it doesn’t happen too often but every once in a while you come across somebody who just makes you better. in every way. – clint barton
It starts with a fork.
The fork begins somewhere else. Kate’s fairly sure the actual physical origin of the fork is from a draw in her mom’s town house – stolen too long ago to really remember.
The emotional origin of the single fork in her apartment comes from somewhere far beyond that. A series of things. The loss of her father and the sudden urge to be independent beyond all-natural childhood progression – a series of more learning and training than her mom probably should’ve given into. And a want, a want to be just like the person she’d watched through the hole in her broken home save the world with nothing more than bravery and a bow.
It comes from an avoidance of attachment. Real attachment. For all intents and purposes, Kate is popular at college. She comes from money, and she’s got charisma in heaps, and she knows she looks amazing in her archery uniform (and out of it) – it isn’t hard to seamlessly slip into groups and create the illusion that she’s just like the people around her.
Except she doesn’t feel like the people around her, and so, even though attends a ridiculous amount of birthday parties in a year and saves people seats in the lecture hall and agrees to do stupidly reckless pranks in the middle of the night – though admittedly that was more of an ego thing – Kate doesn’t really consider herself close to anyone.
It’s self-preservation really. Preserving herself from the pain of losing someone else. Preserving herself from that moment of pity in someone’s eyes when they realise she’s not just a pretty girl who picked up a random hobby. That she’s maybe a little more broken than she seems.
She doesn’t invite people into her home. She doesn’t sit down at her table and share a meal with just anyone. So why would she have ever needed more than one fork?
It still feels a little pointless now, even as she stands in IKEA staring at cutlery, hoping she can at least find some with purple handles if she’s going to have to clutter up her drawers.
She’s deliberately evasive even in her own mind about why she’s buying them. She tells herself it’s because she was shamed into doing it. Then it’s because maybe Clint will come back, and she doesn’t want him to think she’s completely screwed up. Finally, she settles on maybe she just realised it’s not right to isolate herself so much anymore, that she could have friends who were more than superficial – like Grills and Missy.
That’s where the real mind evasion begins because Kate knows exactly who she’s really buying the fork for. The person who she’s really hoping will come back to her apartment.
Brilliantly blonde and annoyingly charming and completely impossible not to like with her frustratingly attractive accent that apparently had Kate’s brain stuck spewing as many adjectives that she could possibly fathom just trying to comprehend the enigma that was Yelena… last name unknown (and the way Kate felt about her – which was more enigmatic than all the rest of it).
Hope was a funny thing. Or maybe really fate was – or whatever ethereal being that feasted on the chaos echoing through Kate’s life was - because it takes all of one second of stepping back into her apartment to realise that something isn’t the same as she left it.
The breeze floating through a now open window, and the smell of something cooking on the stove, and also the Black Widow sitting at her table like she belonged there.
Kate still jumps like the first time it happened. She still throws the first thing she can get her hands on, which just so happens to be her recently thoughtfully purchased förnuft that she absolutely did not choose above the other fork choices because the name made her laugh.
She’s not laughing now as Yelena catches it with ease. Her throat feels a little clogged if she’s being honest – something to do with her heart lodging itself in there and beating incredibly hard. The same reaction Kate had, had to pretty girls since she first realised not everyone thought their lab partner was distracting enough to spill questionable chemical components on.
She’s not laughing, but after a momentary offended sound, Yelena definitely is.
“Kate Bishop, you bought me forks!”
“I didn’t buy you forks.” She absolutely bought Yelena forks.
“But I mocked you for not having forks and now you have forks, so they are definitely a little bit for me.” They were absolutely for her.
“They’re not- I didn’t even know you would break in again.” She’d hoped.
She’d hoped beyond hope that Yelena might go against her better judgement and show up again. She’d been pretty hopeful seeing as, ignoring her mother being in prison and the leader of a huge criminal organisation waiting in the shadows to definitely ruin her life, things had kind of been coming up Kate Bishop. She met her childhood hero and became his partner. She had a really cool suit and a bunch of increasingly dangerous trick arrows. And a dog.
“But you prepared for it, which is sweet, Kate Bishop.” Yelena grins and Kate feels herself melting into the shape of it. “And I still didn’t break anything. I was even more careful this time considering your home no longer looks like shit.”
“Yeah, well, thanks.” Kate looks around at her apartment, no longer coated in a thin layer of ash and full of destroyed mementos of her life. Now the coating was just a normal layer of dust and an array of pizza boxes she really needed to throw out. “Cleaning it up was actually a lot of effort.”
“You are less defensive this time, Kate Bishop. It is good. And you brought forks for me – which is good. I was beginning to wonder how we were going to eat the macaroni since you don’t even have a silly plastic fake fork-spoon this time.”
“It’s called a spork-“ Kate defends for absolutely no good reason, “and you really don’t have to keep calling me by my full name.”
“That’s not your full name. Katherine Elizabeth Bishop is your full name.”
Kate cringes. “Please don’t start using that.”
“Only because you asked so nicely. And a little because you bought me forks.”
“Again – I didn’t buy them for you.”
Yelena laughs, snapping her fingers towards Kate. “There’s the defensive Kate Bishop I was starting to become so fond of.”
Kate sighs, finally stepping further into her apartment, finally stepping closer to Yelena like she’d wanted to the whole time – she tries to hide that weird sense of urgency to be by her side by leaning her hip casually (she hopes casually) against the kitchen counter, about a metre away from where she actually wants to be. “Why are you here?”
“To eat macaroni with you,” Yelena says simply, like the answer was obvious, like she wasn’t sure why Kate was even bothering to ask, with most of her focus back giving her creation a few final stirs.
“That’s it,” Yelena repeats, keeping her eyes on the stove but pointing her wooden spoon behind her towards Kate’s table. “Now sit. I didn’t trust you to have two, so I brought bowls with me.”
“You brought me bowls?” Kate teases, following the direction thoughtlessly.
“Yes,” Yelena shrugs and Kate’s brow furrows at how nonchalant she is about it all. “See how easy that honesty was, Kate Bishop. You should try it.”
“Hey, I’m honest!”
Yelena’s smile is nothing less than shit-eating as she approaches Kate with two bowls in hand, sliding one across the table to her and dropping down onto the seat opposite. “So, you would tell me the truth if I asked if you had a picture of Clint Barton on your bedroom wall as a child that you used to give goodnight kisses to?”
“NO! I mean, yes I would tell you the truth, which is no – at a completely appropriate volume and level of emphasis.” Yelena’s gaze stays unchanging and steady on Kate. Kate sighs, finds herself admitting, “I didn’t kiss it goodnight.”
“Good morning then?” She nods with faux seriousness.
Kate scoffs. “I didn’t kiss it at all. I looked up to him, I never fancied him.”
Kate pauses. She promised honesty, so she thinks on it, whether she ever thought anything of the blue steel of Hawkeye’s eyes on that poster like her mom joked about once – the thought makes her cringe the same now as it did back then. “No, Clint’s not… really my type.”
