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: 81 - 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.
I've been terribly busy/lazy to write up a fourth chapter for over a month. I know! I'm sorry! College began again and that takes a while to settle back into the swing of things. I just started a new job so I'm going to be even busier with that too.
- I'm going to be honest with everyone, this is probably one of the best chapters I will write for this story, so please R&R for me.
- You also get to see a little of what Natasha is doing and tell me if you liked having a dash of her between some of Clint's story.
-As always, keep me encouraged with this story so I can get the motivation to finish it more quickly! I'm not kidding, you guys are the ONLY reason I do this.
It was dreadfully muggy. The air in his apartment seemed to stick to his skin like a fine glue, his black fitting sweater clung to his forearms as he tried to push them up for a mindless ventilation. His bare feet made a sticking noise on the floor as he paced along slowly, thoughtfully. He had been doing this pacing routine for the last hour. Surely the time had to be 3 a.m. now.
Clint Barton looked down at his watch. He was correct in his guess of time, it was 3:03 a.m. He tucked his arm back under the other across his chest and continued the slow pace back and forth.
There was something they were missing, something they didn't understand. Clearly, there were many things everyone back at Stark Tower didn't know about Natasha's mission over to Italy. Slowly, the facts started rolling in, but that didn't help answer their many questions. His approach had to be different now, for waiting around at Stark Tower didn't seem to allow him to think to his full potential. Clint knew what he needed to be a good thinker and that was quiet space and the access to analyze all the given information from a distance, which included being alone for a while.
"You accepted the mission to Italy…" Clint mumbled out to himself as he explored his facts. "However, before that you stayed in the small town of Sandusky, Ohio. We both know that they must have sent you there to give birth like some sort of animal… The child is under protection there. We need to also assume that The Council is very, very interested in her upbringing, but Fury was able to gain access to Sandusky's operations. He placed the girl with people Fury could trust—for the most part, and you must have known that, Natasha or else you never would have risked completing a pregnancy in the first place."
Clint stopped his mindless shambling and exhaled, rubbing a calloused hand down his tired face. "Natasha Romanoff—pregnant. You really are one big surprise after another," he huffed. "I am missing something."
He heard his yellow parrot whistle down the hall. Maybe what he needed was a visual. He was better with visuals.
"Alright, Natasha, since you mean to be difficult," he mumbled sarcastically, knowing it was a bit absurd to be talking to the empty, humid air of his apartment. He stalked off toward his bedroom already knowing exactly what he was looking for.
Clint calmed down over the past few days since he learned about Natasha's compromised state; a week and a half passed him mockingly by. Whenever he would think about the situation he was in, his anger and bitterness would cloud better judgment. He was only observing the situation from his position, which was half-filled with betrayal, half hurt. Emotions were deadly. That was a true fact known in the proverbial handbook of his line of work in the agency. After being out of his own game for about three years, it seemed that important fact was forgotten. It was lost between the nights of travelling to bars and tasting the 'finer' whiskeys that New York had to offer combined with the nights of pure anger, ripping through him like a wildfire. That reality of alcohol and anger was too disgusting to remember the basic facts of his way of life; things he was taught to never forget.
Coming into the dark bedroom, he walked over to his closet. He opened it and leaned in to click on the light that shone above. Like he thought before, he needed visuals to help figure out Natasha's motives and he knew exactly where to get them. Ruffling through a few dark jackets, he dug through pockets, pulling out napkins, old pens, a few dollar bills; he felt a glossy surface and pulled out the photo that Nick Fury had tossed to him only a short time ago.
"There you are," he glanced at it quickly before gently folding it into the back pocket of his jeans.
Digging through an old pair of dark pants, he found the photo Tony handed over to him back at Stark Tower. He looked at it a bit sadly and folded it into the back pocket along with the other. Heading to his kitchen table with purpose, he took out both photos and smoothed them out along the wood. Placing them side-by-side wasn't as easy as he figured it would be. A small pang of worry stuck at the base of his throat. Coughing to relieve himself of it, he walked over to the fridge and opened it. The coolness of the refrigerator was refreshing in the sticky air, he relished the few seconds before pulling out a bottle of water and closing the door.
