Title: In Other Words, Thursday
A Gift For: shanynde
Warnings: Assassination, a bit of smut
Pairings: Clint Barton/Natasha Romanov
Summary: Assassination, extraction, and morning-after breakfast. It's their version of domestic.
A/N: Author's Notes at the end. Many thanks to my betas fabularasa and cluegirl!
Read at AO3 or on the be_compromised comm, or here:
Natasha let the corpse--all hundred-and-twenty pelmeni-stuffed kilos of him--collapse to the carpet. "You think this would get old eventually," she sighed, unwinding her deceptive lacework of a necklace from Drasilovich's throat.
Standing well away, Clint grunted, sliding the unused cartridge out of the pistol and eyeing it, then slapping it back into place. He still looked immaculate, shirtfront so white and unstained it nearly glared, suit without even a wrinkle. Even his necktie looked crisp. "Maybe it'll be old in fifty years. You let me know."
She pocketed the bloody bit of jewelry. Against the black of her dress any smears wouldn't show, and the diamonds were small enough not to disrupt its figure-hugging lines. "In fifty years--" she stepped back, checking the soles of her shoes for any stains--"I doubt I'll be distracting Euroslav crimelords with a flash of thigh."
"If you won't, I plan to." Clint's mouth twitched in a hint of a smile. "Damn fine thigh, at that; you wait and see." He crossed through the suite's living room, soundless in his polished-to-a-mirror-gloss dress shoes as he approached the outer door. Not holstering the automatic just yet, he checked the peephole. "Ready?"
"Just a minute." Filching Drasilovich's handkerchief from the dead man's breast pocket, she wiped her hands clean.
Clint glanced back. "Do not make me the 'move move move' guy in this mission, Natasha; I hate that. We've only got a few minutes before they realize he didn't take you to his suite."
"And you defended my virtue so well. Good thing you were waiting here." She tucked the soiled handkerchief away into her tiny evening bag. "How's my lipstick?"
"Ravishing," Clint said, not even looking. "You're not going to ask about your hair?"
She ran her hands over it, fluffed it off the sweaty nape of her neck."Drasilovich had his hands all over it before he even got me in the elevator. It won't matter."
She went first; the hotel hallway was still empty and Clint shoved away the automatic. He paused a moment at the stairwell door as they went by it, but she gave him a small head shake no. The plan was to brazen it out through the party crowd, so the elevator it was. Even if the stairs did give them the option to retreat to the roof--Clint in particular still got an itchy back when he chose an exit that limited his escape routes, she knew--the stairs' exit door on the mezzanine floor twelve stories below them was only a few feet from the elevator bank, right in plain view. No lady would be taking stairs, in stilettos no less.
So far it was as routine as death ever got.
Clint picked a bit of hair off her cheek, smoothing it back into place. "You look gorgeous as always. Can I mess with you on the elevator, then?"
"Be good," she said as the doors slid open and they stepped in.
"Always." She was prepared for a full-on grope, but Clint only leaned close and brushed his lips over her cheek. "Still think we could have gone for the roof," he murmured.
"But then I'd lose my girly little handbag. Not to mention these shoes," she whispered back. "Behave." She didn't return the kiss. He could stand to work a little harder to earn that.
As the descending elevator approached the mezzanine floor, the noise was flooding the car even before the doors opened. The party crowd had turned even more boisterous; a larger proportion of men to women, a small percentage of whom could actually be called "upright citizens." Drasilovich had to keep a few of those in his address book for show. They'd be the only ones foolish enough to linger and get themselves detained if his body was discovered tonight.
The noise of the party was cover for anything else that they wanted to murmur, but their exit strategy was simple: make their way to the curving staircase and down, leaving the Regency hotel through the lobby in full view of anyone who cared to watch. Clint gave a brusque shake of the head to a server who approached them offering a tray loaded with champagne flutes. As the server moved off, Natasha let her fingers drift to the inside of Clint's arm, her heels sinking into the Regency's thick carpeting as they squeezed their way through couples and groups; Natasha recognized more than one face from SHIELD's files--not to mention from the restroom lounges of previous society parties they'd graced, plus a few online "Who's trending" slideshows, those same faces newly Botoxed beyond all human expression.
The man heading their way was all smiles, though. He'd already had his introduction; there was no avoiding him.
"Sophia, my dear, you're not leaving yet, are you? You can't disappoint me." It was Yevleny, Drasilovich's oldest son, looking his most charming in his gunmetal grey suit and not at all as though he was being groomed to head the second-largest terrorist cell in Koslovia. Any twinge of pity was beyond Natasha, as she expected it was beyond Clint as well. Yevleny was lucky that SHIELD had plans involving him which didn't require his immediate execution, not yet.
