Kate didn’t get a medal, which is fine, Clint says he didn’t get a medal his first Olympics either.
She’d be more reassured if half of Clint’s hobbies didn’t involve day drinking and his copious collection of exes, and if he weren’t currently hiding his dog in her room in the athletes’ village.
“You got a personal best and a cute blazer,” Clint offers, and it’s not like she was expecting a medal, but the sting is a little sharper than she anticipated. Of course everyone goes to the Olympics and on some level wants to stand there on that podium while their anthem plays and their family cries in the stands.
Kate doesn’t have any family here, but that’s not actually the point.
“Yeah,” she says, and she’ll probably sob in the shower for a while later, but hell, she’s been to an Olympics, and the rush from that will carry her through.
Clint wraps his arm around her and Kate leans into him, resting her head against his shoulder. “You did good, Katie,” he says softly. “And later on I’ll buy you a plush of one of the disturbing mascots.”
“I’ll feed it to Lucky,” Kate warns, but she’s glad anyway.
“You looked good,” Bobbi says. She’s wearing a pair of massive sunglasses and sipping something brightly-coloured with more than one cocktail umbrella in it. It looks pretty awesome, actually, Kate immediately wants one. “And don’t worry, Kate, I didn’t get a medal my first Games either.”
Bobbi is Clint’s ex-wife, and was a Taekwondo champion back in the day. She’s still pretty imposing, but in a casual, ludicrously sexy way that Kate should probably stop being into, less because Bobbi is her coach’s ex, and more because anyone who can kick her ass the way Bobbi could can never be a good idea. Anyway: she’s crazy hot, and she hangs around a lot because somehow she and Clint are terrible at being divorced, or maybe great at it.
“You got me though,” Clint says, with what is maybe supposed to be an attempt at a winning grin. He needs to shave, though, and he’s drunk at least three massively alcoholic things out of coconuts with straws, so he doesn’t quite pull it off.
Bobbi shoots a look at Kate, who tries unsuccessfully to bury a laugh behind her hands.
“Can’t put you on display on my mantelpiece,” Bobbi says lightly.
“Pretty sure you tried,” Clint responds.
Kate has only known them since they split, but she’s heard various things about the divorce, which sounds not exactly acrimonious like her parents’ was, but does sound like an unholy mess anyway.
Bobbi smirks, and then twists in her seat to gesture to a nearby waiter. “I’ll take three more of these, thanks,” she says, gesturing to her drink.
“Three?” Kate echoes.
“Two are for you,” Bobbi clarifies. “You’re done for the Games, the sun is shining, there’s beaches, booze, and endless amounts of hot available athletes around. I say you get a few days R&R.”
“It’s what I’m going to do,” Clint agrees.
Bobbi tips her head to one side. She’s wearing a Poe Dameron t-shirt and a lot of silver nail polish, and Kate envies her her ease a little; even after competing, she’s not entirely sure she feels comfortable here, still a tiny bit the outsider.
“Are you and Nat doing the League Table again?” Bobbi asks Clint suspiciously.
“Of course,” Clint says, sounding mildly affronted. “How could you doubt us?”
“What’s the League Table?” Kate asks.
Bobbi lowers her sunglasses so Kate can see her elaborately rolling her eyes. “Natasha and Clint have a little friendly competition to see who can score with the most coaches during the Olympic period,” she explains, “and then the information is fed into a massively convoluted table and points are awarded according to nationality, sport, and what base is reached.”
Even as she lets out a startled laugh, Kate realises she is not even slightly surprised.
“Nat won in London,” Bobbi adds.
“Only because she managed to make out with that ludicrously attractive blind boxing coach,” Clint says, looking sulky.
“And she deserved every extra point that that got her,” Bobbi says, before she shoots a look at Kate. “Obviously this is a terrible game to play and I judge them accordingly.”
“We let you play as a wildcard contender two Games in a row,” Clint protests.
Bobbi doesn’t quite hide her smile, as the waiter reappears with a tray laden with brightly coloured alcoholic things, most of them for Kate, arrives. “And I did pretty well, if I remember rightly,” she says.
Kate thinks about all the various responses, and then just reaches for her glass, picking a piece of ornamental pineapple off the side as she does so.
Natasha Romanov was a Russian gymnast, but in later years she defected to the US. Kate knew who she was long before she ever met her – her routines have gone down in history, and Kate has spent far too much time watching them on youtube, admiring Natasha’s lithe, terrifying grace, her steady hands and feet, the glitter of determination in her eyes.