"Okay, girls, let this old man in on the secrets."
A slinking figure expertly dodged through the morning crowds all talking loudly about the street. A pretty melon rolled off of a market stand and she leapt over it without much of a thought. The vendor rambled in the Old Italian language complaining about the lack of customers interested in his melons. After all, he had the most beautiful melons in all of Italy, why weren't they all flocking to him?
The figure continued. No attention was paid to her in the busy market street. Vendors called to passersby and held their produce and meats high in the air, attempting to attract paying customers. A young, dark haired boy with a missing front tooth gently tugged on her light shawl. He shyly held out a tray of freshly baked bread. She gave him a gentle smile and placed three coins in his hand before taking a small loaf. Nibbling on it as she continued through the cobbled street, her dutiful eyes continued to scan for any evidence of him. Like clockwork, he came here every Saturday morning. His silver hair and suit bought with a fortune, he stood out shockingly from the usually plain dressed people of the market. She knew he liked it this way, he was an arrogant man, and he wanted the poor to know he was powerful. A few heads in front of her began curiously looking ahead, mumbling of a man who was very rich. She pulled the dark red shawl closer over her head and scanned her surroundings.
Her eyes grew much darker as she spotted the shine of silver hair very quickly. Her hand mindlessly gave a gentle pat at the concealed pistol on the inside of her thigh, just underneath her printed long skirt. A beggar child walked by, dragging her dirty feet, and she handed off the warm loaf without breaking her line of vision from her target. The child gasped as the mystery woman strutted past without giving her as much as a look.
Hiding within the coverage of colorful, undulating Italian textiles, she watched the man point at fruits at a vendor booth a few yards away heartily laughing at something Natasha was sure wasn't funny. She wasn't a humorous woman anyway. She felt a twist of anger before she reminded herself to stay as void as possible. Being void was safer.
Suddenly, she felt the tip of a pistol at her side and a strong grip around her left arm. She yanked her arm and the pistol tip dug deeper into her. Both she and her captor knew that there were too many people around for her to fight him off without all of the attention switching to her, in turn exposing her to the silver haired target.
"Black Widow," a man whispered into her ear with a strong accent. "We had a feeling that you would eventually show yourself in the open."
Natasha did not say a word. Her eyes stayed on the silver hair ahead of her.
"We've been waiting. We must congratulate you that after months of threats, you dared not to expose yourself and you still stayed hidden from us." Her captor began walking her away from the crowd of the market and into a less occupied side street. Clothes hung from homes above them, drying in the hot morning sun.
Natasha spoke dryly, "I guess you boys know how to hit a woman right in her sensitive spots," she quickly scanned the area as mostly clear, "but then again, I know how to hit a man in his too."
Her captor was too slow to realize what she meant before he received a heavy blow to the testicles. He gasped, the pistol at her side faltering from the blow. As the street became narrower she used the man's weight to quickly bring herself up the wall of a stone building. Flipping herself over his right shoulder, she used her weight and his own against him. He was unconscious once he hit the stone street.
She cursed in Russian as she understood her situation. Clearly, DeLuca's men would know that she was here. In fact, this Saturday's market venture analyzing DeLuca seemed more like a set up to reel her in than anything else. She cursed her foolishness, her fear, her weaknesses for showing herself today. Natasha Romanoff seemed to be splitting into extremes. Either she was all Black Widow, forgetting about Natasha during trouble, or she was Natasha Romanoff: S.H.I.E.L.D agent. Natasha was more vulnerable now. She had weaknesses, she had bloodlines, and she knew the dangers of being foolish. The Black Widow was carefully foolish and haughty; the Black Widow didn't have a bloodline or any reason to fear for family. It was a dangerous line of persona.