She gave him a little upquirk of her lips that no one would really call a smile, as though the light was too much for her. "Forgive me. I have a dreadful headache coming on. Richard is escorting me back to my hotel."
Yevleny barely acknowledged Clint. "I'm so very sorry," he said, as agreeable and useless as some outsourced customer service agent. She could almost feel the headache manifesting for real. "Why go all the way back to your hotel in such a state? Mr. Wabash doesn't have to go to such trouble." Yevleny reached towards Natasha's hand, though he didn't quite take it. "The Regency has beautiful suites with equally beautiful views. I will happily vacate mine for the privilege of letting such a lovely lady rest there."
Clint didn't even twitch. Natasha only shook her head at Yevleny with that same little not-smile; if they'd been made because of what happened upstairs, it wouldn't be Yevleny here intercepting them, not with his father lying four minutes dead and not yet cold.
She knew it would be easy for him to catch her in the repetitive little social dance of no, I couldn't possibly impose and oh but I insist, so she kept her answer brief and her tone terse. "Thank you, no. You're a gentleman to offer."
"Let me offer you my vehicle," Yevleny said, smoothly moving to his next gallant tactic. Natasha still thought it was only gallantry and the sleek fit of her dress motivating Yevleny, not anything more suspicious.
"I have a car." It wasn't quite a growl from Clint, but it said back off from my girl, fuckhead as politely as you could say it. Not quite requiring the other man to answer you with his fists.
"I did promise Richard," Natasha said to Yevleny in apology. She turned away delicately, giving him a view of the plunging backline of her dress and the expanse of creamy skin on display to compensate his disappointment.
They had reached the descending staircase, but Yevleny wasn't quite finished. Intercepting her attempt to step down, he caught Natasha's hand and put it to his lips. "Another time, then, you must promise me, Sophia." His brow compressed in the beginnings of a frown as his eyes shifted to her throat. "Did something happen to those lovely diamonds?"
She didn't answer. Beyond him and below, Natasha already saw the pattern of movement in the crowd. She counted seven--no, eight of Drasilovich's men pushing their way through the thick of the guests on the ground floor below. She could tell, as she was sure Clint could too, on what side each of them was packing.
Good thing she didn't really care about these shoes.
She felt Clint pause next to her and braced herself. Yevleny and Natasha stood just in front of him, inches apart; she could practically hear the decision gears click in Clint's brain. Eight armed men, whose first duty was to make sure their boss and his family didn't come to harm, should have made for an easy equation. Add a crush of two hundred bystanders--some of them actually bordering on innocent--between said bodyguards and their target, though, and the equation fell apart.
Clint struck; Natasha's squeak of surprise was as loud and high-pitched as she could make it and still have it count as a squeak rather than a screech. Rather than lay hands on Yevleny, Clint had seized her instead, his arm coiling about her neck like a cobra, hand braced on her shoulder and the crook of his elbow making a comfortable notch for her throat to nestle. Natasha, who had let the little evening bag fall first thing, obligingly brought her hands up to grip his arm, setting her biceps to take her weight. The metal of Clint's automatic was a refreshing point of cool contact against her temple.
The squeak already had the attention of half the guests upon the stairs; Clint's bark of, "Back off!" did a decent job of getting the other half of them. Feminine screams echoed from below and from the mezzanine; champagne goblets fell from startled fingers and soaked the Regency's carpeting, and a good number more than eight hands shoved into jacket breasts...but fewer guns than that emerged, still fewer aimed, and none at all fired. A man with a gun to the head of another man, particularly when that man was Yevleny Drasilovich--that was a scuffle just begging eight enforcers to start the hail of bullets. But a squeaking petite redhead with a gun to her temple, wiggling helplessly in the grip of some growling thug of a man, well, that was better than Kevlar.
To her right, Yevleny's expression was priceless; she wished they had time to enjoy it as Clint dragged her backwards in the direction they'd come. She toed the shoes off, hoping some lucky size seven in the crowd would pounce and go home with a killer new set of Ferragamos.
Clint had twisted about just enough to see that no one was trying to block their way; Natasha could see the guests on the mezzanine all but flying out of their path, the ladies scrabbling like crabs in their heels, the men instinctively covering their retreat. If the crowd had had a few less women in it this might not have worked, but it was just the right mix to spark a protective impulse in the male guests not actually a part of Drasilovich's cadre. Behind them, Yevleny was just starting to sputter. "Wh--no! He's not--" Bypassing the elevator bank, Clint banged the stairwell door open with his shoulder and dragged Natasha after him; Natasha kicked off the carpet as she went, allowing a quick panty flash at any would-be sharpshooters for good measure.
