sis: “he’s staring at her butt”
I got a ride. Could use a boost, though.
Painting of Natasha Romanoff. If I could only describe how hard it was to do her hair. Drawn in several hours.
Unrepentantfangirl asked:HEADCANNON QUESTION. Why does Natasha photograph everything? Is it for blackmail purposes or linked to having her memories messed with repeatedly?
Natasha does take a lot of pictures in the Toasterverse, doesn’t she?
If asked, she has a variety of answers, depending on who’s doing the asking.
-“It never hurts to have leverage.”
-“You would never believe how much I can get for these on the internet.”
-“Force of habit.”
-“Testing my gear.”
-“Fury wants proof this time.”
The reality of the situation is a little different.
After Clint brought her in, convinced Fury and Coulson and Hill and everyone else that she could be a valued team member, if given a chance (Coulson just nodded, Fury had hoped for this all along, and Hill took some convincing), she took to SHIELD like a duck takes to an active volcano.
It was not an easy transition period.
She took pictures constantly. It was a force of habit. It never hurt to keep a record, to know who was with who, who couldn’t stand who, who couldn’t be trusted at the stick of a jet, who couldn’t be trusted in a fire fight, who couldn’t work with Clint, who couldn’t stand her presence.
Couldn’t. Couldn’t. Couldn’t.
But it was what she did. She was a spy. It was engrained in her. It was second nature. It was habit.
It was months, months of silence and sullen missions in driving rain and bitter cold. Of taking orders without a flicker of an eyelash and going home to sterile quarters. She brought nothing in, she took nothing out. The cream white walls were blank, the cabinets and counter tops and bureaus were empty.
There was nothing there. She wasn’t sure she was staying yet.
But she was Clint’s responsiblity. So the emptiness back at her apartment was countered by the fullness of the missions. Not like there were a lot of people, there was just, well, Clint, and really? CLINT WOULD NOT SHUT UP.
Clint talked and Clint whistled and Clint laughed and Clint snored like a congested heifer and Clint SANG. He actually SANG sometimes, he sang over the comm lines, he always sang in the shower, he sang while the morning coffee brewed, he sang in late night diners and greasy spoons. He didn’t seem to care that she didn’t talk back, that she mostly ignored him. He chattered like a magpie, he sang like a nightingale, he hunted like a hawk.
And one day, she found herself talking back. Mostly to tell him to shut up, of course. But she talked to him. In the depths of cold nights, when the air was like crystal in her lungs and she could feel the numbness creep up her legs, she whispered with him, children’s songs and lullabies and songs from the oldies channel that Coulson always watched.
She found herself looking forward to his Elvis renditions, and the way that she could curl in his lap, against the broad lines of his chest, and he could aim around her without complaint. On those nights, she sang old Russian folksongs into the side of his neck, her breath warm against his skin.
They became lovers. It was the best disaster she’d ever taken part in. Their parting was less a break up and more a change of gears. They kept on as if nothing had changed, even when everything changed.
Natasha kept taking pictures. But somehow, they didn’t have the same weight that they used to. And she was getting sloppy about taking them, people saw her, and she wasn’t sure she cared.
She was still at SHIELD. She wasn’t sure why.
Then one day, on the way home from a mission, Clint babbled and snarked and yawned his way through a review of the collapsing situation that had nothing to do with debriefing and everything to do with just hearing the sound of his voice. And, if she was soothed by the constant reminder that they were all still there, well, that was just a side benefit of his embellished words.
Coulson barely made any pretense to paying attention to him, despite the fact that the recitation was clearly for his benefit. Natasha knew him well enough now to know that he was, in fact, paying attention, paying close attention to the pattern of Clint’s words and the timbre of his voice.
And as Clint started to nod, his eyes barely open and his voice slurring at the edges, Coulson subtly angled his body, never looking up from the paperwork braced on one knee, never doing more than mumble a faint ‘mm-hmm,’ but when Clint fell asleep, his head came to rest on Coulson’s shoulder, his body settling into the solid angle of Coulson’s side.
It took her the entire flight back to get the photo.
She went back to her quarters. She put away her gear, checked her weapons, set her clothes aside to be washed. She checked her weapons again. She did her paperwork. She checked the damage to her boots.
For the first time that she could remember, she printed a photo because she wanted it. Not because it was ordered, not because it was part of a mission or a task or an operation.
But because something about that shot, Clint asleep on Coulson’s shoulder, his expression open and relaxed, and Coulson’s cheek on his hair, a faint smile on his face, was something she wanted.
Before she could think twice of it, she printed it. And clearly, there was no place for it here, here in the empty shell that was her quarters, so she put it with the only other things that she owned, the only other thing that defined her, packed it up with her weapons and left.
When she shut her weapons locker, she left behind a single photo, tucked carefully behind the lining of a knife case.
Two missions later, she opened her weapons case and found a single perfect teacup and saucer sitting in the midst of her guns. There was a folded card inside, that read “Welcome home,” in familiar, ragged print. ”Your tea deserves a better cup.”
She wasn’t sure why she checked the photo, but she did, and was relieved to find the pale reverse stuck just where she’d left it. But when she flipped it over, she found a crisp yellow post-it on the front. ”Sorry, but I figured a trade was in order. This seemed a fair exchange.”
Underneath Coulson’s neat, precise script, the photo wasn’t the one she’d left. Instead, it was a shot of her, leaning over Clint, putting a butterfly bandage on his forehead. He was making a face, looking boyish and absurd, his nose wrinkled and his mouth twisted up, but his one open eye was dancing.
Natasha was bent over him, one delicate hand stroking his hair, the expression on her face one of exasperation and fondness, warmth and protectiveness. Her lips were hovering over his forehead.
She took the photo and the cup, shut her weapons locker, and headed back to her quarters.
It took her an absurdly long time to decide where to put the cup, with it’s paper thin china and delicately painted pink roses. The photo, she tucked into the edge of her mirror, out of the way, out of place in the great sea of cream colored nothing. But she got used to seeing it there. Every morning. Every night.
Natasha almost didn’t notice when it was joined by a second. And a third. Until they overflowed the mirror. Filled picture frames. Were pinned to the inside of cabinets and tucked along windows.
The cup had a partner now. A chipped mug from a thrift shop somewhere in Arkansas was side by side with a crisp one with the Army ranger logo. A tin cup salvaged on a mission from hell. A plastic mug from a fast food restaurant with Garfield on the outside. A limited edition Star Wars glass brought back from Comicon.
Somewhere along the way, it became a game, to find Natasha cup or a mug or a glass from each mission when the three of them weren’t together. They held seedlings and tea and earrings and poker chips and brandy.
When Natasha agreed to move to what would become Avengers tower, it took her a full day to pack everything. Every ugly cup and chipped mug and plastic tumblr was wrapped in newspaper with extreme care and packaged like crystal.
Natasha takes pictures now, a lot of pictures, some with her spy gear, and some with her phone and some with an SLR that Coulson and Clint bought her for her unacknowledged birthday last year. She has a hundred smartass comments if you ask her why, responses that range from “Have you seen his ass?” to “It’s not the worst one of Stark I have, really,” but in the end?
She’s just one of those people who takes a lot of pictures of her family.
loose lips sink ships by mingusyatina