The Costume Makes the Man

Summary: . "So.. you want to tell me why, exactly, you overrode Cap's room to try on his suit?" She arched an eyebrow, the mirth too evident in her eyes. Definitely wasn't every day that you were caught putting on a teammate's outfit; definitely wasn't every day that you found an embarrassed Hawkeye, either.

"Uh.. I can explain?" He offered

Rating: T

Pairing: Clintasha [Clint Barton and Natasha Romanoff]

AN: Okay, so basically I've been into the Avengers for the past few months, but my thing for the movie has died only slightly. Sadly, that means my AOU rewrite won't be updated till I watch that part and feel a need to write a chapter, but considering I'm watching a shit ton of the Avengers Assemble TV show, my muse to write for this is suddenly overwhelming.

I literally looked on Archive of Our Own and there are three Clintasha stories that are AA based. THAT IS SO SAD. Clearly, I need to do some reviving, because the show is BRILLIANT. Easily one of the best super hero cartoons I've seen written out [alongside Young Justice for you DC fans out there].

This particular piece is based off of Season 1, Episode 13 "In Deep". It'd probably be better if you watched it prior to this one-shot, but I think my explaining is also decent enough to cover it if you didn't watch.

BASICALLY these one-shots coming are set in a way where I think Clint and Natasha have a thing going on behind the scenes.



Admittedly, Natasha had to say that their plan was a shot in the dark for success. They were working with stupid villains, Red Skull and MODOK attempted to outsmart them and failed almost every time, but the switch-a-roo? Really? She felt that was even underestimating /them/. But she didn't have a /better/ plan in mind, so she just clung to the hope that it would work. Attempting to be a team player would get her farther - no one could accuse her of not trying.

Ever since Hulk and the contingency plan, well, she'd felt slightly guilty. She'd repaid him in the fact that she hadn't given up his device to Fury, but it had still remained in the back of her mind. Her allegiance had been divided unequally since day one and she knew the team didn't appreciate it. Hell, Clint still held it over her head. She knew he was bitter about it - they all were. She didn't blame them.

But she was trying. Her priority was the Avengers, now. Fine, she still disappeared for SHIELD missions, she couldn't just abandon where she'd been employed for years upon years [especially after what she owed to it], but Fury knew her focus was intensely on the Avengers' Initiative. That was clear. He knew their strengths as a team and that her involvement was necessary. She didn't bring the brawn, but what she did bring was unlike what the other did.

She was as much of a commodity as the rest.

Regardless, the current mission was her priority. She didn't have time to overthink it - that could be saved for after the job was done.

Ever since they'd wrestled up Crossbones and Grim Reaper, stole their suits and handed them over to Tony and Steve for the fitting, Natasha hadn't failed to notice Clint's sudden disappearance. She actually found his rapid exit a little strange. Once they'd ensured Tony and Steve could look and speak the parts, her priority had switched to finding out where the archer was. Sam, Thor, and Hulk could easily take care of the details of departure.

First, she checked his quarters, which - left her empty handed. Next, she checked the kitchen incase he was on the hunt for food [he notoriously would disappear for food if Hulk was distracted, timing hardly hampering him when it came to matters of the stomach], but also to no avail. Tentatively, she checked her own quarters, incase he'd decided to push it while everyone was distracted [farfetched she'd admit], but still - nothing.

Befuddled, she left her room, out of logical options. Sam was manning surveillance and the more tactical pieces, while Thor and Hulk remained on guard duty, so that in itself bought her enough time to continue her search, but if she /really/ couldn't find him in the three most obvious places he could be - what was the point of searching the entire living area aimlessly? It wasn't that important.

Her mind had briefly entertained the idea of something possibly being /wrong/, but when there was no alarms going off from tampering or really anything unusual, that theory was immediately dismissed. Besides, his disappearance had been voluntary. If it were something important, he'd tell her - right?

The spy turned on her heels, intending to stalk back and be useful, until she heard the distinct muffled grunt of the archer she was looking for. Well, that wasn't hard after all; mystery solved. She turned directions, keeping quiet and pulling out her super-spy sneak up skills, ears perked and ready to locate what room he was in. A few more steps and she'd narrowed it down to Steve's room. What was he doing in Steve's room? The revelation peeked her interest and she neared the door, freezing as she eyed it partially ajar.

Her eyes dipped to the access panel, an arrow wedged into the recognition bar, an access card protruding from the shaft. He'd overridden the privacy code on Steve's room; now this /had/ to be serious.

