Author: Leroy J PM
It's been three years since Clint has seen Natasha. He's been dismissed from S.H.I.E.L.D & the Avengers team. Discovering a certain redhead has been compromised during a suicide mission, he is needed when he is most unstable. Lies, secrets, and love.Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst/Romance - Hawkeye/Clint B. & Black Widow/Natasha R. - Chapters: 4 - Words: 20,002 - Reviews: 101 - Favs: 82 - Follows: 173 - Updated: 09-16-12 - Published: 05-25-12 - id: 8149964
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: Wayfaring Stranger
Disclaimer: I don't own 'Tasha or Clint or any other familiar character that pops up.
Summary: It's been three years since Clint has seen Natasha. He's been dismissed from S.H.I.E.L.D & the Avengers team. Discovering a certain redhead has been compromised during a suicide mission, he is needed when he is the most unstable. Lies, secrets, and love.
Wow, I can't believe so many of you returned to me! Bless your souls for holding out for a little over a month. I'm glad to see interest in my work.
Thank you so much for your time! I hope to see feedback-it is my favorite thing hearing from you.
There are details people simply miss in everyday life. The most obvious of realities are forgotten in the quest for a deeper meaning. Such as scanning a room for lost keys—it is easy to dig through the cushions of a couch, to curse as the ruffling of papers brought the keys not a bit closer, but farther away. Once a thorough search is completed and every possible cranny has been searched is when the keys suddenly become clear—resting on the mantel of the fireplace.
As a person, the idea is to search long and hard, for the answer couldn't be there so simply. Life is cruel and difficult. God makes our keys impossible to find when we are late.
As an agent, the idea is to search upside down, inside out, and long and hard. However, one must never be afraid to wait; Wait for the bigger picture to form in front of the eyes. Life is cruel and difficult. God makes our keys a lifeline when we are late.
Clint Barton liked to believe that he raised himself fairly well. For the lack of a delightful childhood, he turned out a level about awful. It was funny to him now, being a par above awful. At sixteen, he could kill a man six different ways with three different weapons. He also had his moments with pretty girls that came around his way, even stole a few things for the hell of it. He was a poster child for the charming bad boy with a softer side. He liked animals—always did. As a boy, he could be found polishing a sword or taking naps with the dogs in the back tent as his oversized cap covered his dozing eyes. It was simple and straightforward. More or less, things were black and white and simply dusty.
More or less, everything seemed to be of familiar territory.
Then suddenly adulthood came around and life was never so black and white again. Things would always be dusty for Clint Barton, but life had gray spots. At first, Clint didn't work well with gray spots in his life; everything was more irritating to handle. His decisions suddenly mattered, and he didn't necessarily make a difference, but his choices are what did it. He didn't have a father to beat him silly when he really screwed up. He didn't have a mother to assure him that tomorrow wouldn't be as terrifying. Clint had his head and a pair of hands that could hold a bow more comfortably than any other bastard around. So he grew up comfortable with those two things.
He remembered the day he sat up in a tree, a simple Mohican quiver strapped to his back, his trusty bow in his hand, with a dangerously angry mind to give him grief. He remembered stumbling over how everyone was shit and how he would teach the world the lesson that it deserved. Clint never asked for much and he always got nothing. So he climbed to his perching spot within the tree and fumed to a climax. A doe and her baby were passing by in a field; he saw them both, knowing they were grazing near a strawberry patch. Clint watched for a moment, curious. He thought how stupid they were to trust things like strawberry patches and salt licks that would sit in the backyards of people for the stupid animals to lick away. His fingers found an arrow just as quickly as he raised his bow to aim. As he drew back with three fingers, he knew it was a silly thing to do. That was why he let go. He couldn't create any worthy world, but Clint Barton could sure as hell destroy one.
The mother doe immediately fell to her side, the yelp of a wounded creature definite. Clint breathed very hard as his bow stayed raised to aim. He was twenty and angry. The legs of the doe quivered around as the baby galloped frightened while circling her. He aimed to wound, not for a quick kill. It was cruel and sick. Clint knew it before he even let go of the arrow. The baby would surely die without its mother. He was suddenly no better than the evil that took his own parents from him. Clint did not notice how wet his cheeks were when he let go of a second arrow to the eye socket of the mother doe. A mercy murder, he thought of it as. He never saw the baby deer again after that day.
Sometimes Clint would be asleep and the R.E.M. stage would take him in. There would be fog, a simple Mohican quiver, a tree too tall to climb, and a blond haired kid thirsting for innocent blood. He would be angry at this younger version of himself and attempt to parent the boy out of becoming scathed with remorse. However, dreams did not work the way he wished they would.
