She knew he had been watching her the whole time she played the part of the docile and unintentionally sexy songstress in the dimly lit Parisian night club. Her objective might have been to hook and seduce the Japanese mogul who frequented the place whenever he was in Paris for ‘business’, but as far as Clint was concerned, she had definitely achieved her objective with him.
“I didn’t know it was possible for you to sound so hot singing a language I don’t even know a vowel of,” he had whispered in her ear the minute they stumbled into their hotel room together, both their cheeks flushed and their breaths short. The bait had been set - the prey would walk right into it tomorrow, but tonight, they had each other.
“There are a lot of things you don’t know I’m capable of, obviously,” she said, her impossibly full lips curving into a smirk as she very narrowly tore his V-neck into two trying to get it off of him. Clint meanwhile, had no such qualms with her pantyhose, and following that, the expensive designer dress that she had picked out specially for the mission because the target had impeccable taste.
“Oh yeah?” he asked, one hand pushing her against the wall and hitching one of her thighs up to his side while the other disappeared between her legs. “Show me.”
A sharp gasp escaped from her lips. It was a struggle to form coherent speech, but she managed to reply hoarsely, “Only if you promise to fuck me senseless.”
“Deal.” He claimed her lips in a fierce, bruising kiss.
“I am not watching—”
He unceremoniously dropped his legs across her lap from where his sat on one end of the couch and she the other. She scowled at him. He cocked an eyebrow. “You got to pick the movie last time and, I have to say, your taste is pretty terrible.”
“Metropolis isn’t a terrible movie.”
“It’s not, but the last thing I needed on my only night off before flying off to Myanmar is a movie like that, seriously.”
“I like my movies to be thoughtful and there’s nothing thoughtful about The Hangover.”
“Oh you know what? Fine!” Natasha shoved his legs away from her, got to her feet and threw one of the cushion pillows at him. “I know what we should watch.”
Clint arched an eyebrow and watched as she padded towards the DVD cabinet and picked one out. The scowl remained on his face as she marched back towards him.
“What did you pick out?”
A few seconds later, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were sitting on separate couches in the screen, looking every inch the silently murderous but immaculate couple. Clint made a face at Natasha, who put a finger to her lips and settled down in his arms, pulling a wrap over her. “Ssshhhhh. Guilty pleasure,” she murmured. He couldn’t help but smirk in amusement.
“Get away from me!” she hissed with a venom so deadly that even Clint, who was used to her silent wrath and fits of rage, had to stop in his tracks. They had just gotten off the quinjet and had headed straight for the armoury, both of them fuming and upset with both themselves and each other. The signs of battle hadn’t even completely left them yet. His hands still gripped his bow, his quiver empty, his hand trembled. She, meanwhile, removed her holsters with her usual clockwork efficiency and unstrapped the tasers attached to her gloves, throwing them without care into the designated disposal bin.
“Look, I’m sorry, okay? I didn’t—”
“This is all a mistake,” she said, her voice cracking. She didn’t face him; she couldn’t face him after what had happened.
He took a few steps towards her and half-thought to touch her hand, anything to comfort her, but she recoiled before he could even get so much as near her. If anything, it only made him angry. “You can’t blame yourself for what happened out there, Tasha—”
“Who’s to tell me what I can or cannot do?” She whipped her head around and glared at him. “I could have taken care of myself.”
“You were running straight into the line of fire, I couldn’t have let you do it alone!”
“I could have done it. You know that I could have—and now they’re dead, Clint. They’re dead. And it’s all—”
“It’s not your fault, dammit!” he practically yelled in her face. “Every war has its share of casualties.”
“Is that what they are to you? Just casualties?”
He closed his eyes and sighed. “You know what I—”
“We need to stop this.”
“Stop what? Tasha, nothing you or I can say is going to bring back that schoolbus. You know it. You’ve been there.”
She looked at him and a shudder ran through her as memories of a blazing hospital came rushing back to her, inciting a strangled gasp from her throat. She shook her head, more for herself than anyone else. “It was going to be different this time around,” she whispered.
“I know, Tasha, I know—”
“We need to stop seeing each other,” she said abruptly. “I can’t work like this if you keep, keep hounding me like that.”
He stared at her disbelievingly. “I was just trying to keep you safe.”
“But that’s the problem, isn’t it? Look at us. We’re not partners anymore. This - whatever this is between us is affecting us. If - under any normal circumstances you would have let me go and let me try. If I’d died - well, there went a good agent. At least she died doing the right thing.”
Clint realised that she was right. He pulled back from her, stood a little straighter. “So this is it. This is you calling it quits?”
He thought he saw her eyes flicker with doubt for just a moment, but she steeled her resolve and responded, “Yes.” She turned to walk away.
“I love you,” he said to her retreating back as if in a desperate, last-ditch attempt to persuade her not to let go of what they had. She made as if to look at him, but he could only catch a glimpse of the side of her face before she walked away for good, the sound of her heels against the floor beating in time to his shattered heart.