Calmly, she pressed her palm against the metal sliding door, rewarded with less resistance as she widened the space. However, what was behind the door was too good to be true.

But thankfully, it was /still/ true. She could use a little raw humor.

An amused smile played at her lips and she folded her arms, leaning a hip against the doorway. "So.. you want to tell me why, exactly, you overrode Cap's room to try on his suit?" She arched an eyebrow, the mirth too evident in her eyes. Unabashedly, her eyes did spend a few brief seconds scoping over him, but it was more comical than anything.

In front of her, stood Clint, decked out entirely in Steve's usual Captain America costume, minus the mask, which he held balled in his fist while he checked out how he looked in the garment. He met her eyes in the mirror and stiffened, an embarrassed expression immediately overcoming his face. Definitely wasn't every day that you were caught putting on a teammate's outfit; definitely wasn't every day that you found an embarrassed Hawkeye, either.

"Uh.. I can explain?" He offered, other hand rubbing the back of his neck in a sheepish fashion.

Natasha nodded in encouragement, which only forced him to clear his throat and swivel around.

Clint took a few careful steps, testing how the breathable spandex blend felt conforming to every nook and cranny of his muscular body. He wasn't a slouch in the muscle department, having finely tuned his arms and broad shoulders over the years through rigorous workouts and intensive training, but he was surprised that the suit fit just as tightly and naturally as it did. Either him and Steve had a similar frame, or the material was just that flattering and easy. Regardless, he thought he looked pretty good.

"Well.. " He began unsurely. "Cap only has the /one/ suit, as efficient as that is, and it's not like I can get away with this on a normal day.. " Her eyebrow lifted.

"That doesn't include why you /wanted/ to try it on in the first place. Not everyone has the same - desire to play dress-up as you do." She couldn't suppress the amusement in her tone and his face automatically soured in response to it.

He /knew/ she would have laughed at him had he said anything. There'd been a reason why /he/ had had to channel his old spy skills to sneak off unnoticed, but he should have known better than to assume Natasha wouldn't have caught on. The others? Easy to fool - especially when they were focused intensely on a prerogative. Natasha? She knew him too well and was too observant for anything less; multitasking was her game. He knew he should have taken his arrow out of the door; it would have bought him a few more moments of peace at least.

"It's a very - flattering spandex blend and it just looked so lightweight, that I figured I'd - " Her disbelieving expression made his lie falter and he sighed, defeated. There was no use in lying when it came to Natasha. "I might have seen you - ogle him a few times in it, so I thought I'd give it a go myself, see if it had the same effect." He shrugged, turning around and focusing his blue eyes on his reflection and his alone. He definitely did /not/ catch the way her face morphed from amused to soft to neutral in a matter of seconds.

And he didn't point it out, either.

"And you know security protocol is completely different in individual rooms, so you don't have to get on me for admitting it, either. It's just us in here." He reminded her without so much as turning his head. She was keen on the secrecy and the keeping interpersonal relationships and their job very separate, and he agreed to a point, especially when it had stemmed back to his agent days.

The whole 'on behind closed doors and off outside of them' had been fair, safe, the whole nine yards, but this wasn't SHIELD, this was their team - these were friends [kind of]. Pretty sure the assumption that there was something going on behind the scenes was still looming around regardless; she wasn't exactly Miss Congeniality with the rest of their teammates, yet was chummy and jokey with him. Sure, they were former partners and had known each other for a very long time, but that didn't cover everything between them.

"You wouldn't let me lie, anyway, so this is completely on you." He defended seamlessly, squinting at the mirror. A subject change was definitely in order. "I wonder if Cap ever gets annoyed with this mask." He held up the garment, inspecting it with scrutiny. "It /has/ to mess up his hair."

By the time his eyes lifted, Natasha was directly behind him and he nearly leapt out of the suit alone. His eyes widened briefly, before settling back to his typical indifferent expression. "I don't get how you can sneak up on someone when you're already in the same room. Spy or not, that is incredibly unnerving; give a guy a break, would you?" Still, she remained pretty quiet and Clint took that as silent pity.

Couldn't exactly call the moment of weakness redeeming. As far as he was concerned, they were pretty lucky to have what they did - /he/ was pretty lucky to have her [even if in the way he did, it was extremely complicated]. He shouldn't fuss with it because of petty jealousy. He wasn't shooting daggers at Steve or something, but the odd resentful look aimed his way when he caught Natasha glancing from time to time, well - that was fair game.