“What is your type?” Blonde. Russian. Increasingly annoying and charming all at once.
“Not men over forty with loving families waiting for them at home.”
Yelena snorts. “I’ll let my daddy know he was getting ahead of himself thinking you’d fancy him.”
“Well, does he look anything like you?” Yelena’s eyes turn curious upon her. “Wait! You told your dad about me?” Kate’s saved from the embarrassment of her first question as Yelena tries to evade the second one.
“We should open these new forks you got me before the macaroni gets cold.” Yelena pulls a fork out with a swiftness Kate has never seen achieved before. It would definitely have made her suspicious of her if she hadn’t already seen her do unspeakably impressive assassin things. “I think I really cracked it this time – added a secret ingredient.”
“Is it hot sauce?” Kate guesses.
Yelena’s face slips tellingly. “It’s a secret.”
It takes Kate one bite to know that the answer is hot sauce. An obscene amount of hot sauce. Way more than Kate would ever usually dare to put on herself but she kind of liked the way the heat lingered on her tongue after she swallowed. It reminded her that Yelena was real, and she was there, and she had come back. That she might come back again.
For the first time in a long time, Kate realised she had multiple people she was hoping would come back again.
It was sort of nice.
She’d felt stuck before she met Clint. Stuck in a life that was boring her to tears most days and causing her extreme stress on the others when she did dumb things like destroying a historic belltower in the name of amusement. Stuck in her relationship with her mother and stuck wondering when everything was going to change.
She was a different kind of stuck now. She felt pretty confident about what she wanted to do with her life now and her relationship with her mother was not so much stuck as it was careening into a flaming volcano, waiting to be burned to death.
She wasn’t stuck on her life.
She was stuck on Yelena.
Yelena whose last name she didn’t know.
Yelena whose number she didn’t know after she disposed of that burner.
Yelena who had every ounce of power in their… whatever this thing blossoming was and got to set the rules at every turn – appearing when she wanted and disappearing when she wanted and leaving Kate with the matching spoons and knives for her forks alongside a note that said having multiple forks still didn’t count as cutlery.
Yelena who was currently collapsing through Kate’s window like a sack of potatoes but still somehow making absolutely no sound as she did so. Well, until her sharp grunt as she hit the floor. It’s the uncharacteristic sound of genuine pain that has Kate shooting up off the couch and towards the woman crumpled on her floor.
“Yelena, what happened?”
“Hello, Kate Bishop,” she grins until it slips into a grimace. “This is still not breaking.”
“You are bleeding all over the floor though,” Kate points out. The joke is mostly for herself – a way to calm herself down and because she likes the way Yelena rolls her eyes at her.
“I will clean up.” Yelena pushes to her feet, wincing as she goes. “After you show me to your medicine?”
Kate follows her up, wrapping Yelena’s arm over her shoulder and slipping her own around her waist, as she starts to lead them towards the bathroom. “Come on. Clint showed me a few things about patching people up.”
“I didn’t realise Clint Barton had a medical degree,” Yelena says petulantly but it doesn’t escape Kate’s notice that she leans more fully into her side, actually allows Kate to take some of her weight.
“He’s more of a degree of life kind of guy.”
“I think my life has taught me lots more than Clint Barton,” she argues, reaching for the kit Kate pulls from her bathroom cupboard as Kate deposits her to sit on the edge of her bathtub.
Kate lifts it just out of reach with a mocking grin – something she knows she’s only getting away with because Yelena actually looks a little worse for wear for once. There’s a darkness around her eyes and a lack of colour to her face that has Kate trying to cover the way she’s moving with extra urgency – she knows Yelena can see the panic in her anyway because she watches Kate gently, like she’s the one with an unidentified injury.
(It’s almost ridiculous how she can still look so beautiful.
Kate is as annoyed by her poise as she is impressed).
“I’m sure your skills are impeccable in this like everything else but it’s okay to let people help sometimes. So let me help.” Kate struggles to keep her composure as Yelena watches her silently. It feels like whole minutes pass before she nods and unzips her vest, reaching for the hem of her long-sleeved top beneath.
Kate quickly averts her gaze. She hadn’t spent too much time looking at the ceiling of her apartment, but it was actually quite nice to look at, not quite distracting enough to stop her from feeling the heat crawl it’s way up her neck, bursting across her cheeks, but quite nice all the same.
“You’re going to have to look to be able to stitch me up, Kate Bishop,” Yelena says teasingly. Kate looks down to find a wide grin on her face. Kate focuses on the grin as much as she can rather than the rest of Yelena on display. The blinding grin and the blood dripping down her arm and chest. Kate follows the trail to the deep groove above her collarbone, dangerously close to her throat.
“What happened?” Her voice drops to a whisper.
“I found another widow. As usual, she didn’t appreciate I was trying to help her when I first showed up. They always start so ungrateful. So much punching and kicking.”
“And knife slashing?”
“That comes a little later.” Yelena’s grin turns wicked. “We like to warm up to that stuff.”
Kate’s breath catches in her lungs. How did she even manage to make that sound sexy? Her words come out strangled, “Okay, well, we’re gonna warm up to stitching up that wound by disinfecting it.”
“Do you have any vodka in your kit?” Yelena peeks like she genuinely might find it.
“No, I have actual, medical grade disinfectant.”
“It is not for the wound, Kate Bishop,” she tuts. “It is no worry; I have my own.” Yelena reaches down for her vest, her cheek pushing into Kate’s arm as she opens various pockets with one hand until she pops back up victorious with three travel sized vodka bottles like she was some kind of walking hotel mini bar.
Kate cocks an eyebrow at her. “Is that what you keep in all your pockets?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know.” Kate rolls her eyes, even as a smile pulls at her lips. Yelena grins back, twisting the cap off of one of the bottles with her teeth, spitting it across the room and downing it all in one swift motion. “Okay, Kate Bishop, disinfect me.” And it shouldn’t be sexy, but she was all low tones and Russian accented syllables, and it was doing something for Kate.
Maybe she should have had more therapy as a child.
Kate dabs at the wound as gently as she can but it doesn’t stop Yelena from hissing or looking affronted like Kate was trying to cause her pain on purpose. “Sorry.”
She’s not entirely sure what compels her to do it. Maybe it’s a reflex, a memory from her childhood, from easier times when happily families wasn’t something she played but something she genuinely lived. Or thought she did in her naïve childish mind.
But just like her parents had done so many times before, after her rambunctious nature got her in a little too much trouble, Kate blew gently on the wound.
She almost apologies for the second time in so many seconds when she feels Yelena tense, when she hears the sharp inhale of her breath, thinking maybe she’d hurt her, or worse, crossed some kind of line she didn’t even know had been drawn.
The word stops dead in her throat when she sees the look in Yelena’s eyes. The threat of tears waiting to build. The intensity that makes Kate feel like Yelena might just burn a hole right through her face with her eyes. The quiver of her lower lip.
