A/N: Once more, because I can. The first mission Hawkeye and Black Widow complete together, even if it might not go as you expect it to. The story can stand alone, but plays after "A Different Call" and "Killing Time". Reading the other two just ties it together more neatly.
Warnings: the T is pretty much for swearing only
Disclaimer: I don't own Natasha, I don't own Clint, I don't make any money with this.
"…calm down man. The little bitch 's all fine… didn't lay a finger on her. Wicked thing this one though, care to share?"
Berlin, April 1994
This mission was a waste of potential.
Natasha was not arrogant when she thought of it that way, just objective – because her and Clint Barton, two of the best assassins in the world, all dressed up and going to this gala just to get basic intel out of a man that wasn't even clever enough to hide a fucking bloodbath in Amsterdam was nothing short of overkill. Proverbially so.
She could've just flown in for the night, gotten what she needed from him without anyone even seeing her, saved ninety percent of the expenses and been out of Berlin four hours later.
Since it was the Black Widow's first mission for SHIELD however, Fury had deemed it necessary to instead make it a day and saddle her with Agent Barton as a babysitter on top of that – who she could've killed in minutes had it really been her agenda to get out of the organization after wasting more than two months of her life and her skill on getting into it in the first place.
The only reason she'd done nothing more than roll her eyes in annoyance at the director's orders was the fact that after one and a half months of SHIELDs basic training Natasha needed to do something at least halfway productive to not go crazy.
Needless to say that the drill had been a horrendous affair for everyone involved.
The term basic alone should have driven home the point to the authorized people on SHIELDs side that no, it wasn't a good idea to put the Black Widow together with a bunch of rookies, and yes, she would beat them up to her heart's content if there wasn't anything better to do… well, it hadn't, obviously. The result had been frustration and boredom that led to only more frustration on her side, and blatant fear on the rookies' – not that she had a problem with that, but it stopped being funny after the first hour or so.
That was the reason she was actually kind of grateful to be sitting beside Clint Barton in a sleek limousine on the way to the Schloßhotel Vier Jahreszeiten, one of the most expensive hotels in all of Europe, located on the green outskirts of Berlin.
They hadn't talked since their departure from the carrier. He hadn't stopped whining then, complaining that it wasn't fair that he had to go to Berlin with her after being back from Afghanistan for only three days – Natasha hadn't been able to stop herself from snapping that where she came from they'd put a bullet between her eyes if she'd needed three damn days to recover from a sprained ankle and two partially fractured ribs… he hadn't tried to engage her in conversation again after that.
In retrospect her reaction probably had been too harsh, but her patience was virtually non-existent if her life didn't depend on it. Waiting and behaving had never been the Black Widow's strong suits.
"We're there." Barton's voice interrupted her thoughts, drawing her attention to the slowing down of the vehicle.
They passed a pair of iron gates and finally stopped in the courtyard, the neatly placed lights illuminating the place and the building enough to show off its beauty, but also not excessively so to preserve the atmosphere of it all.
Natasha had been to castles in Russia and many of the states that were once part of the Soviet Union, she had visited the tall towers made of steel and glass the Americans called art, she had seen the splendor both the French and British had poured into mansions centuries ago… the Schloßhotel wasn't as breathtakingly beautiful as many of those other buildings were, but then it had the sense to not try and imitate them. The hotel was stunning in its own right though, and she could appreciate that.
Turning her eyes from the sight she examined the man beside her one last time to make sure that nothing was out of place.
Here in the car he seemed almost uncomfortable in his tailored black suit, polished shoes and the tie that was as vibrantly red as the ruby resting between her breasts and the ones dangling from her ears. The new haircut did wonders for his face, giving him a slightly aristocratic and more masculine profile – Clint Barton looked the man he was supposed to be, and when she noticed the change in his expression the moment the engine was turned off Natasha was absolutely certain that no one would take him for anything than a rich man, confident in himself and flaunting his wealth to the world.
"Shall we?" it wasn't a question but something else, a dare perhaps.
Bluish grey eyes found hers and inside she let herself marvel at the fire in his gaze for a second before she inclined her head in a slight nod, never breaking eye contact.
There was something exhilarating about the intensity in his eyes that never ceased to make her wonder what exactly the man was thinking in moments like these, when he was looking at her not in lust, not in hate, not in love, but with an emotion that she couldn't quite place and that was never mirrored on his face.