Property lines weren't his thing; it objectified and demeaned what they had, but he couldn't help but feel - slightly possessive. He'd taken one look at the suit, determined their stature was similar [sorta], and thought 'hey, maybe if /I/ put on the suit, she'll aim something my way' - because he'd assumed his tactile gear just didn't scream sex appeal like patriotic spandex; the costume made the man or whatever. So impulsively, he'd chosen to take the low road in hopes to selfishly gratify himself and it'd backfired - go figure.

He just - didn't get it, even now. This whole back and forth game they played. Best friends and partners strictly in the field, occasionally more behind the scenes [more than occasionally]. It'd been a game they'd played for years and now it had followed through to their time as Avengers, and if he had a lick of self-respect for himself, it should have changed something. So here he was, having just admitted to trying this on for her reaction and her reaction alone, and instead - they were bathed in silence. He was pretty sure he'd take the mocking over this.

"Look, Natasha, I - " He would have continued, would have spewed a bunch of bullshit just to explain himself [not that Natasha would have bought it, but she would have pretended to - out of pity], but he was a lot more distracted as of now. He had a Widow kissing him and that was really all his mind could process at the moment. Her hand clasping his neck, which he surprisingly could still feel through the spandex, her lips just enough insistent, soft pressure to coax his lips apart and wash away all of his silly feelings. Oh, he had no problem with this. Nope. Especially when she kept things as platonic as they could get while they were here, generally. He was lucky to get a few passing glances or an arm touch; the chance of her kissing him this freely was one in a million.

She had this uncanny ability to make him feel so damn complete; it was becoming irritating. She should have been fortunate that he'd perfected his facade, too, or else he'd be wearing all of these emotions on his sleeve /all/ of the time; kudos to him for being able to channel those poker-face-spy characteristics.

It was fine; their system was fine. He wasn't complaining [externally, at least], but this little breech in /their/ protocol? If this became a regular thing, well, you wouldn't hear him complaining about that possibility either.

His hand barely had time to entangle in her red locks before she pulled back, their noses aligned, lips parted, eyes meeting. He was pretty sure he wasn't imagining that slight hitch in her breathing and he /knew/ he wasn't imagining his.

Casually, they pulled back and adjusted themselves to their individual places, though they were a comfortable proximity away. He could tell in the way her side glance was shot briefly towards the door that it was a call for professionalism - just incase anyone decided to come looking for either of them. But he doubted they would, especially when the other three were caught up in surveillance and keeping Crossbones and Grim under control, not that it was hard.

Clint raked a few fingers through his blonde hair, taking one more step back. "So.. what do you think? Because I think I easily pull it off better than Cap." Better to keep it to this than to mull over the kiss, not like he could still taste her on his lips or anything. He even flexed half-heartedly for good measure, lifting his eyebrows at her.

She tapped a finger to her chin, a teasing smirk tugging at the corners of her lips. "I'm not so sure." Her tone was lighthearted, but he took it seriously regardless. His head snapped up, brows knitting in annoyance, but she continued on unaffected. "I've grown to love that heinous shade of purple you wear."

"I'm not even /that/ purple anymore!" He defended, feigning offense [but only partially]. "Besides - everyone /loves/ the purple."

She raised her eyebrows. "Isn't that what I just said?"

"Saying you love it, then calling it heinous? Not so convincing." But his face had decided on a small smile. It was genuine coming from her.

Natasha returned it in equal measure. "My mistake." She made a move to say something else, but the appearance of Hulk in the doorway made them both halt as their heads snapped over to him simultaneously.

The green giant stared at them for a minute, surveying the scene. He was clearly as perplexed as Natasha had been just minutes earlier at Clint's choice of apparel. The spy shook her head at him, feigning a disappointed sigh. "I'll explain later."

The subtle gaze that was exchanged between Clint and Natasha said otherwise.

And later, when it came to explaining to Steve [and basically everyone else] why Clint had picked Tony and Steve up in the latter's suit, well, Natasha had come up with an equally embarrassing reason for it, but not anywhere near as endearing.

That was something for only /her/ to know.

And when no one was looking, her gaze swept affectionately over Clint, disregarding the suit. He'd been wrong, per usual. It wasn't the costume that made the man; it was the man who made the costume.

Let's just say Clint happened to fill them all out /much/ too well, heinous purple, overwhelmingly patriotic, or even lacking one entirely.

Nobody had anything on that.


AN: Well, I hope you enjoyed my first one-shot for Avengers Assemble. I had fun writing this one! A new one is going to be coming very soon.

Reviews are my life; don't kill me!