Disclaimer: I do not own the Avengers or any of the characters affiliated with them. If I did, there would totally be a Hawkeye/Black Widow movie in the works.
Author's Note: While I embrace constructive criticism remember this old saying if you choose to leave a review "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all"
To Drake.12: I would be happy to give you some pointers on writing fight scenes. Do you have an account on fanfic we can communicate through?
And just to cover the whole story a huge thanks to Rain in the Dark for acting as my Russian translator :)
Thanks to all who reviewed throughout this entire story! Specifically to discordchick, ArabianForest, GregsMadHatter, and Reteka Hyuuga who reviewed EVERY SINGLE chapter! There were several others who reviewed all but one or two, but those few were on the list for every chapter. :D
The end is here! Fourth story of the Vantage Point Universe officially complete!
The song for this story is "What about Now" by Daughtry. Give it a listen :D
"Hard part's over." He smirked. The way her eyes narrowed told him she'd noticed he hadn't answered her question. "Let's finish this." He encouraged before she could call him on it.
She nodded hesitantly and followed him towards the door. One of the men twitched, a post-mortem nervous response, but it drew her eyes to the floor. It was then that she saw the blood. Blood where her partner had been lying.
Where thou art-that-is home. Emily Dickenson
Natasha jerked Clint forcefully against the wall as they exited the bunkroom. Before he could stop her, she undid the Velcro on the side of his vest and jerked his shirt up. Blood coated the skin of his abdomen and had soaked the shirt. The cauterized wound must have torn open. She knew there was fear in her eyes when she raised them to his, but there was anger too.
"You kept this from me." She accused.
"There was nothing you could have done about it." He defended, jerking the shirt back down. She scowled at him even as she slid the Velcro of his vest back into place.
" Дебил." She hissed under her breath.
"That one's new." Clint teased quietly.
She raised her green eyes to meet his blue-grey.
"A little harsher than usual." Clint tilted his head thoughtfully. She glared at him and he sighed. She was scared for him. "I can take it." He assured. "We're almost there Natasha. It's almost over. Just trust me."
"I do." She insisted.
"Then trust me that I can keep going."
She stared at him, right into his eyes, for several moments. Then she nodded.
They stared at the door.
"Six more men." Clint reminded, knowing his weariness was showing in his voice.
"Yep." Natasha agreed.
He stared at the door for an extra moment.
"I'll get the door, I guess."
With that Clint braced himself and slammed his boot into the wood just above the handle. It snapped open and Natasha led the way inside. Guns were coming up as they moved. Natasha grabbed the nearest one, spinning herself into the owner's body and pulling his arm around her. She forced his finger to squeeze the trigger three times, killing the two men nearest Clint. Then she slammed her elbow back into his chest and twisted the gun out of his hand. She spun, fired point-blank into his chest and then killed the man to her left with another shot. She turned, raised her newly acquired gun and shot the man Clint was approaching twice.
He glared at her.
"You couldn't let me kill just one?" He complained.
"I left you one." Natasha placated, her gun trained on Carter, who had backed up against the wall. "Careful," She warned the man as he shifted his gun back and forth between them, "wouldn't want you to do something stupid."
"Oh he's already done that." Clint snapped, shifting subtly.
"Stay back." Carter demanded.
"Or what?" Clint growled. "We both know you haven't done your own dirty work in so long, you probably don't remember how. You know I usually have an arrow for this situation. It's got more flare than a bullet." He shifted closer. "But right now I'd settle for a paper clip if it meant I got to end you."
"Then you really should have done that already." Natasha smirked. "Because now you won't have the chance."
Clint moved. He twisted the gun from the man's hand in barely a second and had it pointed at him in the next breath.
"You killed those kids." Clint hissed.
"I didn't pull the trigger."
"You think that matters?"
"I'm a businessman." Carter defended.
"You're a low life shit head that sells kids." Clint spat. "In what world is that supposed to be okay?"
"They're just products. I'm no different than a weapons dealer."
"Funny thing is, I kill them too." Clint smirked before glaring darkly. "And they're people, not products. They had names and personalities and deserved the right to grow up."
He thought of Malik, who had all the makings of being a brave and honest leader one day.
"Names like Malik." Clint ground out before firing the rest of the clip into the man's chest.
Natasha came to stand next to him and they stared down at the body.
"That went well." Clint sighed, allowing her to pull his arm over her shoulder and lead him back towards the bedroom and the phone. She leaned him against the wall next to the table and picked up the receiver, dialing quickly.
"This is Agent Romanoff, ID 7-4-8-6-1-9-Alpha-Foxtrot. Confirm the line is secure."
