author's note: i'm back! (not for long, I'm disappearing for a month again - nanowrimo calls). Okay, even i'll register that this one is angsty so I apologize in advance. I haven't been going through the best of times right now (and I think this story was a venting-document for me that eventually turned into a half decent story). I don't exactly know what this is and why I wrote it but it's here and I shouldn't complain (because I finally got something on paper!). The summary was taken from forsaken_phoenix's amazing wolfstar (remus/sirus for those non-shippers) story.

Yes, this was 'God Knows' on the preview but I finished it and didn't like the title anymore

Disclaimer: the lyrics below are from (the top) Vampire Smiles by Kyla La Grange and (the bottom) Always Find Me Here by Transit and the lyrics below the brackets throughout the story are from 'Amie' by Damien Rice which I listened to on repeat while reading this story.

I'm really nervous about posting this. Please don't hate me too much - I know this isn't good. Also, this story hasn't been beta'd because I couldn't find a beta.

Also! I got a tumblr in the past few days! The link is on my page.

backstory (because this story needs one): after the battle, Clint thinks that Loki is still in his mind and tries to drink him away (in a way) and because of that he gets himself fired from SHIELD. That's where the story kicks off and the "before" scenes are scenes from Natasha point of view about Clint overcoming his mind battle (in which he thinks Loki's still controlling him). Make sense? Probably not...

Now read!


We'll be the broken lovers with the poison cup.
And we'll draw in breaths like we don't have air,
Oh god, look at me, don't you ever care...
that I'm dying in the cupboard underneath the stairs?


And i'll say grace for where you are,
I want you to know,
You'll always find me here.


the cartographer

(After)

(…Just another solider, on the road to nowhere…)

It was the 26th of January when Natasha refused to wake. Natasha closed her eyes and tried to forget the world; she tried to forget the feeling of the morning breeze, of fingers brushing against fingers; she tried to forget the carefree moments that she had shared. She simply shut her eyes and clawed at her blankets. It was a simple task: forget. Yet, it seemed to be a task that Natasha could not accomplish. Forgetting was supposed to be easy; after all, the human brain only needs to be trained. Natasha clawed at the sheets that blocked her from the world as though it were her memories. Natasha's body was screaming at her to move; it craved her natural morning exercise, but she would not give in. She wished to stay in her bed. It was the only place she felt safe; in her blankets no one could hurt her. Natasha fought back a scream and tried to block out her emotions. She abhorred her emotions; they made her weak and vulnerable. Natasha Romanoff could not afford to be weak and vulnerable, she was Russian after all. She bit her lip until she brought about blood and kicked her feet until her legs hurt, then she kicked a little harder. Nothing Natasha did could take away the bittersweet pain.

On the 27th, Natasha went mute.


(Before)

(…But I'm not a miracle and you're not a saint…)

"God knows what you're hiding in your weak and drunken heart, Clint," Natasha said to Clint. He stared at her blankly without uttering a word. She said nothing and nor did he; it was a requited silence. Natasha studied Clint: it had been several months since she had seen him last and much had changed about Clint. Natasha stared into his lifeless eyes and felt a pang of empathy for the poor drunken man. He was a shell of the man he was once and she was helpless to help him. What he had done to himself was his own doing, she could not atone his mistakes. "What have you done to yourself, Barton?"

Clint spoke for the first time that night, "I let reality in," he stated. He titled his head at her and squinted his eyes; she felt a surge of hope. Would he? Could he? Did he—? "Nat?"

She nodded simply, biting her lip to stop herself tearing up. "Hello Clint," she said for the second time that night.

