Nosebleed

Clint’s desperately trying not to bleed all over his bathroom floor when there’s a knock at the door.

“Shit,” he says, trying to stem the flow of blood and wondering who the hell was at his door. He pushes past Lucky’s yellow, hairy bulk and opens the door, not even bothering to lean in the doorway.

“Oh, Matt, hey,” he says, with a nod. The archer was relieved Matt couldn’t see that he had a tampon jammed up his nose.

“Hey,” Matt replies, stepping inside. He frowns, puzzled, cocking his head to one side. “… do you have a… what’s up your nose?”

“A tampon,” the other man admits reluctantly, closing the door behind him.

“Oh,” the lawyer blinks. “Nosebleed?”

“Yeah,” he replies, looking over his shoulder at the state of his apartment. Shit. There’s shit everywhere. “Natasha showed it to me years ago, it works,” he says, gathering up loose arrows, boxes, comic books, an old hoodie and – what the fuck is that? – out of the way and against the wall. “All the smoke from the explosions in the city has had my nose acting up. Was that you?”

He takes Matt’s arm and leads him to the couch, sitting down across from him. The string of the tampon tickles the stubble on his chin.

“No. It… It’s a long story,” Matt responds, stuttering, shaking his head. Lucky nudges Matt’s knee with his nose until the dark-haired man reaches out to pet him, stroking his fingers through the dog’s hair. “Hey, buddy.”

“You want some coffee?” Barton asks, standing to make himself some anyway.

“Sure. Coffee sounds great.”

Over the smell of dog hair, old carpet and older paint, Matty starts to pick apart Clint’s apartment. An old, wet fridge, almost empty, old pizza, a cupboard under the sink full of half-used cleaning products – what was that he had up against the wall? Metal, arrows, solvent… poison…?

Something else. It was in the bedroom, too. Perfume, a woman’s perfume. By now, only the base notes remain – sandalwood, musk, vetiver.

“Clint, are you seeing anyone?” Matt asks, suddenly, never sure if he’s asked the statement in his head or aloud.

Shit. “Sorry, what?” he asks, relying on an old favourite.

“Are you seeing anyone?” Matt repeats.

“Uh.” This looks bad.

He pours the coffee into two miraculously clean mugs and walks over back to his friend, handing him a mug. “It’s a long story.”

Cause she’s kinda a morally ambiguous redhead who’s involved with the Russian tracksuit mafia except she’s a really good kisser and the sex is great.

… okay this looks really bad.

“Natasha didn’t send you over here to check on me, did she?” he exhales, leaning back in his chair.

“She’s been getting texts from Kate Bishop about you. She said you were an adult and could take care of yourself. I offered.”

“Oh,” Clint blinks, taking a mouthful of his coffee and trying to decide which is worse – Matt being persuaded to check up on him, or Matt volunteering.

A silence falls between them, mugs of coffee in their hands.

“Hey, do you know anyone in this city who does dry-wall?” Clint asks, thinking of the his list of things to do and picking the one that exhausts him the least.

“I know someone who knows someone,” Matt responds easily.

“Okay, can I get his number or something? One of my tenants was asking me about it.”

“Wait, your tenants?” Matt asks, clarifying.

“Yeah. It’s my building.”

“Who’d you buy it from?”

“The Russians.”

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