Tonight was one of those nights. Clint already went on a cruise adventure within his dream, a few icebergs floated so closely to his meager ship and he couldn't figure out how to turn the vessel out of danger, then the next he knew, he was up in the tree again. This time the sap was blood and there was laughter. He awoke violently, feeling sunken with fear.
"Whoa, there fella. Keep it inside the R.E.M. stage will you?"
Clint's first instinct was to be on alert. As his eyes came to, he quickly realized that the strange place he was sleeping in didn't belong to him, but to Tony Stark. He felt a knot in his neck and wondered how it happened.
"I keep telling you that the couch is not meant for sleeping, or for any use or purpose whatsoever. Every single late night these past four days you have refused to listen to me and now I'm going to have to get a new designer couch." said the voice to his left.
Clint turned and saw Tony bent over his technology system, a blue light eerily illuminating his front like a phantom in the dim lab. Soft beeps followed his quick finger tips. Something seemed off to him.
Clint cleared his throat of sleep. "It's quiet in here."
Tony seemed to hear him, but didn't turn around.
"You need the music to do your magic, right?" Tony answered with a gruff yes. "You're working without it."
"Hmm… seems that I am." Clint watched Tony lean over slightly and turn up the volume on his sound system. Rock and roll suddenly filled the space.
Clint knew what this was. He wasn't sure whether he appreciated it or felt bothered by it. Getting up slowly, for the couch did a number on his back too, he walked over to Tony's work space. The genius clicked and worked away barely acknowledging Clint's presence beside him.
"You don't need to worry about me like some mom, Stark," Clint stated. Tony raised an eyebrow and turned up the music incredibly loud. Motioning to his ears he mouthed something that looked like 'I can't hear you' before he turned back to his business.
Clint growled and found the power option for the sound system. Striking it with fervor he waited for a second of silence to gather his mind. Taking a breath in, he leaned against the work area, the colors of Stark's holograms zooming in front of his eyes. He felt silly again.
"You don't have to say anything. I get it." Tony looked at him matter-of-factly and it gave him comfort. Clint knew that he did get it. And being of lesser words in situations like this made Tony Stark a better companion than Steve. Steve was kinder sure, but also a bit more gazing and needing of answers. Tony couldn't care less, or rather, that was what he wanted everyone in Stark Tower to believe. Clint knew better though. He had seen that play on many men's faces before. Tony Stark did care somewhere within him.
Clint frowned and gave him a nod of understanding.
Tony sighed and looked long and hard at Clint, his dark eyes analyzing. He got up from his seat at his work station and walked over to a pile of things behind him. Clint watched warily, unsure what he was doing.
For the past four days, Clint would leave his apartment and come to Stark Tower, aiding in the search for Natasha's whereabouts. It bugged him to no end. It was terribly ironic—as an agent, he was used to being debriefed for months before a big mission, he thought nothing of it then, yet, seeing as this mission was more personal than anything, he could hardly keep still in the city. All he wanted to do was take one of Fury's jets and fly out to Italy to be useful.
It was silly, heroic fantasies. There would be no way that winging it in Italy would be helpful to anybody. Yet, he still desired a quick getaway.
Though, he could not. Clint was to go back to his apartment, feed his bird, feed himself, and act as though the Stark Tower incident was nothing more than a mental breakdown every single day. At night, he was able to slip out unnoticed and trek to the Tower with limited worries. He would help the team by night, giving little pieces of Natasha away in the hopes that it would bring their puzzle pieces together. All of that was completely logical. Fury handled the 'break in protocol' very well to the World Council. Clint wasn't sure what Fury had told them after news broke of Clint Barton's 'rampage' to Stark Tower. The Council asked Fury to keep watch on Clint when he could, they didn't want to deal with Barton very much at all.
Things worked out in the team's favor; however, it still made Clint cringe. He had to go back to his apartment and act as though his life wasn't completely flipped. He had to shut away his seething anger for the Council for it would surely cause trouble for everyone if he didn't. It was sickening that it still felt as though they were winning, the people who ruined him in the first place.
Sitting in his apartment with a thumping head and a tired heart, he forced himself to shut it away and try to act as common as the team was used to seeing him. He didn't budge with his overflowing disappointment in his position as a deadbeat agent. He gritted his teeth and mumbled out any information he might know, the results of everything coming in too slow for his liking. S.H.I.E.L.D kept it all hidden well with obvious purpose.
