Written for a the prompt "Clint is a secret classical music fan" on the be-compromised LJ comm.

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Secrets, and the Lack Thereof

Headphones. The most useful invention in the last half-century.

Other agents like to scoff at him when he says this, but Clint knows, hunkered down on an eighty hour stakeout, two day shifts of squinting, perched on a blade-thin rooftop corner waiting for his prey to glide carelessly close to the windowpanes – and through it all his headphones, blasting Vivaldi, Mozart. Bach and Brahms.

Headphones – and a well guarded ipod – keep his music preferences to himself, and he likes it that way. His musical taste is a "great secret" – or at least he pretends it so by never telling anyone about it. He takes a smug delight that there exists at least one particle of a detail SHIELD doesn't know about him, doesn't have catalogued, tabbed, and collated into his thick personnel file that is thumbed through at the slightest waver of his automatous obedience, chubby Councilman fingers smudging their prints all over every minutiae of his life, observed or disclosed or otherwise.

But they'll never have this. Not this. Not Wagner humming through his ears at two a.m before drawing the bowstring back with an inward breath, letting the arrow snap and fly, a fleshy thunk in target five-oh-nine's heart right at the peak of the final crescendo.

Not even Natasha knows. And she knows everything. Most everything. The best parts of everything. She knows enough that withholding such an inconsequential detail as – hey Nat, did you know I like classical music? – seems petty and even a shade truculent. But he won't feel badly about it. She has enough dirty laundry to fill New York City, its sewers, and a good part of its airspace. And he's barely sorted through her top pile. So he feels he can have this, this one thing no one knows. That not even Natasha knows.

He keeps up appearances, of course. Music is not an oft topic of conversation amongst off duty agents, but when it does come up, he speaks with becoming cluelessness. Oh, he likes the old stuff, he'll say. The good stuff. But not that old. Not as far back as when harpsichords rather than guitars were the stringed instruments of choice. And his apartment he keeps at roughly two volumes: silence, and ear shattering classic rock, usually when he's doing some home aerobics or cleaning or cooking, something that occupies his hands. Something mindless.

And one day she walks inside to reverberating Jimi Hendrix. Par for the course, except that she hadn't called first, which is rare. 'Scuse me while I kiss the sky. She strides over to the sound system with that telltale strain in her eyes, the precursor to her disdain, and shuts it off. "A lot of noise."

"It's classic." Clint stands by the sink scrubbing week old lasagna bits off of a pan as she tosses her keys onto the cluttered kitchen table. "Iconic." His words are bitten out. "He's considered one of the greatest of his time."

"Give him about two hundred more years. We'll see what history makes of him." Clint says no retort, just rolls his eyes. Game, set, match. Nat could happily and indefinitely make her bed in filth, of varying degrees and kinds, if a mission called for it, but with certain things she can be – a snob is really the only way he can put it, and there are some things that are not worth arguing. Natasha lowers herself into a chair as he wipes up the counter. "I was out shopping yesterday. Found this." She pulls a slim case out of her bag, extends her arm. She shrugs. "I thought you might like it."

He drops the rag and reaches out. He turns the case over.

Tchaikovsky.

He snorts. "What is this, Nat?"

Another shrug. "It's a cd." That obtuse deadpan of hers, that joke within a joke. And he the only one that ever knows when she is joking."I know they're a bit retro, but I thought it might sound good in your collection." She quirks an eyebrow, face expressionless. "You don't already have it, do you?"

"Why would I have it? I don't listen to this kind of stuff." He tosses it to her, and she catches it in a swift motion.

"Why not? It's classic." She flips it over and over in her hands. "Iconic, even?" They both chuckle. "Anyway, I think you'd like it."

"Give it back here." Clint takes it and studies the song list, then pulls out the inserted pamphlet and begins perusing. "He's a Russian guy."

Now she snorts. "Would you expect me to buy you anything else?" He looks up at her. She wears a smile. The devious kind. "And besides. You need the variety. You listen to far too many German composers."

"I told you, I don't –"

He's cut off with a laugh. "Right." Just then her phone buzzes, and she glances down, frowning into the message. "Duty calls." She holds her finger to her lips, Clint's lips parted, speechless. "And don't worry, Clint. I won't tell."

She slides out of the seat and heads towards the door, Clint and his gaze and its fury all following. He watches it shut, and watches it still for long minutes afterward, thinking about the woman with a million secrets, and he with not even a one.

Finally he pads over to the sound system and fits in his new cd, a troupe of singing violins as he goes back to his chores: Concerto in D Major. His favorite Tchaikovsky.

"Oh, and in case you're wondering." Clint's bopping head twists towards the door, and he sees her head shoved smilingly through a crack. "You hum the 1812 Overture in your sleep." Then she's gone again, door shut with a soft click, Clint shaking his head with a smile.

His only secret. And yet somehow, he doesn't feel too badly about losing it to her.