NOTES: This story is one half of a reversebang challenge by my friend Pentapus. She drew the picture-prompt and I wrote the fic. Unfortunately, the picture can't be posted at this site, although you can find Pentapus' art on LiveJournal and at Archive Of Our Own (AO3). The picture isn't needed to read the story, but it's good art!

The Guy, The Spy, His Not-Wife, And Their Handler

It should be a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a date rape drug must be in want of a brain.

Clint gets the call shortly after midnight, on his way home from another operation. He's not particularly pleased to get it. "Tell me I'm not being called on to clean up someone else's mess."

Thankfully, Maria has no quips about his surliness, just the statement. "Romanoff bit someone."

Clint pauses, crouched four stories up on a rooftop, slate tile uncertain under his right foot. "Literally?"

"He's alive, last report," Maria continues with a hint of dry amusement in her throaty voice. "Of course, that was from fifteen minutes ago."

"What did he do?"

"Tried to drug Natasha. Judging from the strength of her reaction, it was probably your standard benzodiazepine."

"Shit."

"Oh, it gets better." And now Maria is definitely amused. "Having drugged her drink, he attempted to hustle her off in a taxi, and apparently got violent in the process."

Clint knows how this story ends, and he's already working out Natasha's options. "Where'd they leave the taxi?"

"Prague. Corner of Slezská and Budečská." Which means the apartment near Riegrovy sady. Clint's already working out how to get from here to there, when Maria interrupts his train of thought. "I know where she's gone, Clint, and so do you. What I need is for you to make sure he's still alive when I get there in the morning."

Clint blinks. "Where are you?"

"New York. I can get there by local morning, but we need him alive."

"Significance?"

"His company has the contracts for the waste disposal of half Eastern Europe's nuclear reactors."

"Koenig's dirty isotopes?"

"And the Chisinau bombing," Maria says. "Lab's traced it."

"I take it Natasha was supposed to bring him in easy tonight?"

"If he wasn't on the list, I'd say he earned what's coming to him. Since he is, I need someone to beard the Widow in her lair – someone whose head she won't bite off."

"Why, Hill, are you asking if we've had sex yet?" Clint grins at her noise of annoyance. Maria is one of the few people exasperated by the betting pool regarding whether or not he and Natasha have ever had sex. Jasper is unsubtly curious, Phil is amused, Fury doesn't care.

Maria, when addressed on this point, is firmly of the belief that it doesn't matter whether or not they've been skin to skin – they're emotionally involved. Sex is – in her words – setting the bar entirely too low. Clint would go to the wire for Natasha, and Natasha would go to the wire for him. What's sex got to do with that?

Someday, Clint thinks he's going to take great pleasure in watching Maria Hill – Ice Queen of S.H.I.E.L.D. – lose the battle with her hormones over someone completely inappropriate – for Hill, anyway.

"So, can you do it?"

"Have sex? Sure."

"This is me not asking, Barton. Could you at least do me the favour of not telling?"

Clint grins and answers the original question. "I'll do damage control. If there's anything left when I get there."

In the four years since he first brought her over to the dark side, Clint has learned a number of things about Natasha Romanoff.

There are the big, obvious things like 'she's an assassin who can seduce you as easily as breathing', and 'everything about her is calculated to some degree, even her relationships'. Then there are the less well-known things like 'abuse of innocents is a major trigger' and 'do not ever give her any kind of drug – even the standard painkillers'.

And then there are the things that Clint wonders if anyone knows – if Natasha even knows he knows them.

He can hear voices on the other side of the door – the gagged pleading of a man who doesn't have the faintest idea what he's unleashed, and the coaxing lilt of a woman who's being playfully obtuse.

Clint calls her mission cell number from outside the front door. Natasha answers it within two rings. "Where are you?"

"Right outside the door."

A moment later, the door is yanked open and the reserved, self-contained Black Widow practically drags him into the apartment. The yellow ribbon-tie that accentuates her waistline ripples in the air behind her as she leads him through the 'foyer' and into the inner room.

"Look what I brought home!"

"I'm looking," he tells her.

The nuclear waste kingpin is a wiry guy, hipster lean, with more hair product on his head than sense in it. He's tied to a chair with a gag in his mouth and looks simultaneously horrified by the propsect of a boyfriend and relieved to see someone else.

Clint waits for Natasha to close the door before he takes the gag out. The place has been insulated for better soundproofing, but a little noise always leaks out. There's no point in taking chances.

"Look, man, you gotta get me outta this. Your wife - she's crazy! I hang in the bar, minding my own business and she tries to pick me up! I keep saying no, but she won't leave me alone."

