Serenity Amidst Chaos

Summary: "You're not really taking that alien out on a date, are you? I was just kidding."

The archer actually scowled at that one. He might just have preferred Steve without that sense of humor, after all. Witty jabs were strictly his thing, but he'd just have to remind him once he came back. He didn't really want to be late. His date didn't exactly admire tardiness. "Well, if you're done being a comedian," Insert a dirty look here. "Then I'll at least confirm that yes, I have a date, with a human, contrary to your belief."

Rating: T

Pairing: Clintasha [Clint Barton/Natasha Romanoff]

AN: The fact I actually finished this is actually left up to a miracle. As I've mentioned I think a few times, I roleplay as Natasha, but the likelihood of a roleplay account on Facebook lasting is slim to none, so often I'm left managing the time in-between making new accounts. I know there are other places I could take my RP'ing, but after six years of Facebook, I'm far too lazy and stubborn to switch places. Thus, I suffer.

However, the other day I was particularly disgruntled after the loss of a good account and so I brought up my Docs with the intention of updating either my Civil War Clintasha AU or my Age of Ultron Clintasha AU, but instead I saw this unfinished piece and worked at it for the past few days.

Their relationship in Avengers Assemble is about the most plausible outlet for Clintasha to ever happen, so this was a very satisfying right.

I hope you enjoy it! We'll see what else I can pump out. Hopefully a fourth chapter for my Age of Ultron AU, because that thing has a shocking 56, I think, follows now and that makes me want to piss my pants. Bless you all.

This is set a few days after "The Arsenal", the idea based on a quote that Steve said to Clint about a disgusting alien being his date for the weekend. It's a silly concept, but sweet once you read.

Enjoy!

[OoOoOoO]

"Ah, Barton, you have come just in time for the battle!" Thor called enthusiastically as soon as Clint entered the main room, raising from his position on the couch to clap the archer on the shoulder.

Meanwhile, Steve was rolling his eyes fondly. "By 'battle', he means deciding what to order in tonight. The debate is between Thai, American, or Schwarma." Every debate whatsoever was just blown out of proportion with this bunch. In Clint's opinion, it was kind of funny - until most of them got tired of his constant pizza requests.

In his defense, on the odd occasion he agreed with either Chinese or Mexican, but Italian would always be the way to go.

"I wonder who put Schwarma into the ballot." Clint snorted, folding his arms and pulling agitatedly at his cuff links. Seldom did he ever really -dress- up, but when he did? It was to the nines. Personally, he'd rather leave the Tower in either a well-loved sweatshirt or a faded, washed out t-shirt, even his uniform more often than not, but tonight didn't really seem like the time or place for formal revolt. At least for him. He'd leave the revolting to the rest of the guys arguing over dinner plans.

But Thor increased the intensity of his grip on his shoulder. "Now, you must agree with me on the request for American! I require fries of cheese and Wilson requires a burger of cheese, whereas the others prefer - less desirable meal options for tonight." He said, particularly sending a glare in Hulk's direction, who met it with a look of equal malice.

Finally, Steve turned around to be the the most observant one of the group, raising his eyebrows at Clint's state of dress. Infrequently did the archer ever ditch his costume or normal civilian clothes for - a suit? "Fury call you in or are you just taking a more professional case for what we should order for dinner?" He asked in amusement.

"I love the jokes; keep em' coming." Clint retorted with an edge, but finally dropped his hands from his cuffs, trying to shrug off the massive hand on his shoulder. The last thing he wanted to do was wrinkle the suit. He'd actually had to iron the damn thing it'd been sitting unused in his closet for so long. "But no, nothing work related tonight."

Now that had everyone interested. "You're not really taking that alien out on a date, are you? I was just kidding."

The archer actually scowled at that one. He might just have preferred Steve without that sense of humor, after all. Witty jabs were strictly his thing, but he'd just have to remind him once he came back. He didn't really want to be late. His date didn't exactly admire tardiness. "Well, if you're done being a comedian," Insert a dirty look here. "Then I'll at least confirm that yes, I have a date, with a human, contrary to your belief."