"Here it is," Stark pulled out a square photo from under his mountain of files. He found it curious that Tony began making some of the files he stored on his many drives to paper copies for Steve's sake. Steve was an old styled man; he liked the folder in his hand. Clint appreciated that also.
"The other day I got this off of Nick's stuff. Not real sure whether he wanted you to see it or not, but I say to hell with it, you've waited long enough." Tony handed over a small print. Clint analyzed it and felt thick.
"Her hair's different," he stated softly.
Before Tony could say anything back, the power doors of the lab opened. Banner looked in, his spectacles slowly sliding down his nose.
"Hey, Clint, I'm glad you're still here. I need your eye, if you don't mind." Banner's eye caught a glimpse of the photo in Clint's hand and the smallest bit of sadness seemed to wash over him. Clint understood why.
"Definitely," Clint nodded sternly to the doctor. He was itching to be of more help. That's what bugged Clint. At least when S.H.I.E.L.D kept him around he was able to get great leads from their intelligence due to being in S.H.I.E.L.D's main loop, but seeing as he really had nothing like that anymore, he could only give use of his extensive background information—as long as it was up to date. In three years' time, everything was out of date it seemed; even he felt old and useless at this point and time.
As the two men took an elevator to the floor of Banner's work area, they remained rather silent. It wasn't an awkward silence formed out of distance, but rather a tiring one. Clint figured if he was exhausted, Banner must be as well. Both Tony and Banner were given double orders of laboratory duties on Fury's account. The idea was, if suddenly all work flow stopped in their two labs; S.H.I.E.L.D would be highly suspicious in the light of Barton's appearance at Stark Tower. So as a result, Fury gave the scientists filler work along with 'here and there' bits of Natasha's mission information.
As they rounded the corner to Banner's lab, he found it odd that Banner stopped mid-step.
"Everything good, Banner?" Clint asked, thinking of the doctor's workload.
Banner eyed a security camera in the corner of the hall and straightened his back the smallest bit. His hands found the pockets of his baggy pants and he pulled out a slender looking pen with Dr. Banner neatly engraved on the cap in black.
Whatever game was being played, Clint would play along. There was a reason for everything Banner did and Clint trusted him well enough.
Banner twirled the pen in his right hand, analyzing it carefully. He began to whisper casually, "there is another pair of eyes and ears in my lab; I found a hidden surveillance pack in a tiny air vent near the back where I do most of my experimental recordings. Now, I don't know how long it's been there, but I'm sure Tony's lab downstairs is clean of them. He knows about this one too. I haven't been able to work on our stuff due to it. It seems that the Council is a little more interested in me than they were a few short days ago."
"I'm sure they are. With your knowledge of not only DeLuca, but A.I.s as well." He couldn't say he was surprised that there was a bug planted in Banner's lab. Of course the Council wouldn't have let everyone off the hook so quickly.
"I'm not that fond of bugs," Banner's connotation couldn't have been more obvious to him.
"I'm not a bug guy either," Clint raised a brow and looked into the lab quickly where Banner said the secret surveillance was.
Banner nodded and walked into his lab quickly, taking a cardboard box off of a nearby shelf. He brought it over to Clint who stood out of the lab's line of vision in the hall, and set it in his arms.
"This seems like an appropriate repellent," Banner waited for Clint's okay before slowly walking into his lab for good.
Clint knew the air systems well in Stark Tower. He was glad to be doing something he was good at—pulling a big one over the enemy.
When Clint was properly positioned close to where the bug was planted, he looked in the box for the new camera Banner had put inside. He pulled it out, a skinny thing which would be nearly impossible to detect, and investigated it. It looked as though Banner gave Clint a camera with pre-installed footage on it. Flipping it in his hands, he took off the back and pulled out two small wire connectors. Feeling slightly bored with how easy the exchange would be, he sighed softly. At least his talents were good at this moment.
It was a quick job, carefully connecting the bug camera's wires to Banner's in a seamless motion. He knew S.H.I.E.L.D wouldn't be able to tell the difference for a while. Banner really was a humble genius and sometimes he felt that Banner didn't get the credit he deserved. He was a kind man, disgustingly intelligent, and rather in-tune with other people's emotions. He couldn't say much about Banner being one with his own inner being, but at least it was something.
Walking into Banner's lab he saw the man hunched over working. He carried the box back to the shelf it was on originally.
"Took care of the infestation and if you wouldn't mind adding it the short list of Clint Barton's can-do list, that'd be so helpful since I'm more like a heap of space than a heap of help these past four days." Clint knew he could be better than an ex-assassin whom fell asleep on Stark's couch waiting for a hit to come up on the system.