Instead, she timidly asks. “Was that not okay?” Yelena doesn’t say a word. Kate takes that as her cue to start rambling. “If that wasn’t okay you should tell me. And you should know that, that statement applies to all things – like even if it’s just that you don’t like the side of the couch you have to sit on because I’m already on the other side-“
Yelena cuts in, “Why would I care about the side of the couch?”
“It’s more what the side of the couch represents. Like being forced to one side without choice. You can sit wherever you want is what I’m saying and also like metaphorically you can sit where you want in life. If you get me.”
“You ramble a lot when you are nervous.” The vulnerability in Yelena’s eyes is cut with amusement.
“I’m not nervous.”
(She was so nervous).
“Are you going to continue?” Yelena nods down to her chest. Kate refocuses her efforts on wiping, trying to keep all her air in her lungs and her lungs alone, trying to complete the rest as silently and as calmly as possible (despite her brain not being very silent or calm at all).
She’s just started the stitches when Yelena breaks their silence. “Natasha used to do the same thing.” Kate looks at her with furrowed brow, hands paused. Yelena mimes for her to continue instead of answering the obvious questions in Kate’s eyes. Kate follows the silent order.
“The breath thing,” she clarifies when she’s no longer under Kate’s scrutiny. “Natasha used to do it all the time. When we were little, she told me she had magic breath and every time I scraped open my knee or cut my elbow she would blow on them and, for a little while, the pain would disappear. The day I found her again, or the day she found me… the day we found each other – she patched me up just like this and she blew on my arm to take the sting away. Twenty years later and still a little part of me believed her breath was magical.
“Apparently what it is really called is the gate control theory of pain. Very boring name. It’s the idea that non-painful input overrides the gate for the bad sensations and makes you focus on the other. But I don’t think this is true because I have spent over a year trying to override the pain of Natasha’s death with any sensation I can find and none of it works. It still just stings.
“So, the only answer is that she had magical breath.”
Kate still doesn’t look. She already knows what she’ll find if she looks at Yelena’s face. Wet cheeks. Haunted eyes. A smile that grows despite itself because there was as much joy in those memories as there was pain in the knowledge that memories were all it would ever be again.
“Magical breath is a far cooler explanation,” she agrees instead, pressing a dressing firmly onto Yelena’s wound.
Yelena’s laugh is wet. “I know, right?”
“I’m sorry,” Kate says softly, “That you’re in pain.”
“Ah it is only a stab wound, Kate Bishop. And with your excellent stitching, it will be all healed up in no time and I’ll be all ready to get another.”
Kate accepts the dodge for what it is. “Please don’t try.”
“Thank you for the help,” Yelena says earnestly. She picks up her shirt but holds it limply in her hand as she slips her vest back on instead and zips it up.
Kate expects her to leave immediately. For those to be the last words she speaks – she was already becoming quite aware that Yelena liked a dramatic exit. She expects her to not want to sit in her confession. To feel strange about having opened up to someone like that.
Kate would understand it, even if that understanding couldn’t erase the slight sting of it. The sting of wondering if Yelena would ever be with her for longer than an hour of two. The sting of wondering if maybe this was the last time they would see each other, if maybe Kate’s luck had finally run out and her life would go back to the monotony of BY (Before Yelena).
Yelena shifts from one foot to the other before saying, “I like the left.”
Kate’s face scrunches up in confusion. “What?”
“The left side of your couch. It is better. You sit there more so it is well worn in. Unlike the right which is lumpy – probably because you have a compound bow ‘hidden’ under the cushion.”
“I don’t-“ Yelena gives her a look – one that says I’m not stupid, Kate Bishop and stop being so defensive, Kate Bishop all at once. “I’ll move the bow. And the left-hand side is yours whenever you want it.”
“I look forward to it.” Yelena nods, moving through Kate’s apartment with ease, back towards the window she seemed to think was a door.
Grapple hooked and grin firmly in place, Kate expects her usual silent, mysterious and cool disappearance into the night but, just when she usually drops, Yelena looks Kate directly in the eye.
“Your breath is magical too, Kate Bishop.”
And then she’s gone.
So is the last part of Kate that thinks she could actually withstand Yelena… last name still unknown.
Kate’s just finished a completely guiltless rewatch of the complete classic Twilight when Yelena steps through her window with ease. The credits roll on the screen and Radiohead singing did the cat get your tongue felt pretty apt with Yelena standing there looking all beautifully windswept – like the only person in the world the wind would actually do a favour for instead of ruining every second of careful hair fixing done in the morning in favour of making them look like they’d been hit by a bus.
“I’m starting to wonder if you exist outside of this apartment.” Kate pauses, thinking back to every other time she’d seen Yelena. “Or in the day for that matter.”
“I exist in many places, in many times.”
Kate’s imagination takes a left turn. “Exactly what a vampire would say.”
“A vampire, huh?” Yelena chuckles, moving comfortably through Kate’s apartment like she belonged there. Kate thinks she probably has the gall to walk everywhere like that. Kate also thinks her face might sprout a grin wide enough to crack open her skull at the thought of Yelena belonging in her space.
She stifles it though, in place of keeping a watchful, jokingly critical eye pinned on Yelena. “It would explain why you’re so sneaky, and fast, and supernaturally hot.”
“I don’t think I am very warm,” Yelena responds in what seems like complete earnest to Kate, reaching out to press a hand to Kate’s cheek. Kate leans into it and tells herself it’s because it’s cool to the touch and not because she’s literally been gasping for Yelena to touch her again in literally any capacity since the last time. She’d kept an oddly obvious physical distance since Kate had patched up her a few visits ago.
Yelena’s face clouds with worry. “I think it is you who is supernaturally hot, Kate Bishop.” It’s then that she takes in the sorry sight of Kate as a whole – pressing a hot water bottle to both her back and her stomach and wrapped in a blanket roughly three times the size of her body. She smiles like she’s stifling her laughter. “Perhaps you do not need all these layers.”
Kate shrugs, having already resigned herself to her fate hours ago. “It’s supernatural heat or insane cramps and I know which one I prefer.”
“Cramps?” Yelena’s brow furrows, the word sounding even more foreign on her foreign tongue. Her eyes dart from Kate to the open chocolate assortment on the table to the Twilight Netflix page on the screen (definitely not the source of Kate’s conspiracies) to the look of self-pity that Kate knows is definitely on her face because she can physically feel it weighing her down. “Ah, your period, yes?”
“Don’t tell me: you and your perfect body have never had cramps.” Yelena was probably one of those women on the advert who were running marathons with a tampon in and just generally being better than everyone else around them.
“I do not have a uterus,” Yelena says it like she’s saying it’s Tuesday, or that she’s going to kill Clint Barton and then have some appetisers before going on with her life. She says it like it’s nothing as she gently sits down beside Kate, careful not to jostle her self-created cocoon.
