A/N: Been scribbling a lot of ficlets and drabbles since I last crossposted. So um... expect a flood?

Prompted by morrighangw for ATTF: Welcome Summer at the Be Compromised LiveJournal Clint/Natasha community. Stuck outside in 100+ degree weather in the desert.

Dressing Down

"You are a strange man, Clint Barton."

Clint chuckled softly without lowering his binoculars. "Says the woman who likes poolsides and stiletto heels. I'd say, 'Have you tried walking in those things,' but obviously, you've got it down pat."

Natasha raised an eyebrow. "Have you tried walking in stiletto heels?"

"No comment," he answered dryly.

He reached for his water bottle and made a discontented sound as he wiped his brow, proving that he was indeed human despite preferring a stakeout at 100 degrees (plus) in the middle of the desert to 'poolsides' and Natasha in stiletto heels. This despite the fact that she knew he very much appreciated seeing her all dressed up.

Natasha was miserably hot. She wanted out of her tac suit, regardless of the protections it offered from bullets and worse, and she kept wringing out the excess sweat and yanking off whatever accessories she didn't really think she'd need.

"We'd blend in more if we were in desert clothes," she pointed out for the fifteenth time in the last four hours.

Clint leaned forward and stared through the binoculars. His turn on watch. He seemed to genuinely not mind it, despite his own heavy tac suit.

They had parked the jeep behind a copse of scraggly desert growth and rocks and were supposed to just sit there and watch for the weapons convoy due to wander through sometime between three days ago and a week from now. They'd been staked out for five days, and the heat was beginning to seriously make her want to tell off Fury the next time he thought she should join her insane partner on this type of mission.

"Don't need to blend in," Clint pointed out.

Natasha sighed. Both of them knew there wouldn't be time to suit up when the convoy did come through. Clint would be taking out key players from far out and she would be infiltrating the camp afterward for some much needed intel on the trafficking in the area. She was professional enough to keep her griping to a minimum, not that Clint ever returned the favor at a five star hotel.

"Hey, Clint."

He glanced over, eyebrows arching in amusement that he had graduated from full-name treatment. She thought the temporary demotion had been fully merited. He actually liked this assignment.

"Give me your best estimate on how much notice we'll have before they're in range." She gestured at the expanse of rocky desert and the excellent view their position afforded.

Clint shrugged. "Twenty minutes."

"And out of range?"

He gave her a funny look. "Fifteen."

"So I can safely take a fifteen-minute break from this tac suit," she said firmly and started stripping.

He stared at her blankly.

Natasha and Clint had seen each other in minimal clothing often enough, but she didn't usually get down to underwear unless she wanted him to do something about it.

"I'm pretty sure you're supposed to be staring through the binoculars," she told him, knowing perfectly well what she was doing to him.

"You're an evil woman, Natasha Romanoff." But he turned back to watch again.

She put up the shade so she wouldn't burn like a tomato, sipped some water, and smiled. "Says the man who once tried walking in stiletto heels."

Natasha set the bottle of vodka down on the nightstand next to Clint.

"I can handle this, Tasha," he commented with no small amount of irritation.

She had noticed over the years that her partner tended to get cranky after he'd been shot and required stitches.

"Shut up," she told him without pity or remorse. "We're playing Never Have I Ever."

Clint eyed the bottle, then her, then sighed. He didn't like drinking when he thought it might take the edge off his performance (as if Natasha was going to let him keep working right now anyway), but he would almost always accept an authorized secret-sharing session because, seriously, he was one of the precious few allowed to know her secrets.

He nodded. "To in vino veritas."

She jabbed the needle into his flesh.

Clint swore colorfully for a moment before gritting out, "Never have I ever been a widower."

Natasha paused thoughtfully as she sorted out memory from knowledge. Her mind had been a work of art, and even she wasn't always sure which lives of hers were false. Finally, she picked up the vodka and swallowed some down.

"Never have I ever been divorced." She had wondered before about that. There were little things Clint did that made her think he might have been married once.

He downed enough vodka to take the edge of her work. "Okay." He muttered it a few times, trying to hold still as she stitched.

She paused.


"Ask me something," she ordered abruptly.

"Never have I ever visited a zoo."

It was so out of left field, Natasha laughed. Raised in the circus and he hadn't visited a zoo. "Do missions count?" she asked.


She inched the bottle closer to his hand. "Never have I ever cross-dressed on a mission."

"Evil," Clint muttered and eyed her.

She stared straight back.

He downed enough vodka to take the edge off her intel-gathering at work.

"Spill," she ordered and plunged in with the needle again.

The swearing grew more creative and spanned half a dozen languages. "The only good perch was a woman's club, okay?"

"You don't look anything like a woman," she commented back.

"Yeah, well, that's what I told Phil." Without prompting, he took another swig of vodka. "I had to wear an insane amount of clothing in eighty degree weather and heels. Heels! Seriously."