"Line Secure, Agent Romanoff."
"Connect me to Agent Coulson."
Natasha eyed Clint worriedly as she waited for the line to connect. He had his head back and his eyes closed, but he was still upright. It took several moments as they routed the call to Phil's satellite phone.
"This is Coulson."
"Romanoff! Thank god." The pure honest relief in his tone warmed her. "Sit rep." He demanded.
"Target is down, request immediate extraction."
"Confirmed." She heard rustling and what sounded like a gun being loaded. "Romanoff…" He paused and she read the silence.
"He's right here." She assured. "Hold on."
She nudged Clint with her foot and held the phone out to him. He blinked at it for a moment before slowly reaching to take it from her. She moved to the bathroom as he brought it to his ear.
"Hey Phil." Clint greeted tiredly.
"Are you alright?"
"Been better. Been worse."
"That's not entirely comforting."
"It's all I got." Clint leaned his head back again, letting his eyes drift closed. "Are you coming with the extraction team?"
Clint flinched when Natasha suddenly tore at the Velcro on his vest and lifted his shirt, pressing a clean white towel against the sluggishly bleeding wound on his side. He hadn't heard her coming.
"How bad is it, Clint?"
"I got shot again."
"Through and through. Well, kind of." Clint sighed, "It bounced off a rib, which probably saved my life."
"Had to cauterize it." Clint admitted. "Held pretty good until just a while ago."
"Are you doing something about that?"
"Natasha's all over it." Clint assured, letting his back slide down the wall until his butt hit the ground. Natasha followed him down, never letting up her pressure.
"You can tell me when we get back."
"Okay." Clint agreed, already knowing that Coulson wouldn't be getting the full story. There were parts of these past three days he never wanted to remember and other parts that were his and Natasha's, no one else's.
"Give the phone back to Romanoff. I'll be there soon, Clint."
Clint held the phone out to her and she tucked it under her cheek.
"Extraction will be there in under an hour."
"We have people in the area?"
"I figured you guys would need a hand eventually. I called in the team and have just been waiting to know when to send them."
Natasha felt relief rush through her.
"That's really good news."
"Is he doing that bad?"
"It's just been a long few days." That was all she would give up.
"We're on the way. Just stay where you are, we've got a fix on the phone."
"We're not going anywhere." Natasha assured, hanging up the phone when the line went dead. She shifted to lean against the wall next to Clint, wedging a second towel between his back and the wall and keeping firm pressure on the exit wound.
She leaned her head back and they waited.
Clint woke up to the smell of antiseptic.
He wrinkled his nose and grimaced. There was an annoying beeping sound nearby and he felt a needle in his arm.
"I know you're awake."
Clint smiled slightly, opening his eyes and squinting at his handler.
"Hey Phil? You're unconscious when we get to you and then sleep for two days and you lead with Hey Phil?" There was sarcasm thick in his tone but the relieved smile on his face took any bite out of it.
"Two days, huh?"
"Apparently you've had a busy week. Body needed a time out."
"Where's Natasha?" Clint demanded, slowly pushing himself up to a seated position. Coulson helped him shift his pillows so he could lean against them.
"Right here." Natasha suddenly appeared from behind Phil, a white fluffy robe encasing her.
Clint smiled. She smiled back. Phil looked back and forth between them.
"You okay?" He asked.
"Couple cracked ribs, several belated stitches. Got creased in the thigh and didn't notice until the team got there and pointed it out." She shrugged.
"Adrenaline will do that." Clint huffed a laugh.
"And you?" She asked carefully.
Natasha laughed and Coulson smiled.
"I'll see what I can do." The handler assured, slipping out of the room. Natasha moved to sit on the edge of his bed.
"What have you told them?" Clint asked quietly.
"Nothing yet. I said we'd do the report together."
"What do we tell them?" She asked softly.
"Only what's necessary. We broke protocol, we'll own up to that. But we don't mention specifics. We'll outline everything with the basics only. They don't need to know the details."
"Do you think we'll get away with that?" She wondered.
"Just let me talk to Phil. Then we'll be fine." He assured. He glanced around. "Are we back in the states?"
"Yes. You were unconscious for the entire flight."
He frowned slightly. It was an odd feeling to pass out in one country and wake up in another. It wasn't the first time it had happened though, and he was certain it wouldn't be the last. He glanced at her, watching her pick at a thread on her robe.
Knowing green eyes were suddenly on him.
"Not now, Clint. Not here."
He nodded and watched her eyes track down to the crisp white bandage on his side. There was an echo of something in her eyes, something he'd seen when she'd realized he was bleeding again. Fear.