He exited the car first, offering his hand to help her out when in fact both of them knew that even in a skintight dress and three inch heels she was nothing short of deadly – she appreciated the notion however, knowing that it played well into their cover.
The driver was unloading their luggage and handing it off to a set of pages that hurried to get everything inside as fast as possible without damaging their suitcases or appearing rushed.
Neither of them spared the servants a glance, Barton leading Natasha inside with one arm comfortably placed around her waist. To an unsuspecting onlooker the gesture looked both possessive and protective at once, and she leaned slightly against his side to perfect the image of the young couple in love – or at least something close to it.
"Herzlich willkommen im Schloßhotel Vier Jahreszeiten, die Herrschaften. Wie kann ich Ihnen behilflich sein?" the man behind the reception greeted them in German, his attire and manners as upper-class as was expected of a concierge in a hotel like this.
"Wir haben reserviert. Sebastian Hofstetter…" the man still holding her began a conversation, and Natasha stopped paying attention.
She was fluent in five languages and proficient in three others, but German wasn't one of them.
Until about four years ago she'd been able to communicate at least in one half of the country without any major problems, and so for her there had never existed the need to learn the language. Her German in essence was just bits and pieces mixed up with a lot of swear words, and hardly conversational – the Widow had been quite startled to learn that Clint Barton was both fluent in German and it's Swiss counterpart.
Leaving their accommodations to him she inspected the interior of the hotel, attentive green eyes roaming the lobby's expensive décor, high ceiling and endless possibility of escape routes should they against expectations have to make a quick retreat.
Everything was new and tasteful but that didn't surprise Natasha. The Schloßhotel had just reopened, and if the price they paid for one night was any indication the renovation had been a fairly costly affair.
"All done, Liebling." his arm tightened a little around her waist when he turned his attention back to her, "…do you want to refresh yourself before we mingle, or shall we join the other guests immediately?"
His English was still perfectly understandable but with just the slightest hint of a German accent.
He was Sebastian Hofstetter, a young Swiss who would one day inherit his father's wealthy company, while she played Natalia Shostakova, his Romanian girlfriend – it would have been easier to go as Russian of course, but that in return would've attracted too much attention for their likening and between Clint's Russian that was even worse than her German and his non-existent Romanian they had to converse in English anyway.
"Oh, you are just too kind… but the long ride was very boring, I think we should dance and entertain ourselves a little, right?" tiling her head a little upwards to smile at him, Natasha indicated towards the ballroom filled with the noise of the party.
For just a second a frown flashed across his face at her words, but it was gone before the Widow had to remind him that they were on a mission. She gave him a questioning look in response that he ignored and instead turned around and led her in the direction of the gala.
"Of course, whatever my angel wants." the young man in love was all over his face, almost distracting her from the way his grip around her waist tightened in a way that held no love at all.
After getting a snack, sipping a bit of champagne and chatting away with the other guests for the better part of an hour they finally slipped out of the crowded ballroom and onto the terrace, where only a few pairs were dancing to the sound of violin and cello before it faded into the cool night air.
Natasha didn't offer any resistance when Clint Barton pulled her into his frame, leading her across the terrace with sure steps, her skill making up for the few times he slipped in his performance.
He put his head closer to her ear when he was sure that no one was near enough to overhear them, "What do you think?"
The question was vague, too vague for someone in their profession, and she silently wondered what he was up to when she adjusted her position, their dancing now more of a slow back and forth instead of any real routine.
"More than you, I presume." she whispered back, letting her eyes wander from his to their surroundings, "…just as I see more than you."
It was that strange mixture of teasing and honesty that the man always stirred in her. The combination was unique, reserved just for him, and even if the knowledge of that sent warning bells off in her head, it didn't leave Natasha with the feeling of dread it should have – but then again this was Clint Barton, the man she hadn't killed. The only one.
He was the man who had trusted her even when he had no reason to. He was unique.
A faint chuckle echoed in her ear, his first real one of the evening, "…tell me what you see then, master spy."
The challenge in his words was barely concealed, but she let it slip without a rebuke, accepted it even. This time she would prove herself to him, would let him know that he had to remain standing on his tiptoes if he wanted to sometime get the better of the Black Widow.