Not only was the Black Widow trying to protect herself, she was also trying to protect two others that have been burdened by her heart. She did not know what was happening with her partner, Clint Barton. She knew he was in much danger, especially in regards to The World Council. They were ruthless, power-hungry bastards for what she knew, and they were very angered by Clint and Natasha's personal involvement with one another. What was worse—The Council controlled her mission over in Italy. Everything was in their control. What was heard on her intercoms, what reports she was sent; Natasha was in this completely alone and The Council wanted her to know it.
What scared her most of all—what absolutely terrified Natasha Romanoff was the knowledge that The Council was very interested in a little girl in the state of Ohio. That child had a clean slate, was innocent, and was nothing like the ones who created her. In order to keep that baby as wholesome as possible, Natasha was threatened out to Italy for a suicide mission. She would go, of course, already feeling like a terrible mother for being stupid enough to allow her daughter to be born to her. The Council was angry for this mistake of Natasha's. She wasn't supposed to be involved with Agent Barton, let alone have his child. She was in this business for a long time, and she could tell when an agency wanted to rid itself of agents that pissed off the head honchos.
Some nights she would lay in the skinny bed at her living complex, the sweet and foreign air would creep in through the window and she would weep. She would apologize to Barton for not letting him know about his daughter, she would wish good dreams to a child she barely knew, yet knew very well. Most of all, she would wish that her child was nothing like her, and that Barton would find her and raise her well enough. Eventually, she would tire and slip into a light sleep. Her arms would get cold as the foreign air would give a chilly bite. It was one of the very few times that the Black Widow was truly sorry for how the world was.
Clint sighed and stretched his sore back as he sat at the table. He picked up the picture of the little girl. It bugged him that he didn't even know her name, it almost formed in his mind that the baby didn't have one—that Natasha was too quick to leave to give her one. He pondered what name she looked like and he couldn't find one that was perfect enough to fit.
"I hope your mom gave you a suitable name. I think if I was around when you were born, I'd have made sure that she picked the perfect one for someone like you." he spoke plainly and fake memories of being around the baby when she was first born were teasing his mind. He wondered how everything went when she first arrived, and when it came to it, Clint Barton couldn't stop feeling guilty for not being there when she was born into the world. He had to remind himself that there was really no possible way for him to have done so.
He silently apologized to the child for already leaving her alone and he hoped that she didn't notice at all. Clint pushed the picture of the child away carefully and pulled Natasha's forward. He looked over it warily.
"You didn't have to dye your hair. The dark brown is too harsh for you, Nat."
In the photo, a very different Natasha Romanoff was captured on camera. She looked more sullen, skinny, and more terrified than Clint could remember. Of course, if an amateur eye took a look at the very same photo, they wouldn't see the fear coming from her. Clint did, and he had to know why. Fear is what drives people to do very desperate things. He categorized Natasha's quick leave and disappearance, and the leaving of a very new baby, as desperate. No matter if she truly believed she wanted the child or not, the child was born, so that's all Clint needed to know that she at least wanted to give that baby a chance at something. Though he didn't know what that chance was, he was undoubtedly grateful Natasha had given the baby a fighting chance.
Natasha was very protective, mothers still bonded with their babies and he knew Natasha wasn't going to be an exception to that rule. Clint was probably one of the only people on Earth who wholly believed that Natasha would be a great mother if she ever wanted to. He always told her that was her choice of course, and then he would change the subject so Natasha could untighten her shoulders. Maybe that's what scared Natasha enough to go on a mission; maybe she was terrified of her daughter… or rather for her. Clint couldn't think of any other reason that the very protective Natasha Romanoff would simply and riskily accept a deadly mission so suddenly. There had to be a push. There had to be a moment where Natasha knew that leaving would put the child in less danger than staying. Someone had to be threatening her.
And the only group on the planet with enough power to threaten Natasha Romanoff away from her own child with a fighting chance would be The World Council.
Clint shot up out of his chair and quickly folded the photos in his jean pocket. He knew what Natasha would want him to do.
