She's not a match-girl, nor a jilt
Head Bitch
So my dear friend Mae and I were on the losing side of an AU week vote, but we already had this thread in mind, so we're going to go ahead and play it out here~

So please, if you aren't her, don't comment.

Her hair was her one weakness.

The rest of her was fine--more than fine, if she were being honest. She was strong and fast and quiet. She was patient. She was small, yes, and thin, but not abnormally so. That just made people overlook her, underestimate her, without ever noticing her. Even better, she hadn't started developing, so with a hat and a change in shirts she could switch genders at a moment's notice.

But her hair. Sure, if she were pretending to be a boy she'd have it tucked up under a hat, but she didn't want to look like a boy all the time and hats inevitably became hot and itchy. But the bright red color, no matter how often she heard envious comments from other girls, was just annoying. It didn't blend in.

People remembered red. And when you were nicking wallets, the last thing you wanted to be was memorable.

She resisted the urge to scratch at her scalp. She couldn't risk letting some of the hair slip out from under the knit cap, but was it ever uncomfortable. At least it was winter, so she wasn't sweating under it.

She glanced through the crowd again, considering her intended mark. She almost felt bad, picking him. He didn't look to be much older than her, if at all, and he certainly didn't look flush. But his would be the easiest to snatch, and his youth meant that he'd be more likely to have cash. Natalya hated messing with cards. At best any smart person would only use a nicked card once, and even then it was best to only use it on necessities that could be bought in bulk and wouldn't draw attention before abandoning it for someone else to find.

So she waited, just a moment more, until the perfect moment presented itself. Then she closed, teasing the wallet out of the kid's back pocket with two fingers, and continued on, weaving her way through the crowd to get as many people between them as she could.

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He wasn't having a good day. In fact, if Clint were to be completely honest, he was having a downright horrid one. His father hadn't been in the most cheerful of moods. Clint had long since learned to read the atmosphere of his home to judge whether or not it was safe to stick around for the evening or if it was better to come back after dark, when the danger had passed. An empty beer bottle balanced at the end of a table and agitated mutterings had warned Clint away. So instead he dropped of his backpack in his room, grabbed his wallet and climbed quietly out the window.

He didn't have a lot of money with fact he barely had anything. A couple dollars to get food so he didn't go hungry that night, useless change.

However, it was unfortunate for Natalya that for all the monetary the wallet lacked, it had two items that Clint praised above all else. A picture of his older brother, and the medal that the army gave to their family for his brave service and ultimate demise. Because of this, Clint was distressingly aware of where these where, and noticed right away that something was wrong.

When the smaller person bumped into him, Clint let out a grumpy, "Watch it."

The other continued walking without ever giving an indication that they'd noticed, tucking back a bit of red hair back into their cap and Clint felt vaguely irritated and uneasy for reasons he couldn't pinpoint right away.

He reached to the back pocket of his worn jeans and felt nothing.


He took off running at the thief immediately, ignoring the startled and affronted noises of the people he pushed out of the way.

The chase was on.

Natalya didn't bother looking back before breaking into a run; the cries and cursing behind her could only mean one thing. She used her size to her advantage, slipping through spaces between people the larger boy couldn't follow without bumping into them, drawing attention to himself and slowing himself down.

Damn it all. Today really wasn't her day. She was in enough trouble with Alex just for the cock-up last week--even though it wasn't her fault, she told Yelena not to go for that mark--and she would be in deep shit if she got pinched.

Making a sharp turn, Natalya darted down Budapest Avenue. If she could get out of sight, just for a second, she could dump the hat and coat. And then escape was all but guaranteed. Someone chasing a fleeing, grubby boy wouldn't look twice at a girl in a pale green top walking the other way.

She put on another burst of speed. She just needed to get out of sight. Just for a moment. Then she'd be safe.

Despite all the people blocking his way, Clint was able to get through in time to catch sight of the little thief darting quickly down another street. People cried in protest behind him but he hardly cared, he had to get back his wallet. It was all that Clint had left of...of Barney.

He put on an extra burst of speed and managed just barely catch the end of the thief's coat and he pulled back with more force than probably necessary, driving the other off balance. His anger and anxiety getting the better of him.

A stream of Russian cursing slipped out of Natalya's mouth as she was yanked backwards. And she was so close.

