Their Pixar movie habit started by accident, really.
Instead of killing Natasha (the name on her file was Natalya Romanova, but she had shaken her head violently when he called her that), he had given her a second chance. After all, Coulson had given him a second chance, so when he saw... something in her eyes (vulnerability wasn't the right word, but it was the best he could come up with), the only right thing to do was to hold his hand out to her.
He had been very surprised that she had taken his hand and walked out of that warehouse with him.
But they were holed up in a crappy hotel in Priština waiting for evac, and it was intensely silent. Natasha sat on one of the saggy beds, her knees drawn up to her chin, watching him closely, and while he generally liked quiet, this was just too uncomfortable.
There was a TV mounted to the wall; he turned it on and managed to find a single English language channel that happened to be playing that Toy Story movie. Figuring it was better than trying to polish up his very rusty Albanian, he dropped onto the second bed and tried to make it look like he wasn't watching her as carefully as she watched him.
After a while, he noticed something interesting. Natasha had stopped looking at him and was now staring at the television as intensely as she had stared at him. There was something in her expression that looked out of place, and it took him a minute to figure it out.
She watched the movie with a sense of childlike wonder.
According to her file, she was seventeen years old (and what kind of a sick fuck turns a teenager into an assassin?), but she watched the toys and their wacky adventures as if she had never seen anything like that before.
When the movie was over, her expression shuttered again, and half an hour later, Coulson called in. They headed for the roof and the waiting helicopter, and his handler gave him a look that clearly said, 'Did you make the right decision?'
Clint thought about that look on Natasha's young face and knew that he had.
A Bug's Life was on in a motel in the middle of nowhere, North Dakota, on their third mission together. It made Natasha smile a little but had no other discernible impact on her.
They watched Toy Story 2 on purpose. She surprised him by asking if he wanted to go to the movies. She had just turned twenty, and he decided that it was about damn time someone did something nice for her birthday. He had known her for a little over two years, and he was coming to like her as she slowly came out of her shell.
He watched her out of the corner of his eye during the movie, and during the cowgirl doll's song, Natasha's brow creased. It was an expression that wasn't in her usual repertoire, and he realized with a start that she looked sad.
After the movie, she scoffed when he suggested they get ice cream, but she let him drive her to a Ben & Jerry's. She looked thoughtfully at her cone overflowing with Cherry Garcia (her favorite), and he licked a drip from his own cone (Phish Food).
"You know," he finally said, throwing caution to the wind, "I can't get a bead on you sometimes."
"Oh?" she said, and he could see a tiny hint of amusement floating around the corner of her mouth. "How so?"
Clint shrugged a little, licking his ice cream. "Just... the look you got during the movie. You know, in that part where Jessie's singing about her kid. I can't figure out what was going on in your head then."
The tiny smile vanished, and she was suddenly looking at him like she hadn't realized he had been reading her the same way she'd been reading him these past two years. He thought for a long moment that she wouldn't answer him, that she would shut down again and that he'd lost all the progress they'd made in getting comfortable with each other.
But she took a bite of ice cream and gave him a slightly pained smile. "It's just... unfamiliar," she finally said. "I don't know how to react to those feelings."
He decided it's safe to push it a little more. "What feelings?" he asked.
Her mouth curved into a thoughtful frown. "Having... things. Toys, and feeling devoted to them. I never... had that," she said, and he was suddenly choked by sadness and anger on her behalf.
She told him about her childhood, such as it was, over ice cream. He schooled his face to neutrality, but he knew she could read him, read the tension in his posture, in the way he turned his ice cream cone around and around in his hands.
When she fell silent, he didn't know what to say. So he reached over and caught a drip of ice cream from the edge of her cone. "Better finish that," he said.
She smiled at him then, the first open, genuine smile she'd ever given him (or anyone else that he'd seen, for that matter). "Thanks," she said simply, and he knew it wasn't just for the ice cream.
Monsters Inc. made her laugh out loud. By that point, they were comfortable enough with each other to share popcorn in the movie theater.
But when Sully took Boo home, Clint could see that little tinge of sadness in her eyes again. He tossed popcorn in her hair, and she spilled soda in his lap.
They had known each other for six years when they finally had the chance to watch Finding Nemo. It was on DVD by that time, because they had been busy with various and sundry missions, too busy for frivolous things like movies.
A few months earlier, he had crawled into her bunk on the Helicarrier and held her when she had a nightmare. Things had changed between them, just a little bit. Natasha didn't touch, but she started touching him. They curled up together on his sofa with a couple of beers and a bowl of Doritos (nacho cheese, of course) and started the movie.
She laughed and smiled and stole chips out of his hand, and he was amazed at how comfortable they were together. They were two people who made a living out of being apart from everyone else. He guessed that was why they worked well together.
When Marlin gave up on finding his son, Clint quite suddenly found himself choked up.