Once Clint reached Stark Tower and was inside, the other men and Pepper were startled by his sudden appearance. They were on alert themselves, smelling the fishiness within S.H.I.E.L.D. He quickly asked for them to come to Tony's comfy living room in the early morning. Tony grumbled about leaving a current project before throwing himself down on the couch next to a sleepy looking Pepper.
"Alright, Robin Hood, spit it all out," Tony yawned. Steve crossed his arms and gave Tony a sharp look.
"I know why Natasha went on the suicide DeLuca mission," he said quickly, his eyes looking for support.
"Why?" Pepper asked, intently curious and upset about Natasha's unfortunate situation.
"The World Council threatened her—our child. They must have eyes over Fury's men in Ohio as well. If they were pissed off enough at her and at me for getting involved intimately, then there's no better way to scare the hell out of her than to threaten that child resulting from it. It's supposedly the perfect plan. I would never know about the baby because they terminated me from S.H.I.E.L.D and I never would have gained access to the agency, let alone figure out my kid was over in Ohio somewhere. I would be a mindless drunk and killing me would be easy if The Council had to do it sometime down the line. I was made to know that Natasha left me for nothing, so I would be out of the picture. They must have known that Natasha silently wanted her child, so they allowed Fury to take the reins on setting up a safe house surrounded by what he knew as his agents to protect them both," he began piecing it together aloud.
"So when the time was right, The Council could use you and that baby of yours as a weakness and threaten Natasha with it, making her comply with being sent to Italy on a suicide mission. And once Natasha is expended, they would simply pluck up her baby and take it in as a mystical dark mistake that they could raise themselves to their liking," Steve chimed in, his arms still crossed in anger.
Bruce cleared his throat, "You really think The Council's plan all along was to make Clint and Natasha's kid a minion? I don't think that's truly what they're after here. I think their biggest play is punishment and getting Natasha possibly killed on a mission where she was made to exterminate DeLuca. It puts the best pieces together; the child is simply an extra thing they'd have to deal with later. Possibly she would forever be a good piece to threaten anyone with."
Clint's stomach twisted. A few times, he would bring up the idea of children to Natasha, only once did she ponder it being a little nice. The other four times she assured him that anyone could use a baby as leverage, or other horrendous arrays of dangerous situations. He held his optimism to his chest until this very moment, now he knew he should have listened better.
"Natasha accepted because she felt that she had no other choice," Pepper whispered gloomily.
"Not only were Natasha and I sent on that rigged DeLuca mission the first time, we still managed to piss them off even more when they found out about her pregnancy. We were their best players, god forbid we quit the game without them using us to death."
Tony who had been surprisingly quiet this whole time suddenly spoke up, "So when are we going to fetch baby Barton?"
Everyone's eyes were set on him, either confused or misinterpreting what he said.
Steve scoffed, "She's safe there isn't she? We should focus on getting Natasha back first."
"No, Tony's right," Clint nodded at the dark haired genius.
Tony looked at Steve, "It doesn't matter who is first. Natasha would want us to get the kid. If we showed up guns blazing for Natasha she would kill us all if she found out we never got the kid."
Bruce added, "Besides that is what is keeping her tame at this moment. If she lashes out, she fears that they would do something to the baby; she knows Fury couldn't possibly know to weed out all the bad agents over there. She has to watch her step."
"The best way to help her is to give that kid to her father. That's what Natasha hopes for," Pepper's eyes locked with Clint's and he knew she was right. As much as he needed to get Natasha back, the kid was first.
"Once we get the girl, you know The Council will figure everything out. Things will get difficult. They'll know Clint is with us. Most importantly, we cannot tell Director Fury about our plans for this, if they find out Fury helped, he'll be dead too. So the more innocent he seems the better for everyone." Steve walked over to Clint and nodded.
Tony checked the time and looked up at them. "It's 4:30 a.m. Anybody up for a little morning rescue?"
Everyone was suited up inside Tony's private jet before 5 a.m. Clint offered to fly it, but Tony shook his head no. Slightly aggravated, Clint tapped his finger against the wood grain of the fancy seat until they were five minutes out from Sandusky, Ohio. He saw the dark red of morning sky coming through the windows of the jet and he rubbed his hand through his hair. Today, things would be very different.