Clint's facial muscles relaxed and he reached out for Natasha's hand. His touch sent chills up Natasha's spine and made Nat feel safe for the first time in months. She jerked her hand away; Clint looked startled. "Sorry," she said quickly. "Reflexes I guess,"

He nodded slowly and looked around. Natasha closed her eyes and waited for the familiar question. But it did not come. "You look beautiful tonight Natasha," he said, a smile playing on the edge of his lips. "You really do. A fool like me does not deserve you,"

Natasha stood to her feet, "People help people Clint," she replied, "Now, we need to get you cleaned up,"

They spent the rest of the night restoring Clint to his former glory. He half-resembled the person she used to know when they were done. "What did they do to you Clint?" Natasha whispered into his ear.

He stroked her hair and kissed her forehead, "I don't know," he admitted, "I don't know my love,"

They fell asleep in each other's arms that night.

On the 1st, Natasha was happy.


(After)

(…Come sit on my wall and relive the stories of O…)

"It wasn't your fault Natasha," said Bruce Banner one day. She said nothing. "It wasn't. Grief is a normal human emotion; you're allowed to be human, no one will judge you for being human Nat," at the sound of her old nickname, Natasha jerked her head up and glared at Bruce. She took a deep breath and stood to her feet. Pain shot through her feet, but Natasha pressed forward. It was only when she looked down when she realized that she had stepped on broken glass. Sitting down, she watched as Bruce carefully removed the glass from her foot and bandaged it up. "It wasn't you're fault, Natasha, please remember that. It wasn't your fault."

Natasha's eyes were full of the sentences she refused to say. Bruce squeezed her hand and kissed her gently on the forehead. "Get better Natasha," he said finally before leaving her alone. She watched him go and said nothing. It had been two weeks since Natasha last said anything. She blamed herself that was much was obvious; she knew that it was her fault that Clint was dead. His death, however, didn't make her weak and vulnerable as everyone had expected, no, it seemed to make her stronger and more agile. Ever since the incident Natasha had thrown herself into battles and missions with no fear and no regrets. She never showed mercy anymore; in her missions there were no survivors, well, not anymore anyway. She was just as she was before Clint brought her to shield. It was almost as though Clint had kept her human and sane. She was ruthless, unpredictable and mute.

On the 30th, Natasha was still mute.


(Before)

(…Something unusual, something strange…)

Clint twirled the gun between his finger, switching the safety on and off. The bed creaked and groaned in disgust as he shifted his weight. From the other side of the room, Natasha watched him; she studied his every move. "Clint," she warns him as he lifts the gun to his head. "Stop." He obeyed but continued to twirl it between his fingers.

"He's still there," Clint mummered, his uncut, long hair falling into his eyes. Natasha said nothing. She moved her right hand to her gun in its holster; she would shoot Clint before he got a chance. There was no way that she would let himself kill himself. Bringing his fingers to his temple, he tapped it thrice and said: "he's right there Natasha, I can still hear him sometimes. He's telling me to do things I don't want to do."

"Then don't," Natasha said plainly.

Clint brought his hands (along with the gun) to his head, pulled them into fists and began to rock back and forth, "I can't get him out Natasha. Natasha, he's still there. The only way to get rid of him is to…"

"Don't!" Natasha said sharply, pulling her gun out of its holster. "Clint, take a deep breath for me," he obliged, "think about your totem, the one thing that you'll miss if you die," he nodded as his totem came to mind, "now put the gun down—(he didn't)—Clint, put the gun on the ground and slide it towards me." Clint took a deep breath and put the safety back on the gun. Natasha gave him an empathetic look and clicked her tongue. Getting out of her chair, Natasha walked over towards Clint and wrapped her hand around the gun. He slackened his grip on the gun and Natasha pulled it away from him. Clint stared intently at Natasha, his eyes written with the words he couldn't say:

"I'm sorry,"

"I miss you,"

"Help me,"

"I want to die."

With a strangled sob, Clint put his head in his hands and began to sob. Natasha sat beside him without saying a word and allowed him cry.

On the 5th, Natasha felt helpless.


