Man of the Hour

Matty’s the last to arrive, reaching the doorstep just as it starts to rain hard.

“Hey!” Clint raises his glass, grinning. “It’s the man of the hour.”

Matty grins back, shrugging out of his wet jacket and hanging it up, knowing, by touch and by smell, that his coat hangs next to Natasha’s.

The apartment is neat, if sparsely furnished. Nat never needed much. The couch was an off-white colour, a mistake, she realised, when she saw how often she had to clean it.

The chairs she’d bought not because of their shape or colour but because they had nice tapered legs. Other than that? A TV she rarely used, a coffee table, a rowing machine, a dresser with secondhand books.

She didn’t have any photos. Or, in the very least, she didn’t display them. She wasn’t in the habit of displaying them either.

“Hey,” Natasha says, smile in the corner of her mouth. Her voice sounds warm, and rich, like butter.

“Hey,” Matthew replies, setting down his cane and taking a seat.

“Beer?” The redhead offers, handing him one.

“Thanks,” the lawyer says, nodding.

“To taking down Wilson Fisk,” Natasha says, holding up her drink. The bottles chink merrily, while thunder continues to roll on outside, rain hitting the windows.

A companionable quiet falls between the three of them, Clint regarding Murdock from the corner of his eye.

“So, uh, most rookie vigilantes don’t take down a kingpin like Wilson Fisk on their first big case.”

“Rookie lawyer, you mean?” he asks, not missing a beat.

“What did I say?” Clint asks, taking a mouthful of his beer. He considers another thought and makes an affirmative noise when he decides to bring it up. “Does, uh, whatshisname, Froggy know?”

“Foggy?” Matt clarifies, setting the bottle down on the table.

“Yeah, yeah, Foggy,” Clint nods, wishing he wasn’t so terrible with names.

“He knows,” Natasha responds, smirking in the corner of her mouth. “He’s not really happy about it.”

“Have you met him?”

“Yeah, he dragged me to this shithole bar, Josie’s. He then spent the next two and a half hours getting really drunk and telling me about how much he misses his college days with Matt,” she rolls her eyes.

“Hey!” Barton speaks up, over the lip of his beer bottle. “I like Josie’s.”

Matt smiles.

“So, Clint, you live in Brooklyn?”

“Yeah, yeah. I mean I also have a house out west with my girlfriend. Big, old, beautiful thing. Couple of kids, chickens,” he shrugs.

Murdock pauses. “Really?”

“Nah,” Clint breaks out in a grin. “Nearly got you, though. I haven’t been seeing anyone. I got divorced last year, so.”

“Have you tried internet dating?” Matthew asks, wryly, half-joking.

“No, why? Should I?”

“You don’t even have internet in your apartment, Barton,” Natasha adds.

“I do. It just doesn’t work,” the other man murmurs defensively.

The three of them talk until it’s late and Clint decides he has to go home and feed his dog.

“My place next time, okay?” he offers, as he pulls on his jacket.

“Your place? Are there poison-tipped arrows still on the floor?” Natasha asks, conversationally.

“That’s a work in progress,” he replies, waving, before scolding himself inwardly. “Bye, guys. Good to see you.”

“Matt, are you hungry?”

“I could eat,” he says, in reply. They find their coats and head out onto the pavement, debating about what to eat.

Bagels, felafel, Sicilian pizza, Korean barbecue, souvlaki, jerk chicken, waffles… they walked and walked, her arm linked with his.


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