Kate doesn’t hear the words like she hears it’s Tuesday. Kate hears the words like she hears I’m planning to kill your newly minted partner and then eat the food paid for by your mothers’ secret dalliances in the criminal underworld. “You-“
“It was taken from me. In the Red Room. A ruthless assassin is no use if she is pregnant, if she builds ties outside of the organisation. She must care about nothing more than her assignment.” The words aren’t her own. They’re a repeat of something told time and again. An explanation told to a child who never should have heard it, let alone had to live it.
“So, you’ve never…”
Yelena shakes her head. “I recognise this sorry sight from your American sitcoms, but I have never experienced it. Do you… need anything? I know a man who makes some crazy painkillers – I once got shot, twice, and did not feel a single thing. I think I also hallucinated that Billy the Purple Dinosaur.”
Kate smiles, automatically corrects, “Barney.”
“No, his name is Michel.”
“Not your dealer, Yelena,” Kate says through a laugh. “The dinosaur. His name is Barney.”
Yelena huffs. “Barney is a stupid name.”
Kate keeps laughing at the serious look on her face, “yeah.”
“No painkillers then.” Yelena shuffles around, tilting to pull her phone from her back pocket. “Food though. Daddy says a good meal will fix anything. You like Thai, yes?” Kate doesn’t comment that Yelena knows the answer to that because if she was really stalking Kate to find out stuff about her she would have quite quickly stumbled upon her long list of expenses for the Thai place around the corner from her apartment (half the reason she chose her apartment in the first place).
Instead, she looks at the phone in Yelena’s hand affronted. “So, the Thai takeout place can have your number, but I just have to wait and see if you’ll appear in my apartment?”
Yelena turns stubbornly, which isn’t something Kate would’ve thought possible until she watches Yelena do it and she immediately feels like she’s run into a brick wall. A brick wall who looks as affronted at the accusation as Kate feels. “You never asked for my number.”
“You cannot be mad with me when you did not even ask, Kate Bishop,” she says, and Kate feels all the fight leave her body immediately at the pleased look on Yelena’s face that says she thinks she has an airtight explanation (and a different kind of giddiness in her eyes that Kate can’t explain).
“I’m not mad.” She’s backtracking. Kate is majorly backtracking.
“You sound just like my mama when my daddy says her pigs would taste delicious for breakfast.”
“Well, it’s just, you know a lot about me, Kate Bishop,” Kate says in her best impression of Yelena that she can muster, which she will never admit she practised in the bathroom mirror the first morning after they met (and a few times since). “You know exactly where to find me and contact me and can show up whenever you want, just knowing that I’ll make room and time. And I know nothing about you. I don’t even know your full name.”
“Your accent needs work.” Yelena seems more amused than offended at the attempt. Kate huffs a laugh despite herself. “I have shown you many parts of me that I have not shown others. You need only ask if you want more; you might have to wait a while for the answer, but I will give it to you eventually. Against my better judgement perhaps.”
“I don’t mean to push you.” Except she did a little. Not that she wants to make Yelena uncomfortable. It’s the exact opposite. She wants the comfort. She wants to hear every detail there is to know about Yelena. She wants to have inside jokes and be able to just name a country and laugh about a story that happened there and feel like she was the Hawkeye to her Black Widow and also more. Like all the more there could be. But saying that might’ve seemed a bit strong. “I just-“
“Belova,” Yelena cuts in like she knows she’s saving Kate from herself. Or maybe a little like she already knows every word Kate’s been thinking and just wants to cut to the moment where Kate stops looking like Yelena kicked her dog. “My name is Yelena Belova. Spelled B-e-l-o-v-a, for when you put it into your phone contacts.”
Kate grins. Her phone is in her hands in seconds, the contact already created and sporting a love heart and a spider that she’s absolutely going to pretend Yelena didn’t see her enter after her name. “I’m gonna send you so many pictures of dogs I pass on the street.”
“You must tell me their names when you send the pictures. And give them many pets for me.”
“Easiest deal I’ve ever made,” Kate agrees. Tapping in the numbers Yelena spouts off with a delighted little jiggle.
“Finished business means food.”
“Order your Thai then. I bought a new hot sauce earlier for you.”
Yelena sighs happily. “You are a good woman, Kate Bishop.”
A selfish woman is what she was. Selfishly hoping that she could convince Yelena back into her life time and again. Selfishly hoping that Yelena would find it to hard to leave Kate behind – even if she had more important things to do in life, more important people to save.
But as Yelena steals the remote from Kate’s side of the sofa and doesn’t make to move very far from Kate after the fact, part of Kate thinks she might be succeeding.
Her very own Black Widow.
Her very own Yelena Belova.
Getting captured isn’t Kate’s ideal way of spending a day. It requires a certain level of mental capacity that she often can’t quite be bothered to muster – all that, where are my escape routes, and how many people are around me, and how hard would it be for me to get to my bow, how many arrows will be in my quiver when I get to said bow?
(Alongside the awkward, how much are Clint and Yelena going to yell at me for getting caught…
It doesn’t start in the most ceremonious of ways. Kate’s in the middle of being, admittedly dangerously laser focused, on responding to Yelena’s thousand questions about the latest dog pic she texted over when a bag is placed over her head, and she finds herself thrown into a van that smelled like someone poured cheap cologne over a fish market stall to try and fix the smell but only proceeded to make it infinitely worse.
Kate was actually quite glad about the itchy bag over her head for that part – at least it provided some kind of barrier for her delicate nostrils.
“So much for my good hair day,” she jokes when it’s pulled from her head and ends up with a mouth full of hair that she’ll never be able to get out without her hands.
Being captured really sucked. Being tied to a chair and having to listen to henchman who were only half there in the head really sucked.
Being halfway through an incredibly funny (if she did say so herself) anecdote in an attempt to sway some of their favour to her side and watching Yelena drop down behind them silently in their distraction sucked infinitely less.
A little because it was oddly stunning to see the way she worked – the efficiency and the strength and the way she almost looked like she was moving through a choreographed ballet as she flung men twice her size around the room without breaking a sweat. A little because Kate hadn’t seen Yelena in three days, and she felt like she was going through withdrawal.
Yelena looks both relieved and annoyed when she steps in front of Kate, slipping between her legs to reach behind her and cut the ropes around her wrist. Kate doesn’t verbalise the voice screaming in her head that she absolutely did not need to do it that way, that it would have been way easier to go round the back of Kate. Screaming. Genuinely screaming.
(Maybe being captured was actually the best thing ever).
“What are you doing here?” Her voice wavers when it comes out. Yelena pulls back to scan her face - checking for obvious signs of hurt where she won’t find any. Kate’s voice was weak for extremely gay reasons and extremely gay reasons alone.
“You did not answer my questions about the dog. You always answer the dog questions.” Yelena shrugs, though her face doesn’t quite seem to catch on that it’s supposed to be acting nonchalant about the whole ordeal. “I worried.”
“Aw, Yelena. You worry about me? That’s so embarrassing for you.”
