A/N: Wow. I was not expecting this kind of response [hand to God]. It just began as this thought I had in my sleep-drugged brain late one night, and I didn't even think I'd pull it off.

I'm sure this is nothing any of you really want, but I need to let this out so I can stop focusing on minute details of this chapter and try to continue the story. I am also sorry that it's taking me so long, but it will get done before the end of summer, I swear. Love and devotion goes to tombombadillo who is a goddess for dealing with my special brand of crazy, and thank you to everyone who reviewed. All your words mean more to me than any acing grade on an school paper.

Disclaimer: The Avengers (Assembled or otherwise) do not belong to me, because I'm not nearly that rich or awesome.


The lock clicks. She freezes. He shouldn't have been back for three days.

Her intel, pulled straight from Fury's laughably locked cabinet (a pirate in the spy business should know better than to use his second cousin's birthday as a passcode), had clearly laid out the mission's factors. The senator's "parley for peace" would take at least a week, more likely two. Escort details were basically cakewalks, but who knew how many oppositional sycophants would be happy to expend their lives at the loss of others.

She runs through possible escape scenarios rapidly, but none achieve the desired outcome of decampment without having to explain or severely injure herself. If she had a heart, it'd be wrenching around itself right now; as it is her stomach isn't doing much better. She doesn't count the number of times she'd been caught during a mission on fingers, keeps tally instead by the scars on her body. The faint starburst patterned on her back was a bomb in Mafikeng, the stripes on her feet from a particularly sadistic crime boss in Nova Scotia; the thin line on her inner right thigh an arrow of Barton's aimed at their first meeting, only missing its mark because she'd moved unexpectedly after spotting him on the opposite roof. She knew she would only be able to run from him for so long after that, he'd be the death of her. Or worse, as it turned out: the one she owes for saving her life. So as the hatch creaks and swings from the frame, she stoically drops to the edge of the bed, wondering what the scar would look like this time.


It's been a long five days, and he's certainly glad it didn't actually go on for a full week or he would've happily gone rogue and put an arrow through the senator's throat. Peace was all well and good, but Clint didn't see how the man's unctuous words would work when sticks and stones were still being thrown.

As it so happened, after a bomb was found in the basement of the building where the meetings were taking place, the honored statesman had chosen to flee homeward rather than carry on defiant. Surprisingly, Clint had been given the option to spend the remainder of the mission in Corsica. He'd considered it seriously but eventually came to the realisation: what's the point in having government-paid vacations to French islands if there wasn't someone to share the experience with?

All he has on his mind now, as he presses his code into the keypad and opens the hatch, is a long shower and snooze on the stone slab another SHIELD agent once had the balls to call a 'bed' to his face before finding Natasha for some sparring practice.

The sunlight radiating from the lone window blinds him for a second, leaving him unprepared and literally breathless as he takes in the sight of her perched on his bed. The kitbag in his hand drops to the floor a second after.

Well, he certainly found her.