"Please don't go away. Please? No one's ever stuck with me for so long before. And if you leave... if you leave... I just, I remember things better with you. I do, look. P. Sherman, forty-two... forty-two... I remember it, I do. It's there, I know it is, because when I look at you, I can feel it. And-and I look at you, and I... and I'm home. Please... I don't want that to go away. I don't want to forget," said Dory, and Clint stared at the empty beer bottle in his hands.
Natasha went still at his side for a moment, and then carefully took the bottle from his hands and set it on the coffee table. "You okay?" she asked simply.
He couldn't hear any pity in her voice, just a bit of empathy. He'd broken down in front of her in Kinshasa, and he knew he was safe with her. She didn't judge; she understood.
"It just..." he said, still embarrassed at the tremor in his voice. "It reminds me of... I never really had a home. When I was a kid. Or hell, even now."
He waved a hand around at the sparsely decorated apartment. He could fit everything he owned that he cared about into a box. He was just afraid to settle, because at the pit of his stomach, he always knew it would get ripped away from him.
And he told her that, told her about his parents and how they weren't really parents even before they died. He told her about his brother and the foster homes and the circus, and she was the only person he ever told about what really happened in those foster homes and at the circus. He told her about his brother nearly killing him, and how he had fallen into crime because he didn't know what else to do. He told her about joining the army and becoming a sniper because he didn't know what else he could do with his skill set. He told her about Coulson dragging his sorry, AWOL ass out of a hole in the wall in Chechnya, convincing Fury that Clint was worth it.
He talked until he was hoarse, and when he finally ran out of words, she carefully brushed away a stray tear that had escaped and took his hand in hers, leaning against his shoulder.
There was nothing she could or should say, and she knew him well enough to know that. He just held her hand and leaned against her, too.
The Incredibles amused the hell out of both of them, for obvious reasons. They weren't superheroes, of course, but that didn't matter.
Cars was cute. Natasha made a comment that they should go drive Route 66 one of these days, and Clint grinned up at her from where his head rested in her lap.
They didn't remember much about Ratatouille, but that's because they watched it on the plane back from Budapest, and they had more important things on their mind, like his arm around her shoulders and her hand on his thigh.
Clint grinned when WALL-E ended. "You're like EVE, and I'm WALL-E," he said, tipping the last few M&Ms out of the bag and into his mouth. "You eventually saw my charms and fell for me."
Natasha just raised an eyebrow at him, but he could see a grin lurking at the corner of her mouth.
They watched Up in the comfort of their apartment. And it was a good thing they had missed it in the theater, too, because Natasha was in tears within the first ten minutes.
It started as a little sniffle when Carl and Ellie discovered they couldn't have children. He couldn't blame her; that made his throat a little tight, too. She pulled away from him a little, and it took a second for him to realize, after Ellie had died and Carl was going about his routine alone, that Natasha was silently sobbing.
He knocked the remote to the floor in his haste to turn the movie off. "Nat," he said softly.
She had buried her face in her hands, and her shoulders shook just slightly. He had only ever seen her cry once, and then it had been just a single tear that had slipped past her barriers. This was totally different, and it was actually a little scary to see her break down.
Though he was a little wary of how she might react, he pulled her into his lap, and she cried it out against his shoulder. He rubbed her back and kissed her hair and just held her until she sagged against him, exhausted from the emotional outburst.
"You okay, sweetheart?" he asked softly.
"Yeah," she said, her voice a little raspy. "Sorry."
"No need to apologize," he said, leaning down to kiss her gently.
He started the movie again, but she stayed in his lap, her arms looped around his shoulders. When the movie was over, she stayed there, leaning her forehead against his cheek.
"I don't want to have any regrets when I'm at the end of my life," she said quietly, her fingers hooking into the collar of his t-shirt. "I don't want to leave anything undone."
Cupping her face, he kissed her again, and she sighed into the kiss, melting against him. "We won't have any regrets, Tasha," he said, brushing his nose against hers. "We'll do everything we want to do. I promise."
He didn't know if he could keep that promise, and she knew it, too. But she nodded and smiled a little, and he held her tight.
They didn't see Toy Story 3 until almost a year after it came out.
They laughed at each other when they both got teary at the end.
They skipped Cars 2 by silent, mutual agreement.
Tony rented an entire movie theatre so they could all see Brave together. It was a little weird, to let other people into their little Pixar habit, but they had a good time.
When the credits rolled, Tony turned around in his seat and gave the two of them a rather piercing look.
"What?" Natasha asked as Clint tossed popcorn at him.
"Just thinking," Tony said. "If you two ever reproduce, Merida is going to be your child."
"God help us," Clint joked. "Headstrong, redheaded, and good with a bow? She'll be the terror of Stark Tower."
Natasha nudged him with her elbow, a subtle nudge that no one could see, and as they got up, she gave him a tiny smile.
Clint smiled back.