A Girl's Gotta Do




Sometimes, Natasha Romanov hated her job.

"Normally, I'd be all over your super-secret and down-and-dirty, Natalisha, but we're really scraping the barrel here." Tony studied the dark stains on the boxing ring's ropes. "What's that? Do I want to know what that is? Pretty sure whatever it is, I'd have to get my iron on."

Natasha ignored him, as was her habit these days. Watch what he did, watch the expressions on his face but never listen to the actual words coming out of his mouth. She was almost to the point of hearing "wah wah wah" every time he opened his fap. A few more weeks ought to do it. She dropped her bag in the middle of a bench. Two fantastically beat up men flanked either side. They leered at her; she ignored them as well. Out came her gloves, mouth guard and hand tape. She already wore her boxing kit under the sweater and pants.

Stark sidled up beside her. "Uh, Nat, this might not be the best place to do a striptease. I'd have your back, of course, but you seem to take offense every time I try to do the honourable thing so I'd rather this not get awkward."

She pulled off her pants. Stark winced but kept staring at her ass. Typical. The sweater went into the bag as well. Then came an unusual piece of boxing equipment: a perfumed oil in a pinkie-sized vial. When she uncapped it, the scent barely registered outside arm's length: persimmon, honey and the barest dash sandalwood. She dotted the back of her knees once and put it away.

"Perfume to the knees?" Stark said. "I know perfumes and I know women and perfume behind the knees on women is a neon welcome sign if you know what I mean which I'm sure you do because you're the big bad secret agent lady."


"Yes, dear?"

"Shut up."

"I love it when you order me around. Did you bring the gimp mask, too?"

Natasha quickly taped up her wrists. Her sparring partner had entered, his threadbare sweatsuit belying his fighting prowess. Her heart rate increased and she had to take a few deep breaths to calm down. No doubt he'd hear that and she didn't want to give him any advantages.

"So I was thinking, after you're all sweaty, hot and bothered, I can help you cool down. I've been told I give excellent massages." Gingerly, Stark kicked aside another boxer's clothes off the bench. "We can use something other than horse liniment, of course."

Natasha let out a weary breath and pulled on her gloves.

"Unless you like horse liniment. I'm no prude. Neigh, baby, neigh." Finally deciding the bench was safe to sit on, Stark slid into her line of sight. "Are you going to beat those missing documents out of your contact?"

"Not exactly."

"Fury likes you the best. He never lets me beat missing documents out of people. It's always 'Get in line, Stark' and 'Shut up, Stark' and 'I don't want to risk my men; go be cannon fodder, Stark.' I don't think I'm his favourite."

"Oh Tony." Natasha put both gloved hands on his shoulders and looked him in the eye, willing all her sincerity in the gaze. "It's not him, it's you."

Stark blinked. "You know, that's what I always suspected."

She entered the ring, stretching out her neck and arms. Her partner knocked a few experimental jabs into the air and quickly jogged the stiffness out of his legs before shrugging off his hooded sweatshirt. Strands of his auburn hair stuck in whorls on his forehead.

"Hey." She leaned on the top rope.

He snagged the lower one. "Hey yourself."

She pulled his shades off. Even though she knew he saw absolutely nothing through those gorgeous brown eyes, she leaned a little bit more and tilted her head flirtatiously to one side. He didn't let her down. Reaching up, he combed his fingers through her ponytail.

"Ready for me?" he asked.


"Hello!" Stark stuck his head between them. "I'm Natalie's boss, Tony. How are you, person who... is visually impaired and... Natalie, can we have a word 'cause I'm having serious doubts about your good sense at the moment--"

"You wanted documents," said Natasha. "I'm going to get them."

"Yes but you may have a distinct advantage."

Their contact stuck his hand out Tony shook it out of habit and maybe a little bit of shock. "Trust me, I wouldn't have it any other time. I'm Matt. Nat's told me all about you."

"Lies all lies, except the tripod thing. There's even a website, completely unendorsed but what can you do."

Matt grinned. Natasha killed the urge to throw him on the ground right now and drape herself all over him. Damn that grin. "You're in our way, Tony."

Stark handed Matt a business card. "My lawyers, in case you need to know who to contact for the injury lawsuit."

"I am a lawyer, Mr. Stark," Matt said as he pulled himself up through the ropes and onto the ring.

"In that case, keep the business card in case you want to join the firm."

"I like having the ability--"

Natasha swung out with a left hook. Matt bent back, twisted around on a crouch and swung his leg straight up to kick at her kidneys. She blocked it by crossing her arms and they both pushed away.

"--to pick and choose my clients."

