Kate was having a particularly crappy day. First, it was the explosions downtown, then a bank robbery uptown, and then some idiot took her taxi. So, it definitely was not her best day. Then again, it was not her worst. Normally, she would have called her partner, a.k.a. the other Hawkeye, a.k.a. Clint Barton, in to help her mop up these situations, but the poor guy had just gotten back from helping the Avengers stop some other-worldly threat, and looked ragged as all hell. In fact, he was covered in more bandages than skin with how hard he had been running himself between the Avengers and teaming up with Kate. The poor guy deserved some rest.
After finally hailing a cab and asserting her dominance over it (having a bow and some exploding arrows do wonders with that sort of thing), she told the driver the familiar address in Bed-Stuy and sat back, finally able to relax. She figured that she would check on Clint and cheer him up with stories of how his trick arrows had worked. That was the only reason, she told herself. She definitely didn’t want to go over there to mother hen him a little and make sure his cracked… everything was healing well. Nope, not one bit.
Speaking of injuries, however, she knew she had some, too. She took a brief look down at herself and sighed. A couple scratches and a gash, which might need stitches, on her thigh. She threw her head back and groaned a little. She did not want Clint to patch that one up. They were already close, and he didn’t need to see more of her than what he already had. She could only hope Natasha was there with him; it was about a 50/50 chance that Natasha would be there, at least the way Kate figured it. Natasha did a lot more spy and Avenger work than Clint did, and he did a lot of it. Kate briefly wondered when the woman had time to sleep, eat, or keep up with current events. Kate had no idea how the Russian managed to juggle all those things and still have the sanity and the patience to, not only be in a relationship with Clint Barton, but to live with him.
Kate was at Clint’s apartment almost as often as she was at her own. She had a change of clothes over there and toiletries, and she had slept over multiple times, crashing on the couch, since beginning to work with Clint. She was worried when Clint asked Natasha to move in with him that it would affect their partnership in some way. While her staying over had lessened since Natasha moved in, she was still there roughly the same amount; it just included Natasha fifty percent of the time.
That being said, Kate rather enjoyed the Russian’s company. She was witty and funny, was a complete badass, and best of all, had the most embarrassing and entertaining Clint stories. Plus, it didn’t hurt that Kate looked up to her in some ways, at least professionally. After meeting Natasha, Kate no longer believed the warning to never meet your heroes.
Her leg throbbed in pain again, reminding her that she would need to make do with whoever was in Clint’s apartment to help her stitch this up. The cab finally pulled up outside the run down apartment building. She tossed the cabbie the money she owed him, before exiting the cab as gracefully as she could. Which, with her leg wound, was about as graceful as a newborn giraffe. She stumbled up the flights of stairs to Clint’s door, cursing every one. Why did he have to be farsighted and live so many stories up?
She finally got to his door, and could hear movement inside; it sounded like Clint was shouting about something. Were he and Natasha in another fight? Was someone breaking in? Or was it the option that she didn’t let herself think about: that Clint and Natasha were becoming exhibitionists? God, she hoped not; she liked that couch. She didn’t want to have to burn it. That thought gave way to her thanking her lucky stars she had not walked in on Clint and Natasha having sex yet. She did, after all, just usually walk in the door without preamble. She just hoped her luck held out for the rest of time.
Another loud bang and more muffled shouting came from beyond the door. Had she really just gotten that distracted? She blamed it on the blood loss because the alternative option was that she was beginning to act and think like Clint. God, what a nightmare that would be. She pulled an arrow out of her nearly empty quiver and knocked it on the bowstring. She pulled in a deep breath and burst through the door. What she found on the other side made her pause.
Natasha was in a perfect bridge, the kind that gymnasts do, her feet planted near Clint’s hands. Her hands were grasped around Clint’s chin, yanking it upwards to the point where Kate thought she might snap him in half. Natasha’s head was leaned back, resting on Clint’s lower back, to keep her upright while she used her hands to bend Clint back. He was grunting and yelling in pain as she cranked his neck back.