Still, the situation wasn't completely without hope. She managed to twist as she was pulled toward the boy, using the movement to add force to a blind punch. She couldn't help a grin as she felt it connect with the boy's face; she hoped she got his eye. He deserved it.

Another twist added to a wriggle had her mostly out of her coat. One arm was still in the sleeve, and she found herself torn. Yes, she could yank that arm free and run. But winter was here, and she was realistic about her chances of surviving for long if she relinquished the garment. Stashing it for later was one thing; losing one of her only barriers to the elements was entirely another.

So instead she fisted her hand around the cloth and pulled, hoping to slip it out of the boy's grasp.

"Shit!" Clint saw stars and felt his eye swelling slightly already and he resisted the urge to put his hand up to feel how bad it was. He'd taken enough from his Father that he'd learned to react as little as possible; the short swear had been caused from surprise more than actual pain. In the back of his mind somewhere he registered that the voice he'd heard was definitely female and if the wallet contained something of lesser value he probably would've given it up at this point. However, she'd picked the wrong thing to steal.

He felt the coat jerk in his hand and instead of losing his grip he twisted so his hand had a better grip and pulled, this time putting all his strength into the motion, pulling her enough off balance to make a grab and snag the wallet.

A loud rip, followed by an ominous slack in the cloth of her coat, had Natalya freezing for an instant.

This boy had torn her coat.

With a wordless cry, she leaped at him, fists flying, striking out at him for wrecking something so necessary. The wallet was forgotten as she sought to make this boy pay for his actions.

His moment of victory in obtaining his wallet was short-lived as she came at him like some sort of rabid animal. He responded in kind, after all, she'd tried to steal his stuff. Clint didn't particularly care about the fact that the thief was female, since thief was the important part of the description.

She was faster but smaller than him, and had the disadvantage of still being tangled up in her coat. There was a long few moments of downright brutal fighting before he triumphed through sheer force of will and not a small helping of luck.

Snarling as the boy pinned her, Natalya tried to jerk her knee up in between his legs. He shifted just in time, though, getting his weight across her thighs before she could lift it far.

Still, she would be damned if she gave up right away. But when all her struggles amounted to her still being pinned on the ground by the boy, she let herself fall slack, breathing heavy. Wouldn't do any good to completely tire herself out.

Instead, she fixed the boy with a glare. "You tore my coat," she spat.

Clint would've laughed if he wasn't feeling so angry. The situation was a bit ridiculous but he still had a rush of adrenaline running through him as well as anxious nerves that prevented him from doing anything of the sort.

Instead he stared at her with a flat expression that was pretty unimpressed in nature.

"You stole my stuff."

Thankfully he'd gotten it back and he could feel a sense of relief rush over him even as he knew this situation was far from dealt with. At least he still had his brother's medal. That's all that really mattered here.

Natalya's glare just intensified. "I wanted to eat tonight," she snapped. "Is that such a crime?" She thrashed again, trying to get a limb free, but the boy had her completely pinned.

Cussing under her breath in her native language, she let herself pout. "It was only a wallet," she added. "Please, let me up."

He had her, and he knew it. Though there was no denying that Clint felt a twinge of pity at her need to find food. If anything else, she certainly needed it. She was skinny, gaunt even. It didn't look healthy (though he didn't look much better).

That didn't mean he was going to trust her though, "That depends on if you plan to steal my stuff again." Clint informed her, his tone level.

"Please," Natalia scoffed. "You may have beaten me this time, but I am not stupid. Why on earth would I nick from a mark who knows my face?"

She wiggled underneath the boy. "What are you going to do? Keep me pinned beneath you forever?"

She had a point. He couldn't exactly do that.

Clint let her back up but didn't bother to hold out a hand or anything. He took a quick glance around and located his wallet once more and went to snatch it up. Opening it he looked inside to make sure that the medal hadn't been jostled out during their fight. At the sight of a bright glint of gold, he felt the tension in his shoulders relax. It was still there. What he had left of his older brother was still safe.

With that he snapped the wallet back shut and took a better look at the girl in front of him. Small and thin (almost gaunt and unhealthy looking). She did look like she could use a meal. But Clint wasn't exactly sure he was in a forgiving mood, even with the medal back safe and sound.

