Prompt word: Curl. 475 words, Clint/Natasha if you squint really hard, G


There was a time when Natalia would have ignored birthdays and Christmas, or any other day that usally involved family and gifts and that thing called merriment.

But then one year, Barton had shown up at the door to her tiny S.H.I.E.L.D. assigned quarters, a small box held in his hands, wrapped haphazardly in a sheet of what looked like A4 paper. A zip tie was wrapped around it in place of a ribbon, and a smiley face and the words Scary Lady were scrawled on the side in Sharpie.

Natasha had frowned as she peered at the LCD security screen and yanked the door open, crossing her arms and glaring.


Clint had grinned and held out his hand, thrusting the gift at her chest, and started singing an awful rendition of the Happy Birthday song. She had slammed the door in his face.

And so, every year on the anniversary of her defection, he gave her a gift. Because even she didn't know when her birthday was. Usually the gift was a bit shit, and wrapped in something he'd found in the office supplies locker, but it was hers, and it was from someone who she had actually slowly come to like, rather than just respect his skills.

She warmed to the anglicized version of her name, she stopped calling him Barton unless they were on mission, she started giving him gifts in return. They were even worse than his crappy knickknacks, often a bit rude, and always broke within five minutes of him receiving them, but at least she spent more than twenty seconds on the wrapping.

She wrapped in tissue and shiny foil. She wrapped in cellophane and fabric and fancy paper she found in middle eastern markets. She wrapped with ribbon and string and wire, but her favorite thing came when she had to use the scissors for something other than cutting.

So now she sat on the floor of her bedroom, a small pile of neatly wrapped gifts in front of her, holding the sharp tool in one hand, and a roll of bright red curling ribbon in the other.

She wrapped the red around a blue package with a wide white satin ribbon across the middle. She pulled and pulled until there were loose curls and tight curls and medium sized curls. She tied more and more until the roll of ribbon was all used up, and she smiled.

There was a red package with yellow ribbon, a green package with purple, a black package with red and white, and finally there was Clint's.

A piece of black polythene garbage bag with a strip of purple polyester webbing, and the smallest of them all. But not crappy. This year, it was perfect.

And she couldn't wait to see his expression when he saw that he didn't have any curls.