Natasha and Clint. A little like Louis and Clark. A little like Bonnie and Clyde.
If Natasha cared about these types of things, she'd probably be proud of the reputation she'd garnered. The truth was she didn't care until a Clint Barton came along and tried to one-up her for spot numero uno. He kept trying after she beat him down the first time during training. He tried again. And lost. And then again. And lost again. It kind of became an ad nauseum pattern after that and before long, Natasha realised that they weren't really fighting each other anymore to fight, but they were fighting with one another to be better. To point out weaknesses. To get stronger. And suddenly. They were a team. Romanoff and Barton.
Still, Natasha didn't realise she loved him until he went down and she emptied her gun into the guy that had done it. He was dead after the first bullet. The next ten were for pleasure. He was fine, of course. It was just a clip—superficial. And Barton knew how to fall. So he was fine. In fact, she was proud of him that he escaped from a second story fall with only some bruises and jarring.
She left him a card in his locker and didn't visit him in the hospital.
He swaggered by her a few days later, and she didn't disembowel him for smacking her ass.
Natasha let the tension swing high until they actually fell into bed. It made the whole thing better, and she gasped his name as she came, the only sound she'd made the entire time. He collapsed on top of her, face right next to her ear, and it was only then that she could hear it'd been her name he was chanting.
So it became a habit. One of her better ones, Natasha thought. And whenever they came back from going their separate ways, they sought one another out and made use of those tiny boxes SHIELD had the gall to call quarters. But one had Natasha's name on it, and one had Clint's name on it, and they usually found themselves in whose ever was closer. And together, they cultivated the attitude of 'us against the world.'
She didn't expect anything when she woke in the hospital after something went bad. She could hear Clint's humming as she came too and rested a moment, pretending to still be out. No one else was in the roo—
“You're good, Nat. No one else is here.”
She almost smiled as she opened her eyes. “Didn't realise you could tell the difference.”
“Learned to.” He was turning something over in his hands. A CD.
“That one night—”
“You stayed? Yeah.” He grinned.
She'd never seen anything more beautiful. “I'll have to make myself less predictable,” she said anyway.
“Nah. Like you the way you are.” He handed her the CD. “It's your song.”
She blinked. “What?”
“Listen to it,” he said as he stood. “It's like it was written for you.”
So later, she did. In private. All the way through. Billy Joel. She may have cracked a smile at the lyrics. Kill with a smile, she can wound with her eyes...She'll bring out the best and the worst you can be... “Nice, Barton,” she murmured. She reached out to hit the stop button on the CD player she'd appropriated when Clint's voice came on.
“Glad to have you back, babe.” And then started singing the song. She listened to that the whole way through also. And maybe smiled a little more.
Clint and Natasha. Us against the world. Bonnie and Clyde. Wine and cheese. She smiled and tucked the CD away somewhere safe. Barton and Romanoff.