A/N: To all the non-comic book fans out there, Frank Castle is the Punisher, a psychotic vigilante, Wade Wilson is Deadpool, a hilarious, but equally psychotic hitman/superhero/whatever, and Jessica Drew is Spider Woman. Most people don't remember this but Hawkeye started out as a villain and eventually became an Avenger, he was eventually married to a woman named Mockingbird, a SHIELD super spy, until they parted ways in an ugly divorce.
"I don't like you." A very serious looking man with thinning hair and a bland face settled into the chair across from Natasha, appearing almost out of thin air.
"I'm sorry to hear that…who are you?" Truthfully, Natasha didn't care. She was dead tired after a long day of cutting throats for the sake of "freedom" and all she wanted was to sit in the Helicarrier's mess hall and relax. This man, whoever he was, was now just an annoying distraction between Natasha Romanoff and the quiet cup of coffee she craved.
" My name is Coulson." He stated matter of factly, as if her not knowing his name was some basic piece of information that she should've already known.
"Alright Mr. Coulson, why don't you like me?"
"I don't like your attitude, I don't like the way you do things, I don't like the fact that I signed a kill order six weeks ago and now you're here on my team instead of being six feet under. " That last part caught Natasha's attention. She was still new to the hallways of SHIELD but she assumed casual references to kill orders didn't qualify as humor in any workplace. She locked eyes with the funny little man and saw a cold, almost cruel look dancing in his eyes. When he said he didn't like her, Mr. Coulson wasn't kidding. It suddenly dawned on her what he was talking about when he said 'kill order' and she felt her eyes narrow in their sockets.
She must've betrayed something on her face because Coulson broke into a smarmy, mocking grin. "Yeah, that's right. I was running Barton's operation in Greece, I'm the reason you're here." Natasha felt her hand migrating to her gun almost instinctively when she heard that. She always assumed it was Nick Fury that ran the operation that sent Clint Barton into Greece to bring her to justice.
Apparently she was wrong.
"Are you sleeping with him?" The question was hard and ugly, with several very unkind but unspoken words waiting in the rafters. She didn't respond, didn't say yes or no, just gave the question the casual disregard it deserved.
She scoffed and for some reason, that reaction seemed to satisfy Coulson. It was as if he already knew that 'yes, I screwed him' was on the tip of her tongue. He was briefly very quiet as he examined her, as if trying to read her mind. Natasha stared right back at him, unsure of his next move but definitely not scared. He finally spoke up, "Do you love him? Is that what this is?"
Natasha gave the standard Russian answer. "Love is for children." She lost her accent years ago but somehow Mother Russia was still inside her. She tried to make her own voice sound as ice cold as her own mother's was when Natasha asked why she never loved her father.
Now it was Coulson's turn to scoff. Something about that answer really seemed to drive him crazy and Natasha saw one of the muscles in his eyes twitch. "Every female field agent says that, you know what else they say?"
She shrugged, Natasha was determined not to participate in this conversation with a man who appeared out of nowhere and refused to give him a first name.
But Coulson didn't care. He continued, charging forward, just getting more annoyed with her as he spoke. "They say I do, as in 'I do want to marry the first covert ops sucker that falls for my damaged Bond girl act' and then a couple years later, I'm picking up my best friend off the floor of a cheap bar in Tijuana because the woman he loves doesn't love him enough to make it work." From the sound of his voice, it sounded like Coulson had first hand experience in picking Clint Barton up off the floor.
"If you don't love him…why are you here?"
Something about this man was starting to get to her, something that frustrated her. The same something that Natasha felt when someone told her that the world's best sniper was coming to find her. "Because your boss and your government are paying me to be here." It was getting harder to stay calm and there was a distinct edge in her voice now. She didn't like having her motives questioned, especially not by annoying little men with cheap gray suits. "I'm here because they wanted the best."
"You are a lot of things lady but you are not the best."
"My resume speaks for itself, Mr. Coulson"
Coulson leaned forward but stayed just out of arm's length and Natasha felt a little flattered. This man was fearless enough to walk over and start insulting her, not stupid enough to let her get a shot in. "Yeah, I've read your resume and just because you've spent your whole career stepping on Russian mobsters and Chechen terrorists doesn't mean you're the best."
"I have 30 confirmed kills and-"
"Frank Castle has 93 confirmed kills." The name itself was a threat and Natasha knew exactly what he was implying.
"Frank Castle is the best and Wade Wilson is the best when Frank isn't around. Jessica Drew is right behind both of them." Coulson said, "If my boss wanted the best, he would've hired one of them. He hired you because Clint begged him to bring you in."
That piece of information rocked her to her core. Clint Barton stuck his neck out for her. It gave her a very unusual tingle to know that. A very vulnerable and raw feeling. She hated it. "I…didn't know that." Natasha tried to push the tingling away, tried to maintain the carefully maintained ice queen act she'd worked so hard on. "It doesn't matter, our relationship is just casual."
"Lady, Clint Barton doesn't do ANYTHING casual. The guy spent two years in prison for armed robbery because he thought wearing a ski mask was dishonorable." It dawned on Natasha that man sitting in front of her had a bond with Clint unlike anyone else in the world. This was his handler, the man who sent him into battle and who watched his back for threats. Right now, she was one of those threats, a woman who was going to get past all of Clint's defenses and wreck his life. Just like the nameless woman who sent poor Clint into a Tijuana bar.
"I found Clint, I recruited him, and pulled him out of jail, I know that casual isn't in his nature. There's a part of Clint that's very, very vulnerable to women like you and you could cut him wide open if he lets you."
She did feel some empathy for Coulson now, understood why he was so protective. But she wasn't about to let him walk all over her. "It's none of your business." Natasha said and she meant it.
They locked eyes, engaging in a silent battle of wills. This was a conflict as old as time, the best friend versus the girlfriend/casual lover/fuck buddy. Other people had come to this battlefield before them and they weren't going to be the last.
She could tell he was done and he stood up from the table with a defiant flourish, "Find out what it is you want from Clint and then define your relationship." Coulson walked away, leaving her something to think about, "Or I start calling some of those names I dropped and find out their availability."
"So what do you think about Natasha?" Clint asked as he handed a beer to his handler.
"Great lady, love her to death." Phil Coulson said with a sigh, "Thinking about introducing her to some of my friends."