"The only people who really want to be here are Herr Reichert, Herr Schmidt and Herr Seidel." she watched his eyes drift to the three man smoking down in the garden, a small grin forming on her lips, "They are going to play a mean party of poker tonight while their wives sleep it off. The waiter that passed the caviar around will catch them somewhere before sunrise, blackmail them into handing over a nice sum in exchange for not telling on them, and most likely share it with the hookers that gave him the hint in the first place afterwards…"
She only waited long enough to hear the deep rumble of amusement coming off his chest before going on, flaunting her skills like she seldom had the chance to.
"Herr Engel is pretty much bankrupt and hoping that Frau Winkler will lend him some money again, and she will because it's either that or having his daughter making the fact public that she has an affair with good unfaithful Herr Winkler." trailing off Natasha let him steer her towards the entrance of the ballroom, the warm air coming from inside a welcome contrast to the light breeze.
They both remained silent for a few minutes after that, not risking to talk when an elderly pair danced close by, their steps so in sync with each other they must have had decades of practice.
Her skin was warm where Barton's hands rested on her hips, and even when it was nowhere near cold enough to have her freezing the redhead did still rather like the gesture – it was unfamiliar to her to stand that close to a man and not kill him later, but his careful touch was an agreeable form of human contact when he wasn't going on her nerves.
"Go on." his breath ghosted over her ear when he leaned down, reminding her that the seniors were out of hearing space now.
"There is only one pair of people here that is really, deeply in love with each other… Herr Aigner would have long made their relationship public if it weren't for the fact that Herr Schwarz is both ruthless and possessive, and his wife will most likely never see her children again if she files for divorce."
Saying it like that, voicing the unspoken truth, left her feeling kind of melancholic for no good reason, and Natasha pushed the thought aside the best way she knew – with the dirty, lewd reality, "Aigner is also the only man beside the concierge that hasn't looked down my cleavage tonight, the same being true for the bar man looking at your ass right now, although I suspect that he is gay."
His eyes widened just the tiniest bit, hands gripping her tighter, grey eyes boring into hers when she let him see her amusement at his reaction.
Of course he was too proud to just turn around immediately and confirm for himself if she was actually telling the truth – what he would've done for sure if it weren't for her watching him – instead keeping his gaze connected with her own, the familiar intensity once more making her wonder what exactly he was thinking.
"Always noticing the dirty little secrets, aren't you?" the words were nothing short of a challenge.
Really, Clint Barton should have known better.
Daring the Black Widow like this, his voice sensual and oozing sexual innuendo, had gotten lesser men killed very slowly and intimately on numerous occasions, and doing it now – with her in his arms, her body pressed against his, the black dress showing off her curves beautifully, his eyes drawn to the ruby that rested in the valley of her breasts – was an utterly foolish thing to do… albeit a brave one, she had to admit.
The sultry tone of her voice didn't match the seriousness of her words, "They are what has kept me alive for so long."
"…so you are older than me." a pleased grin formed on his lips when he said it, and she wondered how a man that childish had survived that long in their line of business.
Her age was one of the enigmas about the Black Widow that many people had tried to discover but still never succeeded in. SHIELD was actually the only organization that she thought capable of having a file about her that didn't consist mostly of gaping holes – but even if they did Barton obviously didn't have a high enough clearance to look it through.
Taking her silence as confirmation the grin only intensified, his eyes twinkling with mischief.
One of his hands withdrew from her hip and slowly made its way up the small of her back, pushing her closer against his chest until there wasn't any space left between them.
Grey eyes caught and held her gaze, the man boldly leaning down to the point where only an inch of space separated their faces, "Cougar."
Natasha didn't know why or how, but Clint Barton had the uncanny ability to actually, really, make her laugh. Not the fake giggles she gave her marks to make them think that they had actually been funny in their attempt to get between her legs, not the wry snorts that left her lips involuntarily when the situation was once again so fucked up she couldn't not see the humor in it all, not the faint chuckles of amusement she allowed herself if there wasn't someone trying to kill her for once… real, honest laughter without any ulterior motive.
He watched her, his eyes glued to her lips, their faces still too close.
There was pride in his gaze, pride at once more having caused her to let go enough of her mask to let something of herself shine through – the first time didn't count because he hadn't meant for it to be funny back then, but after that one time in the gym the man seemed to have made it a personal challenge.
