A/N: Aaaand here it is! It took a full day of typing at my hotel, but I managed to finish it just in time! Thank you all for the reviews and favorites and alerts. As always, they mean a TON to me!
In response to one of the reviews: Yes, yes I do love angst. It's one of my favorite things to write, believe it or not.
Now, I will leave you to the final part of Monster- yes, FINAL. No more updates after this, sadly. Enjoy!
"Has he come out yet?"
The three Avengers looked up from their places on the floor to meet the eye of Director Fury, who was standing in the doorway of Agent Clint Barton's bedroom. The three men shook their heads.
"No, sir. We've tried to coax him out but he just won't budge." Steve Rogers stood then, staring worriedly at the bathroom door that Clint was currently locking himself behind. The captain had attempted to break down the door, but Tony held him back and said to let the man have his space. There wasn't anything in the bathroom he could harm himself with since they had confiscated everything, including his razor, so it was best to allow him to have some time to himself. That didn't stop the men from impatiently sitting outside of the door for three hours, though.
"He must be getting hungry," Tony said. "I know for sure that I am." Steve glared at his teammate and he shrugged. "What? It's the truth."
"Go get something to eat, men. I'll stand watch here. I have some…things to discuss with Agent Barton, anyway." Fury crossed his arms behind his back and waited as Bruce and Tony stood and joined Steve on the walk to the kitchen to dig up some food. The SHIELD director walked up to the bathroom door and tapped the wood with knuckles. "Agent Barton, we have a punishment to discuss."
"If you can't tell, Director Fury, I'm not in the mood for conversation," replied a very hoarse and scratchy voice. Clint had obviously been doing a lot crying in the bathroom for the past couple of hours. Fury wished he felt sympathy for the man.
"I don't care if you feel like it or not, we have things to deal with and you need to get out here and deal with them." His voice was hard and demanding and he hoped it would get the archer to realize the intensity of the situation, but there wasn't any sound of movement from within. "Do I need to call Rogers and Stark back here to knock the door down?" Still no noises. "I'll ask Banner to Hulk up, I swear to God." Nothing. "Well fuck you, too, Barton; I'm getting the big guns." The man then turned briskly from the door and exited, summoning a few agents to keep watch outside of the bedroom door.
Clint Barton wanted to die. That's all he wanted to do at this point. He'd thought about suicide before—after the Loki catastrophe and when he shot Natasha—But the urge was stronger than ever now. Now, when there wasn't anything to do the deed with besides drowning himself in the bathtub, but that was too loud and it would alert anyone keeping watch and they wouldn't hesitate to bring down the door and restrain him. So, he opted to stare at his hands, buried so deep in self-loathing that he barely heard Director Fury yelling and threatening and then, finally, leaving. His tears had long since dried. He seemed to have cried himself out of tears entirely because there was no doubt he wanted to cry some more.
When Steve had revealed to Clint that he had killed Natasha's child with his arrow, he had sat still for a long time—so long that his teammates feared for him. He had gotten lost in the memories of the night after he had regained his mind from Loki and Thor had taken him back to Asgard. He never denied that he and Natasha had a very…enjoyable evening that had ultimately ended in sex. Neither of them had been drinking and both had consented and it had brought the two even closer than they had thought possible. But Natasha had never revealed to Clint that he had gotten her pregnant. Or was it even his child? He faintly remembered squeaking out the question to Banner and all he did was nod sadly. That's when Clint had stumbled to his feet and ran straight into the bathroom. He slammed the door, locked it, and proceeded to lose what little food he had in his stomach. Then, he sat inside the bathtub and cried, staring at his hands. He became delusional after a while and he saw blood everywhere—on the walls, on his clothes, and all over his fingers. Only this time it just wasn't Natasha's blood—it was the blood of his child that he had killed in his own drunken rage with an arrow from his bow. He found himself wondering about the child and what their name would have been. What if the child would have grown up to be the one to cure cancer or diabetes or be his successor in the Avengers? What if he had killed the person who was destined to save the world? That, of course, just made Clint feel even worse and caused him to sob in agony until he ended up passing out in the tub for a half hour. He dreamt, but they were all nightmares plagued with the night he shot Natasha and he woke up in a cold sweat and cried once again. And here he was now, standing in front of his sink, looking from his pale reflection to his hands until he finally slid to the floor and stared at the ceiling. The archer stayed like that for long while, thinking and thinking until there was nothing to think about. A weight seemed to settle in his stomach and he wanted to throw up again, but he knew nothing would come up. He turned his head towards the door, studying the wood without really seeing, and something clicked in his head. The agents may have taken his weapons, but he still had one thing. Carefully, Clint stood and unlocked the door before silently opening it a crack. No one was there. Director Fury and the other Avengers had yet to return, so Barton slipped out of the door and went to his bedside table. He grabbed a notebook and a pen from the drawer underneath the tabletop and hastily scribbled the words "Sorry Natasha. I love you" on a piece of paper before ripping it out and carrying it over to his window. He smirked at the attempt to seal his window, most likely performed by Steve. The Cap would be the one to do that. Luckily, the sealing job hadn't been very effective because Clint easily broke through it and slide the window up. He placed his note on the sill before stepping out onto the roof.
