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In Sickness and in Health

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One of the reasons Natasha bought her Chicago apartment was the kitchen. It was at the end of the living area, walled in and cosy. She added bookcases to the small dining area, and sometimes it was almost like being in her parents' kitchen, tiny and warm and safe. It was her favourite area of her apartment, the one that had nothing to do with work. It was a haven and a refuge, and it had currently been slightly taken over by Clint

Natasha was curled up on a chair in the corner, huddled in her dressing gown and cradling Ilariy like a child would a stuffed toy, and she was entirely too miserable and feverish to analyse her reactions to Clint in her kitchen, chopping things with her knives, and making things at her stove with her pots.

Soup. Not things. Soup.

She blinked and refocused and there was Winona on the table, peering at her.

“You,” the hawk-daemon said, “are really out of it.”

“...yes,” Natasha said, once the words had rearranged themselves in her head in an order that made sense. “I am.” She was aiming for dignity, but given the way Winona snickered at her, she supposed that she'd missed.

Winona hopped closer and nuzzled Ilariy's fur, causing him to purr. Natasha moved her fingers slightly; Clint's daemon had pressed herself against her hand, and her feathers were soft. Surprisingly soft, and Natasha absently wondered when she would stop being so surprised.

Of course, that was far too much intimacy and care to be shown for long, so Winona lightly nipped Natasha's hand and then flew back to Clint, snarking all the while about spies and cats who did nothing but lazed about while people made them soup.

Clint told her to shut up, but Natasha could hear the laughter in his voice, so that was okay.

“Hey, pretty lady” Clint said then, and he wasn't in the kitchen. He was standing at the table, a bowl in his hands.

“What...?” she managed. He could teleport now?

“You fell asleep,” he said, and Winona was perching on the back of a chair, shifting from side to side and ruffling her feathers and pointedly not saying anything.

“No, we didn't,” said Ilariy, who was struggling to get out of the depths of dressing gown. Natasha thought about helping, but by the time she completed the thought, her daemon was on the table, licking a paw and pretending to have some ounce of dignity left.

“Here,” and Clint placed the bowl in front of her before going to get his own.

“You made me chicken noodle soup,” Natasha said, picking up her spoon and poking at the contents of her bowl.

“I am capable of cooking, you know,” Clint pointed out.

“Lies and slander,” Ilariy said, curling up and turning into a round ball of fluff. Dignity, it seemed, was for the healthy; he didn't even protest as Winona decided that he made far too tempting a target, and promptly hopped over to flop on him.

“Why did you make me soup?”

“Because, Mrs Barton, you'd probably set fire to water right now.”

There was a come-back to that, she knew there was one. It was eluding her, so she had some soup instead.

It was good. Not excellent, not like hers, but it was good. And it was warm, and she didn't have to make it, and she looked up at Clint and just smiled at him.

“You're welcome,” he said, and smiled back.