It didn't last long, but even when the moment was over he still hadn't stepped away from her.
The music had changed into something slower, more appropriate for the late hour. There were still only a handful couples out and dancing though, and the dim light and clear sky made it a wonderful evening, a moment to cherish – even Natasha had to admit that it was a rather romantic setting.
"You look breathtaking tonight." he meant it when he said it, his face open and grey eyes again burning into hers, promising a dozen of things all at once.
She let one of her hands travel up his side in response, acknowledging the small shiver that ran down his body at the contact with a smug little smile. Rubbing her fingers over his upper arm and his shoulder, tracing a nail over the point where is pulse beat steadily under his skin she watched his slight intake of breath when she entwined her fingers with the hair on the base of his neck.
"You think flattery will get you into bed with me, Clint Barton?" her voice was low, and he had to lean even closer to understand her.
He didn't answer, just looked at her with that meaningful gleam in his eyes and an impish grin on his lips. Probably his expression said all to clearly.
Oh, she had to admit that she was tempted. Very much so.
Sex usually wasn't something she did for her own enjoyment. Natasha knew how to use her body in her favor – it was her most honed weapon after all – and while most of the time seducing a target to get the intel she wanted didn't involve actually doing the deed so to speak, she certainly wasn't above fucking a man if it got her to her goal faster.
Doing it just for the heck of it, to indulge in the act for once without immediate death breathing down her neck of course had a certain appeal to her.
Without braking eye contact she rose to her tip toes, her left hand still buried in his hair and the right one tightly holding on to his hip because a normal woman wouldn't have been able to stand in this position for more than a few seconds without falling over.
Brining her face closer to his, blinking at him through half-lidded eyes she could see the lust in Clint's eyes. He was even more tempted than she was, but his control still didn't waver… even when she brushed her lips over his teasingly, his eyes positively ablaze when he looked at her, the hunger in them sending a tingle through her body that she hadn't felt in a long time.
Her nails scratched the back of his neck teasingly and the man downright growled at her in response, his body taunt as a bow-string – this could be so much fun, bringing him to the edge over and over again, seeing him struggle for control before he finally lost it, his grey eyes burning into her own when he shouted her name.
"I am the Black Widow." she pulled her hand from his neck to cup his cheek, her voice a sensual whisper against his lips, "You know what I do when I'm done playing with a man."
There was no fear in his eyes when she said it, but the way he blinked once, slowly, after she had finished speaking told her that he had gotten the message.
Yes, Natasha was tempted to agree, to indeed sleep with this man – and that was why it would never happen. Not with Clint Barton.
She was the Black Widow. She was never tempted.
Tempting men, seducing them and having them falling in love with her like stupid children, was what she did. That was what she excelled in, what made her one of the most dangerous women on the entire planet… the Widow was a seductress, but no one could ever succeed in seducing her.
He had nearly done so, had brought her closer to giving in than anyone else had ever managed to. It made him dangerous to be around. She already hadn't killed him, couldn't kill him, and now she'd almost given in to her instinct and slept with him, too – Natasha was aware that if she had she'd become attached to him, attached beyond the slight fondness she already held for the man.
It couldn't happen. She never got attached. Attachment lowered ones guard. Attachment was what got you killed.
Their gazes were still locked, she was still standing daringly close him, his eyes were still filled with lust, fire and now even an undertone of violence that did nothing to smother the feeling of excitement that had settled in her belly.
None of them said another word however. Barton just nodded at her once, they abruptly stepped away from each other and he took her hand, any oblivious onlookers believing that the young man was about to lead his companion into their suit to finish what they had started.
In that moment though nothing could have been further form their minds.
Their target had just left the table he had been sitting at since they'd stepped onto the terrace.
Joachim Krämer was a tall man with light brown hair and blue eyes bordering forty. Some may have called him handsome, but the Black Widow had seduced, manipulated and killed too many marks to care whether he was good-looking or not – it didn't make a difference to her how they looked, and a pretty face was forgotten even faster than particularly ugly one.
Like any other man that thought himself important it pleased Krämer when people fought for his attention, and the kind of women he liked best were the ones that were young, dumb, pretty and hung on his every word.
As far as jobs went he was so far below her skill level no one would have bothered paining the amount of money her service required just to get information out of a no-name like him… now she was working for SHIELD however, and their pay didn't go up noticeably until one virtually managed to take out a small army on their own.