"Says the man who prefers a hundred degrees in the desert to a poolside," Natasha shot back.

"When we get back," Clint started, as if she hadn't said anything, "we're going to the zoo."

She finished tying off the thread and took the bottle back for another swallow. "I want footage."

"You wear those boots without the heels. And never tell another soul." He eyed her warily while she considered the deal.


A few years ago...

"No. Not happening." Clint collapsed his bow and put away his quiver. "Find someone else."

"Barton." Agent Phil Coulson was famous for keeping his cool under pressure, for always finishing a mission, and for keeping a handle on the most incorrigible (if effective) asset SHIELD had. The slight pleading in his tone was a good hint that, in this, Clint Barton might even be a bit beyond him.

"No." Clint dropped his registered cell phone on the table. "Either we call in a new sniper or we change the plan."

"There isn't time," Phil pressed. "Madame Hydra will be in that spa inside an hour, and she's only scheduled to stay there for two."

"And not one person," Clint ground out, "thought to make sure there was even one neighboring building that allows men?"

Phil sighed, knowing full well that in for a penny, in for a pound. "She has twenty bodyguards and two snipers of her own with comms to the rest of her team. This required your skill."

Fury had also bet Phil one hundred dollars Clint would turn down the mission. Phil won that one hundred dollars by not telling Clint in advance about this very slight wrinkle.

"We don't have another marksman with sufficient skill." Phil leaned forward. "Barton. This is Madame Hydra."

Clint's reaction proved the reason for SHIELD's excellent dental plan as he ground his jaw tight enough to cause damage. "If you already bought an outfit, Coulson, I swear you owe me every penny of whatever you won off of getting me to do this."

He was going to do it. Phil breathed relief. "I was kind of going with the authorization to remove all footage from the records room afterward."

Clint barked a laugh. "That's happening anyway. But I'll let you have ten percent if you never breathe a word and give me the next female recruit with potential as a sniper."

"Fifty percent."



They shook hands.

Clint grimaced. "Let's get this over with."

At least it wasn't a dress, and at least the material Phil had provided to give Clint 'hips' was weaponry. He drew the line at upper body figure and wore several undershirts thick enough to make either gender next to shapeless.

"It's eighty degrees outside," Clint griped under his breath, interspersed with a few choice swear words.

"I was going to advise lighter clothing for the summer environment," Phil answered mildly but only got a scowl for the comment. "And here are the shoes."

"Absolutely not."

"Come, Barton." Phil smiled. "You need to blend in."

This wasn't blending in. This was torture.

Clint had a new respect for women. He voted that no woman, let alone female agent, in the entire world should ever have to wear heels ever again unless they wanted to. "How do they walk in these things?"

"Good thing you only have to sit and shoot," Phil replied tonelessly through the comm, doubtlessly thoroughly amused.

Just sit and shoot. Sit and shoot. Clint smiled through the cussworthy makeup when 'another' staff of the women's club in her matching uniform and high stiletto heels glanced his way as he headed up the stairs to the roof. He should've stuck to the ten percent.

He found his perch, aimed through the scope, and counted minutes in his head and occasionally from Phil's mark until he could take out the hostile snipers, then four more breaths, and there was the lady herself. Perhaps he wasn't quite supposed to take down her entire cadre of bodyguards in addition to her terrorist highness, but what could he say? She shouldn't have been at a women's club.

"Barton," Phil admonished as he walked at a hurried clip to keep up. "That was outside the mission parameters."

Clint ignored him, glad to be in his own proper clothes back at SHIELD, and headed for the latest batch of new recruits.


He kept ignoring that Jiminy Cricket voice behind him as he eyed over the recruits shooting at targets. "That one." He pointed at a brunette girl with a ponytail. "She got a name?"

Phil sighed. "Kate Bishop."

Clint nodded. "She's mine."


Kate barely glanced up from the book she was reading on Clint's dilapidated old (but comfortable) couch. "Nice boots." She gave a thumbs up at the black leather and turned the page.

Natasha ruffled the younger woman's hair to loud protests—"Not a kid!"—and stepped past into Clint's bedroom where he was pulling on a jacket to go.

She held out a foot for his inspection, then held out her hand.

"Not a soul," he reminded.

Natasha rolled her eyes. "Clint."

He handed over a disc. "There's the footage, whatever survived."

"I'm guessing you did your part in trying to wipe out the cameras?"

"Incendiary arrows rarely made me fonder," he agreed and tucked her under his arm.

She rarely allowed the gesture, but she did today, just to get the thumbs up from Kate on the way out. "She our backup?"

"Dog-sitter." Clint grinned. "It's just you, me, and the zoo."

"You promised me once to dance on an elephant's back," she said thoughtfully.

"I was drunk too." Clint paused, got out of the car, and returned with his quiver. "Just in case I need to wipe out any evidence."

"Think of the Starkphones," Natasha admonished. "And the children."

"We could go back after it closes."

"Clint." But she was grinning back at him.

"Well, I did promise."