Pretty as a Purl

by Liliththestormgoddess

Disclaimer: I don't own the Avengers, or Marvel comics.

Summary: Natasha Romanoff: super secret spy, Avenger, killer of men and courter of death. She also liked to knit.

A/N: My first Avengers fic. I've been on the Avengers kick ever since I saw the movie in May (Awesomely awesome movie!). I've mostly been reading fics here (can't get enough!) but decided to try my hand at them. I'm working on a longer, multi-chaptered one at the moment. I really don't know where this came from…but the idea was suddenly in my head and as I went to go write it down…all this came pouring out. And suddenly Clint was in my story too. Enjoy! Reviews appreciated!

Natasha Romanoff: super secret SHIELD spy, deadly Russian and Avenger, killer of men and courter of death.

She also liked to knit.

She wasn't very good at it, to be honest, but that hardly mattered.

She'd learned the simple stitches at a young age from her grandmother, and could remember making a small, simple scarf.

However, events had transpired and she had soon dropped the hobby.

She picked it up again years later. In a SHIELD safe house she had found a few bundles of yarn and several knitting needles. Idly wondering who had left them there, she stared at them as warm, safe memories flooded her mind. There was a certain calm that came with knitting.

She didn't touch them for three days.

On the third night, she'd woken in a cold sweat, frantically pulling the knife from under her pillow. When she'd calmed down enough to determine that she'd only been dreaming, she dropped the knife. Sleep, however, eluded her.

She remembered the knitting needles in the corner. She picked them up in her still-shaking hands and it all came back to her as she began to weave. She figured she would knit until sleep came back to her.

She had planned only on a scarf. When sleep finally beckoned once again, she had the makings of a small blanket.

She added to the blanket after missions. She couldn't carry it with her during them, but it stayed in her room at SHIELD. It was one of her only personal possessions, and to most people it resembled a loopy, sloppy blanket in a myriad of clashing colours that looked like a half-blind arthritic old woman had knit it.

To Natasha, it was sanity and calm. It was home.

When the blanket was big enough to cover her whole bed, she tried her hand at other things. Her first attempt was a sweater.

It was big and shapeless, but it was comfortable and damn it, she didn't have to look sexy every second.

She and Barton had been sent on an op in the Alps and she had packed the sweater for extra warmth. She'd planned on wearing it herself, but her idiot partner had gone and nearly frozen to death, so when she rescued his blue ass she'd tugged the sweater over his head and wrapped him in blankets.

Two days later and she began to wonder if she was ever going to get the sweater back. Barton hadn't taken it off. She'd expected some snide remark about women and knitting and was preparing to kick his ass back out into the snow, but what he'd actually said was: "Make me one?"

It was so utterly normal that it was abnormal. Natasha didn't know what to do.

When the op went even more horrifically wrong and the extraction picked them up to whisk Clint to the nearest hospital, Natasha found herself sitting on the floor of his hospital room, knitting furiously. Her hands shook and the stitches were sloppy and uneven, but damn it, he was going to wake up because she was knitting the stupid sweater for him.

When he did wake several hours later, she threw the sweater at his face and stalked out the door.

Unlike Natasha, Barton wasn't afraid to waltz around headquarters in his bulky, unattractive sweater. Agents snickered as he walked by, but Coulson merely raised an eyebrow. "Nice sweater. You make it yourself, Barton?"

Clint just grinned. "Jealous?"


Barton's collection of knitted wear grew over the years. Each time he landed himself in the hospital, something new appeared on his bed. Clint knew it was Natasha's way of dealing with her concern for him, and he never blamed her for not visiting him. He knew her enough to know by now that when she knitted, it was when demons haunted her thoughts and shadows stalked her dreams. The fact that she knitted when he was laid up spoke volumes.

One night as they lay there comfortably in bed, Clint was awake while Natasha slept peacefully. It wasn't often that this happened. He ran his fingers over the large, uneven stitches of the blanket that covered them. He traced where she started and stopped, when she purled and when she knitted.

He thought it was ironic that each piece told a story about a nightmare or haunting memory, and yet it gave her comfort at night.