“You want to mock me now? When I’m holding such a big knife?” Yelena lifts it up as if to prove her point. Given it is pretty big and also coated in blood that Kate would rather not think about.
“I’ve seen bigger.”
Yelena’s face shifts in offence. “Are you trying to knife shame me right now, Kate Bishop?”
Kate bites down on her smile. “Depends: is it working?”
“A little bit, yeah.”
“Good.” Kate lets her grin loose.
She rubs her wrists as Yelena moves to allow her room to stand, hissing at the redness now wrapped around them – they could’ve at least got some of that kink rope instead of the cheap shit to make her capture more comfortable. Yelena’s eyes darken at the marks, her eyes lingering on the bodies around the room like she might just try to revive them to beat them up again.
Kate moves her hand to circle Yelena’s own wrist, gently rubbing her thumb in calming circles above her pulse point. “Don’t think I don’t see what you’re doing by the way.”
Yelena turns back to her and plasters on a smile. “Gallantly coming to your rescue?”
Kate shakes her head, knowing Yelena will fall into step beside her as she starts walking towards one of the four exits she noticed on the way in (see, she could do things). “Appearing both outside of my apartment and in the daylight, to ward off any further vampire theories.”
Yelena’s smile shifts into something more organic. “You caught me.”
“I’m still suspicious.”
“You should be because I expect payment for taking the time out of my day to help you like this.” Kate almost makes a joke about Yelena being in debt for all the mac and cheese she’d stolen over the past few months. Kate almost makes a dumb pun. Kate almost makes a stupid comment that Yelena can have whatever she wants.
Whatever she was going to say is promptly cut off when Yelena darts in front of her, gripping Kate’s ponytail and pulling her head back until her neck is exposed. Words promptly forgotten, it’s Kate’s breath that she loses next when Yelena leans in, her mouth brushing over the hammering beat of her heart in her neck. Kate feels her smile spread across her skin but there’s no amusement in Yelena’s tone when she speaks again. “Your heartbeat is very fast, Kate Bishop.”
“Yes.” No point lying. Her brain was too fried.
“There is no need to be nervous. I do not really drink blood.” Kate could swear there was a gentle press of lips to her neck. Gone before it could even register, and she was going to be dreaming about this for a long time. The daydreams were already starting.
Yelena steps back. Kate fumbles her way back to her place in the conversation. “I’ll have to think of another theory of how you came to be then.”
“It is a pretty normal story, Kate Bishop. Man and woman have baby. Baby is left in the hands of secret shadow organisation, secretly planted in a sleeper cell in America and then raised to be the world’s greatest child assassin via chemical subjugation.”
Yelena’s footsteps are steady where Kate almost trips on her feet. “That’s not a joke is it?”
“Do you think it is funny?”
“I think it’s sad.” Sad didn’t really cover it. Sad didn’t feel like enough. Sad couldn’t describe the look in Yelena’s eyes, even if Kate could only catch a glimpse where she steadfastly stared straight ahead.
“It had it’s good moments. Not very many.”
“How long were you mind controlled?”
“Too long, Kate Bishop.” The words are heavy. Laced with a past that Kate had only ever been given small pieces from. Filled with a truth she could see in the heaviness in Yelena’s shoulders, the darkness in her eyes. “But I am free now and learning a lot about the popular culture from your constant references. I liked the Twilight film you were watching.”
“It’s a good series.”
“Series? There are more?” Kate nods, laughing at her enthusiasm. “We must go watch them. Come, I have some balm for your wrist in my pockets.” Yelena takes her hand where she might usually lead Kate by the wrist, careful not to hit the marks on her skin. Kate wasn’t going to complain. Yelena could hold her hand as much as she wanted, whenever she wanted.
In the end, they watch them all. They’re better films with Yelena’s commentary. The way she calls characters stupid like they’re real people making silly decisions instead of pawns to the plot. How every other minute she comments on how she ‘never would’ve been caught unaware like that’ and starts rating which of the vampires she thinks she could beat in a fight. All of them apparently.
Kate doesn’t really doubt her.
Yelena could wipe her out with just one touch.
“I made a list of questions I’d like to know about you.”
It’s pure chance that Kate happens to be passing her window when Yelena pushes it open, but she doesn’t need to know that. It’s funnier to watch the look on her face as she gasps and looks at Kate a little astounded that she managed to predict her latest appearance.
Kate Bishop: 1 - Yelena Belova:… literally an innumerable amount.
“I was not prepared for an ambush, Kate Bishop.”
“Still with the Kate Bishop thing.” Kate rolls her eyes. Yelena mimics her in a motion that says they both know Kate likes it. “Also, the whole point of an ambush is that the person is unprepared.”
“Hmph.” Kate takes that to be Yelena conceding to her superior intellect but refusing to acknowledge it – at least the closest to it that she’s gonna get. “It is good that I brought vodka then.”
Kate finally looks down to her hand. White plastic bag, clinking with at least six bottles. Kate’s stomach and head clench in a flashforward of epic proportions.
“You might have overshot with the amount of vodka there, Yelena.”
“No, no, it is not all for today. I bought in bulk so you would always have my favourite ready for me.” Yelena says it casually like she’s not really saying she was consciously making herself more at home at Kate’s apartment. She says it casually like she wasn’t saying she was planning to see Kate more. She says it casually like she doesn’t know the words make Kate start vibrating on another frequency.
“Oh. Okay,” Kate responds in her best approximation of someone taking that sentence casually, as Yelena unloads the bottles into her cupboard.
She knows she doesn’t pull it off at all when Yelena turns, eyes squinted curiously. “You have a weird look on your face, Kate Bishop.”
“My face can’t possibly look weird. It’s too pretty,” Kate brushes off.
“I bet Johnny Watts thinks so,” Yelena mutters, only just loud enough to peek Kate’s interest, or her confusion more so. She would always end up on the backfoot to Yelena in the end.
“Johnny Wa- From college? How do you even-? What does he have to do with-?” Johnny Watts who she shared one class with throughout her whole college career. Johnny Watts with whom she had completed one class project and one full conversation after that at a frat party that Kate was mostly just waiting to leave at a time that wouldn’t look suspicious or boring. Johnny Watts who was nice enough, but Kate had sort of forgotten existed until this very second.
“He is your biggest viewer on your Instabook account.”
“Instagram,” Kate corrects with a smile.
“That’s what I said,” Yelena responds with brushing off hand in the air. There’s something about her tone though. Something about the way she cares about Johnny Watts and Instabook and Kate that makes Kate think this thing raging inside her isn’t one sided. That Yelena didn’t just think of them as friends. “Are you pleased at that news?”
“Surprised if anything.” At Johnny and Yelena. “We’ve barely spoken. I don’t even know his Insta handle.”
Yelena exhales. “Well, he is very familiar with yours.”
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were jealous, Yelena Belova.”