An urge to spill himself over on Banner came suddenly. Clint was frustrated, and he wanted somebody to know. He was tired of the team being careful around him. He was tired of Steve's pitiful glances in his direction. Clint Barton was just worn-out and anxious for action. He was tired of pretending that everything was normal—that there wasn't a little kid out there with his eyes and a woman with his heart.
"You know, four days ago I learned that I have a child somewhere in a small town in Ohio, a whatever she is, going about in Italy with an intelligence agency just aching for her to screw up, and I'm sure they would like for Natasha to perish on the job, and even after all this shit, I'm still here, I'm still at my apartment on the top floor just waiting."
Banner's jaw tightened, but he did not look at him.
"I mean, that little kid—she looks like Nat, but she looks like me too. Who's protecting her? Who's her stand in mom and dad? Do they read her stories or tuck her in? If everything I hope for is right, the kid won't even know they aren't the real thing. You know? I just hope it's not a fake home for her to grow up in. Even if she never meets me and I never meet her, I will die okay knowing that she is genuinely loved and washed."
Clint meant it. His heart ached to see that baby in front of him—for her to be real and huggable. He lay in his apartment one night, wondering how things would have been if everything went right. If Natasha stayed close to him, if the baby was born into a world of purpose, maybe he would feel less horrible about it all. Yet, the smarter bit of him wretchedly laughed it off. Nothing was ever easy for him. Things never came wrapped up happily to his address box. He knew, almost sure, Natasha would have terminated the pregnancy before Clint even knew about it. Then again, maybe she would have stayed with him if she did.
Nothing was ever easy for him, never. That was the way he grew up, hard and bloody. He'd be damned to let that girl grow up that way too.
Banner inhaled gently, "Well, I don't have all of those answers. What I do know is that she is safe and healthy. That baby is surrounded by only Fury's top choices. Hill herself volunteered to be the placement mother, and she would have been too if it wasn't for her need to stay inside S.H.I.E.L.D."
Clint let his head drop a bit and he laughed without humor. "You know… that woman really gets me into trouble."
Banner gave him an awkward sideways grin and mumbled, "Women always get us into trouble, but that's why we love them more than anything."
For the first time in a while Clint spoke truthfully, almost sharp. "Sometimes you got to wonder if she's worth it at all."
The doctor bounced on his heels lightly, riding the tension between them. He spoke plainly, "I guess that's for you to decide, my friend."
There were a lot of things Clint Barton did not know. There were more things he didn't know than there were things he did. He wanted nothing more than to sit across from Natasha as in an interrogation and flat out ask her 'why this and why that'. In his perfect interrogation, she would comply with his request for only the truth. Natasha would set aside her Red Room mask and be the woman he knew first thing in the mornings when she would be at her most vulnerable. There wasn't much time to hide a lie when the eyes were barely open. Then again, Natasha was a dangerous expert.
Clint needed to remind himself that he was dangerous too. He tangoed with a woman who made her living off of a deceitful nature. Whatever Natasha's plan had been, or her general intentions toward him three years ago, it was already in the past. Even further in the past, Clint was sent on orders to kill the Black Widow, what he came back with however, was a Natalia Romanova.
She has sincere skills and training, he had told an angry Nick Fury. She could do incredible work for S.H.I.E.L.D.
He was saving a lost creature left to die. Simple as that. Natalia Romanova warned Clint Barton to stay away, she was no good woman. He raised an eyebrow and begged to differ and asked her to come back to S.H.I.E.L.D with him. He promised her protection and she laughed in his face.
Nobody can protect me from myself, Mr. Hawkeye.
Was Natasha that doe from his childhood? In saving her, would he save that bit of him that screamed regret? Natasha Romanoff also warned Clint Barton to stay away, this time as a lover; she was no good woman she had whispered into his kiss. He smiled against her lips and growled that he wasn't interested in a good woman.
How it made Clint want to pitifully laugh now. Natasha had been telling his stupid ass all along. She was no good woman.
Then again, Clint Barton was no good man.
And there was nothing Natasha could do about that.
And over in this corner we have a Clint Barton who is rightfully frustrated with Natasha Romanoff-
And over in this corner we have a Clint Barton who SHOULDN'T be frustrated with Natasha Romanoff-
Would you be frustrated with your used-to-be-Russian lover/partner for the lies she can (or can't) help?
Not going to lie, I'd be a little torn myself.
You tell me (that's the R&R part).