The organization didn't trust her enough to reveal details, but from what Natasha had gathered the only reason SHIELD even bothered with the man was that he was scheduled to meet a handler of Europe's biggest human traffic ring some three days from tonight.
That was what they needed her for: getting the location out of him.
Normally she'd just pressed a knife to his throat and waited until he spilled the beans, but of course it wasn't that easy. SHIELD didn't want to have anything tracked back on them. The man wasn't to know that he'd been interrogated in the first place, leave the hotel in the morning and end in jail after the police arrested him for his sloppy work in the Netherlands a few days from now.
She guessed the most difficult part of it was that she had to tolerate Krämer until Barton – the rueful lover that was concerned because his little girlfriend hadn't returned to their room after their fight – came to pick her up.
...tousling her hair with one of her hands and smearing her vibrant red lipstick with her tongue the Black Widow opened the door to the lounge her target was currently occupying and stumbled inside, every bit the half-drunk girl without any sense of self-preservation.
"Oh…" the expression on her face was a mixture of confusion and embarrassment, highlighted by widened green eyes, "I didn't know… excuse me…"
He took one look at her – ruffled hair, low neckline and a body many a model would have killed for – and she knew that he was hooked.
This was the effect she always had on men, the exceptions of the rule so few that she could count them on her hands. Ensnaring males was mind-numbingly easy. They were visual creatures, the moment they saw a piece of bare skin she'd already won – women were harder to seduce, not because they found her any less attractive but because their brains didn't shut down the moment they got a good look at her breasts.
Taking one unsteady step backwards young Natalia nearly faltered, having to support herself on the heavy wooden door. She saw it in his eyes then when she looked at him shyly, immediately averting her eyes from his gaze… Krämer was on the hunt now, and she was prey.
"Oh no, this is a public room after all. It's fine." he replied, his tone soothing and a smile on his lips.
Slowly the man rose from the sofa he had been sitting on, careful not to startle the distraught almost-girl standing in the doorway and not knowing what to do with herself.
The setting was perfect.
A glass of wine was standing beside an half-empty bottle on the coffee table in front of the lounge – meaning he had drunk enough to loosen his tongue at least a little – the room was in a corridor close to the reception – secluded enough to not have any onlookers and still not too far removed to make the hawks later entrance seem suspicious – and they were alone – no bodyguards to make her job difficult.
"You look distraught." gently taking her by the arm he closed the door and led her to the sofa, "Come sit down for a moment and calm down."
"Thank you... I really…" she struggled for words, blushing and looking everywhere but his face.
"Not a problem, my dear." with careful force applied to her arm he got her to sit down, making sure that she didn't lose her balance or and sitting down beside her when he was sure that Natalia was safely on the couch beside him.
His concern would've felt touching to a woman as young as he thought the pretty redhead was, and the Widow had to admit that the man was fairly good. No lingering touches or inappropriate glances yet, and his manners were flawless. Krämer obviously knew his way around young, inexperienced women.
"I… I don't want to bother you, Sir." said with lowered eyes and trembling shoulders.
"You aren't bothering me at all." he reassured her, an inviting smile on his face, "...though it seems like someone was bothering you. I hope you are alright?"
Making eye contact for the first time she let him see the tears shimmering in her eyes, sniffed and started to hesitantly, sadly, talk about the fight she'd had with her boyfriend and how he'd said some rude, really hurtful things to her before she he had fled their suite to escape the confrontation.
After that it was just routine: playing the girl, expressing the expected amount of awe when he told her of his job and wealth, letting him pour more wine for the both of them and giving him and eyeful here and there – it took sixteen minutes for him slid closer to her, another twenty-five to having him boasting about the important client he'd met in Bremen in three days, and another thirteen until he tried to grope her for the first time and she really considered throwing him out of the window.
The time she'd decided on with Barton was one and a half hours, and with still more than thirty minutes to go and the man well on his way to totally wasted she had to get innovate to dodge his advantages without being too obvious – now that she had the intel she needed Natasha absolutely refused to let Krämer fuck her.
"Come on sweetheart… I'm not gonna tell your boyfriend." he murmured into her ear, a hand sliding up her thigh – she didn't know whether it was a blessing or a curse that even drunk his English remained pretty intelligible .