“You have this list then?” She distracts. Kate pulls it from her back pocket with a grin because they both already know the answer is yes – Yelena was jealous, and Kate was always prepared to find out more about the girl in front of her. Yelena eyes it with raised brows. “It is quite long.”
“Once I started, I found it a little difficult to stop.” Kate unfolds it another time. Grimacing when Yelena snorts. “This is the revised version,” she admits. Yelena’s smile widens to bare her teeth.
“You’d better start asking then.”
“Okay, so I’ll just start with the first one then.” Kate clears her throat. “Favourite vegetable?” She blushes when the words come out of her mouth. It sounded a bit stupid out loud. It looked a bit stupid on the sheet now she came to think about it. But Kate had been eating a salad at the time – eating a salad and thinking about Yelena and suddenly she was making a ridiculous list with ridiculous questions.
Yelena looked amused beyond no end – not at all like she was laughing at Kate (even though she deserved to be laughed at). It was more delighted.
“This is an excellent question.” She’s so earnest and pretty and Kate was in the most trouble she had ever been in, in her life. And frankly trouble followed her like she was dragging it by a leash. “Green beans obviously.” Obviously.
“I’ve always been a broccoli girl personally.”
“That won’t be the last thing you’re wrong about.”
“I didn’t judge your opinion,” Kate protests.
Yelena doesn’t bat an eye. “Because my opinion was not wrong.”
“Moving on from your narrow mindedness.” Completely adorable and loveable, like everything she did in Kate’s eyes, narrowmindedness. “Favourite animal?”
“Your favourite animal is an insect?”
“Who is narrowminded now, Kate Bishop?” Tilts her head judgementally. But still she provides, “I think it is very cool how they glow. But, second only to fireflies is dogs.” Yelena proves her point by bending down to finally pet Lucky who’d been sitting at her feet since she arrived. He was even more hopeless around her than Kate was.
Yelena chuckles as he rolls to expose his stomach, his tail wagging sharply against the floor, creating a rhythmic beat that sounded a lot like the one hammering in Kate’s chest at the sight of the two of them together. “Have you ever had one?”
“Yes. My dog’s name is Fanny.”
“You have a dog now?!”
“Yes. She is staying with my mama at the moment.”
“You kept your lips sealed on that one didn’t you?”
Yelena stands and pulls out her phone. “I have pictures if you would like to see them?” Kate’s nodding and shuffling closer to Yelena’s side before the question is even completely asked. “Can I ask you a question, Kate Bishop?”
“Anything, anytime.” It wouldn’t have been the first time Kate promised complete transparency, but it would be the first time she meant it. It was easy to make people think you were an open book when you talked a lot and shared a little too much of things that weren’t important. It was harder to actually start sharing things that mattered – Kate hadn’t spent too much time trying until now.
“Why did you not pick one of the big ones to worship?”
Kate blinks slowly. “Like God?”
“Not the one with the capital ‘G’ but the thunder one maybe.”
“Ah. Why Clint you mean?” Yelena nods. Kate almost spews out her usual lie – that the bow was cool, and she liked that no one really knew anything about Clint, that they could make their own story. Not that both of those things weren’t true, they just weren’t her truth.
But Yelena had been nothing but honest with her so far and she wanted the same. To have someone know. To feel known. To maybe feel a little like every part of her life was a lie – meeting Clint had improved that a little, meeting Yelena improved it a lot more.
“My father died in the Battle of New York. I’m sure you already know that from stalking my life. One moment he was there and then the next he was just gone, and he wasn’t even special. My life had been ripped apart and his death wasn’t even special – he was just one of a faceless thousand. An insignificant casualty of a war brought to our doorstep.
“And I remember, standing in my half a home, and wondering how I was supposed to keep going, how I was supposed to act like everything was normal and fine. How everyone was supposed to when nothing was really normal or fine at all, when it wouldn’t be for a long time after.
“And that’s when I saw Clint. Jumping from a rooftop with nothing but a bow and arrow and a fearless belief that he wasn’t going to crash land into a New York pavement. Bravery like I’d never seen before. Just a man. Not a god or a super solider or a mutated goliath. Just a man, fighting to make sure that faceless thousand wasn’t for nothing – that their deaths would be avenged.
“He made me feel like I could make a difference. That if he could be some random human who wanted to do good in the world and succeeded, then I could succeed in that too because I was Kate Bishop and I’m great when I put my mind to things.”
Yelena doesn’t speak immediately when Kate is finished. She doesn’t look at her with pity or offer condolences for a man she’d never even met. She simply looks at her wordlessly and Kate knows she was the right person to trust with this. She was the right person.
When Yelena speaks again, she whispers, like she’s scared of breaking the sanctity of what she’s been trusted with, or maybe like she knows Kate is more easily startled than she pretends.
“You are not a random human, Kate Bishop. Nor are you just anything. You are a wonder, and you make a difference.” Kate tries to avoid the intensity of Yelena’s gaze but there’s a gravity about Yelena that sucks her in despite her best efforts.
“Have you been listening to my daily affirmations tape?”
“You can deflect with humour if you’d like, but it’s true,” Yelena smiles and looks away. Kate feels her lungs open back up to oxygen and then promptly lock back up again when Yelena continues. “You make a difference to me. You make me better – calmer, and more open, and you make me remember what laughter is. I thought I would never feel joy again until I met you but you made me smile for the first time in a long time.”
“You’re not dying are you?”
“See, you are very funny, Kate Bishop.” Yelena shakes her head, offering Kate an amused smile. “No, I am not dying. But I do have to go to Russia for a few weeks. It’s why I came here actually – so you wouldn’t text me every two minutes asking if I was alive.”
“I might still do that regardless.” She was definitely going to do that. Probably throw some calls in as well so stave off the withdrawal of not hearing her dulcet Russian tones for too long.
Yelena smiles ruefully. “You should be careful with those overactive thumbs, or my parents might start to think something is going on between us.”
But there was, wasn’t there? There was something happening, something that Kate could see shifting and evolving right in front of her eyes. Something that Kate wanted people to know about (it was really a miracle she hadn’t spammed Clint’s phone already with messages that said I’ve been hanging out with a Russian assassin, and I think she’s very pretty, and I think she might think I’m very pretty too and then just a panicked key smash).
“Well, that wouldn’t be the fault of my thumbs. That would be the fault of that ridiculously beautiful, dimpled smile of yours when reading them.”
“Joint effort,” Yelena concedes. Kate stifles her urge to punch the sky.
“Anything dangerous?” She asks instead.
“Always,” Yelena says with faux seriousness before cracking a grin. “Mostly reconnaissance and restocking for more widow missions. Nothing that will make me turn up on your doorstep covered in blood.”
“I was never worried about that,” Kate brushes off. “We both know you’d come through the window.”
“It is a good window. Perfect size for dramatic exits.” As if to prove her point, Yelena begins her walk back towards it. Slower than usual. Or maybe just slower than the first time she did it. She’d been getting gradually slower since that point, like maybe she didn’t quite want to leave, like her body was trying to get her to just stop walking and stay for a little bit longer.