The first time Clint introduced them, when Kate was an impressionable teenager who’d just started training in earnest with her idol – because Clint was, and still kind of is, her idol in ways she doesn’t want to talk about, okay – she almost couldn’t believe that Clint knew Natasha, let alone was friends with her. Even blinded by adolescent hero worship, Kate could see that Natasha was just so much cooler than Clint, she existed in an entirely different league to them, the Olympic archers whose names no one would ever remember.
Nowadays, Kate is much less in awe of Natasha, though there’s still some part of her that goes starry-eyed and tongue-tied around her – she hides it a lot better now, or at least she hopes that she does – and it’s not just because Natasha is startlingly, consistently beautiful in a way that’s actually quite difficult to get accustomed to. She and Clint are clearly close, with an easy back-and-forth dynamic that frequently descends into wordlessness, and Kate still can’t work out if they’ve ever slept together; she could probably ask Bobbi, but then she’d have a definitive answer, and she’s not sure how she’d handle that, either way.
“Katiiiiiie,” Clint trills, pinging Kate’s sleep mask against her face. “Get up, get up, big day today.”
Kate thinks about stabbing him, and then realises she can’t think of anyone she could have training her except that Queen guy she’s never gotten on with.
“You’re remarkably sober for this time of the morning,” she says, as Lucky clambers onto her bed, making happy morning morning morning noises. He’s sandy, and smells like the sea, and Kate presumes Clint took him out for a walk along the beach.
“We’re going to watch some gymnastics,” Clint says cheerfully, “Nat gave me some tickets. Come on, it’ll be great, you know you love gymnastics.”
Kate does; she’d never give up archery, and anyway she’s not sure her limbs could coordinate in the right way, but she sometimes watches all those gymnasts and is so jealous and filled with wanting to do that she thinks she’ll burst.
“I do,” she agrees. “You’ve got an ulterior motive, though.”
“Well, shower while you figure out what it is,” Clint responds peacefully, throwing himself onto the bit of the bed that doesn’t contain Kate or Lucky, and reaching for the remote. “Off you go.”
Kate kicks him on the way past, but she does.
“You’re after the Wakandan coach,” she tells Clint when they’re on the way to the venue. “Or Natasha is, and you don’t want her to succeed, because presumably there’s loads of points at stake.”
Clint’s idea of computer passwords is laughable, and Kate and Bobbi hacked the League Table and its rules the other night; it’s surprisingly thorough and detailed, and Wakanda, being one of those nations that keeps itself to itself most of the time, gets you lots of points. It helps, of course, that T’Challa, the Wakandan gymnastics coach, is super, super hot. Kate herself would love to break off several pieces of that.
“I am definitely not cockblocking Nat, if that’s what you’re thinking,” Clint says.
“Sure,” Kate drawls. “Well, have fun with that.”
“I will,” Clint replies, and takes a swig from his giant travel mug of coffee.
Kate really loves the gymnastics; the speed, the talent, the tension, the strength, and even the costumes. Maybe next time she competes she’ll add some rhinestones to her uniform; archery isn’t exactly awash with glamour. Beside her, Clint seems to mostly be snapchatting pictures of Nat to Bobbi, and possibly also playing Pokemon Go – Kate is pretty good at tuning him out these days, and there’s enough stunning talent in front of her to distract her completely from Clint making a general nuisance of himself.
The US team are really good – hardly surprising, given that Natasha has a whole host of gold medals and is pushing her squad to achieve the same – but Kate quickly realises that she’s not really watching them as a whole: she’s basically just watching America Chavez. Sure, it’s amusing that a woman competing for America is literally called America, but Kate forgets about that the moment America takes the run-up for the vault.
America is fast, and sure, and graceful, spinning through the air and landing solidly. Of all the women competing, she’s the one who reminds Kate most of Natasha – the way she flies through the air like a knife blade, cutting it as she goes, sparkling and hard. Kate has a type, though she pretends that she doesn’t, mostly because it matches Clint’s to an uncomfortable level: kick-ass women who could probably pulverise them. America definitely looks like she could do that, but she’s also got a glorious smile when her teammates do well, and bright dancing eyes that make Kate’s breath catch.
“Huh,” Clint says, looking up from his phone, “I was kind of holding out for you banging someone from the swimming team.”
“I’m not playing your game,” Kate responds, chin propped on her hands as the first of the Latverian team steps up to the beam.
“Ah,” Clint says, philosophically, “there’s always next Games. You’ll get a medal, and get a League Table of your own.”