"No, Sir, I really-" getting up from the couch shakily she tried to put some space between them, but of course the man had to lunge after her and grasp her right wrist in a tight grip – the only thing that saved him from death by the Widow's hands was her order to not kill him if it wasn't absolutely necessary.
Of course even with said order she still could've made all of his advances come to nothing easily… if it weren't for the fact that she played a naïve, drunken twenty-one-year-old.
There was just no plausible way for Natalia Shostakova to get out of the room she was currently trapped in. Between her and Krämer is was obvious who would've had the upper hand in a physical fight, not to mention that three sheets to the wind a small young woman like her usually had no chance in hell to escape a grown man in his prime. All she could to was appear like an idiot girl with too much luck on her side and stall until Clint Barton came to the rescue.
"Don't be like that, you cheeky little vixen." with a sturdy pull he got her back on the sofa, his free hand coming up to take a hold of her chin, "…I know you want it."
Burring her fist in stomach was what she wanted, but unfortunately that option wasn't available at the moment – Natasha instead settled on turning her wrist in his clutch and ramming her perfectly manicured fingernails into his arm. It was only a small satisfaction, but she took what she could get when he snarled in pain.
Obviously it wasn't the wisest of choices and seconds later the hand that had been holding her face was entangled firmly in her hair, pulling her head back with enough force for it to hurt quite a lot. She had to let a low moan escape her lips and loosen her fingers on his arm to keep cover, enabling the man to adjust his grip so that she wouldn't have another change of scratching him.
"Verdammt." he looked at the five crescent-formed, bleeding marks on his arm before his blue eyes came up and caught her gaze, "You're a wild one for sure…"
His following attempt to try and kiss her was an utterly stupid idea.
Krämer was used to getting what he wanted, it seemed. Usually that wouldn't have been a problem, since Natasha admitted that his handsome looks, manners and full wallet made him a good catch for any women that he tried to seduce. From a social standpoint bedding him offered a female the possible chance of a life with a man that was well capable of providing for her for the rest of her life, if she handled things right.
It was just the man's bad luck that she wasn't even remotely interested, turning her head sharply away when he attempted to kiss her and – in what looked like an uncoordinated movement – hitting him in the back of his head with her free arm.
"I… leave me… please!" almost hysteric now the young woman started to trash in her captors grip immediately after, throwing the man off balance enough to get in another attempt at getting up, being stopped by the hand in her hair.
"Oh, sei endlich still du dummes Gör!" his voice echoed loudly through the otherwise silent room.
The hand coming for her face actually surprised the Widow, and this time she had no excuse to slide out of his grasp without making the fact obvious that she wasn't who she pretended to be – he hit her harder than she'd thought he would, and damn, that was surely leaving her with a black eye.
Her scream was right on time, though it turned out that she needn't have bothered.
The door to the lounge opened before she had even closed her mouth, Clint standing in the threshold, his cool grey eyes taking in the scene in front of him.
He needed one second to comprehend what he was seeing – Natasha shoved back into the sofa, her head turned to the side to alleviate the force of the blow to her face, Krämer sitting half beside her and half on top of her, his hand still buried in her scarlet locks – and another three to cross the distance between the door and the couch.
Despite the amount of alcohol running through his veins the man beside her still recognized the murderous look direct at him and had the presence of mind to let go of her immediately, "…ganz ruhig, Mann. Der kleinen Schlampe geht's wunderbar… hab ihr kein Haar gekrümmt. Aber geiles Gefährt die Kleine, willste teilen?"
Barton had torn Krämer away from her before he could finish his sentence, his grip around the other man's arm so tight his knuckles were white.
"Wenn ich sehe wie du die Schlampe auch nur noch ein Mal falsch ankuckst schneide ich dir die Eier ab und zwinge sie deinen Hals runter bis du dran erstickst." his face was emotionless while the look in his eyes promised a slow, painful death.
Their words were too fast and their accent to heavy for her to understand anything other than the "bitch" part of what they said, but then again their body language and tone of voice told Natasha clearly that they weren't merely chatting away happily.
Krämer blinked once in response to the other man's words – the arrogance in his expression slowly replaced by fear – then he was out cold, a perfect upper cut catching him right on the chin.
