It was a Wednesday, which meant it should have been movie night and more of Natasha's damn Chinese food, though Clint secretly had to admit that some crab rangoon sounded pretty tasty. Only it wasn't, because Thor had some kind of Asgardian thing he had to do. He'd tried to explain it, but to Clint it had sounded like every other Asgardian thing ever, in that there would be feasting and quaffing and quite likely fist fights and pliant, enthusiastic maidens with bosoms the likes of which weren't often seen outside of opera.
Which had made Clint (and Tony) wonder just why the hell he never got invited to these kind of awesome parties, because weren't they all friends by now?
Only everyone was invited, up until the point that Director Fury put his foot down and said no, because it was too dangerous. And no, they couldn't have just a little danger. If Thor was going to be off partying like it was 700 AD, the other team assets needed to be on Earth and ready to go.
At which point someone5 had offered to let Director Fury kiss his assets, and...
Steve Rogers, bless his apple pie-flavored heart, had seen the forlorn (hangdog even) expressions displayed by Tony and Clint. They looked as if Fury had not just eaten their ice cream, he had eaten all ice cream past, present, and future, and had laughed while he did so. And Steve had suggested, well maybe they shouldn't watch a movie without Thor, so how about something else. Maybe dancing.
Or pool, Clint had decided, before Tony could really sink his claws into that idea. Because Clint thought it was hilarious when Steve got his blush on, sure, but he still liked the guy6 and he didn't want to lose Steve to something as mundane as an aneurism when there were so many more interesting ways to die in the modern world.
So pool it was, at one of Clint's favorite dives. Tony seemed oddly charmed by the peeling wallpaper and disturbingly sticky floor because say what you liked about Tony Stark, he still had an appreciation for the classics. Tony was in the process of lining up his shot, peering down the cue over the rims of his custom made rich asshole glasses7 and Clint was just starting to realize that skunking Tony at pool was not going to be the same fish in a barrel prospect as it was with Steve and Thor. Mostly because Tony didn't so much understand physics as get regular blow jobs from it in his lab.
And then the blonde walked up.
It was not unusual for random women to introduce themselves into Clint's games of pool. Clint wasn't a bad looking guy himself, and he looked like the ugly step sister when you put him next to Thor or Steve. And of course, there was Tony, who just oozed charm in the same way hag fish oozed slime, not to mention the way he just stank of money.
But this one, she was a perfect ten. Or, as if Nigel Tufnel had suddenly moved from making ear-shatteringly loud noise to creating mind-blowingly hot women, she went up to eleven. Perfect skin, bright green eyes, hair that had to be sculpted to get the right kind of careless fall, and all sorts of curves that were so impossibly curvy they probably made their own impression in the fabric of space and time.
That really should have been Clint's first hint. No one looked that perfect. Clint was friends with one god (and not-quite-enemies-but-sort-of with another) and he knew even they got hat hair and morning breath on occasion. But not this woman. Even thinking about it was impossible if you made eye contact.
And there was the way she moved, fluid and almost boneless on a set of shoes that screamed stripper except for the fact that the heels were titanium and seemed designed for the express purpose of putting holes in vital things8.
Except all these thoughts occurred to him later because she put one slender, perfectly tanned arm around his shoulders and another around Tony's and it drove pretty much every thought of of his head other than Gee, when did my pants get this tight and quite possibly Man I hope I don't have to fight Tony for my half of the sandwich.
The blonde leaned forward, which earned Clint a good shot at her cleavage. Her breast brushed lightly against his arm. She smiled, which had a predatory cast to it that Clint might have found worrying had his brain been engaged.
"You are Tony Stark?" she asked, turning her head toward the man in question.
"And you must be lucky," Tony said, grinning. Because of course, that's how it always went, Clint thought with resignation.
Except then she was turning her head the other way, her hair brushing past Clint's ear. "And you are Clint Barton?"