Kate would take all the extra seconds she could get.
“I’m sure that’s what the architect was going for.” Kate touches Yelena’s hand. She doesn’t catch it. She doesn’t grab it. But Yelena stops stock still like Kate had tugged her backwards. “You’re definitely coming back though? It’s just- you don’t usually say goodbye.”
Yelena turns her hand so that Kate’s fingers graze her palm, so that she can shift her own to slip between the gaps that Kate’s fingers leave behind. Her hands are soft and calloused at the same time. Warm. It feels a little like when Kate picked up a bow for the first time – the perfect weight, the perfect fit, the perfect thing for her at that moment in her life.
“It is not goodbye, just see you later. And an I’ll miss you.”
“Oh.” Yelena squeezes her hand. It’s like pushing the big red button for Kate. Forces her to rock forward on her toes and back again when her brain thinks better of it. Makes her eyes drop down to Yelena’s lips and back up again when they remember themselves. She knows the movement doesn’t go unnoticed. She knows Yelena could mention it if she wanted. “I’ll miss you too.”
“Don’t drink my vodka whilst I’m gone.” Yelena’s tone is too soft for her words.
Kate matches her whisper. “The stuff you buy is basically paint thinner. You’re safe.” Yelena grins, darting forward to kiss Kate on the cheek, a little too close to the mouth. A lot too close to making Kate’s heart explode in her chest.
“See you later, Kate Bishop.” And then she’s gone with her usual swiftness.
And like, Kate had game right?
Like a hot, blonde assassin was definitely, without a shadow of a doubt into her and she had not ruined it, despite their frequent conversations. That was game.
Except Kate felt a little like she’d made it to that one level she always hated replaying because she didn’t know where to go from here. She didn’t know how to actually seal the deal which usually equalled Kate doing something stupid and hoping for the best.
Maybe this time would be different.
(It wouldn’t be different).
(Predictably) Kate decides the answer is to go balls to the wall.
Overthinking was for losers. And like, if she actually thought about things then she never would’ve put on that musty, cursed, old Ronin suit and ended up partners with her childhood hero. If she actually thought about things she wouldn’t have decided (or allowed Yelena to decide on her behalf) to befriend and partially fall in love with a girl who once threw her off a roof. If she actually thought about things she would freak out too much and ruin everything.
And yes, maybe, not thinking this through would cause her to ruin everything anyway but she wouldn’t know until she did the stupid thing.
So, she decides to run with it.
It takes two and a half weeks for Yelena to return.
Eighteen. Whole. Days.
The longest she’s been gone since she started turning up at Kate’s apartment. Which would be the weirdest thing if it weren’t for the fact that Yelena actually sends Kate a message to say that she’s on her way the day she lands back in New York. And then proceeds to actually turn up at her front door instead of the window. And actually knocks instead of just picking the lock.
Which is how Kate has time to run with it.
And by ‘run with it’ she means, pull some candles from her cupboards to place on her table along with boxed mac and cheese and vodka she had made sure was ice cold but had no actual ice cubes in it. (“it should be cold, Kate Bishop, not watered down.”)
It doesn’t give her quite enough time to change out of her comfy clothes or check that her hair still looks alright because she favours having a bit of a panicked run around to make sure nothing weird was in plain sight (she doesn’t know why she bothers with that considering Yelena had already seen all the questionable things Kate, and her apartment, had to offer).
Kate opens to door with a breathy, “Hi.” A little thankful it wasn’t just her neighbour again and that her flirty hi makes it to the right audience this time.
Yelena responds with a slow, wide grin and her own, “Hi” That makes Kate feel like if Clint were here he would be mocking them both – previous threats and promises of death forgotten in the name of mocking his protégé and his best friend’s little sister.
Yelena reaches in and hugs her, and Kate was going to wait. She was going to vodka and dine and try to be charming and, like, ease her way into tilting their lives on their axis, but Yelena pulls away from the hug slowly and her face is so close to Kate’s, and it just feels so easy to sort of… lean in.
“Kate…” Yelena says when their lips are an inch away.
“You never call me Kate.”
“You never lean in like you’re going to…”
“Kiss you?” Yelena nods, adorably cross eyed from the way she won’t stop looking at Kate’s mouth. Kate wonders if she’s willing it closer or further away. “I will if you say the word. And I won’t if that’s what you would prefer, but I really like you and I would rather you do say yes.”
Yelena swallows. Her eyes lift to meet Kate’s. “I have thought of nothing but kissing you for the past eighteen days and some time before that. You will not hear no from me.”
“Say yes then.”
Kate kisses her the second the word ends. It’s gentle. And warming. And Kate feels known by the mouth on hers. Not superficially but in her bones. Like the push and pull of their mouths was written in her very DNA. Like the very blood that ran through her veins came from the stardust that painted a constellation in the sky of this very moment. And other very gay thoughts that she would have laughed at usually, if she wasn’t too busy whimpering at the way Yelena pushed her body closer, at the way her hands gripped Kate’s waist tighter, the way her lips trembled under Kate’s own.
When Yelena parts their mouths, all Kate’s addled brain can think to conjure up is. “I just realised you’re shorter than me.”
“We’re all the same height lying down,” Yelena says, the cheesy line at complete contrast to her husky voice which somehow got huskier, and the enthralling look in her eye. Still, Kate huffs a laugh. Yelena recognises she must have said something not as charming as she’d hoped, tilting her head curiously. “I read that in a book over a man’s shoulder at an airport once. It had many like it. Was it not good?”
“Only you could make it work.”
“Well, I am very talented.” Kate had absolutely no doubts about that.
She would very much like to prove that she was right. “Would you like to see my room?”
“I have seen your room many-“ Yelena stops, her mouth shaping a perfect ‘O’. “Oh, yes. Yes I would.” Yelena kisses her first this time, leads her backwards, up the stairs and towards Kate’s bed. Honestly it’s lucky Kate has some procedural memory of how to walk and the layout of her home because Yelena makes her feel like her brain is melting out of her ears.
(She almost puts her hands to her head to check.
She keeps them on Yelena’s body instead).
Kate’s legs hit the back of the bed and she stops herself from falling by gripping onto Yelena’s jacket, slips her hands underneath it, feeling the hard muscle of her shoulders beneath.
“Can I take this off?”
“Yes.” Yelena kisses her softly – at odds with what Kate would currently classify as their heated make out session. “Thank you for asking, but the answer will be yes unless I stop you.” Kate pushes it off her shoulders. Cocks an eyebrow as she finds a shoulder holster housing two guns and… Kate tilts her head to Yelena’s right-hand side, also a knife.
Kate drops back to sit on the bed, looking up teasingly. “Expecting trouble?”