Thor's mind was elsewhere as he physically deflated, his hand going slack on the archer's shoulder. "Does that mean you will not be participating in the battle?"

Clint shook his head, though not really regretful in the slightest. "Nope. Not tonight. Bigger fish to fry."

"We will not have fish tonight!" The Asgardian insisted. "Do not give that idea to Hulk, or else he will accept it and turn everyone against me!" Thankfully, his anger was solely focused on the big green guy rather than him. He'd wound up going to enough dinners covered in black and blue; he wasn't in the mood to continue that track record.

Steve, however, seemed to be one of the only ones left in the room to keep to the main topic. Sam and Tony were absent, but Clint could probably predict where they were. Since the arrival of Arsenal, Tony had been especially preoccupied with re-discovering the tech in his own way, and Sam had had his own fascination with it. Really, anything Howard Stark got him going.

But he turned to Clint. "So, who is she?"

"Ohhh no. No way am I revealing anything to you guys. You'll find some way to crash my once in a blue moon moment of me time. Yeah? No, not gonna happen." He insisted, making aggressive gestures with his hands. "As far as you know, she's some nameless girl who approached me after one of our city battles for a date." Really, it wasn't exactly untrue, but it was vague enough to qualify as close enough. Anymore details might just give an indication. Steve was especially observant.

A somewhat wistful smile crept on the blonde's face and he raised his hands in surrender. "Fair enough. All of us are entitled to our private lives, even from each other." Had he been in his position, he probably would have kept it quiet, too. Sometimes it was nice to know that there was something outside of Avenging.

"I don't know how private our lives can be when the walls are thin enough for me to hear Hawkeye singing in the shower." Hulk grunted, sending a pointed look towards the archer.

"Hey! Do you want me to talk about a certain glass element in your room?" Clint baited through narrowed eyes, a mention that was enough to make Hulk's eyes flare in irritation. He took a step towards him threateningly, but Thor leapt in front of him hastily, still determined by the issue he'd been gripping onto like a vice throughout the entire conversation.

"Does this mean that you will agree with me on my quest for fries of cheese, Barton?" Thor asked hopefully.

He shook his head vigorously, backing up and straightening his tie as he wandered towards the door. "Sorry, man, but if I had a vote tonight - it would be going straight for pizza." A statement that earned not only a grunt of enjoyment from Hulk, but the outcry of 'traitor!' from Thor as he left the room, heading for the elevator to take him down to the garage floor.

Tentatively, he spared a look at his watch and grimaced, tapping his foot impatiently. His date was going to kill him.

[OoOoOoO]

When did she ever lose track of time? Really. It just wasn't something she did. She could practically tell the time through the setting of the sun alone, but she supposed burying herself in the simulation room, running through all of the new sections had left her with not only not a single non-focused thought in her head, but also no lingering consideration for the fact she had to at a restaurant in twenty minutes, with clothes that did -not- include her usual uniform.

Who was she becoming?

Scattered, Natasha had immediately sent for a room, finding the quickest of showers necessary after having sweat out seventy-five percent of herself during the back-to-back simulations. It was fun to tease Clint when he was smelling particularly bad, but that did not mean that she wanted the joke aimed back at her - let alone in a certain environment.

She managed the barest of essentials, just to ensure she would look and smell clean, before she was out and summoning the highest mode on the hair dryer to finish the job. She was down to a stellar fourteen minutes, which had been a setback at twenty when she should always allot somewhere along the lines of ten to fifteen minutes for traffic; using the hover function of her car was only ever appropriate during a mission and not during rush hour, but at this point she was sincerely debating just where her priorities were.

Extending the cord of the dryer as far as it could go, she pulled the particular dress off of the hanger and snatched the proper undergarments and shoes to pair with it, ever the multitasker. No wonder her punctuality always left her with a feeling of comfort; this was as stressful as it could ever be, something that rivaled all of the other life-threatening occasions. Trivial? Maybe, but at the moment it certainly wasn't to her.