Kate then looked at the TV, a wrestling show paused on it, and with a person on there doing this exact move to another. She looked back, and with a passing thought, realized that Natasha was copying the person’s form exactly. She waited a few moments, not lowering her bow. In the span of a few seconds, Clint patted his hand on Natasha’s arm and she released him. He sagged to the floor in relief, clutching at his ribs as he did so. He finally groaned and turned over, his blonde hair mussed up as it usually was.
“Fine, you win. That does hurt,” he seemed to sigh in defeat. Natasha, to her benefit, looked only slightly smug.
“So you see what I’m saying? There is no way that she should have been able to roll out of that. That’s a total bullshit call. They aren’t even trying for authenticity anymore.” Natasha seemed more frustrated than anything.
Clint rolled his eyes, “You’re a total smark. Just enjoy the entertainment. You don’t have to put your logic into this one, just enjoy the ride.”
It was Natasha’s turn to roll her eyes, “Why do you think I hang out with you Barton?”
Clint opened his mouth to reply, but Kate beat him to it, “You guys have been together, for like, forever. Shouldn’t you be done with the hate-flirt thing?”
Natasha and Clint snapped their heads up to look at her. Kate briefly enjoyed the sense of pride that comes along when one catches the Black Widow in a vulnerable moment. While Natasha was recovering, Clint looked Kate up and down and winced in sympathy when he saw her leg.
“Looks like you got beat up pretty bad.” He looked at her, trying to gauge her mood.
“Well since you weren’t there to take all the hits, I guess I got some extra ones,” she replied back wearily. She couldn’t be mad at him right now even if she wanted to she was feeling so dizzy.
Clint hopped off the couch as quick as he could, which with all his injuries, was incredibly slow, and meandered his way over to his partner. He bent down to get a better look at the cut and sucked in air through his teeth, “That’s gonna need stitches, Katie-Kate.”
She didn’t have the energy to correct that volatile nickname he insisted on giving her; she just nodded at him. He turned back around to look at Natasha, who looked like she was still contemplating how Kate had snuck up on her and caught her goofing off with Clint. He cleared his throat, “Nat you might want to take care of this. I’m pretty sure if I stitch this one I’ll besmirch my good name.”
That seemed to startle Natasha out of her stupor. She shook her head, her long red curls swaying back and forth at the movement. “Yeah, I’ll take care of it. Come on Kate, I’m sure you know where Clint keeps his medical stuff. He gets hurt enough.” She sent a playful glare at Clint in all of his bandaged glory. He had the decency to look sheepish as he rubbed the back of his head.
Kate leaned on Natasha, more heavily than she would like to admit, on their way to the bathroom. When they finally got there, Kate sat on the edge of the sink while Natasha rummaged around under it for the first aid kit. When she finally found it and opened it, she cursed in Russian. Kate’s Russian was rudimentary at best, including words like futz and bro, so she only caught a couple words, some of them not very flattering, and Clint’s name.
Natasha finally came away with the needle and medical thread that she would be using and finally looked at Kate, “Well he only has one roll of bandages left, God bless him, so lets do this right on the first try. Don’t squirm too much.”
With a nod, Kate sucked in a breath and waited. After the first two times that the needle went through her skin, her body seemed to accept it and turn the feeling into a dull ache, much like the rest of her body. She tried to think of anything but the needle and thread going through her skin. Finally, her mind stopped on what she had seen when she walked in the apartment. She looked down at the Black Widow and wondered if it was worth her wrath to ask. After a few seconds of silent debate, she figured she could blame it on the blood loss if it went awry. She opened her mouth.
“So you watch pro wrestling?” Kate’s tone didn’t leave any room for it to be a question, even though it was phrased like one. She saw Natasha tense up slightly before relaxing and slipping into a mask of indifference.
“Clint watches it, I was just here.” She said it calmly, with the flippancy only a professional liar could obtain. However, Kate knew Natasha too well for that to work.