“You must always be prepared, Kate Bishop.” So, they were back to the full name now? Why was it oddly hot? Probably because Yelena sounded like Kate had kissed all the air out of her lungs and that was both making her proud and incredibly turned on. Yelena unclips the holster and places it gently to the side of them, pushing it away with her foot. Kate watches carefully, making mental note of how to remove it as quickly as possible. “I will get you one too, so you don’t have to be jealous."
“Can it be purple?” Kate asks, eyes still on Yelena’s as she pushes her t-shirt slightly up her stomach and presses a kiss to the skin.
Yelena’s eyes darken, her fingers pushing into the hair at the back of Kate’s head. “Purple could be arranged.”
Kate grins, presses another kiss to the warm skin of her stomach, lets her eyes drop as she pushes Yelena’s shirt up a little higher, lets her hands drag to her back. Kate won’t lie – she’s definitely making her way towards an ass grab when she hits something cold and metallic. She lets her hand wrap around the handle, pulling it loose from Yelena’s jeans and holding it up between them with a teasing grin that was threatening to become a permanent fixture on her face.
“You came to my apartment with three guns?” There’s a look on Yelena’s face that suggests three may not be quite right. There’s also a look that says she’s lamenting every single weapon currently on her body that is stopping Kate in her tracks.
“Remember when those jogging suit crew men threw Molotov cocktails into your home?”
“Tracksuit mafia,” Kate corrects. Yelena waves her hand insouciantly.
“It is a stupid name regardless.” She takes the gun from Kate’s hand and places it on the bedside table before retaking Kate’s hands and planting them firmly on her ass. Kate tilts her head up for Yelena to meet her in another kiss, as the other woman lifts one knee and then the other until she’s straddling Kate on the edge of the bed.
Kate reaches up towards Yelena’s hair, yearning to finally pull it from its braided bun and give in to her need to run her fingers through her tresses. She reaches for the pin holding it in place when Yelena catches her hand. Smiling sheepishly. She pulls the stick out and Kate can see how sharpened it is. She throws it across the room so that it pokes out of Kate’s wall.
“Do not touch that later. I don’t have the anti-venom on me.”
Kate grins. Gods she was so into this ridiculous woman.
Yelena shuffles closer to her body and Kate notes how precariously they’re sat on the edge. Not that she thinks Yelena could ever possibly fall but she uses her grip to flip them onto the bed. Yelena pushes up the bed, dragging Kate with her, in a move that feels unfamiliar for her but still perfectly executed. She was probably just amazing at everything first time, all the time.
Kate flicks her shoes off as she goes. Breaks their kiss so she can shift down and unzip Yelena’s boots and pull them off for her. She unzips one, her knuckles dragging across skin and then… Kate smiles when she pulls a knife out of an ankle holster and holds it up for Yelena to see. She looks up at Yelena, hair spread across Kate’s pillows, looking thoroughly at home and not at all sheepish about another hidden weapon.
“When I unzip the other boot-“
“You will find another knife, yes. Also, some emergency anti-mind control vials – be careful with those,” Yelena directs. Kate laughs but pulls them out delicately, the knives clatter gently against the floor. The vials make no sound at all as Kate leans her entire torso off the bed and makes sure they’re put down as softly as possible.
Yelena’s face is even softer than her movements when Kate pops back up red faced and knowing it would have taken less effort to just stand up and place the vials elsewhere.
Hindsight was twenty-twenty.
Kate doesn’t think she’s ever been kissed the way Yelena is kissing her then, as she tugs her back up. Sure, she’d hooked up with people. And she’d had more make-out sessions than she’d care to admit to due to the calibre of participants in some of them. But she’d never had someone kiss her like it was the only thing they wanted to do. Like if the world was ending, this was the last thing they’d want to do before it all disappeared.
(It was intoxicating and thrilling and-
Okay so Yelena was biting her lip and Kate might genuinely implode).
“Take this off.” Yelena tugs at her sweatshirt and, yeah, she was going to implode. Kate grabs at the hem and tugs it over her head with Yelena’s help. She didn’t even think about the fact that she hadn’t put anything under it that morning until Yelena’s eyes are fixated on her chest. Kate feels her nipples harden in response to the gaze and the cold air.
“You are beautiful, Kate.” Kate. So that was the key. Shock Yelena with kisses and boobs and she would finally drop the Bishop.
“Thank you.” Yelena kisses her again with wandering hands. Kate reaches for the button on Yelena’s jeans. Yelena’s hand stills her and before Kate can panic that she’s taken this too far and pushed Yelena into almost doing something she doesn’t want to do; Yelena squeezes her hand reassuringly.
“Just be careful,” she grimaces like she knows she’s about to get teased again. “There are more knives.” She was absolutely right.
“Do you know how easy it is to lose a knife in a fight? One good kick and it’s right out of your hand.” It’s a good argument. It is. What’s even better is how Yelena looks in the jeans – the ones that look practically painted on with the way they hug her thighs.
“These jeans are pretty tight, Yelena.” She can’t help the astounded nature of her voice. She tilts her head trying to calculate the logistics of the whole thing. “How would you even get them out? Pull your trousers down mid-fight?”
“Do not be ridiculous, Kate Bishop.”
“I’m gonna start making you walk through a metal detector when you come in the apartment.”
“Well, that would just be tedious,” Yelena argues. “Would you have me take all my piercings out to prove a point?”
Kate loses all focus in the jean knives completely. “All your piercings?”
“Weapons are not the only thing you’ll find hidden on my body, Kate.”
“Holy Hawkeye,” Kate groans.
She doesn’t even flinch when she locates the knives under her jeans, or when she reaches behind Yelena’s head and finds herself shocked by some tiny bead behind her ear. Her brain is too much like mush already. It doesn’t improve much from then on.
After, as they lay there, with Yelena on her side, running her fingers through Kate’s hair, Kate can’t help but chuckle – her lungs still burning through the action from exhaustion. “I’ll never be able to look at you the same again.”
Yelena hums in agreement. “I knew you were talented with your hands but that thing you do with your mouth is something else, Kate Bishop.” Kate preens under the praise (something Yelena had picked up on and exploited very quickly).
“I didn’t- well, thank you. You were amazing too,” Yelena mumbles something that sounds a lot like obviously. “But I actually meant now I’m just going to be wondering where you’re hiding your weapons all the time.”
Yelena shakes her head minutely. “I do not change and chop them. It is important that when I reach for a weapon, I know exactly where to go and what I will find. The knives have different weights and there’s a difference between which ones to throw and stab with. It’s very complex. Different bullets in the guns too. So, there is no wondering. You know.”
“I know.” Kate repeats. It feels big. Knowing an assassins’ backup plans on backup plans felt big. Was it ridiculous that Kate thought that felt big?
“I trust you. I would not have done this-“ Yelena gestures between them- “if I did not. So, you should feel very special, Kate Bishop. You are the only person trusted with this information and I expect you to keep it a secret.”
“I’m very happy for no one but me to know what’s going on under your clothes. Speaking of…” Kate grins and ducks under the covers.
(It starts with a fork.
It ends with an attachment they had both yearned a long time for).