Eventually, the spy ceded to the massive length that was all of her red curls and opted to shut off the still-too-slow dryer, instead heading the bathroom mirror to place it up elegantly in a bun. It was a common bun for her, one she'd known since her days in the Red Room and practicing of ballet. That wasn't her most terrible memory, but at least she was utilizing it for a good purpose now. All that was left was light makeup and that, she knew, she could do in record time.

At five minutes, was she finally fully dressed and found herself erupting out of her room, clutching her heels in one hand and in a matter of desperation, took the elevator down to Tony's lab to ask a favor of him. She knew about his collection of unnecessarily fast and flashy sports cars in the garage; all she needed was the keys to one of them for tonight. She could route directions to take her through the least congested streets of the city; all she needed was the speed to man them.

JARVIS announced her entrance, raising the heads of both Sam and Tony. Natasha's not only state of dress was surprising, but the seemingly unusual, curt state of expediency did as well. The irritated furrow of her brows? Not a surprise; it was almost a permanent part of the general expressions on her face.

Tony opened his mouth to say something, finally, for a minute, distracted from Arsenal, but Natasha cut him off.

"Not the time for the sarcastic jabs, Tony. I need help." She exhaled out, straightening her shoulders. "I'm late for an - event - and I need one of your sports cars to get there. My hover car isn't exactly appropriate for it." If it would have been, she would have taken it; at least flying through the city would have eliminated the traffic she was almost absolutely going to have to reckon with.

"What kind of event?" Sam asked curiously, but found himself raising his hands immediately in surrender when a near toxic glare was aimed in his direction. "Never mind." Satisfied, her gaze turned back to Tony, who seemed intrigued by her desperation.

He couldn't even suppress the hints of a smirk, and if she didn't require him for information on the keys, she would have flat out leapt forward and knocked him out. "SHIELD sending you out tonight?"

He quizzed as he stood, hopefully doing so to locate keys. The clock was ticking and one thing she could not control this evening was time.

"No, Tony." She retorted lowly, agitation swelling inside of her.

"Then where're you heading? I really could have used you on my team for Schwarma tonight." He insisted, wandering around casually.

Her eyebrows nearly lifted off her forehead. "Are you serious? Interrogating me because I can't be here as a dinner vote?"

"Hey, you know how these things get!" Tony defended himself, entering the code into an unknown box.

"No way would she have voted for your Schwarma!" Sam told him, sending him a dirty look. "Widow would have gone American all the way tonight, right?"

"I can't believe I'm even engaging in this conversation." She spoke, patience thin as she dragged her free hand down her face. "If you want to continue living and breathing without the aid of a respirator, I'd consider giving me - the damn - keys." Each set of words spoken with a well-intended pause and underlying threat. This wasn't funny and never had been; this was incredibly serious. One night out for her own personal choices and this is what she got in return? A clock ticking too quickly and static about Schwarma?

Slightly unnerved, Tony tossed her the keys, something she caught not only without looking, but with a fierce crunch of her fist. "It's the red one." Was all he told her before she found herself high tailing out there.

Of course, she couldn't forget the call of, "Enjoy your date!" from him before she left, something she would never understand as to why he knew. So long as the identity of the man she was going out with remained a mystery, she would let it go.

[OoOoOoO]

Fervent and rushed in the worst ways possible, Natasha began pulling on a heel as she viciously slammed the elevator button, far past the point of patience, especially when her heel was proving to be a liability rather than a commodity. She was too close to the point of saying screw it and just going barefoot, however, the policy of no shirt, no shoes, no service was too vivid in her mind - especially with where they were going.

Screw dress codes and all the people who demanded them.

She was in the elevator as soon as the doors opened, bracing a wrist outwards to catch her whirling momentum, but the last thing she'd expected was to collide with another body. Immediately her instincts kicked in, just as they did with the body she collided with, and she was leaping backwards arms braced, bend to her knees.

The relief suddenly surging through her made her outright laugh when she realized it was the man that probably should have been at their reservation to begin with: it was Clint.

