyes.
“Now you sound like Natalia. Not all of us spent three years in Paris perfecting our accent, you know. Some of us had to settle for public school French taught by the same instructor for German and Spanish.”
“Oh fuck, that Spanish must sound awful ,” Clint couldn’t help but say, a little gleeful just imagining it.
James didn’t disappoint - he told Clint he looked even better than Natasha had said he would. And while the accent did make Clint want to laugh, the words themselves made him blush and look down.
“She said you blushed prettier than anyone she’s ever met, too,” James added - this time in flawless Russian.
Clint really… didn’t know what to do with that. So he just sat there and blushed and then rubbed his right thumb over the BTE over that ear. It was a tell, a dumb one and one he’d done his level best to train himself out of but…
He never knew what to do with them.
James’s eyes followed the movement, had to see the bright purple aids now even if he had somehow missed them before.
But he didn’t comment.
“She, uh, didn’t tell me anything about you except for your name,” Clint said, trying to push past the moment.
“That’s fine. We can go into more details and expectations later, in private. This is simply to ease into things. And to give me the opportunity to show off what a pretty boy I have.”
Oh fuck Natasha .
Clint was positive whatever his face was doing now could in no way be considered a ‘pretty’ blush.
Had she just… set Clint up with this guy and told him to call Clint pretty as much as possible? Was that what she’d had him clear his day for? A date with some hot not-ballerina?
There were definitely worse ways to spend one of his rare days off, but… but Clint really didn’t know how to handle this.
The server brought out their drinks - some kind of sparkling wine that was a golden-peach color and tasted surprisingly good.
“So, you work with Natalia at the UN?” James asked.
“Yeah,” Clint latched onto the familiar cover - one they’d come up with together, five years go now, just for fun when they’d gone to a Manhattan bar and picked up a trio of investment bankers for some laughably vanilla group sex. “We met at the Sorbonne, though - graduate school.”
“So that explains your snobbery over my accent.”
James rolled his eyes at him.
“You speak what - at least four languages fluently?”
“Five. Although my Italian does not have a German accent.” James said the last in Italian, proving that indeed, he did not speak it with a German accent. Instead, he sounded… almost French. It made Clint smile again.
“Right. So - nothing to be ashamed of.” There were senior field agents and analysts at S.H.I.E.L.D. who didn’t have that kind of language proficiency.
“Oh, there’s not much I’m ashamed of,” James replied with another of his smirks.
The look in his eyes had Clint blushing all over again.
Their food, when it arrived, was a half dozen small plates of food that looked too pretty to taste good.
But, it turned out, it tasted amazing.
Between the two of them, they polished off everything before them and, after James stared at Clint for so long he might have been trying to memorize him, the other man ordered a creme brulee and a chocolate hazelnut tart for them to share as dessert. He also ordered coffees for the both of them. After three glasses of the sparkling wine, the coffee was very welcome.
Clint had never been much for drinking. Childhood trauma aside, he rarely felt in the right headspace to not be in total control of himself. But one glass had easily and without any regret turned into three while they shared the meal.
He wasn’t more than lightly buzzed, and the coffee did a lot to settle him pleasantly back to earth.
When their check came, James insisting on paying the entirety of it.
“Natalia would never forgive me otherwise,” he said, effectively ended the argument Clint had been waging to at least pay half.
After, they walked out of the restaurant and Clint found himself lingering, not wanting to end this… date? So soon.
But then James put a hand low on Clint’s back, fingers spreading wide and possessive, and steered him towards the elevators in the hotel lobby.
Clint arched an eyebrow at him.
“We could take the stairs,” James said, misinterpreting Clint’s questioning expression, “but we’re booked into the eighth floor loft, and I don’t think either of us skips leg day enough to need to work off those desserts with that many steps.”
Clint came to a stop at those words, trying to process them into something that made any kind of sense.
“We have a hotel room?”
James arched an eyebrow at him.
“I don’t take clients back to my apartment and Natalia said you wouldn’t be comfortable doing this at yours.”
“Client? Doing - what are we doing, exactly?”
“I suppose that… technically, Natalia is my client since she is paying for this, but as for what are we doing, Clint. I’m going to take you upstairs and spend the rest of the day and all of tonight continuing to treat you like the pretty boy,” James stepped closer, chest to chest with Clint and even though he was a few inches shorter, it didn’t feel like it, especially not when he leaned to put his lips against the side of Clint’s jaw on his left side, the side with almost perfect hearing, “and, if you are very good for me, pretty boy, I’ll treat you like my very pretty princess.”