"I'm sorry I scared you."
Her expression faltered for a moment, before her indifferent mask was back in place.
"You're still an Идиот."
"Not quite as harsh. You must not be pissed anymore."
She grinned slightly, standing up quickly as Phil pushed back into the room a small plastic container in hand.
"Is that Jell-O." Clint frowned. "I hate Jell-O."
"You haven't had solid food in five days, you need to start slow."
"Screw that. Get me a cheeseburger and if I puke, I puke."
"And then listen to you complain?" Coulson shook his head. "It's not Jell-O, it's pudding."
"Oooo, I like pudding."
Coulson hummed sarcastically and tossed the plastic container and spoon on his lap. They watched Clint nearly inhale the chocolate pudding and then proceed scrape all the last remnants out of the plastic container. He licked his spoon clean with flourish.
"Better?" Coulson asked dryly.
"It'd be better if I had another one."
Phil wordlessly produced a second container out of seemingly nowhere.
"You're supposed to be in bed." Phil scolded as he approached the edge of the roof.
Clint glanced at him over his shoulder, smiling mischievously.
"I snuck out."
"No kidding." Phil laughed, dropping down to sit next to him, as he had many times over the past six years. "I'm not covering for you with the nurses this time."
Clint rolled his eyes, knowing it was a lie.
"I've been in bed all day." Clint defended. "I needed some air."
Phil didn't argue. He knew how Clint operated. Fresh air and open space was a necessity. Ironic considering he enjoyed crawling around in air ducts and still slept in them from time to time when he was in a mood to be absolutely alone and hard to find.
"So are you going to tell me what happened out there? Or do I have to ask?"
"Didn't you just ask?" Clint deflected.
"It all went to hell in the worst way, Phil."
"Are you taking my report right now or just asking as my friend?"
"Do you see a pen and paper?" Phil shot back. He watched Clint scrub a hand through his hair roughly, only to wince when he rubbed the tender spot on the back of his head.
"We screwed up." Clint sighed. "We got the kids out alright, even made it to the trees, but they sent a small army of mercs after us." He shook his head. "We didn't stand a chance."
Phil waited, watching various emotions play out across his agent's eyes. Self-loathing was at the top of the list, as usual with his agent. Clint tended to take the burdens of the world on his shoulders, whether they were his to carry or not.
"They just opened fire," He scoffed in disgust, "on kids. They didn't even have a chance to run, and the ones that did, barely made it a few steps." He thought of Malik, "I told him we were there to save him. I ended up just getting him killed." He didn't realize he'd said it out loud until Phil's sharp gaze was on him.
Clint felt his chest tighten and it had nothing to do with his cracked ribs.
"His name was Malik. He had it in him to be somebody great. Instead he got shot twice in the back and died against a tree in a country that wasn't his. And the real rub of it is that he thanked me. Told me I saved him."
"Maybe in his mind you did." Phil offered quietly. "Maybe he knew what was waiting for him under the care of a guy like Carter, maybe you gave him a way out."
"I don't care how you or anybody else spins it, Phil. Those kids were massacred because we broke them out."
"What was your alternative?" Phil challenged. "Your orders were to bring down the compound. If you and Romanoff had launched your attack and those kids were still inside, do you think they would have let them live?"
"They would have been the first casualties. They would have died in a cage. You and Romanoff gave them something they probably didn't think they'd ever have again, Clint, hope. Because of you and her, they at least died free. You have to take that small comfort and let it be. You'll drive yourself crazy otherwise."
Clint stared out into the night silently. His handler always knew what to say. It was a gift he didn't think Phil realized he had.
"When we give the report, there are going to be some holes."
Phil sighed. More had happened out there than Clint was saying. More than what he had deduced by the trail of bodies left around the acreage surrounding the compound. But he trusted his agent and he knew that Clint wouldn't leave holes in a report unless it was necessary.
"Okay." Phil assured, "We'll work it out."
"So…Natasha? You two finally made it to a first name basis?"
"Nothing like running for your life to bring people together."
Phil's eyes narrowed, wondering if he was imagining the dual implications the statement seemed to hold.
Natasha woke with a jolt, pushing her blankets back and climbing quickly out of bed. She moved to her bathroom and quickly splashed water on her face. She supposed dreaming of her past sins was better than dreaming of those children. She'd accept the small mercy for what it was.
Her room felt confining, so she pulled a sweat shirt over her tank top and moved into the hall and headed towards the training room. Clint was still in the infirmary, but was set to be released in the morning. They'd given their report that morning, in Clint's room in the infirmary. Their recounting of the mission had been vague, their details spotty, but somehow Coulson managed to construct a full report from their hedged responses. Nothing else had been said about it.