There was a cool breeze coming from the west that caused Hawkeye to smile a bit. The sun shone a bit too brightly overhead for what was about to occur, but the man preferred it this way—might as well be a perfect, sunny day on the day he died. He always liked these sorts of days because the air was clear and it was easy for him to see everything around him. Agent Barton inhaled deeply and shut his eyes before shedding his jacket and tossing it back in through the window. He crept slowly to the edge, glancing down over the city far, far below. There would be no surviving this unless you were, say, the Hulk or Thor. There was no possible way for a normal human like Clint to survive. This thought caused the man to smile just a bit more, despite how sadistic it was.
"Sorry, Tasha," Clint said to the clouds as he turned his head upwards. "I've probably apologized to you a million times by now, but one more time won't hurt. I'm sorry. I would pay anything to be able to say I'm sorry to our baby, but I have a feeling I'll be going in the opposite direction they did when I die." He laughed humorlessly and looked down again before sliding a bit closer.
Then, Agent Clint Barton, one of the famous Avengers, closed his eyes and stepped over the edge.
Natasha Romanoff looked up from her book as her door swung open. Director Fury stood in the hall, looking rather serious. The woman slid her thumb between the pages of her book and closed it as she reclined into her pillow and raised a brow.
"How may I help you, sir?" The man entered and approached her bedside, examining the IVs and heart monitor with a critical eye.
"Didn't Doctor Banner say you were being released soon?"
"Ah, yes, he did. He just wants to make sure I have all of the care possible before he allows me out." Fury nodded and looked down at Natasha before sighing and sitting down on the stool Clint Barton had sat on not three hours before.
"We need you right now, Agent Romanoff. There's been an issue with Agent Barton that requires your assistance." Natasha's eyes grew wide and she took her thumb from her book page and set it aside.
"The others alerted him of the results of him shooting you." Somehow, the redhead's eyes managed to grow even wider. "He's not taking it very well." The director smirked, as it was an obvious understatement.
"Why would they tell him about that? That's my business and I should be the one to tell him."
"I'm aware, Agent Romanoff, but they took it into their own hands and now Barton is locking himself away in his bathroom and refusing to leave. We have a feeling your presence may help." The man stood from the stool and turned to the door. "Banner is in the hall to assist with removing the drips." As that was said, Bruce entered the room and began taking out the IVs and unhooking the monitor. "I expect you to be dressed and in the hall in five, Romanoff." Fury stepped out of the room and shut the door and Natasha jumped out of the bed and stripped out of her gown, unconscious of Banner, who still turned away respectfully as she grabbed her clothes from a cabinet and pulled them on.
"Thank you so much for your help, Doc." Natasha swooped by for a quick half-hug before racing from the room to join Fury and Agent Hill, who had accompanied him to her room. They escorted her to Clint's room and the agents guarding the door were excused. At that moment, Steve and Tony returned from the kitchen, both holding half-eaten sandwiches.
"Oh, hey Natasha," Steve said, smiling politely. "Glad to see you up and moving."
