MCU + Leverage, Parker was red room for Anonymous
A little dose of crazy and a little failure of memory behind a ridiculously high skillset might indicate something else under the hood.
"Why'm I getting the feeling our thief isn't normal?" Barton asked, shoving the paperwork down the conference table toward his partner.
Romanoff shook her head with a, "Don't be sill— Oh." Recognition flickered in her eyes at the picture on top. "Parker."
Leverage Consulting & Associates was aboveboard on paper, but their activities didn't exactly line up with law-abiding citizens. Natasha brooded over this for approximately two hours until Coulson brought down word that SHIELD wasn't interested in the company, only retrieving their lost gadget.
"We don't normally hire thieves to get back our assets, but it was taken up with several other owners' materials in a mass raid on the storage facility," Coulson informed them. "This crew retrieved all of the stolen goods."
"We'll think about using them in the future," Hill offered.
Visible tension went out of Natasha's shoulders. Clint just groaned. That's all he needed, another crazy ex-Red Room operative to develop a soft spot for.
This Parker was clearly well taken care of. Clint did a double take when he saw the profile pictures of the rest of Leverage's associates.
"Eliot Spencer, you old dog."
"You know him?" Natasha cast him a baleful eye under her red bangs.
Clint didn't really like the new look, but it wasn't worth complaining about. It'd be gone in another half dozen missions guaranteed. "Retrieval expert. Did good work in armed forces before we both went freelance."
And that was as good as a welcome mat.
She took out her burner phone, dialed Leverage's phone number, and handed it to Clint.
"Thanks, partner," he snapped. "May I?"
It was worth it to see her tiny smile.
They didn't mention Parker. If either member of Strike Team Delta knew anything about the Red Room, they knew reminders of it were more than unwelcome.
They walked in with smiles on their faces as the rightful owners of an inocuous looking, expensive vase and shook hands with Alec Hardison before Parker breezed out, got one look at Natasha, and hit the roof—literally. She was up and out of Natasha's typical combat range faster than a spider could scurry.
Natasha just stared at her from across the room for a long moment. She picked up the package and said softly, slowly, "I work for SHIELD now. Perhaps we could be friends." She shrugged slightly.
Clint could see the tension back in her shoulders, see that this actually meant something to her.
Parker bit out in that same flat tone Natasha used to use when he first recruited her, "Prove it."
Natasha tilted her head, pursed her lips, and finally pulled out a USB drive. "Don't get caught with this."
Parker watched as Natasha set it in Hardison's open palm. This clearly was over the hacker's head.
Finally, Natasha tugged Clint's arm and they left. Before they reached the door, she wound her fingers through his.
Three weeks later, a text message appeared on Natasha's nobody-has-this-number-nor-can-hack-it phone at three o'clock in the morning, waking Clint and starting a blue streak. Natasha rolled over and flipped it open. She showed it to him.
Nothing blew up. Coffee at 700 across from SHIELD.
He stared at her. "Friends, huh?"
Natasha shrugged and set the phone back on the nightstand, but a tiny smile played about the edges of her mouth.