Clint could only share in her reaction, fixing the now askewed sunglasses on his face. "Well, that's funny." He commented, though it wasn't funny enough for his gaze not to fixate on her looking as absolutely fantastic as she did. How did she always do that?

"No kidding." She breathed, glancing behind her to find the elevator doors shutting. Had he even hit a floor? "It looks like I wasn't the only one running late."

He shook his head, folding his arms with a smug curve of his lips. "Now, Natasha, I would expect that of me, but of you? I'm disappointed." He chastised teasingly, a tone that made her want to punch -him- too.

"Stuff it." She remarked with not a lick of humor, stepping forward to rest her back against the spot of wall next to him. "I was training." Came her dry explanation, expression neutral from all of the annoyance experienced in just the past half an hour. "What's your excuse?"

To that, the archer found himself shrugging. "Lost track of time?"

"Thought so."

Silence lapsed on before Clint scratched the back of his neck, not enjoying the tension clearly overfilling the elevator. Wasn't this supposed to be a fun evening? He turned towards her, hand touching the side of her arm when the elevator came to a stop, the doors pulling back to reveal the garage floor. He paid no mind to it.

"Look, Tasha," He began more gently, a beginning that no doubt had her attention. "Tonight was supposed to be fun, right? A little break for the two of us?" He only continued when he had her confirming nod. "But these past - what - twenty minutes? Thirty minutes? They've been really aggravating and stressful. And to be honest, this collar is driving me nuts." Accenting his complaint with a hasty tug, skewing his already sloppy Windsor knot. Really, tying his ties was Natasha's thing exclusively. She knew that as well as he did.

"So what are you proposing?" She questioned, paying no mind to the closing doors and instead coming closer to deftly loosen the knot and unbutton the first button of his collar, an action that granted him a hell of a lot of relief. "Stay here instead? Because I don't know if you've had the same aggravating experiences that I've had, but I was given ultimatums in Tony's lab, practically, over the take-out yet again, and I do not want to eat with them." As much of an effort it had been to do this, get ready and plan this on an evening where they -could-, she'd still been looking forward to it.

It was hard to find any intimacy with him when they were in a Tower filled with many obtrusive people and an AI system that was, quite literally, everywhere.

He eyed her for a minute, giving the thought consideration. "No, I'm not suggesting - " But then he paused, a thoughtful grin overtaking his face. "I have an idea." And he slammed a new button, one to take them right back up to the kitchen. "Follow my lead."

[OoOoOoO]

"I'll admit, this wasn't the worst idea you've ever had." Natasha commented while clasping a glass of wine, turning her head to overlook the view. "I don't think they'll be interrupting us any time soon in your little hiding spot."

Clint grinned through a mouthful of pizza, a sight that made her nose crinkle in disgust. "Precisely." Though the word came out a lot more mumbled, nearly indistinguishable to anyone outside of her. She'd gotten used to his manners over the years.

Instead of taking advantage of the fancy reservation they'd made weeks ahead of time, something that though effortful just wasn't 'them', Clint had snuck into the kitchen to sneak a few glasses, a couple plates, napkins, even an age-old bowl of fruit that he considered the proper centerpiece, and brought her to his best perch. It was perfect.

Plus, they'd each been able to ditch their uncomfortable shoes and Clint had lost the suit jacket, tie, and first few buttons and she was able to sit cross-legged with no issue. This was how it should be.

"How did they react when you picked up the pizza?" She asked, gesturing towards him with a slab of crust. The reactions had to have been priceless, but she sadly couldn't have taken part. It would have been too much putting pieces together and would have dampened a lot of the privacy of their affair.

To his credit, he did swallow this time before answering. "Thor was outraged, as was Hulk. I'm already assuming he's going to steal my last pizza bagel." TE last statement was spoken with a harsh grudge, but he shrugged. "Steve was sympathetic, because he thought my date had canceled on me."

"Oh?" She raised an eyebrow, setting aside the crust to attend to that. "He knew we had a date?" This wasn't going to roll over well.

"He knew I had a date with somebody." He corrected immediately. "Why else would I be decked out in a suit like this?"