"Yeah, I'd be glad, too, but under the circumstances…" She glanced at the door as her hand wrapped around the metal handle. She turned the knob and pushed the door open. Her eyes scanned the room and saw that the bathroom door was open. Didn't Fury say Clint had been locking himself in there? She stepped onto the carpeted floor and noticed the open window and, beyond the sill on the roof, Clint Barton falling forward.
Clint's arms wind milled wildly. That voice. He knew that voice far too well. He reached for anything to grab onto, but he knew there was nothing. Natasha was going to watch him fall to his death and there was nothing he could do. He looked over his shoulder and saw her, standing in the doorway staring at him in complete and utter fear.
I'm sorry, so, so, so sorry, Natasha, please forgive me, I'm so sorry.
Natasha didn't even think. She seemed to jump into action at inhuman speed. She launched herself out of the window, desperately reaching for any part of Clint she could get ahold of. Everything was in slow motion as her hand neared the hem of his shirt.
Please, please, the woman begged as she tried to close her hand around the cloth.
Her hand clenched around thin air.
He felt her hand miss. She knew she missed, too, and he could almost feel the despair and failure radiating off of her. Now she was going to live with the guilt of not being able to save him. Clint just couldn't allow that. He blindly flung his hand backwards, praying and praying that Natasha would grab it.
She saw his hand. She knew he wanted her to save him. She cried out and grabbed his hand with both of hers and he stopped falling. He dangled there, looking up at her with the face of a terrified child and she could practically feel her heart crack. She looked away for a moment to yell up towards the window for the others.
"Guys, I've got him! I can't—" she felt his hand slipping from hers "—I can't hold him for much longer." A second later, Steve was climbing out of the window and heaving Clint back up onto the rooftop. Once he was safely away from the edge, Natasha cocked her arm back and punched him square in the jaw.
"Natasha-!"Steve gasped in shock. He tried to pull her back, but she gave him a look that said he better not try it.
"What were you fucking thinking?" the redhead shrieked. Clint was holding his jaw and staring at her, dazed.
"I—I didn't think—"
"Exactly! You didn't think, Clint!" Natasha swiped her arm across her arms, removing traces of forming tears. "You didn't think about how I—how we—would have felt! You didn't think that you have people here for you! There are other options for fuck's sake!" More tears formed and she wiped her other arm over her eyes. "Damn it, Clint Barton." Suddenly, Natasha was aware of the nausea in her stomach and her head began to swim. She felt her knees buckle and she collapsed. Clint rushed to her side and the woman batted him away. "Get away from me, Clint. See, if you wouldn't have been acting without thinking I wouldn't have had to get out of bed earlier than planned." She sat up slowly and massaged her temples, hoping her head would stop spinning.
"I'm a monster, Nat," Barton choked.
"You want someone to save you, Clint, I know you do." Her voice was only audible to the man standing over her. He stared down at his hands and slowly shook his head.
"Stop apologizing!" Natasha grabbed the front of the archer's shirt and pulled him down to her level. "We're both broken, Clint. You're not alone." She couldn't stop the tears now. "Ever since Bruce told me, I keep thinking about it. I never knew if it was a boy or a girl who what their name would have been and it kills me every single day." Her voice broke and her throat seemed to close around her words and she could stop herself from breaking down. She pulled Clint against her and cried and she could feel him crying, too, and it seemed like they were the only two people in the world.
They stayed like that for a while. Steve had politely stepped back into the room and quietly shut the window to give the two some privacy while Natasha spoke to Clint. No one was sure what they were saying, but there were a lot of tears and the sound of the female screaming could be heard through the glass of the window. Nick Fury and the other three Avengers sat patiently in the room, not attempting to make small talk. Each person was content to stay confined to their own thoughts so they could process exactly what they had just seen. One of their teammates had just about fallen to his death and they had just witnessed two usually emotionally-stable people break down into hysteric sobs. It had been quite an eventful day for everyone.
They all looked up at the sound of the window lifting. Natasha stepped into the room, her hand clasped around the archer's. She pulled him in after her and they both stood before the men, silently staring at one another until Nick Fury spoke.
