The carefully nondescript van is cramped enough without two agents stuffed in the back, but they manage to pack themselves in between the various equipment, thigh to thigh. The heat barely works. Outside, the temperature is low enough that when Clint’s wrist touched metal, the skin stuck to it, and his hands have been cracked for days. Natasha suspects that he refuses to put on gloves out of stubbornness at this point, and not because it “interferes with his shooting.” It doesn’t. He was being stubborn, just like he is now.
“Goddamn it, Barton, would you stop twitching?” Natasha whispers and can almost hear him scrunch up his face in the darkness.
“I’m just trying to get comfortable…”
“You’re trying to get your boner comfortable. Don’t worry, I already know. I’m pretty sure the mark knows at this point.”
Pause. Four blocks away, a car alarm wails, then beeps.
“Um, that’s actually an arrow…A special kind of arrow…In my pants.”
“Then go outside and take care of it or something.”
“What, on a city street? In minus forty? My hand will literally freeze to my dick, and I will be dragged off to some Canadian jail like that, and then I won’t get my coffee in the morning.”
Natasha rolls her eyes as loudly as possible.
“Then you gotta get more friction going, and it won’t freeze.”
“…You know, you are not helping.”
They stare at the ceiling for approximately 73 seconds.
“Well, now both of us can’t sleep,” Natasha says. Clint shrugs. She sits up. ”Fine, we should just have sex.”
“Yes. Wait, what?”
“We’re adults. We both have a clean bill of health. You’ve got some sort of a hangup where you want to sleep with your partner, so we might as well get it out of your system.”
“That’s a great idea! What? No! It’s terrible! No one does that! We work together, and it’s gonna be awkward, and no.”
“We can’t work together if you keep wondering what I look like naked these days in the middle of a mission.”
“It’s not like I can see anything in this anyway.” A movement. ”OK, yes I can. It’s still a bad idea. We’re trained professionaaaaah oh god keep doing that.”
“I’m a trained professional,” Natasha purrs, “You’re an enthusiastic amateur.”
Monaco is beautiful, with its ridiculous blue skies and uncharacteristically soft hotel room sheets. Natasha would actually come here for a vacation, and she doesn’t say that about a lot of countries that they’ve gone. It’s nice, killing people in pretty places. Everyone assumes Russians like the cold, but honestly, this was worth defecting for.
But long days of sunshine make people soft and lazy, Natasha has decided. It’s the laziness that leads to entirely unnecessary conversations in the lulls between all the action, like the one Clint and she had just had. They’ve learned to read each other’s silence over the years, and right now, Natasha is sure she managed to rip a bandaid off of a festering wound. She congratulates herself grimly, and plays with the black ribbon in her braid. You knew it, you knew about their miscarriage, too, and why do you even tell him about the War when he asks? Clint watches the lights outside the hotel window. They twinkle like fireflies.
“It’s OK, Clint,” Natasha says, “It was a really long time ago. You can’t expect a…a starving sixteen-year-old to even be able to conceive a child, let alone carry it to term. None of that was meant to happen. It’s totally different from you and Bobbi.”
She expects him to flinch at the name, but he doesn’t. He keeps looking out of the window instead. ”But you know,” he tells the lights. ”You understand.”
Natasha smiles—oh, you sweet summer soldier—“No. No, I don’t.” She touches Clint’s cheek, and he kisses her fingertips. Then he reaches for her, pulling the ribbon from her hair—red, red everywhere, like she sees in her dreams—and wraps the black silk around his knuckles, as if he is going to punch out their grief.