He's still an undergrad when they meet. He's out with his study group for once, in this little shithole of a so-called Irish pub where the most Irish thing is probably him. Nevertheless, he's got a decent buzz going on, which is probably why approaching the girl with the boot knife, the careful Mid-Atlantic accent and the very recently bleached hair seems like a great idea.
She introduces herself as Talia and claims to be a ballerina. That would certainly explain the formidable legs squeezing the life out of him, though not the boot knife or the smell of gunpowder on her hands.
They both have a dorm situation going on so they only make it as far as the first available bathroom stall. She doesn't seem to mind and he honestly doesn't care. He even kind of likes it, the way she drags him in there and shoves his jeans down. She's purposeful, almost rough, but she kisses him with a lingering smile on her soft, full lips. He's used to being handled like spun glass; it's a nice change of pace.
Two years later, she's going by Natasha and her hair is a lot longer than he remembers. She probably looks different to the eye, but the things he sees are more or less unchanged. She's still got her boot knife and she's carrying a gun in a holster under the thick leather of her jacket.
“So are you a lawyer yet, Matthew Murdock of Hell's Kitchen?”
“Not even close, I'm afraid. How about you, Odette? Taking the ballet world by storm?”
“Oh please, do I strike you as a tragic heroine?”
She does, but he knows better than to say so.
“You strike me as an excellent actress.”
“Good answer,” she murmurs, patting his cheek fondly. Her hand is soft except where it's thickly callused, and it smells of gun oil and a spicy floral perfume, warm and rich like her voice.
“I hate everything you stand for,” Foggy tells him first thing in the morning.
“I know,” Matt says solemnly.
“There's this guy. I'm sorry, is this rude?”
“We've met all of three times, Natasha. Of course there's someone else,” he tells her, because she's thin and frail with a barely-healed bullet wound through her belly, and she did just go down on him. If she wants to tell him about her tragic unrequited love, the least he can do is listen.
“So what's up with this guy of yours? Is he blind?”
“He's just a friend. Well, not just. I mean, I don't really do friends at all, but that's what he is. He doesn't know how I feel.”
“So why don't you tell him?”
“What about you? Is there a special lady in your life, Matthew?”
“Sure. She's terrifying and all I ever think about. You might've heard of her, she goes by Bar Exam.”
“Always with the wisecracks.”
“This is what you get for screwing a lawyer and not your awesome yet oh so oblivious friend.”
“He's fifteen years older and married to a coworker.”
“Shit, I'm sorry. Is there anything I can do?”
She nudges his knee with her own, and when she speaks she sounds familiar to him again; flirty, vaguely amused, all her secrets and sorrows carefully tucked out of sight.
“I'm sure we can figure something out.”
He thinks he hears her voice on TV during the whole Battle of New York fiasco, but that might be just his overactive imagination. After all, he's always suspected she was some kind of secret agent. Like, the sexy femme fatale kind.
“Look at you, handsome, all grown up and lawyering away.”
Matt grins, ignoring Karen and Foggy's astonished hemming and hawing in the background.
“To what do we owe the pleasure, Ms. Romanoff? I'm afraid our practice is not quite up to handling legal needs such as yours just yet.”
“Luckily for all of us, I have no legal needs at this time. I was wondering if you would like to have lunch with me.”
He's about ninety-eight percent sure Foggy is plotting his murder behind his back and trying to get Karen in on it with some Meaningful Looks alone.
“Lead the way.”
Natasha takes him to the sandwich place with the suspicious potato salad and inexplicably good vanilla shake down the block. She orders the tuna melt and feeds most of it to the cat who's always hanging out in front of the shop.
“Officially, I'm here to recruit you.”
“So you do need a lawyer after all?”
“I'm giving you my best unimpressed stare. But you know that, don't you? Daredevil.”
“Sounds silly, doesn't it?”
“I don't know, I think it goes quite well with that 'aw shucks ma'am' face you've perfected.”
“What can I say, I'm just a good Catholic boy from Hell's Kitchen, giving back to the community.”
“Yeah, that's the one. You're never going to leave, are you?”
“Not any time soon, that's for sure. But tell your employer thanks for the offer.”
“So how have you been? Besides the obvious, I mean.”
She reaches for his hand and he meets her halfway, tangling their fingers together loosely.
“Good. I'm doing good. I'm friends with Captain America now, if you can believe that. Please keep your Cold War jokes to yourself, I've heard them all.”
“What about your other friend?”
“Not quite a friend anymore,” she says, and he can hear the smile in her voice, warm and content in a way he can only begin to imagine.
“I'm happy for you.”
“Thank you. I should be getting back.”
She kisses the corner of his mouth and he thinks he's going to miss the scent of her perfume, which is pretty silly; he's never had the opportunity to get used to it in the first place.
“Take care of yourself, Matthew.”
“You too, Natasha. If you're ever around my corner of town, you know where to find me.”