He surged upward with his right fist then immediately rebounded with a knee strike-shin kick combination that had Natasha reeling back to block. She caught his foot at the last minute, twisted; he flew with the twist, trying to snag her ribs along the way. She fell into the same twist, throwing an elbow at his thigh as she went down.

He grunted, his nostrils flaring.

She grinned.

"I like your perfume," he said.


Matt sniffed the air. "Oh yeah. Very subtle. You have it dabbed--" He dropped down and swiped at her legs. Natasha cartwheeled out of the way, landing behind him to hand-edged blow to the neck. He caught her hand and flipped her over his head but she managed to throw a knee between his shoulders on her way up. He let out a strangled noise and caught her leg. "-- just behind your knees."

She slid her free leg slowly down his chest, keeping her foot pointed in ballet-perfection before flicking it heel-first against his jaw. She heard his teeth clack and laughed as she rolled away. "I thought you'd appreciate the subtlety."

"I love subtlety."

"I know. Kii-yaah!" Natasha leapt up, hands aimed for a dive shot. He tried to block her but the force of her descent threw him back.

She jumped again, this time delivering half a dozen quick kicks at his forearms before landing in a squat and punching his lower stomach. He swiped the punch away with a swing of his right arm immediately following by a similar swing of his left which sent her reeling. She kept on rolling, away from his stomps which shook ring all the way to the ropes. He stomped to her left; she rolled away only to be met with his right foot. Trapped. She bent up to a near back-flip so her legs wrapped around his waist from behind. She locked her ankles and rolled forward. He slammed on his back.

Matt spun to catch her in a leg-lock. Pinned, Natasha aimed hits at pressure points on his stomach and sides but he gritted his teeth, refusing to let go. She'd have to pull the big guns. Using a foot for leverage, she pushed his hips up and around so that their positions were reversed. They both faced the floor but she was on top and had three out of four limbs free. Wriggling up his body, she hooked his arm with one leg and yanked it up farther than the joint would allow. In response, he tightened his legs around her neck. Her vision started to go hazy. She pulled harder on his arm and used her other leg to push his head away, straining the tendons even further. Somewhere in the background, Tony was either yelling for a time out or taking bets.

Natasha turned her head to one side and nipped at Matt's bare ankle. She felt a shudder go through him. For a split second, he only had ninety percent of his concentration on the fight. That was enough. She went limp; his legs loosened ever so slightly, allowing her to slide out from between his thighs. One stomach twist, an easy transfer of the arm-lock to a kick at the temple then a series of quick jabs at his kidneys and she finally finished the fight off by grabbing a hank of his gorgeous hair and slamming his face on the floor.

Panting yet gleeful, Natasha stood up. Matt rolled painfully to his back, one arm cradled on his chest.

"What was that?"

"A variation on jujitsu," she answered.

"I sincerely doubt ankle-licking is a jujitsu move."

"That's why it's a variation."

His "injured" arm jerked out and pulled her down. Laughing, she controlled her fall to his side. "You are a bad, bad woman."

"Thank you. I guess this means I get those documents now."

"Documents, documents." Matt tapped his chin. "Y'know, you knocked me so hard on my head, I can barely remember what you're talking about."

"You don't remember at all?"

He shrugged. "Search me."

"Don't mind if I do." Natasha pulled her glove ties off with her teeth. Matt didn't turn his head her way but his expression told her he knew exactly what his double-entendre invited.

"Ooooooookay, kids, this is where we start charging pay-per-view fees." Tony stepped into the ring. "Yeah, these guys look just about ready to come... out of their shells. To protect the fair lady. Or. Something. I need a water. Can you get me a water, Natalisha Rushmanovakoff?"

Annoyed, Natasha sat up then changed her mind and decided to sit right on Matt's stomach. He held her in place with his hands on his thighs, still gloved. "I don't know, Mr. Stark. Our primary objective was to secure some missing documents from Mr. Murdock here who has yet to produce them as discussed."

"I do apologize, Miss... Rushman, is it? I may have left it in my office. I can be quite forgetful at times." Matt shook his head, his self-deprecation completely unapologetic. "If you wouldn't mind joining me there after dinner, I'm sure I can satisfy your needs."

"Hmmm." Natasha rolled her hips.

Both Matt and Tony groaned.

"I am... so sorry I don't sleep with my assistants," said Tony.

"I'm Pepper's assistant," Natasha corrected.

"Oh. Ethical dilemma solved. Hurray everyone!"

Natasha ignored him. Again. Because now she just enjoyed it. "I'd love to see your office after dinner, Mr. Murdock."

"Great." His tone softened. "It's lovely to see you again, Nat."

"Likewise, Matt." She squeezed her thighs just a bit, just enough to see his nostrils flare as her perfume wafted up to him and his Adam's apple bob in anticipation. Sometimes, Natasha Romanov loved her job.

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