"Despite recent events, we still need to discuss punishment, Agent Barton." The man seemed to shrink back a bit and Natasha eyed him worriedly. "I think it would be in everyone's best interest that you both—yes, I'm talking to you, too, Agent Romanoff—go and see a therapist. You can go together or separately, but you both have to see someone."
Natasha nodded slowly and gauged Clint's reaction out of the corner of her eye. He was nodding stiffly, as if he was only doing it because she was. She squeezed his hand reassuringly, but he didn't return it.
She had a feeling the road to recovery was going to be a very long one.
Natasha wasn't quite sure what had caused the loud crash in the kitchen down the hall, but she didn't question it as she sprinted out the door of her bedroom. She had been rather on edge since the whole shooting incident four months ago, even though she knew that Clint was now no longer on suicide watch and classified as clinically depressed. She was still a bit anxious, though, and constantly cast worried glances over at him until he finally told her to stop being such a worrywart. But, Natasha wasn't taking any chances. The woman burst into the room, breathless, and scanned the room. She burst into laughter when she saw Clint, Steve, and Tony staring at the tray of burnt cookies on the counter. They all looked sheepishly up at the redhead when they noticed her arrival.
"Um…we sort of…messed up," Steve said with a tiny chuckle. Natasha crossed the tile floor to examine the sheet of cookies and she just started laughing harder.
"You don't say?"
"Hey, do you think you could do any better?" Tony asked, cocking an eyebrow.
"Is that a challenge, Mr. Stark?" The assassin turned to the man and placed a hand on her hip. Tony mimicked the poster and the other two men stifled their amused chuckles.
"C'mon, you know you can't bake, Tasha," Clint snickered. Natasha whirled around to face him and put her other hand on her hip.
"Is that a challenge, Mr. Barton?" The entire room cracked up when the man leaned into the redhead's face, stuck out a hip and let out a sassy, "mmhmm!"
"Okay, okay," Steve wheezed, wiping tears from his eyes. "We messed up the cookies big time but…" all four of them turned their heads in unison to stare at the black masses. "Do you think they're still edible?"
"Only one way to find out," Stark said with a shrug. He grabbed one of the cookies and tossed it into his mouth. He chewed for a second, made a face, continued to chew, and then swallowed slowly. "Not bad, but…" He shook his head and Steve sighed. He grabbed the tray and unceremoniously dumped the ruined treats into the trash bin.
"What were you guys making cookies for, anyway?" Natasha asked as she hoisted herself up onto the counter. "And why didn't you just ask Pepper to make them, Tony, you know she's good at this kind of stuff."
"We were making them to celebrate my last session of therapy," Clint replied, sitting next to his partner. "And yours, too, of course." He smiled warmly and Natasha bumped him with her shoulder.
"And I didn't ask Pepper because we're independent men who know our way around the kitchen," Tony said matter-of-factly as he flung open the refrigerator door and began rummaging through the bottom drawer.
"More like you know your way around the fridge," Natasha scoffed. Tony turned to roll his eyes as he pulled out a beer. He tossed one to Steve and pulled out a soda for Clint.
"Staying away from the alcohol, Barton?" Steve asked as he pulled up a stool from the bar.
"Yeah, I think it's for the best," Clint replied with a nervous laugh as he caught the soda. He turned to the redhead next to him as he pulled open the tab on the can. "You got any plans tonight?"
"No, not exactly. Why?" Natasha plucked a soda out of the air as Stark tried to throw one at her in an attempt at a surprise attack. He stuck his lip out in a mock-pout and he turned to Rogers to mope.
"Banner said he was going to treat us to dinner. You know, as a celebration. It'll probably be better than burnt cookies." They both laughed and the woman shrugged as she took a swig from her drink.
"Yeah, that sounds good." Natasha smiled and then held out her can to Clint. "Cheers?" He eyed the can a moment.
"Cheers to what, exactly?" The woman thought a moment and shrugged.
"To a happy life where both of us are whole human beings for a change?" Clint blinked, then carefully touched his can to hers.
A/N: And that's it! I apologize for any OOC-ness in the end. I really wanted the finale to be a bit lighthearted in the end and I'm so sorry if the characterization suffered because of it. I hope you all enjoyed my story and reviews are always appreciated.
Catch you all in the next story xx -rakei