"Fair point."

He shrugged again. "I told him it was some girl who approached me after a battle."

She snorted. "Is that really how it was? Because if I can recall, it was more you asking me at breakfast about a month ago. We were alone and you insisted we should do something more 'couple-y'." Her mocking tone followed by air quotes. "And then I had to make the reservation."

"See, combined effort! I had to suggest it in the first place, you had to make it, we both went through hell to finish up. I wasn't exactly wrong." He defended, peeling another slice from the box to roll up.

"No, you just made sure you sounded like a highly desired stud, hm?" She taunted, something that made his eyebrows shoot up in defense. This kind of banter was always a good time. This is what 'dates' were made for; well, at least theirs.

"Oh yeah? Maybe I did. But what did you say to excuse yourself, huh? The others don't exactly see you outside of that uniform of yours. What was your explanation?" He prodded, stuffing half a slice in his mouth and keeping his eyes fixated on her.

Now it was her turn to shrug, tapping the heel of her foot against the ground. "I said I had an event to get to."

"Event?" He asked through chewing, actually blustering in amusement. Swallowing hastily, he shook his head. "Yeah, that definitely derails. Totally doesn't sound like the super secret act you're always pulling. Did they even believe that? After they got one checking you out that is," He rolled his eyes, vividly recalling a handful of times where that team of 'males' had gotten unprofessional. He avoided those conversations for his own good, as well as theirs. Thankfully it was rare. Everyone generally had more respect for everyone than that, but hey, everyone was human.

"And what would you rather I have said?" She narrowed her eyes. "Clint and I are going on a date out somewhere for the first time in over a year?"

He stared at her then, sheepish. "Well, when you put it like that. . ."

"Exactly."

A pause.

"Has it really been over a year since we last did something out together?"

Natasha nodded, re-clasping the glass and swinging her legs over the edge to cross her ankles. "As us? Mm-hm." The rest of their formal adventures had been under personas, at galas, in the presence of teammates. It hadn't been them, alone, non-work related for a very long time.

He sat back against the wall, nursing his own wine now. "Wow." Was all he said, and she knew the feeling well. It was a miracle they could nurse whatever this was for so long when it seemed like all of their date nights were just not within reach. Especially now, for months, with the reconciliation of the Avengers and all of the shit they'd been putting up with, with Red Skull hopping back into their lives and the now looming threat of Thanos. It was a miracle they could get this evening to themselves; they both were more than well aware of that.

Thinking similarly, Natasha set aside her wine glass and stood from the ledge, walking gracefully close to the edge to not only pluck his absently held glass from his hand and set it aside. She brushed a few crumbs off of his pants, a gesture that roused a smile and his undivided attention, before she took a seat in his lap, leaning against him.

He wound an arm around her waist, holding her steady despite the lack of need for it, and just kept her close; he liked doing that.

Even if they weren't like normal couples, a word Natasha loathed used when it came to describing them, they were partners. Partners amidst a lot of responsibility outside of each other. The last thing she would ever assume was that that would be an issue and she knew, for them, it wouldn't.

They'd split once before; they wouldn't again.

The spy indulged in him, resting her head against his chest and eyeing the life of the skyline, relaxing for the first time in weeks. "I'm glad we did this." She liked to think her enjoyment showed.

He pressed his nose into her long-dried curls, long having been taken out of their bun to run wild instead. She was best that way: wild. "Me, too." He breathed. "Almost wish we could do this more often."

"We could try." She offered in suggestion, but he could feel her shrug against his body, mental deflation of such an idea. "Though with our lives, I wouldn't count on it."

He could only silently agree, looking out with her. If they were as similar as they thought they were, they both knew that even as they stared at the receding sun, in the horizon they saw much more than its beauty.

Concerningly, they saw the forebording threat lying between the rays.

This life would never settle down; maybe they would. Or maybe they'd just keep indulging in these little moments of serenity. Afterall, it made the long periods of chaos just a little bit more manageable.

[OoOoOoO]

AN: Reviews are my life; don't kill me!