Jumping to her feet, Natalya tugged her coat fully on, frowning at the tear at the seam. "Gonna owe Yelana forever for this," she grumbled, accent thickening in her ire. "Alexei can crook his fingers and she will give him the world, but ask for her needle and suddenly she is all business."

Locating her hat, she scooped it up and shoved it in her pocket, fingercombing her hair back from her face. She eyed the end of the street, past the boy, speculatively. Natalya did not have to go past him, but the other end led toward the others, and she did not wish to give that away.

Instead, while he was looking in the wallet, she shrunk in her shoulders, puffing up the coat to look as if she were drowning in it. A bit of hair in her face and just the right widening of eyes completed the look. She could not get away with pitiful, not after that, but she could shoot for just vulnerable enough.

"What..." she allowed herself to trail off. "What are you going to do?"

Looking back up, Clint blinked at her owlishly a couple times. Do? He wasn't exactly planning on doing anything. He got his stuff back, she was going to leave him alone. He considered that a goal well accomplished.

He caught what she was trying to do, the whole vulnerable act. He found himself vaguely irritated at it. He'd just fought her tooth and nail to get his stuff back and she was still trying to play him in some way. Clint's eyes narrowed, studying her carefully before shrugging.

"Nothing," He told her truthfully. He didn't plan on going to any sort of authority figure, really. Police meant possible child services, that drilled into his mind for years. The problem had basically been solved.

It didn't take much acting for Natalya's eyes to go wide with surprise. Nothing? She had just robbed him. He stole his wallet back, true, but she had still taken from him.

Natalya needed to make sure. She pulled her coat just a bit tighter around herself, making sure the rip would be visible to the boy. "Nothing?" she asked, mixing hope and bewilderment in her tone. "Nothing at all? Not gonna--gonna hit me or have people take me away?"

Clint stopped himself just short of wincing at the rip in the coat. Although he didn't feel that badly about it, it was still pretty damn cold. Alright maybe he did feel a little bad but it wasn't like she didn't leave her mark on him as well. He could feel bruises starting to form on his ribs, after all. And he knew the feeling well enough.

So while he squashed down the feeling of pity pretty quickly, it showed on his face for a split second before he gave her a flat look, eyes narrowed in further irritation. He could tell when he was being manipulated.

"You're seriously trying to play me? Are you kidding?"

Edited at 2013-06-24 04:16 am (UTC)

Dropping the huddled posture, Natalya straightened with a roll of her shoulders, almost a shrug. "'Course I did," she retorted. "It'd be stupid otherwise. Why wouldn't I pull a trick to look harmless, a trick that works just about every time."

She ran her fingers through her hair, smirking at the kid. "And even after I stole your wallet, even after I fought you, it still almost worked. Can you blame a girl for trying?"

She met his glare head on, smirk growing wider in response. "After all, ain't my fault boys are such suckers for a pretty face."

Clint stuffed said wallet into the pocket of his jeans, satisfied that they contained what he'd been so worried about. He glare did not lighten up in the least, if anything it intensified.

"Fuck you," he told her, thinking about how his brother would've maybe scolded him for using language that their father was so fond of. But his brother wasn't here and she'd tried to take the only thing Clint had to remember him by.

It Clint's mind it was pretty justified.

Natalya's jaw clenched at the insult, and she found herself prowling up to him, sliding a hand down his chest as she pressed him back against the wall.

She brought her face close to his, rising up on her toes as she narrowly dodged meeting his mouth with hers. Instead, she ran her nose along his cheekbone, ending by his ear.

"Not that kind of girl," she purred, mimicking the tone the older women used. "But even if I was, you couldn't afford me." She deliberately flicked her gaze over him. "Pity. You're cute enough, when you don't speak."

He was surprised, anyone would be. For a second he thought she'd try to have another fight with him (he wouldn't put it past her), and his hand moved subconsciously to his wallet when she approached.

Instead..well that happened.

He stared at her in shock for a moment, mouth open wide and then he clicked it back shut, eyes narrowed once more.

It was rare, but Clint had a rare habit of talking back at the worst of times. It always ended with him in trouble. But this girl wasn't an adult, he could probably get away with it.

"Well, apparently I can if you were trying to steal from me."

"Exactly," Natalya replied, smirk blooming across her face. "I tried to steal from you. You weren't getting anything from me in return."

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