A/N: Seriously, I can't keep my hands off them. This plays after my fanfiction "A Different Call", though you don't to have read it to understand whats going on here. It's just how Natasha spends her first weeks as new SHIELD employee.
Warnings: swearing, that's pretty much it
Disclaimer: Sadly I don't own neither Natasha nor Clint.
Pacific Ocean, March 1994
It's been over two weeks since Natasha has woken up in a room in one of the seediest districts of Ekaterinburg with Clint Barton drooling on her shoulder.
Since then she has discovered that he works for SHIELD – an organization even the Black Widow isn't certain exists until she sees it with her own eyes – and that Director Fury isn't a man to mess with. He's maybe forty, maybe sixty, and as ageless as she is. His persona is all dark, skin, cloak and eyes, and he is able to curse in more languages than anyone else she has met before (she stops counting at twenty-three).
She goes through psych evaluation, but it's nothing more than child's play to her. The man examining her is half a decade too young to get her to reveal anything that she doesn't want to, and they both know it. He most likely tells Fury so, but it's not as if Natasha cares.
They know that she is damaged beyond repair. She's isn't hiding it and no one pretends otherwise – all of the agents are in some way, she guesses, because the only way to get into an organization as secretive as SHIELD is by being one of the best in your field (and she knows from experience that the best are never sane).
The first days she just sits in a cell in the HQ, which turns out to be a carrier currently located somewhere in the western Pacific Ocean (they blindfold her when they fly her in, but her sense of direction isn't thrown off that easily). The room his small and empty but clean, and really she has resided way worse than this – the food is surprisingly good too, though it doesn't make up for just sitting there and having to wait while other people decide her fate.
Clint Barton visits her once to check after her wound and change the bandages – which is code for "we don't trust you to not kill anyone else and the docs are too afraid to enter your room".
Neither of them says much, but then again they are obviously watched and she's too annoyed by endless hours spend doing nothing but pacing in the cell with nothing but herself as company to actually be friendly with him. He picks up on it immediately and doesn't try to engage her in conversation. Smart boy.
He's her only visitor until a group of guards comes in and escorts her to Fury's office. They are four men in full gear with glocks in their hands and knives on their belts and the Widow lets a mocking grin curl at her lips when they encircle her (if she wants to she can kill them one after another without even breaking a sweat). None of them dares to look her in the eye, and the grin only intensifies.
The director doesn't expect anything from her that she hasn't done before. Going in, getting intel, killing if necessary (that's new). If she passes all the tests they'll sent her on a mission with a babysitter to see if she runs off and they have to finish her off after all – Fury doesn't say it that way but the man who can fool her isn't born yet.
She can actually walk around freely in a certain part of the carrier now, but doesn't quite care. Two weeks off any real training pretty much equals dead in her head and she itches to get her hands on the fools standing assembled in front of her for what SHIELD deems physical exam (in reality they just want to know if she is as good as they say she is, but Natasha is eager to prove that indeed yes, she can kick all their asses).
The three examiners sit at a desk on her left side. The one in the middle if a man with hard brown eyes that is missing an arm, on his right a woman casually leans back in her chair and a grey-haired veteran old enough to have served in two or more wars occupies the last chair.
Beside them a dozen SHIELD agents stand with their backs to the wall, all of them male and in fighting gear. It is obvious that they itch to get their hands on her – the feeling is mutual, even though she knows better than to expect them to be a challenge.
"Johnson, you're first." the man with the watchful eyes commands (for a moment she remembers cool grey eyes staring at her, but pushes the thought away instantly).
He is big, more than a head taller than her, with upper arms thrice the size of hers – the Black Widow lifts an eyebrow and flashes the three people at the table a stern look, the irritated "Do you want to insult me?" almost leaving her lips.
That's exactly what they are doing, she decides eventually.
Patience isn't something Natasha is good at. She has learnt to stand still if an opponent seems to actually be a match for her, to wait for them to attack first because it gives the edge to her – but none of these men comes even close to her in ability, and so she charges.
She dodges the fist coming for her chest effortlessly, spins to the side and delivers a kick to his temple that is strong enough to knock him off his feet instantly. He's not lost consciousness thought, she won't grant him evading the humiliation by being out cold, and before he can even lift his arms to his head she is on him, a knee pressed to his chest and her hands at his throat.
Deathly silence ensues when the Widow leans down to whisper in her victims hear, "Dead."
No one dares to move when she breaks away from Johnson, his eyes wide and filled with fear. The agents just look at her and she can see uncertainty in their eyes …in point seven seconds she has just proven that indeed there is ample truth to all the rumors they tell about the Black Widow.
