Title: "Seven Devils" (Avengers fanfic, posted under the pseudonym "Shadows of a Dream")
Author: Laura Genn
Heat Level: Steamy
This takes place a long time before the events of the Avengers and surrounding films, back when Clint Barton (Hawkeye) was supposed to have killed Natasha (Black Widow,) but instead, he saved her and initiated her into S.H.I.E.L.D. But his very personal attempts to integrate her into a better life are not without consequence. It isn't long before he starts developing feelings for her - but Natasha has only ever used her beauty to manipulate (and likely kill) men, and she has no idea what to do.
"'Tasha," Clint breathes, his breath hot against her throat. His hand is on her cheek, his thumb brushing a stray tear away.
It's been a year since Budapest, and she still wakes up screaming.
"It's okay," he says, tracing the curve of her cheekbone. Everywhere he touches her is fire. "I'm here now. It's okay."
"Clint." It's becoming difficult to breathe.
His hand moves up, into her hair, and she can't bring herself to react because anyone else would have seen this coming.
How long has it been it like this? How long has he been perceiving every fleeting glance, every short laugh, every smile, as something so much more? How long has he, when she woke up screaming and went to him (because who else would care?), held her in his arms and wished it wasn't only because she was broken?
Clint holds her safely against him. She can feel his heartbeat against her cheek, quick and stumbling. "I'm here," he says.
Her breath hitches. "Clint —"
"It's over," he says into her hair. "It's over."
"Clint." She digs her nails into her palms.
He looks at her, his gaze steady, his fingers still entwined with her hair. "What?"
She's trembling. "I'm not a good woman," she says, the words spilling out before she can think them through. "I'm not a good person."
But Clint says, "I disagree," (because of course he does,) and when he leans in to kiss her, she doesn't pull away. Instead, she kisses him back — slowly at first, but then fiercely, her hands behind his neck, her lips tugging at his, teasing, drawing him in — because she is the Black Widow, and she knows how to manipulate a man, and she has felt so desperately alone since joining S.H.I.E.L.D. And despite what Clint Barton might believe, she is not a good person.
The Hawk tastes like salt and smoke, like Budapest.
She'll be sorry, but not tonight.
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