Natasha blinked, staring at the infirmary door, wondering how she'd ended up here. She would just check to see if Clint was sleeping soundly, then she'd go back to the training room. She eased the door open and moved silently through the quiet hall to Clint's room. A glance through the small window in the door showed his bed empty.
Somehow she wasn't surprised. It wasn't the first time he'd snuck out of the infirmary and she knew exactly where to find him.
"What's the use of having a bed in the infirmary if you aren't going to use it?" She teased as she moved to sit next to him on the roof, hanging her bare feet over the edge. His shoulder brushed against hers as he turned to look at her.
"It smells like antiseptic in there and everything is very white."
She shrugged. She understood the sentiment. She didn't like the infirmary either. They sat in silence for several moments, both staring out into the night. Natasha finally glanced at him, chewing her lower lip for a moment before speaking quietly.
"You told me once that talking about your dreams helped."
He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. His eyes registering brief surprise at her comment. He cleared his throat and responded.
"Yeah." He looked back out over the night. "I dream about them sometimes, the people that I killed when I worked contracts. I used to hate myself those days." He shook his head sadly. "Every negative emotion I felt was worse and I believed nothing could be better unless I made up for it somehow, if I punished myself for what I'd done. Phil saved me from that. He got me to start telling him about the dreams. Now, whenever I have a dream, I talk to him and usually that makes it easier to handle. I've done that for six years now." He smiled slightly. "So yeah, letting someone you trust share the burden? It helps."
Natasha nodded thoughtfully. If it helped Clint, maybe it would help her. And she knew now that if there was anyone she could trust with her secrets, it was him.
"I dream as well, about the things I've done," she spoke softly. "May I tell you those stories?"
He nodded once and waited.
Then she told him. She told him about a man named Carlos who had never hurt anyone in his life, but that had information that powerful people wanted contained. She told him how she manipulated the kind, awkwardly goofy man into inviting her into his life. Then she told him how she killed him and his entire family before walking out into the front door and strolling down the street like she hadn't a care in the world.
He sat and listened quietly the whole time and at the end just nodded, accepting the story and offering no judgment, but also no absolution. It was enough, because somehow she felt less like she was still a murdering seductress. Instead she felt like she was leaving that part of her life farther behind her and instead she could focus on making up for it instead of being haunted by it.
"Do you ever learn to forget them, the names in your ledger?" She asked quietly.
"No." He shook his head, "But it's not about forgetting, мой огненный паук, it's about learning that you can't change it. All you can do is hope that one day you can make it right."
She watched his profile, the truth of his words resonating deep inside her. With him, she thought that maybe she could do that.
"Thank you, мой сокол."
He smiled that warm smile that melted her and she couldn't help but return it.
She opened her mouth, preparing to say something. To ask about this thing between them. But the words froze in her throat. Her answers were in his eyes. Words suddenly weren't necessary. His storm colored eyes said everything when he let them.
Right now he was letting them.
She smiled, and knew her eyes said the same thing.
She was his fiery spider and he was her hawk. Forever. Life was too short for it to be anything less.
They stayed out on the roof, sitting silently together. When the sun started to rise, they went back inside together. And if anybody watching the pair of assassins noticed that they went back to one room instead of two, they didn't dare to mention it.
End of Vietnam
Thank you all for reading!
I know several of you wanted to see Phil's reaction to finding out about them getting together. And while it's not in this story, it WILL be in another. His initial reaction will be covered in the next story (you'll see how when you read it) and his eventual acceptance and support will be in the story that follows after :)
Now, we've got an decision to make and I'm going to leave it up to the reviewers...I am going out of town this weekend and won't be able to post a chapter Saturday or Sunday for my new story (I plan to have it finished in the next couple of days). Do you all want me to start posting when I finish the story (probably Wednesday) and then have to wait for an update until after Sat and Sun? Or do you want me to wait until I get back in town to start posting the new story so there are no breaks in updating? I leave it up to the reviewers, so if you choose to leave a review just let me know which you would prefer and I'll tally the "votes" :)
Reviews always make me smile :)
If you read Youngest In History, you already know what's coming next, but here's a preview anyway. The long awaited sequel to Trust..."The Heart Bleeds"
"The Heart Bleeds"
When Natasha is reported killed in action, Clint walks away. From SHIELD, from the Avengers, from everything. He has only one mission left: Find the man responsible and make him pay. But nothing is as it seems and Clint's one-man quest for vengeance leads him to startling discoveries about revenge and how your past always finds a way to catch up to you. (Sequel to "Trust", BlackHawk, whole team is there)