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"Whoa, wuh, what the hell?!" Clint scrambled backwards in the bed away from the very naked drowsy woman, running into the headboard and nearly falling backwards off the bed into the nightstand.

He caught (thankfully empty) mug just before it hit the floor more out of reflex than attention.

"Good morning," she said, in English, although it was rough and slightly accented. She sat up and stretched, apparently completely unconcerned about the blanket falling down around her waist leaving her chest bare, before slipping out from under the covers and walking to the bathroom, not bothering to shut the door.

He sat in shock where he was until the sound of the toilet flushing and the water running knocked him out of his stupor.

She headed for the kitchen.

He couldn't think of anything else to do, so he followed her, growing even more confused when she went straight to the cabinet where he kept the good coffee and pulled it down, then went about changing out the filter, screwing her nose up at the old grounds before dumping them into the trashcan.

"Am I in the Twilight Zone? Is someone Punking me? Candid Camera. Is that even still a thing? COULSON IS THIS YOUR IDEA OF A JOKE?" he bellowed at the ceiling, because this... would not be the weirdest prank the man had ever pulled on him. The thing with the donkey in Caracas literally could not be topped.

But it might be close.

"You are not in a TV show, reality or otherwise, I don't know who Coulson is, but I don't believe I have anything to do with him, or he with me."

"Who the hell are you? How did you get into my apartment? How do you know your way around my kitchen?" he paused as she poured herself a cup of the coffee before it was even done brewing the pot and then perched on one of the bar stools. "... and can you please put on some clothes?"

*****

One of the things Natasha had almost forgotten about over the last few years was how good it felt to laugh. It took her by surprise. He sounded so confused and bewildered, and it was strangely adorable on him. She didn't think she was really used to thinking about adults being adorable. That was hard to remember, too, as her brain tried to realign her thinking as a human being rather than a cat. She'd almost waited too long this time.

"I would get dressed, but unfortunately I don't have any clothes. I haven't needed them in quite awhile and there was no way to carry them with me."

"I'm... sorry?"

He obviously needed the caffeine more than she did. She held out the mug but he shook his head.

"Where did you come from that you didn't need clothes?" Even as he asked he turned to the couch and started tugging on a pile of fabric that lost it's cohesion and resolved itself into individual pieces of laundry. After sniffing a shirt he tossed both it and a pair of shorts at her. "They won't be a great fit, but... please?"

"I forgot how puritanical you are in America." Despite rolling her eyes over it - and she might've done it a second time just because the stretch of even those delicate muscles felt divine - she obliged and pulled on the haphazard outfit. "Happy?"

"Thrilled," he dead-panned. "Now who the hell are you?"

"I'm not sure," she replied honestly, before taking another drink of her coffee. "The people who made me called me Natalia - Natasha if I was being good. It's good enough."

"And you just randomly decided to, what? Climb into my window and my bed in the middle of the night?"

"I followed you home. Three months ago. But yes, essentially. I had to leave quickly, and you were the nearest best option to do so. Once I was here, I couldn't very well just change back all at once without the lay of the land."

******

"Three... months?" Clint wracked his brain trying to remember back that far. He was fairly certain he'd remember if a drop dead gorgeous red-headed woman had been in his apartment for three months. Hell, he hadn't even had company in the last few months that he could remember, just him and the stray cat that he'd-

The cat.

Even though his mind was trying it's level best to run screaming away from the sudden obvious conclusion that she was somehow the cat, he had to admit it wouldn't be the weirdest thing he'd ever seen in his time with SHIELD.

"You weren't..." he ventured.

"I was," she confirmed, and there was a sparkle in her eye that told him she was enjoying this.

"How the-"

"The factory in Minsk. I was doing reconnaissance for my handlers, but I'd been looking for a way out for years. You saved the little boy that had been sleeping in the abandoned offices before your people blew up the building. That said better things about you, if not your organization, than I could say about my own, so I followed you. Slipping onto your transport was ridiculously easy. So was slipping back out when we arrived here. Since I wasn't sure yet if it was you or your employers that had made the call, I decided to see what you were like."

Clint was scrambling, trying to think back over what he'd said and done in his apartment since the cat had shown up. He was sure a great deal of it was probably otherwise embarrassing, since he'd obviously thought he was alone.

She'd sat back down after putting on the clothes, now she slipped off the stool and came towards him.

"When exactly were you planning on telling me? Or were you just gonna watch and be creepy?"

"I'm telling you now."

"What took you so long?" he was embarrassed, he decided. Really embarrassed, maybe even angry, but mostly confused. He was still a little stuck on the whole "able to change into a cat" thing. "Did you just think it was entertaining to spy on me or something?"

"Well, I am a spy. Or I was. And..." her expression changed. It grew pensive and maybe a little sad. "It was nice to feel safe for once, even though I knew it was temporary."

"Safe?"

"You took a stray, that you knew nothing about, and you gave me food and a warm place to sleep. You made sure someone checked in on me when you left. I couldn't remember another the last time I hadn't had to fend for myself. It was... nice."

Clint felt the strange urge to reach over and thread his fingers into her hair at her temple, a strange holdover of a gesture that was suddenly completely inappropriate, but dammit, she was tilting her head that exact same way that he'd come to associate with requests to be petted.

That was awkward.

"So," he started, "now what?"

"Well. I can't very well be a housecat for the rest of my life," she said simply, as if it were obvious.

Clint sighed, thought about the mountains of paperwork that probably lay ahead of him. Also? No way in hell was Coulson or Hill ever gonna let him live this one down. And there was no guarantee that SHIELD would even be interested... although, Clint thought, let's face it. They loved it when things got weird. And nothing was weirder to him right now than a foreign defecting spy that could turn into a cat.

What he said was: "I might know a guy."