Author's Note: For once, I care very little about how well this fits into the canon universe. Some of this is headcanon collected from various sources on Tumblr who have formed the majority of my impressions about these two individuals. The rest of it comes from my inferences while watching Avengers (which was good enough to see for full-admission price twice, if not more times).

Her hair is the color of blood: bright and vibrant, it spills away from her face in elaborate curls that she tries to control with a short bob cut.

But spilled blood is so unruly.

There is so much blood on her hands. My Lady McBeth. She told me once, in the deepest hours of darkness that no one ever expects to remember, that she still sees it there crusting under her finger nails and highlighting the lifeline in the palms of her hands. She scrubs and she scrubs, but she can never make it go away.

Those same hands that are so steady during a mission shake at night when she lets herself think too much. They shake from the effort not to kill people who aren't on her list, from the effort it takes not to scrub them until the skin comes away and her own blood begins to swirl down the drain. I hold them, then, protect them from herself with my own callouses. She smiles gratefully and looks away, like she's ashamed to have lost control.

Only in front of me, though. She only shakes, smiles, cries for me. No one else.

She says she owes me her truths since I saved her from them before.

During missions that require hours of waiting through the darkest of nights, she sings. Quietly, so quietly that sometimes I wonder if I'm recalling a memory. The songs are in Russian, but sometimes I hum along. She pauses, as though caught in the act of something perverse. Smiles shyly.

"Don't stop," I tell her. "The silence is killing me."

And she'll start again, hesitantly, refusing to meet my eye. One hand finds her shoulder, squeezes it. The other holds my bow, as always.

I loathe the missions that unite us but separate us. I am the Hawkeye, who spies danger from his nest. She is the ground team, the hand to hand combat, the inquisitor. Directly in the line of fire.

Sometimes I can see her hair, a fiery dot on the pavement below. A drop of blood. Red on the ledger.