Clint leaves with Natasha after the Asgardians head home. Fury's just looking for an excuse to suspend him at this point, and Clint has things to do. People to see. Person.
He heads for Portland, driving late at night with Natasha sleeping in his lap and sleeping all day while she reads trashy novels on lookout. It takes a few days, but Clint finally parks the car in front of the cellist's house.
It has to be Clint.
He strokes Natasha's hair once making her grumble in sleepy Russian, but she shifts to allow him out of the car. When he looks back, she's stretched out over the full length of the bench seat. It's enough to get Clint up to the front door and ring the bell.
Ella Jennings is a few years older than Coulson, but just as obsessed with comics ("Shh, don't tell the orchestra. They might revoke my dignified membership."). She has dark hair, dark eyes, and she answers the door in a robe. Classy lady, Clint had always thought on stake outs. SHIELD agents don't have privacy on first dates. Or you know . . . fifth dates . . . honeymoons . . . rare night without the kids . . .
The first time Clint needed to extract Coulson, he'd been introduced to Ella as Phil's brother. The second time, he was just a co-worker, and he was confident then that Ms. Jennings was savvy enough to understand the inconsistencies. She doesn't know what Coulson does (did), but it would take a truly oblivious person to not realize that he does (did) something important.
She recognizes Clint now, and that's why it has to be him.
The corners of her mouth tilt in a wry smile that doesn't meet her eyes. "I moved to Portland so I'd never get this visit, you know?"
That throws Clint off his carefully rehearsed plan. He hesitates, licking his lips to give himself time to formulate an apology, an exit strategy, something that isn't going to be another mark on his SHIELD record.
"It's okay," Ella reaches out to touch his wrist gently. "Phil was a good man. There should be someone to notify."
Clint nods, and carefully pulls his hand back. He's recently come to realize the amount of damage his hands are capable of—the millions of ways that he can hurt someone without his consent—and it's a new level of understanding. It's why Clint doesn't try to comfort her even though she's wiping away small tears with a quiet dignity.
It's not the same with Natasha. Natasha is stronger, fiercer, and capable of meeting him destruction for destruction. Natasha can handle Clint.
Clint might not be able to handle Natasha, but that's another matter entirely.
"Can I offer you tea or something, Mister . . ."
"Avis," Clint supplies, because a lack of formal schooling doesn't make him stupid. He's not completely paranoid either. "Call me, Clint." He will never see this woman again after all. "And no, no thank you, ma'am."
He draws the business card out of nowhere—sleight of hand has always been useful—and offers it.
Phil had designed the set, so they're purely professional in spotless white and a sedate navy with a little star-shaped logo. The number is a S.H.I.E.L.D. line specific to Coulson. If Ms. Jennings ever uses it, Fury will have a heart attack, but she'll get the fastest response time on record.
When he rejoins Natasha in the car, it's time to go to New Mexico.