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The Perils of Fame

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Maria had just started chopping vegetables with the intention of making a quick stir fry for dinner when Natasha's phone pinged. Maria mentally re-assessed how much food she was likely to need while Natasha scrolled through her messages.

"Well?" Maria asked when Natasha looked up.

"I'm going to need the outfit you wore for that Fame - the Musical production at school."

"The 80s disaster? why? and how to do you even know about it?"

"Cowan Enterprises is throwing an 80s themed party this evening. We have intelligence that a person of interest will be there."

"And how do you even know about that Fame production?"

Natasha gave her a withering look. Maria knew she should have destroyed all the photos the moment she was recruited into Intelligence, but her mother was very fond of them.

"What makes you think I even have it any more?"

"Your Mom gave you a suitcase of old clothes last Christmas. It's still in the back of the wardrobe."

Maria was about to ask what made Natasha so sure a pink Ra-Ra skirt and Madonna T-shirt were in the suitcase but stopped herself. Of course, Natasha would have investigated the suitcase as soon as it came into their flat. She'd probably removed the lining, x-rayed the frame and then carefully reconstructed the whole thing.

"If you tell anyone they are my clothes, I'll have you on desk duty for the next three months."

Natasha stuck her tongue out at Maria and then slipped away to the bedroom. Maria got on with making her meal for one.

"I think I've seen that outfit before," Coulson said over comms as Natasha and Clint presented their immaculately forged invite and entered the building.

Clint had opted for a white suit over a pink T-shirt and had rolled up the sleeves. "You probably saw it on Miami Vice," Natasha said.

"Not Hawkeye's outfit," Coulson said mildly.

Natasha could picture the amused look on his face and her heart sank slightly. Of course she wouldn't have been the only person to hack into Maria's file and the set of pictures from her High School production had been striking in a multi-coloured pastel shades kind of a way.

Clint patted her hand. "Widow rocks the look much better than Hill did."

Natasha decided to let the matter drop and hope it would go away. They were in the building now, after all, and had a job to do.

Maria was perched on at stool at the counter in the kitchen, reading a book and slowly eating a slice of carrot cake when the first text came in.

Hawkeye and Coulson have seen that photo of your school Fame production as well.

Maria grimaced. She very much preferred keeping her private life private. It was bad enough that everyone, it seemed, was fully aware of the sartorial disasters of her youth without them also knowing about her relationship with Natasha. She mentally scoped around for a plausible excuse.

We were meeting for our monthly reading group when the text came in.

We have a monthly reading group?

Maria glanced at the calendar.

Second Tuesday of every month. We meet up and I introduce you to the greats of American Literature. This month we were reading Jackie Collins' The Power Trip.

Natasha had picked the book up at an airport recently while looking inconspicuous. They'd spent a mildly drunken evening giggling over the sillier bits.

As cover stories went it left quite a bit to be desired. But it wasn't so implausible. They might have to be more discreet than normal for a while though.

"What interests me most," Nick Fury said, folding away the papers at the end of the de-briefing, "is where Black Widow got that outfit from?"

"I was at Maria's when the message came in. She offered it to me."

"They have a reading group," Clint said, in a tone of voice that suggested he didn't believe a word of it.

"The Greats of American Trash Literature," Coulson added blandly.

"The Greats of American Trash Literature?" Fury echoed.

"It helps me blend in," Natasha said.

Fury sighed. "I hope you find it educational."

"Exceedingly so, sir."

Fury clearly didn't believe a word of it either.

"Don't worry about Fury," Coulson said as they left the meeting.

"He's just angry you didn't ask him to give the brides away," Hawkeye said with a grin.

Natasha sighed inwardly. They'd tried so hard to keep the marriage secret.

"How long have you known?" she asked.

"For certain, not since you turned up in that outfit, then I went digging," Coulson replied.

"We knew you were dating, however, when you started buying shoes from the same shop," Clint said. "There just wasn't a good enough opportunity to make fun of you about it before."

"I do not find this funny," Natasha said firmly.

"No, but we do."

"Hawkeye's just sore he didn't get invited on the stag night," Coulson said.

"Well that can be fixed," Maria remarked when Natasha reported the conversation.

The delayed double stag/hen night was a truly epic affair even though the only people present were Natasha, Maria and Clint. Clint passed out first. Maria eyed him with bleary drunkenness.

"Traditionally one leaves the groom tied up somewhere in silly clothes."

"He's not the groom," Natasha pointed out.

"He's the only man here. He must be the groom."

They both contemplated his prone form.

Clint woke up tied to a lamp post outside S.H.I.E.L.D HQ wearing a shocking pink Ra-Ra skirt and a Madonna T-Shirt.

"Don't tell me you're in this relationship as well?" Fury remarked as he swept past him into the building.