When Kate opens the door, the room goes silent immediately (well, almost – Tommy doesn't stop talking until he gets punched in the arm), and Kate can't help but feel a sense of impending doom. She stands with her hand on the doorknob, looking at her team with eyes narrowed, and they just smile back at her, feigning innocence. Paper crinkles as Teddy shoves something under a pillow, laughing nervously.
"Okay," Kate says, closing the door behind her. "What the hell's going on?"
Billy clears his throat, straightens his back. "Nothing."
Kate blinks; she considers pressing the matter, but decides against it. "Fine. I've got a tip –"
She's interrupted by Tommy, who bursts into laughter. "Sorry, I can't – nope, sorry, I can't do it."
Billy and Teddy groan in unison (and, like often happens when the team is together, Kate feels like they're all sixteen again). Tommy climbs over both of them to dig out whatever it is Teddy has hidden, and once he finds it, vaults over the couch, holding his hand out. Billy has his face hidden in his hands; Teddy is looking at Kate all apologetic, shaking his head. Kate looks at the thing in Tommy's hand for the first time – it's some trashy tabloid magazine, and she starts to roll her eyes until her brain actually processes the photo printed on the page and –
Tommy, who has been stifling his giggles for a few moments, starts laughing again as Kate rips the magazine out of his hands. Her face burning, she crumples up the magazine in her hand as if that will actually accomplish anything.
"Well, Kate," Tommy says, practically wheezing. "I wish I'd have known you were an exhibitionist."
"I'm – I'm not." She racks her brain, trying to figure out how anyone could have actually taken that picture. "Look, I – fuck you," she says. Eloquent, she thinks.
Billy is biting down on his fist and starting to shake with suppressed laughter, and Teddy elbows him. Kate, still blushing furiously, makes her way over to the couch and sits down beside Billy – Teddy reaches around him to pat her sympathetically on the shoulder, but he's smiling too, and there isn't a single person in the room Kate doesn't want to punch.
"C'mon, Kate," Tommy says. (She wants to punch him the most.) "You're too smart to be – to be fucking your too-old-for-you boyfriend behind some building, thinking, 'Oh, nobody's gonna see us, we've just got all kinds of privacy, here in the middle of fucking Manhattan.'"
"We weren't – we didn't have sex," she protests.
Tommy's eyebrows shoot up to the vicinity of his hairline. "That is a goddamn lie."
Kate rolls her eyes. "Not there."
Tommy snorts, picks up the magazine and flattens it out. "Have some respect for other people's property, Kate. I'm preserving this shit for posterity."
"Excuse me," Billy says. "I'm pretty sure I'm the one that paid for that."
Tommy shrugs. "I was just so sure I'd be the first one with a sex scandal."
Kate has pulled her feet up onto the couch, resting her head against her knees. "Shut up, Tommy. There's no scandal."
"Anyway," Teddy says. "There was that thing with the jewel thief."
Tommy throws his hands up. "How was I s'posed to know she was a thief?"
Billy grins. "Maybe 'cause you met her while she was stealing something."
"She was really, really hot."
"You are literally the worst superhero of all time."
"What I wanna know," Clint says, surveying the unconscious bodies around the two of them, "is how all these ninjas end up in New York and no one notices."
Kate squints at him. "They're ninjas, Clint. That's what they do."
"That –" He points his finger at her. "That was rhetorical."
The two of them make their way away from the ninjas mostly in silence, until Kate finally can't stand it anymore. "So we're just… not gonna talk about it? Is that what we're doing?"
"I have no idea what you're talkin' about, sweetheart."
She punches him in the shoulder. "There is no way Teddy and the Wonder Twins found out and you didn't."
Clint shrugs. "Alright, alright – but pretty much everyone knew before I did, okay? I didn't actually have the chance to warn you."
"It's fine. I'm just not sure what we're supposed to do about it." Kate's frustration, which she thought she'd expelled in the fight, is returning. Maybe it's not such a big deal, she thinks – like she told Tommy, they weren't actually having sex – but the picture isn't entirely innocent-looking, what with the hands and the slightly out-of-place garments and – well, it's all just enough to make her feel like her privacy has been invaded. Although, if she's being honest with herself, she probably should have thought of that earlier – Tommy, while both an idiot and a jackass, was definitely right.
"Nothing," Clint says, and he slips his arm around her waist, pulling her towards him. "It's nothing. It might've been better if the Avengers hadn't found out like this, but what can ya do?"
"I didn't think we needed to make an announcement." Sure, Kate had told her team, but they were her friends. She didn't feel like it was really anyone's business who she dated.
"We didn't." When she looks at him, he kisses her forehead and smiles. "They'll get over it."
"Wait," she says, frowning. "Who'll get over it? Who's –"
Clint rolls his eyes. "No one, Kate." He kisses her on the mouth before she can protest. "No one gives a damn. Now come make out with me in this alley," he says, pulling her by the hand.
Kate stares at him. "Have we learned nothing from this?"
"I occasionally prefer not to learn from my mistakes." He grins, and Kate isn't sure whether she'd rather punch him or kiss him (which, to be fair, is a frequent dilemma).
So she follows him, and she asks herself the same question: have we learned nothing from this?
And when his hand is in her hair, his mouth against hers, and she wants nothing more than to close any distance between their bodies, she finds herself laughing against his lips. No, she thinks. No, we have not.