Letting his limp body unceremoniously drop to the floor Clint didn't bother with him any longer. He just turned back towards her, the burning emotion from a few moments ago replaced by a blank, somewhat angry look when he helped her up.
For a second she did nothing but stare back, then the room was filled with people, the concierge white as a sheet when he saw the man lying on the floor unconsciousness.
He stormed away from her side as soon as the door of their suite had closed behind them, his steps angry and forceful compared to his usual silent walk.
Natasha didn't bother looking after him and instead headed towards the bedroom. Opening the black dress in mid-walk she slipped out of the expensive garment easily, letting it pool around her feet on the floor and then kicking her matching heels aside in one fluid motion while she pulled a shirt out of the suitcase closest to her in another, not bothering to check what exactly it was before she put it on.
It wasn't exactly a routine because routines made you predictable and a good assassin was never predictable, but she always liked to get out of her work clothes once she'd finished a job – even when she was still dirty and covered in dried blood otherwise, putting on fresh clothes made her feel somewhat clean.
Heavy steps from the lounge announced his arrival long before Clint Barton came into few, walking up to her with a folded packet of fabric in one of his hands and a beer in the other.
A barely there frown settled on his face when he looked at her, and following his gaze Natasha noticed that the large dark grey shirt she had donned had to be one of his, the cartoon character on the front being a motive she wouldn't have picked for herself – taking his strange sense of humor into account it should've made him laugh to see her wearing it, actually.
There was no amusement his eyes however, just cold, hard anger.
She didn't know the reason of his rage, but it was clearly directed at her. It was a look he had never given her before, and she while she didn't fear him his icy gaze still managed to unsettle the Widow a little.
From any other man she would have expected violence, but once again Barton showed nothing of it when he stopped only a hands width in front of her, slowly rising his arm to bring the cloth he was still holding up to her right eye – for the second time she marveled at the tenderness he was touching her with, even when the look in his eyes promised nothing but violence and pain.
Until now she hadn't spared the black eye she had to be sporting by now any thought, only the cool press of the fabric against the tender skin making her realize how much it ached and how good the cold touch actually felt.
Slowly bringing her hand up she took the make-shift ice pack from his hand, still maintaining eye contact.
His tone was mocking, "Did they teach you that too where you come from? …to let yourself be beaten up by a fucking amateur?"
For a few moments she just stared at him, bewildered at how a simple black eye had made him so angry… and then Natasha understood, understood the man that was Clint Barton.
His anger wasn't directed at her, not really. He was seething, yes, but the rage in his eyes was more directed at Krämer than her, more at himself than either of them, most at the situation in general, the fact that Krämer had hit her, that she'd let him and that he hadn't been there to stop it from happening.
Barton still possessed something that they had beaten out of her over years, had killed with every blow, every kick, every time they killed someone in front of her, that the Black Widow had abandoned because in her world it didn't exist… moral. The concept of right and wrong. The belief that some things shouldn't be done and that others had to be done, the faith in doing something simply because it was the right thing to do.
To her the notion held no value anymore, but to him it obviously did.
How could she answer to his question then, to a demand that was based on a concept that held no meaning to her, that she didn't believe in?
There was only one thing Natasha could really retort with, the thing that held as much importance to her as his values held to him – the only thing she could give him, no matter how unsatisfying it might have felt. Honesty.
She caught his gaze and held it, "Yes, they did… if it is for the good of the mission."
They stared at each other in silence, the intensity slowly coming back into his eyes, replacing the anger and violence until there was nothing left of it anymore, the only thing remaining being the fire those grey eyes shouldn't have been able to hold.
"This isn't where you come from." his tone was final, an order that didn't allow any objection, "Don't do it again."
He wasn't her superior. Clint Barton wasn't even her equal yet, just a rough diamond that still had to be cut. Natasha didn't have to take orders from him, he held no position to tell her what she had to do. He was an almost-boy and she was the queen of death.
"Why do you care?" she asked because really, he shouldn't.
"You are my partner."
It shouldn't have been good enough an answer… but it was.
"If I see you even looking wrong at the bitch one more time I'll cut off your balls and force them down your throat until you chock on them."
They are not friends... not yet anyway. They however understand each other one a level that others don't and never will. This are Natasha and Clint as I see them.
From all my Blackhawk stories, this was the hardest one to write so far.
I'd really love it if you left a review.