Clint snorts as he regards the guy. Natasha tied him to a chair with plastic ties, divested him of his wallet, phone, keys, and gun – all of which are lying on the sideboard of the room. "Bullshit."

"What?"

"You," he looks the man up and down, "refused her?"

"I...I...I got my own woman, okay? I don't need her. I mean, yeah, she's hot, but—"

"But you thought you'd slip her something to smooth the way," Clint drawls, playing the guy. "Just a little – enough to make her compliant, right?"

"I—No, man. I'm not that guy. I'm not—"

"You drugged her and you dragged her into a cab, and you thought you'd slap her around a bit. We have witnesses."

"I didn't—I didn't know—It doesn't usually—"

"It doesn't usually end this way around?" Clint saunters around the guy, watching as the man tries to work out which one of them he should be watching right now. "With you tied to the chair?" He listened to the file on this guy on his way over here. According to the notes, this guy has a thing for causing pain – the less consensual, the more exciting.

Clint doesn't mind a bit of salt in his caramel; but he never played the game with anyone who was less than one hundred percent willing. Or who didn't make sure he was one hundred percent willing, too.

This guy, on the other hand, is the kind of guy who gives guys a bad name.

And Natatsha's cut halfway through the plastic ties binding him. Clint sees the cuts, sees where they've strained at the edges, tugged and twisted by a desperate man.

Fuck.

This is the Black Widow's version of playing with her food before she eats it. She's been letting the target believe she might let him go if he begged hard enough. If she'd continued, he probably would have begged – and then screamed when he discovered how illusory his freedom really was.

In this mood, even someone familiar and trusted is going to have a problem pulling her out.

So Clint saunters around the chair and pauses to the side. "Not a bad find," he tells Natasha, who's thrown herself down on the old-style couch – almost a chaise - and is watching them. "Were you planning to keep him?"

"Keep—?"

The guy breaks off as Natasha crosses her legs, and the silky hem of her dress clings to her thighs. She looks sensuous, relaxed, and Clint feels the familiar gut-twist of desire - a man would be dead before he failed to react to Nat.

He'd also be dead if he made a move she didn't like.

"Am I allowed to keep him?"

The question has echoes of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, not the rogue assassin. Clint does a lightning-swift reassessment. Not so far under then – enough to give her temper and an edge. "Only until the collectors come. Should be around dawn."

"That's not very long."

"Better make it worth it, then."

The guy's been listening to all this with his jaw steadily dropping. "You—You're as psycho as she is!"

"Oh no, we're very different kinds of psycho," Clint assures the guy as he plumps down on the couch beside Natasha. "She plays with her food; I go straight for the throat."

Natasha sits up and presses herself against his arm, resting her chin on his shoulder. Tactility. Another aspect of the drugs. "How'd your night go?"

"I sang for my supper. They didn't kick me out." Clint turns so his forehead is against her temple. "How're you?"

She shrugs. "I've been better." Then she shoves him over hard, "Down!"

The guy's gotten the ties apart and lunges for the gun. Clint dives for the floor and rolls once before coming to his knees. He's got a knife palmed from his belt and is prepped for the throw. Shots ring out, deafening in the confined space. Glass shatters and tinkles, and there's a yelp and the crack of knees hitting the floor.

Natasha already has the gun, and pistol-whips the guy across the face, her curls bouncing bright under the lamps, her blue eyes burning like flames. "Idiot with a death wish," she snarls at him in Russian. "I should just end you now!"

"Tasha," Clint warns her.

"Should," she says, reverting back to English, "is not will."

He snorts as he climbs to his feet. Their prisoner has sprawled on the floor, the wooden chair still attached to his ankles. He groans as he moves, and Clint gags him again, whips one of his grapple ropes around the guy's wrists and loops it neatly through the back of the chair to anchor him.

There's noises in the apartment block, murmurs of alarm as people rouse from their slumber. Most will go back to sleep, but a few might venture out to investigate. Some will call the police.

"Back room?" Clint asks her.

Natasha shrugs. "Won't be necessary. They've never investigated before."

"All it takes is one." He shrugs, sets the guy back upright and puts his face in close. "Shouldn't have done that," he says warningly. "Now we'll have to—"

The guy headbutts him.

Clint stumbles back, his face throbbing – the guy's forehead smacked him in the right eye. "Fucker!"

A moment later Natasha's there, the pistol slamming across the guy's head a second time, tilting him over, knocking him out. "Points for resourcefulness," she tells the unconscious man. "But I don't regret a moment of what I did to you." She tilts her head as Clint sits heavily down on the couch. "You okay?"

