She brushes her hand along his shoulder as she sits down across from him. With over fifty people crowded into the room that serves as the Mess Hall on the hellicarrier, the sound levels are nearly excruciating but neither of them mind. Natasha can concentrate on a single object, no matter the distractions, and Clint, his hearing aids safely in his pocket, is the current object of her focus.
Holding her hands low and centered in the middle of her body, away from the commotion around her, she begins the conversation. How was your workout with Srava?
His lips curl into a smile that is barely containing his laughter as he shrugs. Reaching over, he pulls her hand toward him and begins reforming her fingers to show the correct letters. Steve.
“Crap.” She practices the name a few times on her own before redoing the sentence. When he nods his approval, she jabs her finger at him a few times, indicating that it’s his turn to answer. Three months and she’s getting pretty accurate at signing but she’s still not very good at reading it, especially not when Clint decides she needs to practice and begins to move his fingers too fast to be seen.
This is, of course, one of those times, but he works up to his normal speed. It was good. He only beat me to a minor pulp this time around. Next time, he thinks we should do something with my bow. He thinks we’ll be compatible. Maybe we’ll even work up to inviting Tony and his body armor along.
Piecing together the words she can see, Natasha nods. His armor against your bow? I want to see that.
You know what I want to see? Your bite against his armor. Have you tried that?
I thought he’d like to be able to take the suit off.
At least, that was what she meant to sign to him. Instead, he lowers his head to hide his wide smile. She launches herself over the table so she can cuff him against the side of his head.
“Ow!” He holds his hand to his head as if she inflicted a deep wound. “What?”
She smooths a fingertip over his lips to close them so the game can begin but he bites at her, getting a nip in before she thinks to pull her hand away. Not fair.
Then we’re playing the wrong game.
Their hands are silent as they are intent only on the eyes and lips of the other. For all they notice the hubbub around them, they might as well be in the room by themselves. Two floors and forty-five minutes later (the stairwells are rarely used but there are always random people who might come upon them and Fury has already had words with them about “relations” in public places so they only take a slight detour there) and they are in a room by themselves. They stay there for the rest of the day but Natasha doesn’t get any sign language practice.
Three bullets. She gives him a questioning look and he nods. It was hard not to feel the impact against the tree he’s using as a shield. Four over here. He should be reloading soon.
You good with the plan?
Got it. Natasha leans forward and lets off a few rounds of her own. There’s a muffled exclamation of pain that proves that she’s hit her mark.
She grins over at Clint who gives her a thumbs up. Even though he’s got his hearing aids in, set to a reasonable level to hear everything that he needs to hear, they still talk with their fingers and their eyes. Their silence has kept them alive this long, hopefully long enough to get out of yet another mess of miscalculation and tactical errors. When they get back to headquarters, she’s going to have a discussion with Fury about yet another error on the part of his operatives. This isn’t something she’s taking credit for.
As she begins to count down, he waves her off. If I don’t make it back- but she waves him off before he can finish, her eyes suddenly angry.
He nods, more emphatic than might be wise for the precarious position he’s in. The perfect time. Let me say it.
Her hand flashes up, hard and fast. Fine.
If I don’t make it back, I want you to tell Stark about melting his action figures.
She stares at him, unsure that she saw the movements of his hand correctly. With a start like that, she’d assumed there would be the sappy phrases and the sort of words that made her uncomfortable.
You want me to commit suicide?
I don’t want to be the only one to die today.
Neither one of us is dying. Got that? He nods. Good.
You’re getting better at this.
Natasha accepts the compliment with only the slightest hint of a smile. She begins the countdown. 3... 2... 1...
The team is together, crowded into one room, as they rejoice in the fact that Clint and Natasha got out alive. He’s got a bullet hole through his thigh and she’s got a bandage over the crease the bullet made in her skull.
While Tony’s busy telling everyone the newest modifications he made to his suit, Natasha’s staring at Clint. He’s on the hospital bed, hooked up to tubes and electrodes that are monitoring how his body is handling the drugs being pumped into his system. When he realizes her gaze isn’t moving, he gives her a questioning look.
Still want me to tell Tony about the melting?
He shakes his head ever so slightly. Since he’s in the middle of the group, their conversation is more likely to be noticed if he’s got his hand up.
The drugs making you sick? Another shake of his head. Pain? A shrug. Want me to break you out before I leave for the evening?
When he shakes his head, she frowns at him. Normally, he hates to stay overnight for any reason so she has trouble understanding why this is any different. His hand moves slightly, snagging her attention away from his patient stare. Here. With me. Tonight.
Yes. She has to bite back a smile but drops her eyes to the toes of her boots. It’s not until Steve clears his throat, suggesting they head back home to leave Clint to his rehab and that perhaps Natasha might want to hang out for awhile before she comes back, that she realizes that their conversation was noticed.
She snags his arm as he walks by. “Thank you,” she whispers.
You’re welcome, he signs back. Clearly, their secret language is not nearly as secret as they would like it to be.