A/N: Another Clint/Natasha story because I just can't keep my hands off them. This is definitely on the darker side, so you better don't expect fluff or a real happy ending. Furthermore I'll remind you that the character's stance on certain topics is NOT my own. This is fiction. I hope you enjoy it.
Warnings: (implicit) mentions of murder, sexual abuse and abortion
Disclaimer: I don't own Marvel and therefore don't make any money with this.
The first time she is seventeen.
She isn't surprised, not really. And if she is it is only because it took that long.
Natasha Romanoff kills men since she is thirteen. The fucking starts later, but the moment she realizes that it makes the killing just that much easier she learns to use it. Go in, batter your eyelashes, bend over in that too-tight-too-short dress, let him grab you… don't fight the hands, he'll just make a fuss and you'll lose your temper and the dress will be ruined… crane your neck just like that, moan and arch and… his eyes are wide when you twist his neck.
Her body is just another tool of hers, her best in fact. She knows just how to move to get them to look at her, how to walk and how to smile that little smile that they find alluring, and how to break their necks afterwards… or in the middle of it, it's all the more fun that way.
It's her greatest weapon, but nothing more than that. Not a part of her, or at least not more than the gun she pulls the trigger of or the dagger she uses to slash the man's throat that is grunting pitiful beneath her.
So she isn't surprised. There is no reason to be. She has expected this after all from the moment she let that first Russian mobster rip her dress from her with greedy fingers.
The pill isn't something she can afford. Its chemicals messing with her blood, her head, and that is what she avoids that all costs. She has long ago learnt to work through the abdominal pains, to move when her legs want to give out under her and her body demands motionlessness when she has to run, jump, dodge …it has taught her to ignore the pain, and in a way she is grateful for it. There is a high possibility that she'd already be dead otherwise.
Pregnant. Surprise is the wrong word, really.
The part of her that is always alert, that instantly analyzes the situation and the thousand problems that will come with it, tells her to get rid of it best yesterday. It's the only logical choice, the only real choice she has if she wants to live, in fact… but somewhere inside her the remains of that girl she can't remember being still scream and cry and mourn what will never be.
Not an hour later the Black Widow walks out of one of Saint Petersburg's back alleys with a tiny phial held tightly in her fist. Some part of her hopes that this will be the only time, but of course she knows better.
She gives herself one day. One day until it is out of her system. One day to forget and burry the memory and… never look back.
She doesn't know the second time. Not until…
The explosion is too close, but she doesn't have any more time and this is better than being in there while the building goes up in flames. So while having the blast of the detonation throw her right into a car like a rag doll makes her vision go black for a few seconds, it is actually better than being blown to bits or burned to death.
There is broken glass in her back, a bullet in her right arm and one of her ribs is broken, but none of that is too out of the ordinary for Natasha Romanoff. She'll patch herself up and be out of this shithole in a few hours, she thinks, stands up… and is back on her knees a second later when excruciating pain takes hold of her boy.
For a moment she doesn't understand, almost panics, the Black Widow never panics, and bites her tongue as hard as she can to not lose consciousness.
Another wave of agony rips through her and that is when she notices… it wasn't like this the last time, not that bad.
Her fingers cling desperately to the asphalt of the street when she tries to hold on, to not black out because then she's dead for sure. It's harder than anything she has done before in her life, but she manages to stay conscious. Barely …after she has hurled the remains of her last meal on the ground beside her.
After that her memory is fuzzy, but she remembers getting up, somehow because she has to, and staggering to the next abandoned warehouse. For the first time in almost a decade she doesn't cover her trail, doesn't look back over her shoulder and doesn't check if the building is clean before she collapses in a heap in the dark corner behind a staircase.
She stops thinking and just lies on the cold floor curled up in a ball, waiting for it to be over.
It's more than a day later when she finds the power to get up. It's still hard, but her mind is working again …she'll get something to eat, treat her wounds, clean up and then go find the bastard who messed with the bomb and put a bullet between his eyes.
Natasha doesn't bother to hide the cruel smirk on her lips.
She would like to say that the third is the hardest, but Natasha Romanoff doesn't lie to herself.
It is neither easier nor harder than the first time she does it, seventeen and scared and with a part of her still clutching to the hope that there is justice in this world …she is older now, she knows better than that, but the knowledge doesn't help at all.
There are no phials and no explosions this time, as she sits in the head quarters of SHIELD on the bed of her new tiny-as-fuck-but-she-has-had-worse cabin. They have doctors here to do things like that, doctors that don't have ask questions and that will even give her something for the pain.
That's actually a nice change of environment for once. There won't be any possibility of bleeding to death this time at least.
The Widow knows what makes her, not quite but almost, hesitate. Budapest.
She'll never forget that night. It is the first time she has sex without killing the man afterwards, and in retrospect she shouldn't have done it …or shot him. Oh, it is good, the best she's ever had but with her history it doesn't surprise her, but also a mistake.
This is the first time she actually knows. Knows when and where and who, and that is what makes it just as hard as the first time. Whenever she thinks about ending it and going on with her life, the memories come back… their bodies too close, but she doesn't stop him, doesn't want to… his breath on her skin, his hands in her hair, skin sliding against skin... these grey eyes that never leave her, even when he comes and she is right behind him…
Natasha knows that Hawkeye won't be a good father, especially not for a kid that exists because he fucked up an easy mission beyond complicated. It's that thought that puts her at ease the most.
He will never know, and it is best that way.
The archer is good at what he does, damned good, and so far the only one in that whole base that she can come to respect. She has seen him kill, as seen the way he never misses a target and how he looks them in the eye when he kills them. Of all the agents he is the only one that she could consider her equal… Natasha hopes despite herself that he won't disappoint her.