"Grumpy." His eye is throbbing like crazy. "I wasn't expecting that."

"What's the saying?" She crosses over to the kitchenette and opens the fridge. "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition?"

"Get me a beer while you're at it, please."

"That's not a saying." But she comes back with the beer – one of Clint's preferred brands – with a damp cloth wrapped around the base so he can put it against his eye. The damp cloth isn't necessary but it's nice. Thoughtful. And Natasha sits beside him for a moment, hands in her lap, then rises to her feet. "I'll bag and tag him."

It's not quite as cold as it sounds. She just rearranges the gag, checks his breathing, pulls a bag over his head, and leaves him. When she comes and sits back on the chaise, the throbbing in Clint's eye has eased a little, and he's only using the damp towel, but he's still grumpy.

He glances over at her. "I didn't get to ask this before but, you're okay?"

"He couldn't hit the broadside of a bus with a flamethrower," she says contemptuously. Clint quirks an eyebrow at her – then winces. Ow. And she realises what she's just said. "Oops."

Scary as the drugged-out Black Widow can be, Clint reflects that there's something about a more open, less reserved Natasha Romanoff. Or maybe it's just the level of trust she shows in him.

"Hill's coming to collect him. About dawn, she thinks."

"Wasn't she at HQ?"

"She was. Apparently this guy is big enough to warrant a transatlantic." Clint sighs as he leans back. The eye aches a little but it's not unbearable. He's more grumpy at letting his guard down and being caught out than at being hurt. "You got any playing cards on you?"

They've got a couple of hours until dawn, and sleeping is out of the question. Even if Natasha wasn't amped, they have to keep an eye on this guy until he's safely in S.H.I.E.L.D. official custody.

Natasha grins. "I have better than that."

Four hours later, Maria arrives at the apartment to find them freaking out the target. Clint blames the lack of sleep and Natasha's encouragement. He has his best scowl on as he glares from one not-black eye, and Natasha is toying with a gun and talking about the differences between how long it takes for a man to bleed out from his dick when he has an erection, as compared to when he doesn't.

Clint doesn't know if she's making that up, going off medical knowledge, or going off personal knowledge. He's not going to think too hard about it.

Two junior agents are assigned to sedating the man and hauling him out like someone who's had a bit too much to drink. Clint has no idea how they're going to explain getting him out the front door, but they're S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. If they're not up to the task, they don't deserve to be S.H.I.E.L.D.

"Box on the sideboard," Natasha says. "Wallet, keys, phone. We cloned, copied, and researched what we could."

It took the better part of four hours before the guy woke up and they started playing nice-and-nasty with him. Nobody ever said that they had to be good people to work for S.H.I.E.L.D.

"Good job." Maria surveys Clint. "And the eye?"

"First time? I got too close and he headbutted me."

"And the second time?"

Clint's gaze travels sideways.

"I bumped into him while sitting down." In fact, Natasha bounced back to the chair, and Clint was leaning down and her shoulder bumped his eye.

Maria seems to be biting back a smile. Then she turns to Natasha, and it's the other woman's turn to undergo scrutiny.

"How bad is it?"

"Itchy." Natasha shrugs. "I've had worse."

Maria looks at Clint, eyebrows raised in question.

"Oh, hell no. I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't."

Maria rolls her eyes and pulls out a small case out of the shoulderbag she's carrying. She's dressed civilian for the pickup, the image of a young businesswoman in suit and style. "We're not here to make you endure worse, Romanoff. I had a word with Medical – they think these should counteract what's in your system. Of course," she added, "given your history, the drugs might not work or could complicate things all the more. But that'll be your call to make. At least you have the option."

Natasha takes the case and opens it up, glances over the written-down details inside, and nods. "Thank you."

"You're welcome." Maria glances around at the damage to the apartment. "Do you need repairs?"

Clint answers for both of them. "We'll handle it." Unsaid is the question whether they want to keep this place now that they know S.H.I.E.L.D. knows about it. But that's not something to discuss in front of Maria. Clint trusts Maria; he's not so certain of Agent Hill.

"All right. Send the bill to accounts. And take a day or two before calling in."

"Calcutta's still on?"

"So far as I know." She shrugs as she walks to the door. "Be good."

"And if we're not?" Natasha inquires archly

"Make sure there's no proof."

"Hey, Hill." Clint smirks as she pauses at the door. "I've still got my head."

Maria rolls her eyes. "And this is me, still not asking."

fin