Title: Courage
Author: angel1972
Feedback address: angelaumbrello@yahoo.com
Date in Calendar: 25 December 2015
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe
Pairing: Natasha/Peggy
Characters: Clint Barton, Natasha Romanov, Peggy Carter
Rating: PG for swearing.
Word Count: 1212
Summary: It takes a great deal of courage and fortitude to open oneself to the possibility of loving another person with all one's heart and soul: or Clint is a wise asshole, and Natasha and Peggy finally get their shit together.
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Author's Disclaimer: The following characters are the property of Marvel and are being used without their express permission for entertainment purposes only. No infringement is intended and no profit is being made.

Note: Warning, I do not have a beta reader. I did go through this with a fine-toothed, but I'm certain I missed something.

Do one thing every day that scares you."
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

"Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart."
~ Confucius

Perched on the opposite armrest, Clint was giving her his best shit-eating grin. Peggy would have loved to reach across the sofa and smack it off his face, but fortunately for him, her arm did not reach that far. And she really didn't have the heart to wake Natasha who had somehow come to the conclusion that the brunette's lap made for an excellent pillow.

In the end, all Peggy could do was stare daggers at the archer.

'You do know that this means she likes you.'

The Brit arched an eyebrow. 'The sleeping on my lap, or the drooling?'

'Both,' he said. 'When we were first partnered, she once stayed up for 4 days straight. She refused to fall asleep in front of me.'

'Four days? What did she think you were going to do? Slit her throat?'

Clint shrugged a shoulder. 'Probably. >From what I know of the Black Widow program, trust amongst the girls was not something that was fostered. And she once told me that staying up all night had saved her life more than once.'

Peggy closed her eyes for a brief moment, and sighed ruefully. She didn't know much about the Black Widow program either, but the more she found out about it, the more her ire was raised, and the more grateful she was that Natasha had somehow escaped to become her own woman.

To the side Clint chuckled causing the brunette to turn sharply at him. 'What?'

'Nothing,' he said. But the shit-eating grin was back as he watched the two woman. It simply amazed him how these two brave and scary woman could take down hordes of HYDRA agents, Doom-bots and other assortment of villainy, but put them together in the same room, and it was like two teens with their first crush.

Which in a sense may or may not be the case.

'Barton . . .' Peggy warned.

'I was just thinking you two look good together.'

'Don't be ridiculous,' Peggy said with a huff.

Clint rolled his eyes, and slid from perch so that he was standing at his full height. 'And you need to stop being stubborn. The both of you. This isn't the 1940's or Russia, you're free to love whomever you want.'

It's not that easy, Peggy wanted to say to his retreating back, you can't take a lifetime of denial and shove it in a hole.

(Or can you?)

But in the end she bit her tongue and kept her silence. He was right, as much as it pained her to admit it. She was free, they were both free, all they had to do was take a chance, open their mouths and say the words that would change everything forever.

The brunette sighed deeply. Easier said than done, she thought as she stared down at the sleeping redhead. Damn her heart, and her body, and her mind for wanting this. For falling in love with another woman when it would have been so much easier to have stayed in love with Steve.

With a small rueful smile, Peggy reached a hand out and stroked Natasha's cheek before carding it through her curly red hair. Unlike the rest of her, which was corded muscles, and hard lines, Natasha's hair and skin were soft as down.

The brunette wasn't trying to wake the smaller woman, but Peggy couldn't resist indulging in a few moments of indulgence. After all it wasn't everyday that they had these quiet moments, it all ways seemed as if as soon as one crisis ended another one begins.

Peggy may as well take advantage of it.

Natasha's eyes fluttered open, and for a brief moment the look in them were unguarded, and completely open as she studied the brunette's face. It was every emotion that Peggy had ever felt reflected back her, it was love and fear and uncertainty, but there was also a wavering determination.

'Tough day at the office?' Peggy asked by way of breaking the tension.

Natasha nodded as she got into a sitting position. 'I'm sorry. I should have just went to my own room. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable.'

'You didn't,' Peggy said to the back of the Russian's head. 'Though I admit, I could have done without the drool.'

Natasha's pinkened in embarrassment, and she once again muttered an apology before an awkward silence fell upon them.

Both women, so brave when it came to art of war and espionage, could only stare off into distance as their stomachs twisted and turned with anxiety, and their brains berated them for their cowardice.

'I should go,' the redhead finally said.

'No,' Peggy said a little too quickly, a surprise burst of courage erupted in her chest. She looped her arm around the redhead's midsection and pulled Natasha onto her lap. 'What's a little drool amongst friends?'

'Friends, huh?'

'Yes, friends all ways.'

Natasha nodded her head, and then plunged forward with her own courage. 'I heard what Clint said. He's right, as much as it pains me to admit it. You're . . . you're something else Peg. I really like you, and maybe I'm speaking out of turn, maybe I'm about to make the biggest fool out of myself, maybe I'm about to ruin a perfectly wonderful friendship, but I'm tired of being a coward. I want to take you out somewhere and have a nice dinner. I want to go dancing with you, maybe see a movie or ten. But most importantly, I want to take you home, kiss you goodnight before I take you to my room and make love to you. And I don't care what anyone says. I don't care what anybody thinks.'

Stunned silent, all Peggy could do was stare at the redhead as her brain and heart tried to catch up with Natasha's words.

'Natasha, I . . . I . . . '

'It's okay, I understand,' Natasha, her face red with embarrassment, tried to get up so she could leave with a little of her dignity still in tact. But instead of one arm pulling her back, two arms encircled and pulled her back down onto Peggy's lap. Her head landed on the brunette's chest with a small thump, and she could hear the older woman's heart beating wildly in her chest.

'I'm tired of being a coward too.'

'So what are you going to do about it?'

Peggy's didn't answer verbally. She lifted the redhead's head from her chest and proceeded to kiss the younger woman gently on the forehead, then her cheeks, and then finally her lips. Natasha quickly deepened it, and before they knew they were sloppily making out like a couple of teenagers at the drive-in.

After a good five minutes the two pulled apart. They were breathless, their cheeks were a bright red, and their eyes were completely dilated.

'My room?' Natasha asked, and Peggy couldn't help but note her voice was slightly more husky, more sensual than usual.

The brunette merely nodded, and the two woman hurriedly made their way to Natasha's room not caring who they passed, and certainly not caring when Steve turned to Tony with his hand out.

'I won the pool. Pay up Tony.'

-The end-