“And you cared so little about it that you saw fit to almost break Clint in two?” Kate raised her eyebrow. Catching her reflection in the mirror, she noticed how very much of a Natasha-like expression she was wearing. She hung out with these two way too often.
“I was just proving a point,” Natasha said with an added clip in her voice. Any one else might have dropped the subject, but Kate was determined.
“I knew Clint watched it, it’s either wrestling or Dog Cops with him, I just didn’t know he had sucked you into it too,” Kate remarked with wonder. Then again, she shouldn’t be surprised. This was the same man who had convinced the Black Widow to turn from Red Room and come work for S.H.I.E.L.D.
Natasha turned a glare up at her, and Kate was only momentarily stunned. She gave Natasha a cheesy grin that usually got Clint out of trouble with her. It seemed to work as she heard Natasha mutter in Russian again and shake her head affectionately. After a couple tense moments of silence, Natasha finally spoke.
“Yeah, it’s strange. But the characters are over the top, the moves are very athletic and it lets me just shut down for a little while and enjoy something so innocent and child-like.” She did not look up at Kate as she said this, her hand still moving back and forth, stitching Kate up.
Kate thought on her explanation for a while. She had to be careful here. She knew Natasha well enough to know that if she opened up to you like this then that was a huge leap of trust. It warmed Kate’s heart a little to know that Natasha thought so highly of her, but it also caused her to be cautious of what she said next. The last thing she wanted was for Natasha to shut down around her.
When she finally spoke, she chose to ignore the reasoning behind her watching wrestling and talk about the thing itself, “That move you had on Clint looked like it would hurt. Why were you trying to break the old man in half?”
Natasha smirked a little, “The girl who uses it on the show calls it the Bank Statement. And I was showing him how it would be impossible to roll out of that move like someone had just done. They aren’t even trying for authenticity anymore,” she complained to herself towards the end.
Kate nodded, “So do you end up using these moves at all or is it just purely for entertainment?”
Natasha smirked as if recalling a memory, “I use some of them; the ones that are feasible enough to pull off in combat at least.”
Kate nodded and was about to continue asking questions before Natasha stood up and began packing everything away. She pulled a bottle out of the medicine cabinet and put it into Kate’s hand.
“Take a couple of these or you’re going to be miserable for the next few hours,” she said, not unkindly.
“Thanks, I’ll be right out.” Kate popped the top off of the pain medicine as Natasha left and threw them back without effort. She then slipped down from the sink and made her way out to the living room. Natasha was back on the couch next to Clint, though the TV was still paused. Kate limped towards the couch. She had no intention of going back to her empty apartment with an injury. Plus she figured she might be able to plead her way into getting some alcohol out of this arrangement.
She plunked down on the other side of the couch and lifted her feet as best she could to rest them on the messy coffee table, creating a bridge over the sleeping dog that had managed to stay still since she had been here. Good, she didn’t need an over-excited Lucky jumping on her with her bum leg.
Clint and Natasha stared at her for a little while until she got annoyed. Which was weird, because it was hard to be annoyed when painkillers started to kick in. She looked at both of them out of the corner of her eye and sighed.
“Fine, turn on your wrestling. Make me love it too. We’ll start a club or something,” she said all of this flippantly, but she was actually very curious to see the wrestling show that had captivated the Black Widow.
Clint beamed at her, while Natasha gave her a small smile. Clint clicked the resume button on the remote control and just like that she was watching two women duke it out on television. She could tell some of it was fake, but when they started throwing each other and diving off of turnbuckles, she winced along with the girls on the screen. It was after that first match that she found herself paying attention to nothing but the TV. She blinked back her surprise at how into this she was. God, she was such a goner.
When she did get up to leave the next day, and was asked what she thought, she had shrugged her shoulder with indifference.
“It was fine I guess. Probably just the pain killers,” she had said. Clint had frowned in disappointment, but Natasha had smiled at her knowingly.
She had to hand it to Natasha for not saying anything when she was at the door next Wednesday in her comfy clothes with boxes of pizza for all of them. Natasha just smiled at her and stepped aside to let her in.