The door slammed; Clint had already dropped her and shoved the automatic into her hand. "Roof," was all he said as he leapt up the first flight three steps at a time; it saved his breath but still sounded like Told you so. She saved her own breath as well, sparing him any comeback as she went two at a time, lacking her shoes but plus the gun, and also plus rear guard duty.
No sounds of pursuit came from below until they were high in the stairwell, and no one came from above to challenge them. Natasha knew better than to discredit Drasilovich's counterattack plans; she and Clint were just that fast. Still, if his security had thought to have someone stationed on higher floors that would have shown a level of planning that might have meant Drasilovich's empire wouldn't be crumbling down along with him now, would it?
The roof was deserted, with only the dull washing pinpoints of safety lights to guide them. Clint didn't need light to find and remove the package hooked just over the door, the slender canvas duffel the same dull grey as the cement.
"Phil Coulson delivered, Clint Barton approved," Natasha murmured. "Hello, baby, Daddy missed you," she added as Clint unslung the bow and quiver from the duffel.
"Don't call her baby. Lola doesn't like it," Clint said, already drawing out the grappling arrow and checking the line. "Northwest corner."
She was already ahead of him, leaping lightly onto the corniced edge. "You don't name your bows," she scoffed.
"Never name anything you're gonna abandon." He set his stance and drew, sighting over the building's roof to the top of the Hotel Schturenplatz across the street, six floors shorter than the Regency and with even fewer safety lights on its roof. Natasha kept her eyes on the target roof as the bowstring buzzed and the tethered arrow flew, disappearing into the murky distance. There was a metal chnk.
Clint had already shouldered his bow, was threading the trailing end of the line taut through an O-ring on the rooftop's generator. "That's going to hold?" Natasha asked, still trying to see exactly what the grapple had caught on the distant roof.
"That one will. Not as sure as I'd like to be about this piece of crap." Clint gave the O-ring another tug. She detected a rattle. "Damn."
"There should be a second grapple in that bag. Coulson always--"
Clint let go of the O-ring and shook his head. "Take too much time. You're going first."
"Don't make me throw you. I'll do it and you'll black my eye for it and then I won't be able to get a date for the prom. Get, Natasha."
"Yes, boss." She hadn't been planning to argue, exactly, but their schedule was a bit tight, so. She grabbed the first carabiner from the duffle, snapped it to the line. "You want the pistol?"
"Keep it. They just might be smart enough to have set a trap on the Schturenplatz."
She made a scoffing noise, but checked the safety and tucked the automatic between her breasts. Wrapping the carabiner's straps about her palms, she added, "Buy me a drink in the Schturenplatz lounge?"
"Two Shirley Temples with extra cherries coming right up." He wrapped his fists around the knot and gave her a nod.
She pushed off, knees drawn up in a crouch as she began her descent down the line, then unfolded herself to touch down right at the edge of the Schturenplatz's roof. Protocol required her to check the grapple before the second person came across. But this was Clint's arrow and even Coulson would tell protocol to kiss his ass for that; if Clint said it was secure, it was secure. She stayed right where she was as she got her hands free, turning and steadying the line with one hand, bracing herself against the ledge.
On the roof of the Regency, Clint was already locking the second carabiner about the line. She saw a ribbon-like flutter of black as he slipped off the edge; he had the straps in his hands but hadn't wrapped them. In case he--
She felt rather than heard the O-ring give, spilling the line off the Regency's roof. Her hand came off the line as she lunged; Clint was almost within range but his momentum was going to swing him low, too low for her to reach. He wasn't reaching for her hand, anyway, the blockhead, tangling his fingers in the line, twisting so that when he hit the side of the building he took the impact with his shoulder and the quiver. She could hear the grunt, swore she could smell the break of pain-sweat over him even as she hooked one ankle about the line and flung herself over the edge. The cement corner bit into her thigh; her arms strained to reach. Clint's fingers slid two inches down the line and she didn't wait to see if he was getting his grip or losing it. Damn his short hair; not long enough for her to get a hold. She fumbled at his collar, caught--
--not the cloth, but the fine chain underneath; she almost dropped it, realizing it was either going to break or strangle him if she yanked, but she jerked the chain forward, willing it to catch on the hard edge of Clint's jaw before it broke, holding him within reach just long enough for her to--
--get his collar in her grip, yes, as Clint's hands tightened on the line, his feet catching a foothold, and then he was scrabbling, climbing up the line, catching her waist in one arm as he went over the ledge. They tumbled to the roof's gravel in a ungainly tangle, breathing hard.
Clint's face was cushioned against a part of her anatomy in a way that she had to admit was pleasant, but there wasn't time to enjoy it. "My backside is not a pillow. Up."