When she stands up and leaves her cabin there is no a trace of emotion in her face, but inside she is delighted at the way the other people scurry away from her.
She expects it the fourth time.
Working for SHIELD has certain peaks and one of them is that they provide her the pill. She still doesn't trust the organization as a whole, but being one of their best agents means that they have nothing to gain from giving her a drug that has side effects and can possibly render her useless on a mission.
So she takes it, one of the little pills every evening, because the doctor says that the alternative is shots. Natasha doesn't do injections, never has since she has a choice, not even when it's for the pain after a mission.
Of course she thinks about sterilization, but before SHIELD it is never an option.
When you are an ex-Russian master spy with too many men out for your blood there are only so many "doctors" you can choose from. All of them are overpriced, but that's never her problem. It is the fact that their knives are dirty and that there will always be someone who can outbid her. Everyone has a price… going to sleep on their table means never waking up again.
Better pregnant than dead, she stands by that.
Those two back-up pills she has on her body aren't enough for eleven days in the cell of one of the many African warlords, the Black Window knows that from the moment she realizes that she can't win this fight and curses whatever fucking idiot did the background check on the mission.
One of the guards, a young boy barely a man whose neck she breaks in seconds, is too carless, and she is up and killing them in seconds. Blood runs down the walls and her face and their screams echo in her head, but she doesn't care, hasn't cared for a long as she can remember, because she is a huntress and those men are nothing but prey before her.
Back in HQ all she can do is treat her wounds and wait for it to be confirmed.
Briefly the thought of ordering the docs to just take it all out and be done with it enters her mind, but of course she knows that she won't go through with it.
She tells herself that it is because she can't trust them to not mess with her body when she is under narcosis, and that if she goes through with it Fury will force her on that one month's break he tries to shove on her every time she comes back from a mission since three years ago, but that's just lies …the truth is that this, bleeding, cursing the cramps, being able to have children, is the last thing about her that is normal and that she'd rather die than give up on the last bit of her humanity.
Clint walks in on her when her hand is lying just like that on her abdomen, but he doesn't say a word. She is too good an actor to withdraw her fingers in surprise, but he knows her too well to not see the tiny part of a second when her eyes betray her alarm.
He sits down beside her and Natasha allows her head to drop against his shoulder. Just this once.
The last time is the one she dreads like none other.
It's his again, but this time he isn't Hawkeye, unparalleled marksman and a, the only, master assassin that is a match for her, but Clint, the man who brings her coffee in the middle of the night when she suffers from insomnia, who never once holds back on her when they spar and always has her back no matter what… her partner.
Natasha thinks about all that when she watches the sun come up over Manhattan, curled up on the big couch in the living room of the Avengers Tower with a soft blanket covering her lap and a glass of hot tea in front of her.
Ironically it's Tony that has her thinking, and who would've thought that Tony Stark is the first of them to grow up?
With dark eyes and even darker circles under them and that most brilliant of his smiles that is reserved for his son and Pepper alone, he gives her something she has denied herself for all her life as long as she can remember…
"In the end it's your decision, Natasha… if you think you can love that child, if you actually want it, if having that family with Clint will make you happy, then have it. Because that happiness…? You totally deserve it."
Love is for children she says, but Tony gives her hope.
She wants to curse him for it, to hate him, but she can't – because they have changed her. The whole Avengers initiative, a time bomb Bruce calls them once and doesn't know how right and incredibly wrong at the same time he is, changes them all in some way. It brings them closer, it binds them together… it makes them a family, even if no one ever dares to say it out loud.
The Black Widow is still lethal, she's still the best at her job, her name is still a word only whispered on the quiet… but Natasha Romanoff isn't the same anymore. There is a gap now between the master spy and the woman, one she would've never allowed to exist in the first place if she was still her old self.
That gap will get her killed someday, Natasha knows it. She knows it, but she doesn't do anything about it.
She does nothing but sit there and wait until the sun has almost completely risen and Clint walks into the living room, of course he knows where she is, he always does, his steps so silent that only she can her them.
Right there right then she has reached a crossroad, Natasha is very well aware of that. The decision whether to tell him or not is just below the surface. She can tell him everything, can tell him and hope he'll understand, or she can remain silent and leave things between them as they are, like she has done all the other times.
It is her decision, but she still has to decide… she has to decide who she is and who she wants to be, Black Widow or Natasha Romanoff, and no one can take this decision away from her.
This decision, key event, is her future.
He sits down beside her, always close enough to feel the heat of his body but never close enough to touch. Clint doesn't say anything, he is just there like he always is, right beside her, the one constant in her life.
When she looks up his eyes catch hers and he looks at her with that intensity that always makes her shudder. His grey eyes burn into hers and he holds her gaze, maintaining the connection even when they both know that they are staring at each other for too long already.
He will not look away until she does and watching the sun cast burning pits of fire in his eyes Natasha realizes that she doesn't want to look away anymore. She wants to stay like this forever, to look him in the eyes and know that he will always be there, that they will always be together.
The feeling scares her. It means offering a part of herself to him, the last one he doesn't know yet, it means taking a risk …but then again, it is her who takes that first step in Budapest, too. He takes her face in his hands, he pulls her close, he kisses her… but she stays. She doesn't leave, doesn't flee the room as soon as possible, but just stands there and waits for it to happen.
The Black Widow doesn't take risks, but Natasha Romanoff does.
So she leans her head against his shoulder, lets him pull her against his chest and starts to talk.
...there won't be a sixth time.
I really hope that I did Natasha justice. The topic of abortion isn't to be taken lightly and I don't want to kick off a debate or anything... it's just something I imagine could have happened to her with all her history. So please let me know if it came across believable.
[Because so many people asked: whether Natasha got the last abortion or not? ...totally up to your imagination.]
Reviews are very much appreciated.