“Maybe I’ll meet my future wife at these ones,” Kate responds.
Clint makes a thoughtful noise; Kate doesn’t look at him, or America, and she definitely doesn’t blush.
“Kate,” Natasha says, pulling her into a hug. “Congratulations.”
“I didn’t win anything,” Kate replies, but it’s been a few days since she competed, and she’s feeling better now.
“You competed in your first Games,” Natasha reminds her, “and got a personal best. I’m proud of you.”
Kate feels herself flush, biting her lip and ducking her head. Her dad hasn’t called; she wasn’t expecting him to. But Clint’s been bringing her increasingly disturbing mascot merch daily, and Bobbi’s been buying her glorious cocktails, and Luke and Jessica sent her flowers, and Billy and Teddy have announced a celebration party when she gets back to the States, and here’s Natasha smiling at her in a way that’s surprisingly not terrifying at all, not even slightly.
“Congratulations yourself,” Kate manages, after a moment: Natasha’s team have, of course, made the final.
Natasha nods and smiles, accepting the compliment, but Kate can see how proud she is of her team – and she should be, they’re incredible, and that’s not just Kate’s terrible awful crush talking.
“Nat and I have a lot of champagne to drink while we discuss that Paralympic boxing coach,” Clint announces, appearing from nowhere to throw a casual arm around Natasha’s shoulder. She grins, expression turned gleefully sharp again.
“Barnes isn’t going to sleep with either of you,” Kate tells them, but they’re already sweeping off.
“So,” a voice says behind her, “you’re the infamous Katie-Kate Bishop.”
“I am going to kill Clint,” Kate says, as she turns.
“What,” America says, her eyes sparkling, “you don’t actually go by ‘Katie-Kate’?”
“Oh,” Kate says. “Um.”
They’re not drinking, because America’s games aren’t over, and she still has a chance for a couple of medals, but they’ve gotten hold of some virgin pina coladas that are either great or disgusting, Kate can’t make up her mind.
“Clint’s Implausible Yet Actually Real Circus Past means he’s pretty good at showmanship,” America explains. She gestures a lot when she talks, and Kate is hoping her expression isn’t enchanted. “Has he never shown you his double backflip?”
“No?” Kate scrabbles for her phone to send off a quick capslocky text – she gets a keyboard smash and some vaguely obscene emojis in reply, so she assumes that the champagne is going well.
Kate knows bits and pieces of Clint’s Implausible Yet Actually Real Circus Past because it’s, well, exactly what she’s labelled it, but he apparently left out the bit where he could also do gymnastics; she can’t picture Clint doing a flip of some kind without putting his back out.
America’s laughing at her, and Kate doesn’t mind, because America’s laugh is as gorgeous as the rest of her and she’s definitely sitting a little too close to Kate for it to be accidental.
“Natasha hasn’t roped you into her League Table, has she?” Kate asks, doubtfully.
“She’s a bit busy aiming for the Greek javelin coach,” America responds, grinning. “She’s been seen with Matt Murdock but Nat’s pretty sure she’s bi.”
Kate shakes her head, even as she hears herself laughing. “I don’t think this is what the unity of the Games is meant to be about.”
“They hand out free condoms at the Village,” America reminds her, “I think it probably is.”
Her knee is pressing into Kate’s under the table; America’s left wrist is in a brace and her curly hair is escaping out of its ponytail and Kate wants her in a way that startles her a little bit.
“You know Clint met his ex-wife at his first Games?” Kate hears herself say, and it’s not at all what she meant to say, but it sort of works.
“You should probably take me out to dinner first,” America responds, hooking her ankle around Kate’s, and Kate’s stomach twists deliciously.
“You don’t have a celibacy tradition?” Kate asks. Athletes all have their own things; Kate knows loads of people who won’t have sex anytime near competing.
America rolls her eyes. “That gold is mine. And you have no idea how many pictures of you in training Clint sends Natasha, it was driving me a little crazy that he never brought you over to visit.”
Kate blinks, processes that sentence backwards and forwards, and blinks again. “Oh.”
“Yeah.” America grins at her, radiant.
The virgin pina coladas aren’t that great, or maybe Kate has never actually liked pina coladas, but they don’t taste so bad on America’s mouth, her fingers laced with Kate’s where no one else can see.
Kate doesn’t win a medal at her first Olympics, but she wears her girlfriend’s gold for a while, and it’s pretty good, and, hey, there’s always next time.