Take me back, just before I was spinning
Take me back, just before I got dizzy
Take me back, amazing what a minute can do
~ "So Damn Lucky" Dave Matthews Band
"Oh, c'mon, Nat. I'm bored stupid out here. Fury's got me on glorified sentry duty - I haven't even had a chance to spend some quality time on a real range in months."
She smiled into the phone. Clint could do stoicism perfectly, and had no problem sitting in a perch waiting for a target for days - literally days - but give him something like stationary guard duty and he could whine with the best of them. Only to her, of course - never to anyone else.
"It's a milk run, Clint. Luchkov isn't a challenge. Three days, tops."
"That's three days I'm not in my own personal hell. These science types don't talk about anything besides their work, and they're not allowed to talk about that outside the lab. The commissary is this sea of awkward and silent."
She could picture him. His breathing was slightly labored and from the rhythm it sounded like he was probably doing sit-ups while he talked to her on a headset. "What would it be worth to you?"
She imagined him pausing halfway up and knew the grin that was probably spreading across his face. She didn't start dealing until she'd already decided to say yes.
"Name your price."
Natasha whistled softly. "Dangerous ground, Barton." He knew better than to give her carte blanche.
"It's worth it. Trust me."
"That's not going to convince me I want to spend a week there in your place, you know."
She rolled her eyes. "Yes, Clint. Fine. Put in the request with Coulson and as soon as I'm cleared to come down there I will. We'll need to rework the missions specs a bit, since you can't very well go to the dinner party like I'd planned to."
"I can take a suit."
"My contact is straight, Clint, and you'd look terrible in my dress."
"Point. I can set up surveillance, see if I can go in as support staff and get some bugs planted."
She made a non-committal humming noise. "That might actually work. I'll get a variation written up and email it to Coulson tonight."
"You're a goddess, you know that?"
"Keep up the sweet-talk, because you now owe me a huge favor, you got that?"
"Yes, ma'am." She could hear the smile in his voice and it sparked one of her own. She missed him, more than she'd expected to. They'd been on the occasional solo missions during their ten years as partners, but never as often as they had in the last two, first with her mission at Stark's, and then with his indefinite posting on the PEGASUS project ever since that damn hammer had fallen to Earth. Fury wanted his best where they were the most useful to him, and now that required them to be separate rather than a team.
It had added a strange depth to their on again, off again relationship. They'd tried, they'd both made a concerted effort to keep things from going too deep. They were friends, they enjoyed each other's company (in bed and out), trusted each other implicitly in the field, and were very, very careful not to imply or assume any kind of deeper connection. Deeper connections tended to get you killed in their line of work.
She hadn't expected to miss him this much. If she played her cards right, she might be able to get on base a day or so before he'd need to leave, might be able to stick around a day or two after he got back. It wouldn't be much, but it would be more time together than they'd had in months. Coulson actually owed her a favor, too, and he usually wrote up the duty rosters for the senior agents since he was running the PEGASUS facility.
"You still there, Tasha?"
"Yeah. I've got to go, though. Carlyle needs me to go through some translations before his meeting in the morning."
"Okay. I'll let you know as soon as I can."
There was a long pause. She knew she should probably hang up, be the one to press the button.
"Goodnight, Natasha." His voice dipped lower, huskier than it had been a few minutes before and she shivered.
"Goodnight." The line went dead and left it to her ear for a heart beat, then she called herself twelve kinds of a fool and tossed it across the room into her bag.
But the thought of the chance to see him left her with the ghost of a smile on her face.