Disclaimer: As usual, I own nothing.
A/N: Last chapter. It's been fun.
Budapest wasn't supposed to happen the way it did. It should have been an easy job, especially since it was only meant to be reconnaissance. It was the first mission Clint and Natasha had worked together since her assignment to watch Tony Stark and Clint's stint in New Mexico. Of course, when it came to the two of them, nothing was ever easy.
The mission had gone to hell almost as soon as they had gotten off the plane. When they arrived at the first meeting point, they found their contact dead. A look had passed between them and Natasha's eyes had swept the building as Clint readied his bow. They had just started to move toward the exit when the first shot was fired.
It was fine at first. They tore through the first group of hostiles easily enough; after all, they were trained for these kinds of situations. After the third or fourth wave though, things began to get tricky. One of the fighters had a talent for throwing knives, which wouldn't have been a problem if Clint hadn't run out of arrows.
In the split second his attention had been directed toward his empty quiver, he hadn't seen the blade coming towards him. Natasha had pushed him out of the way but hadn't been able to completely block the weapon. It caught her across the side of her neck and sliced off a small section of her hair.
It wasn't long after that when a SHIELD rescue team arrived and removed the pair. Once they were in the air, Natasha collapsed. The cause was determined to be a poison that had been on the edges of the knife. The poison combined with other injuries she had sustained during the fight led the SHIELD medical staff to keep her in a medically induced coma for two days after their return.
Clint spent the entire time by her bedside. Coulson came by at some point and forced him to get his own injuries looked at. He vaguely remembered a speech about how none of it was his fault, but in his mind it was.
When Natasha woke up she told him to stop being an idiot and reminded him that he would have done the exact same thing if positions were reversed. Her words hadn't made him feel better, but after that she spent every night in his bed which at least kept the nightmares away.
He asked her to marry him and she turned him down. She cut her hair short to fix the damage and he eventually stopped dreaming about losing her.
A month after that they were Avengers and although he couldn't forgive himself for the things he had done while under Loki's control, he put his guilt toward wiping out the red in his ledger. Clint had never thought of himself as a hero and he knew Natasha didn't particularly see herself as one either. They were exactly as Loki had described them: liars and killers who worked for an organization of people who were no better than them in that respect. But if nothing else they had each other and maybe that helped them to be a little less lost.
It took a lot for them to adapt to being members of a team, especially when Stark Tower was deemed to be the Avengers headquarters and everyone moved in. However, slowly but surely Clint and Natasha found that the Avengers were more like a dysfunctional family than anything else and decided that maybe that wasn't so bad.
Sometimes Clint thought about how they had gotten to this point. He wondered when every part of his life had started including someone else. Eventually he realized that he didn't really care how it happened, but he was glad it had. And to think, it had all started because he decided to make a different call.