"No, but it's the best part of any mission." Clint boosted himself up, rubbing one hand under his chin, reaching the other towards her to help her up--not that she needed it, but that was Clint for you. Unshouldering both bow and quiver as she rose, he brushed gravel dust off his suit.
She made a scornful noise. "I can't believe you're insulting my breasts like that. Give me your jacket."
Clint shrugged out of it instantly. "Tear your dress trying to keep me from falling to my death?"
"No, but this way they'll take me for your date who just took her shoes off at the dance club because her feet hurt." She set the jacket over her shoulders. Then she reached up and tucked the dangling chain--which had managed not to break--of the dog tags back down Clint's shirt. "Your good-luck piece. How touching."
"Good-luck piece, nothing. Part of the cover. As if Richard Wabash wouldn't be ex-military."
"Well, my good-luck piece, then. Here, take the pistol."
"A sec." He bent to haul in the line. The O-ring still dangled from the end as it slipped over the roof's edge. "Next time we see if SHIELD can engineer us some Elvish rope, what do you say?"
"Next time you take the twenty seconds to set the second grapple, asshole."
Clint chuckled in the way that was as close as he'd come to agreement. "You're still mad about losing your purse, aren't you."
She stepped in, reached up and ran a finger over the mark the chain had left beneath his chin. "It's all right. I caught something better." Tugging at his no-longer-so-crisp necktie she pulled his mouth down to hers. She kissed him wetly, biting at his bottom lip, tracing the bite with her tongue. His hands rose to rest on her shoulders, not too heavily, as if he knew she'd pull away if he tried to clutch. He wasn't so distant with his own mouth, though.
He still hadn't done enough to earn the kiss, but she'd let that by.
When she pulled away, still holding onto his necktie, she said, "I don't like being the 'move move move' guy either."
"Roger that. I still owe you that Shirley Temple, anyway."
Natasha gave a small wave to the discarded bow and quiver as they turned and headed for the stairwell door. "Bye, Lola."
"She's not Lola," Clint snorted. "I told you I don't name things I abandon."
"So Lola is...?"
Clint slipped the plastic stay from the latch mechanism as he pulled the door open. "Coulson's dog."
"Coulson does not have a dog."
"You're just jealous because I have higher clearance than you so I know that."
In the security of the safe house, Natasha cleaned and stowed the necklace before shedding her dress and tossing it into the incinerator. She didn't bother to throw anything on as she moved to the bedroom.
She took in Clint sprawled on the bed, and what he wasn't wearing. "Looks like you win the race to undress," she admitted.
"I didn't want either one of us to have to be the 'move move move' guy any more tonight," he said, sitting up. "You hurt anywhere?"
She shook her head. "No. How's your chin?"
He held out his hands. "Kiss it better."
"You're shameless." She moved forward.
"One of us ought to be." He gathered her in as she knelt on the bed, hands moving to wrap about her waist as he kissed her, pushed her down. She let him, pulling him on top of her, tangling her own hands in his hair as he tugged the scrap of lace down her hips. There was no prelude; she was wet and he was hard in an instant, thrusting inside her as effortlessly as a weapon, and she drew him in and held him there and felt his fingers pressing against her back and she arched against him, pushing her breasts up to his mouth. Neither of them tried to prolong it, and when it broke over them they clung like a death grip, nearly soundless except for their breathing, humid against each other's skin.
She didn't stir as the distant sound of the front door opening turned into approaching footsteps. Neither did Clint.
They hadn't bothered to close the bedroom door. The footsteps actually crossed the threshold; Natasha smelled something baked and sugary. Coulson said, "Still hard to believe you two are the soundest sleepers of any agents I know."
"We knew it was you," she mumbled from under Clint's arm. She thought the sheet might be draped over at least part of them, but wasn't sure. Not that she particularly cared.
"In or out, Phil," Clint demanded.
Coulson huffed something that might, in a lesser man, have been a laugh. "Don't say that like it's a choice, Barton. One day I'll take you both up on it."
"I live in hope," said Clint. Natasha chuckled in a way she hoped Phil took as agreement.
Phil set the bag of pastries on the bedside table. "You've got two hours until debrief. I won't be there; I'm needed in Strelsau." He turned to go.
"Necklace is in the knife drawer downstairs," Natasha said. Then: "Say hi to Lola!"
As Clint crawled up and kissed her--it turned out to be a ploy to get to the bag of pastries first--Coulson's voice came back, "You don't have clearance high enough to know that!"
(End notes: Shanynde wanted Clintasha pre-Avengers undercover assassination-y mission with both of them being kick-ass as a team, also involving Coulson being awesome and Natasha pulling Clint close with dog tags. Hope this is what you were wanting, my dear fellow Clintasha acolyte!)
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