One of his comrades helps the man up at least and they leave the sparring mat while another man the head examiner calls Smith – these most likely aren't their real names but it's not like she cares – walks forward and takes a combat stance opposite her. He is as tall as Johnson but with a lean build and not nearly as much muscles. He's fast.
It's more show off than anything else, but she decides to take him out in another fashion than the other one.
No matter how useless, this is an exam after all. Her opponents might be victims and no actual competition, but that doesn't mean that Natasha can't at least show a small part of what she's capable off. It's definitely much more fun that way.
Again it's her on the offense, but at least Smith is quick enough to avoid a blow that would have cracked two of his ribs if she'd actually put any strength behind it – that doesn't mean he's able to doge the second one though, and his arm becomes useless when she hits the nerve hard enough to make him stagger. After that getting behind him and gripping his neck from behind is ridiculously easy.
"Dead." she actually grins this time when she feels the man's erratic pulse under his skin.
Letting him go he almost runs out of her range – if those idiots are actually SHIELDs best she can take down the whole organization single-handed, Natasha muses. She hopes for them that they're only playing with her.
"Peters." the leader eyes a man at the end of the row and the guy actually takes a step closer to the wall at the command. Natasha cannot help but chuckle.
"Fuck this!" all heads turn around at once towards the only other woman in the room, who is now rising from her chair and walking over to her, "Honestly, what did you expect? She's the fucking Black Widow! …there's a reason FBI and CIA have her on flee on sight."
…so that's why she hasn't seen one of those around for the last three years. She can't say that she is surprised, thought the news make her lips curl upward a little in satisfaction.
The woman's eyes are burning and as dark brown as her skin. She is taller than Natasha, around 1.7 meters, but would've been even more so if it hadn't been for the malnutrition in her youth. There is an angry, raged scar going from her right chin to her neck, her body is lean, her muscles hard and breasts small. She's African, not African-American… the Black Widow knows a child soldier when she meets them – it needs one to know one, after all.
A knife is flying past her but she doesn't move, doesn't turn her head to watch as it buries itself in the wall behind her.
In an actual combat situation she would have snatched it out of the air, but there is no need to risk cutting herself in the SHIELD HQ and so Natasha just calmly walks up to the weapon, pulls it out and turns around to face the other woman.
The male examiners don't look pleased but obviously are aware that the rest of the agents are nowhere near being a match for her – the dark-skinned women with the knife in her hand might actually be.
"Show me what you got, girly." it's an obvious provocation, but also more playful than really intentioned to offend her.
They both charge at the same time, sparks flying when their blades clash with a force that almost sends Natasha a step back. The SHIELD commander isn't holding back and the knowledge makes her heart beat a little bit faster in excitement.
Dodging a knee that aims for her gut she launches into a roundhouse kick, but her leg only connects with a hastily raised forearm. The hand belonging to said arm shoots out and grabs her ankle tightly, using her own momentum against her to throw the Widow to the side, but she has already regained her balance with her right hand on the floor and is back on her feet a second later.
None of them says a word when they circle each other, knives resting easily in their right hands.
She lets the other woman come this time, waiting for the knife that comes after her shoulder, spinning out of the way at the last second and lashing out with her own. Her opponent barely avoids it, knocking away her arm and lifting a foot to kick out her legs form under her – Natasha is faster however, jumping in sync with the other woman's kick and putting her own foot in the middle of her chest with a force that sends the SHIELD agent stumbling back a few steps.
For a member of a federal agency the dark-skinned woman is holding herself quite well, but then again Natasha is two weeks out of training and not seriously trying to kill her.
This fight won't provide her the challenge she wants either, she realizes, and lets her frustration out with a swift punch to the other woman's right thigh. To her credit she doesn't waver in her attack, coming forward fast enough to make her take a step to the side to avoid getting her arm slashed open.
Another series of kicks and blows follows, and she has to admit that without decades of practice at hand-to-hand combat dodging those would've been difficult – but as it is she just ducks away, her body evading the others limbs in a movement rehearsed so often that it now comes like instinct to her. It is easy, child's play.
The knife grazes a strand of her long red hair when she evades a rather vicious strike and leaps for a backflip that will become her trademark among SHIELD agents' years later, her thighs closing around the other woman's neck while she flips her around.
Her legs still firmly in place, her left hand fisted in the examiners hair and the right pressing the knife to the vein in her armpit, Natasha bares her teeth in a feral grin, "Dead."
"Damn, you're good." the other woman admits, almost laughing. She doesn't seem fazed by having one of the world's best assassins sitting on her chest, nothing but the Widow's self-restraint preventing her from certain death.