Steve piped up over the engines as it began to land, "Let's make this very quick. Be careful and do not kill any agents who may attack. We don't know who is who. Bruce, we need you to stay on the jet and give directions of the layout of this place and be our eyes. Hack any alarm triggering devices if possible," Steve turned to Clint suddenly. "And Clint… we'll cover you, you go get your girl and bring her back to this jet ASAP."
Suddenly, he felt anxious. "Will do," he replied with his face firmly set.
The team rushed off the jet. Tony grasped Clint by his quiver and flew towards the roof of the building. Gently dropping Clint to the roof, he rolled safely to the door. It was locked with a vice-like electronic locking system.
Clint spoke into the intercom, "Bruce… I need a little help unlocking this roof door. It's electronically wired to lock. I can get as far as the wires-," before Clint could finish, the door unlocked with a loud clicking noise.
"All set, Barton. Watch out on the stairwell down, they planted three motion detectors. I can terminate them for a maximum of ten seconds. You're going to need to run very fast to the second level," Bruce reported.
Tony came over the intercom, "America and I just took out a few guards out front. We'll get into the first level and cover you once you grab the kid."
"Copy that, Stark."
Bruce counted down from three until Clint could get inside the stairwell. He swung open the heavy door and ran down to the third level. He knew that time was creeping by so he swung himself over the metal banister and heaved himself onto the second landing. Opening the door to the second level he waited for further instruction. His head was purely ready for anything, but his nerves were telling him otherwise. He never pondered how the child would react to being taken away by a strange group in costume.
Bruce's voice was soft in his ear, "She'll be the second door on the right, Barton." Clint could see it as Bruce spoke. Regardless of being in control, he inhaled a shaky breath.
He looked at the door and noticed another electronic lock, but he had taken down many of these types before. He disassembled it in less than twenty seconds and before he had a chance to think about it, he opened the door and quickly went inside, closing it behind him.
The room was still dim, dark grey shades kept out most of the light of early morning. Clint's breathing increased as he saw a tiny sleeping form on a very low queen sized bed. Two gates were on either side in case the child rolled off in the night. Being very quiet he walked over in the dim light. He paused for a second and thought about the intricate bow in his hand and the large quiver on his back and how it could look very scary to a small child. He quickly set the bow down and slipped off his quiver and set it on the ground.
"Barton?" Bruce questioned. Surely his intelligent friend was watching Clint's every move on his feed of the security cameras inside the jet and wondered if surrendering his weapons was a good idea.
"I don't want to scare her," Clint hissed back quietly.
The child shifted under the pile of blankets and her small hand came up to her face, mindlessly rubbing her nose still sleeping. It was so different to see her right in front of him, alive and very real. He was in awe, how beautiful and tiny she was. He'd seen children this small before, but never his own. Her strawberry hair covered some of her face and along the white pillowcase so it looked like an intricate sunset. Clint had to be honest with himself, he was usually never one to be unsure on how to approach something, but this was definitely a time where he had no idea what the hell to do.
"C'mon we gotta go, Hawk," Steve pressed into the intercom.
Without thinking, he gently gathered up the sleeping child, throwing off the giant comforter. The child continued to sleep, but mumbled nonsense in a soft voice. He looked around quickly for a blanket or something to keep her warm on the way back. Seeing a neatly folded green blanket with a silly looking giraffe at the end of the bed, he quickly swept it up and wrapped her in it. He quickly walked to the door and suddenly the child stirred.
"No!" she softly cried out, her eyes still half-heavy with sleep. Her little arm extended out over Clint's shoulder back to her bed. He tensed and turned around, looking for what she wanted. He saw nothing but a soft looking baby doll with a pink dress. Clint went to grab it and stuffed it safely between the child and his chest so it wouldn't fall. He noticed the glint of his quiver on the floor where he had taken it off and cursed quietly. Throwing it back onto his back with a smooth agility, he cursed because he knew he wouldn't risk carrying out the dangerous bow with his daughter in his arms. He had to leave it.