He grinned, though it seemed weird that she knew who he was. Hopefully she wasn't some kind of old school circus groupie, because that could get awkward fast. "Lady, I'll be whoever you want."
"But you are Clint Barton."
"Yeah. Planning to check my ID or something?"
But she was already looking away, her eyes turning to Steve, who had the advantage of a pool table between the two of them and an impenetrable shell of pig-headed golly gee whiz niceness. And even he looked a bit wide-eyed, like someone had whanged him on the back of the head with a pool cue.
"And you are Steve Rogers, called Captain America."
That got everyone's attention. Tony might be out and proud as Iron Man, but the Steve Rogers as Captain America thing was – as far as Clint knew – a cleverly guarded secret, an had been since the 1940s when all the secret government program stuff had been happening.
Steve's wide-eyed stare developed a little spasm of suspicion, though he seemed to be struggling to maintain even that hint. He didn't have a flinty chip of paranoid badass at his core like Clint. You could practically hear his superhuman DNA screaming, she's a lady, you have to be nice!
Tony, for reasons of his own, seemed to be directing his own suspicion at the blonde woman's cleavage.
And since he had that so thoroughly covered, Clint decided to keep an eye on her legs, just in case they tried something. Which wasn't bad exactly, but he'd always been more of a breast man and it would have been nice if just once Tony could share the guard duty.
"Sorry, but who are you?" Steve asked. He couldn't bring himself to even approach annoyed, but he could always manage stern with a side of uncompromising. If that had been an available major in school, he would have graduated with honors.
And since Clint and Tony seemed to be too busy staring at – no, he was not going to get sucked into the hormonal vortex, he was better than that damnit – it was once again left to Steve Rogers to save the day. Or at least interact with a pretty woman like he was over the age of fifteen.
"My name is Sharla." She gave him a smile that he would have classified as vapid, had he been a less kind person (like Tony) but with determination he forced himself to think of it as sort of cheerleader-esque, the kind of smile that had never been directed anywhere near him until he'd gotten injected with glowing blue stuff and grown biceps via science.
"Okay, well, it's nice to meet you, Sharla." Steve wasn't actually sure of this fact, but he was nothing if not polite. "So, any reason you're looking for us?" He pointedly ignored Clint's muttered 'Who cares?'
"We need your help," she said.9
All three men asked, "What kind off help?" with the sort of simultaneous timing that would make a director of music on Broadway proud.
"I am a representative from the Consortium of Kaytrel. We need you help apprehending a criminal."
"Oh." Though just as simultaneous, there was a distinct note of disappointment from the two thirds of the group that weren't Steve Rogers. Steve, in a way proving once and for all without question that he was something beyond human, actually brightened at the prospect.
"Well, that's what we're good at," Steve said.
Tony interjected, "The Consortium of Kaytrel... doesn't ring a bell. Have I crushed your stockholders recently?" He was drawing a blank, but that really could mean anything.
"We are not from your planet," Sharla added helpfully.
Steve carefully set his pool cue down. "I think you'd better come with us... ma'am."
5 – Tony. Did you ever doubt?
6 – He was starting to think it was actually physically impossible to dislike Steve Rogers when you came down to it. And it did, in fact, violate something deep within the recesses of quantum laws. Because even electrons like Steve Rogers.
7 – What Tony called them, for the record. Clint preferred to think of them as rich douchebag glasses.
8 – A small corner of Clint's mind, where he kept his extremely tiny survival instinct, wondered if he should find out where she shopped, because it would be right up Natasha's alley. And he he was the one that told her about the amazing Stripper Of Death Shoe Shop, then she wouldn't use the results of her shoe purchasing spree on him.
9 - It says a lot about the character of the three Avengers present, that they each understood her statement quite differently:
Steve: She must have friends, and they're all in trouble!
Clint: Her breasts need help? Not from where I'm standing.
Tony: Oh good, she has friends and I bet they're just as hot. God I love being me.