After a few seconds of holding each other's gaze the master spy decides to get up, sparing the two men left at the examiners table a short glance just to make sure that none of them wants to get his ass handed to him, too. The one in the middle chair positively growls at her while the old veteran responds to her eyes on him with a short nod.
Tilting her head back Natasha looks up to the ceiling, pretending that she has known that he is there from the beginning, "This is pointless. I could've taken them out when I was twelve."
A faint laugh echoes from one of the steel beams that criss-cross the ceiling of the large training room – most likely installed to hang up various training tools – and seconds later Clint Barton drops down beside her without making a sound, his movements almost as graceful as her own.
The rest of the people in the room make various sounds of surprise at his sudden appearance, but the Widow doesn't spare them a glance. She is fully occupied with the man standing in front of her, his grey eyes finding hers instantly.
She has tried not to think about him over the last few days.
The man is a distraction to her, and she usually avoids those like the pest – they tend to get you killed. It is different with him though, because he has spared her, and she has spared him, and Natasha still doesn't know how all of that happened in the first place. She should have just killed him and be done with it… well, she didn't and now she's here on the SHIELD carrier and not trying to kill any of those fools in annoyance.
"Are you bored, Natasha?" he asks, lifting an eyebrow in question.
Any other man would already be dead for presuming such familiarity with her, but this is the name she has given him the permission of using and so she doesn't charge forward and slash his throat open.
He knows it of course, and she can't stop but notice how he is more daring here in his own territory than he was in that rundown chamber in Ekaterinburg. This is home soil for him and the men watching them certainly spur him on, giving him the courage to prove to the group that he his alpha, the only one of them that can take her on – men (such prideful creatures and so easy to kill if one knows their weakness).
Twirling the knife in her fingers she steps closer to him until there is barely any space separating their bodies, "Are you offering to entertain me?"
It is a dangerous question and she is a dangerous woman – it is a reminder that the only way he could take her out was through luck, and that they both know it.
She is curious for his answer though, because if he wants to prove himself he has to do it to her before all others. Natasha (now) Romanoff is probably the most lethal thing on the entire ship and she wants to know if the hawk has it in him to stand up to her, to become her equal sometime in the future.
His tone if matter-of-factly, but his eyes are burning, "Your definition of entertainment is hunting down something and killing it."
Natasha is tempted to laugh.
Oh yes, indeed there it is, that raw potential of his she has last seen in Russia. A part of it is defiance and another disobedience, but that is what makes the best of them – she knows, it is the part of herself she recognizes in him, the part that got her punished time and time again… the part that made her get up and kill them all in the end.
"That's what we are best at." she answers honestly and watches his eyes widen slightly in surprise (he is still so, so young).
This answer is not what he expects and to her it is obvious how it throws him off balance – he has not yet learnt to cover his emotions fully, to wear a mask of indifference like he wears his clothes. He is young however, he can still learn, and so she doesn't embarrass him by pointing out his lapse in front of the other men. She knows and he knows that she knows and that is enough.
He makes a noncommittal grunt and changes the topic, "Fury's still pissed off… got me a one-way flight to Afghanistan. Fucking Taliban."
That doesn't surprise her. The hawk is in full gear after all – his bow securely strapped to his back – and director Nick Fury seems like a man who can hold a grudge if it benefits him in some way.
Afghanistan isn't a nice place to be, she was there last year, but the Widow has been to worse war zones (though not many, to be honest). The hawk is a sniper however and therefore way less likely to be killed by a stray grenade or suicide assassin. He should be good as long as he remembers not to play the hero and rescue the damsel in distress.
She lets her eyes drop to his crotch, "Watch out for the little girls who cut off your dick and put a bullet between your eyes afterwards."
Her voice doesn't indicate whether she is serious or not and she doesn't answer to the quizzical knitting of his brow. It's easier to keep him on his toes that way.
When it becomes clear that Natasha won't say anything more on her own he opens his mouth as if to ask, but then closes it and gives her a look she can't quite interpret – there's the familiar intensity in his eyes again, and she still doesn't know what to make of it.
Grey eyes travel down her body slowly, over the loose black shirt and olive cargo pants down to the black leather boots covering her feet. It is clear that he appreciates what he sees, that he lusts after her body just like every other man does, but he is still fully in control, doesn't give her the satisfaction to actually give in to the urge and touch her.
"No danger there." his eyes come up to meet hers one last time before he starts to turn towards the door, "…I survived you after all."
Her laugh follows him when he leaves the room.
After he is gone she looks at the remaining agents, "Anyone else?"
Natasha calculates in meter because she is Russian. Other than that I don't have much to add. Clint and Tasha do what they want anyway, I'm just giving in to them in and writing it down.
I'd be happy if you left a review.