"Ready to fly, everyone copy?" Clint said in a confident voice as he opened the door of the room. He looked down the hallway and noticed people in the building beginning to wake up for the morning, at least the agents. "Got a few agents in the halls. I've got my hands full, somebody come and give me an extra hand." Before he knew it, he saw Tony fly through the halls and gently take out the few flabbergasted agents.
"Let's go, you two," Tony leaded the way for Clint to safely leave the building.
Clint couldn't believe the child didn't wake up once during the escape of the building. She stayed warmly nuzzled into his neck, he was even sure she left a spot of drool on his suit. Bruce wasn't even sure there was a child under the green blanket until he saw a contrast of strawberry hair trickling over the edge of it. He gave a sad, grateful grin to his friend and shooed the team away so the child wouldn't be overwhelmed in case she woke up. Quickly, the jet took off and Clint refused to let go of his sleeping child on the way back. He kept her little giraffe blanket tight around her shivering body as he allowed the comfortable jet passenger seat to recline back. He gently smelled the powdery smell of her hair, and he was so glad that some of Natasha's color had come through. The baby's hair wasn't as vivid as Natasha's but it was enough to remind him of who her mother was. Clint craned his neck to look at her small sleeping face. She had pretty round cheeks with a flush of pink in them, her eyelashes were long and dark blonde, her eyebrows rather fair—if he didn't know any better he'd think she was a baby doll. He noticed that her skin tone was not as fair and porcelain as her mother's, but rather a little darker like his. He wondered about her personality, he wondered if she knew who created her, he wondered if she knew somewhere within her that her father was keeping her warm as she napped away on his chest.
Steve opened the blue curtain and looked at the sleeping bundle and smiled. He caught Clint's eye and quietly wondered if he was allowed to come in. Clint nodded to a chair across from him and Steve sat down.
"I found this by the entrance of the jet, I'm guessing it's hers," he said quietly, holding up the little soft doll. Steve turned it around in his hand and looked at the dress. The doll had red hair too and Clint wondered if that was why the doll had been so special to her, it was the only connection the girl had. "What's it say here?" Steve looked at the front of the doll closely, he knew what it was and instead of saying it out loud, he handed it over to Clint who took it with a free hand.
Clint knew what it was too. In very neat stitching that Clint could only connect with Natasha, the baby's little dress read, "This doll belongs to Anna Vera Barton". He tightened it in his grasp not daring to let it go. Natasha knew he would come for their daughter at one point, and he knew that Natasha figured she would die before she ever got to be with Anna Vera Barton. Somebody needed to know who she really was, if anything, Anna needed to know who she was. Steve carefully watched Clint.
"I guess she knew somebody would find her," Steve said quietly, agelessly.
Clint furrowed his brow and held back what he could. His daughter was much more real with a name. He wrapped his arms around her warm form and held her even closer. He closed his eyes and buried his head into the powdery smelling blanket. Anna's soft hair tickled his chin and he began to silently cry. He was so quiet, he even heard Steve's quiet footsteps let him be as he left. His watery tears burned and he slowly began to rock Anna. His calloused hand rubbing the softest of circles around her small back, his face still buried as close to his daughter as possible.
He never cried these types of tears before. He didn't know what they were. "Oh, God. Thank you. Thank you, Natasha," Was all the World's Greatest Marksman could quietly say to the daughter with a fighting chance.
Anna Vera is pronounced "Ah-na Vair-ah"! Not An-nah. Sometimes reviewers ask :)
Let me know what you think about the little Natasha section. Honestly, I was very glad to see her. (Write her, I suppose).
What do you think of Daddy Barton and his little Anna?
Even though he's a big tough archer, he's nothing but squishy on the inside! All of the sarcastic archers are squishy. C:
Maybe even let me know what you'd REALLY like to see? I'm always curious and who knows- maybe it'd be a great idea that will get my brain going for the next chapter!
Leave thoughts if you'd be so kind and hopefully see you beautiful souls very soon!