(After)

(…Tell it like you still believe, that the end of the century…)

Her hands wavered over the paper. Ink dropped from leaking pen, staining Natasha's hands and the clean paper. Outside, the thunderstorm continued; the rain hit the tin roof, the sound made Natasha feel safe. She had read in a book once that if it were raining, no criminal (no matter how stupid they are) would break into a house. It was complete bullocks of course, but even the thought allowed Natasha to bring her guard a little. The rain made her feel as normal as she ever could.

Placing the tip of the pen on the paper, Natasha took a deep breath and let the pen do its work. She didn't even know what she was writing but she liked the feeling that she was creating. Right now, she was creating sentences that, only a few moments ago, didn't exist. Words made sense, with words Natasha could create characters and give them a normal life and a happy ending, or, if she wanted to, she could make them feel awful and kill themselves at the end. She gave her characters the happiness she never got. She couldn't complain though, she contradicted herself, if she hadn't of joined SHEILD or even the black marker, she would never have met Clint and hundreds, if not more, people would have died. Despite all the red on her ledger, Natasha couldn't help feeling a sense of pride in what she did. She saved people, the way she couldn't save Clint.

Clint. Now there was one thing she couldn't write about. He died in the place that they met: at Budapest, near the fountain where they first kissed. Oh, the irony. He lived where he died. Natasha flinched visibly as she remembered the sound of the gunshot. They say that you never hear the gunshot that shoots you and they're right, Clint hadn't heard the gunshot. In fact, he was in the middle of loading his next arrow and was telling Natasha to run. With the gunshot came blood. Lots of it. Natasha unloaded her final bullet into the enemies' skull. She watched him bleed to death.

Looking down, Natasha read what she wrote. The blue ink clashed with paper and the ink splotches blotted out some of the words, making them unreadable. Grimacing to herself, Natasha persevered and read through it anyway. She was pleased with what she wrote. Putting the pen down on the desk, Natasha listened to the rain.

On the 31st, Natasha wrote a suicide letter.


(Before)

(…'Cause you feel it when they take it away…)

"I swore I never did this," Natasha said over the roar of the rushing water below. She could practically hear Clint grinning from behind her.

"Come on Natasha. I've seen do worse without a second thought." Clint replied his arms folded across his chest. Natasha glanced over her shoulder at Clint. He was right, she had defiantly worse: she had jumped off the highest building in Budapest without knowing that Clint was going to catch her in his plane, she had allowed herself to be beaten within an inch of her life to find out where Maria Hill had been taken, she had risked her life repeatedly to save other people yet she couldn't bungee jump with a harness. Clint raised his eyebrows at her - a habit she hated and looked at her up and down. He was testing her that much was obvious; daring her not to jump. He knew just how to press her buttons. "Find then!" he exclaimed throwing his arms in the air, "don't jump then. I never thought for one second that you would jump anyway,"

Natasha glared at the archer. She bit her bottom lip and began to walk towards Clint, admitting defeat. He held his arms out, ready to embrace her. "You're right," Natasha said, looking down at the ground in disappointment, "I can't jump." Clint clicked his tongue and opened his mouth to speak, but she spun around and jumped off the edge of the metal grating. Natasha screams echoed off the mountains.

Flying. She felt like she was flying. Adrenaline rushed through her body as the wind hit her face. Screaming, Natasha opened her eyes, uncurled her fingers and spread her arms out. Flying. She felt like she flying. Falling. She was falling into a river. Wind grabbed her fingers and whistled to her. She had never felt so alive; it was in that moment that Natasha realized why adrenaline-junkies existed. This feeling was a feeling that you couldn't get anywhere else.

Flying. Falling. Flying. Falling.

She felt like she was flying, but when in reality she was falling.

The water came closer and closer and closer and closer. She was going to hit it. Panic quickly rose in her throat; catching her scream. Closer and closer and closer and closer. She was going to die. Then the chord bounced back, throwing Natasha back in the air. She let out one final scream of joy before getting out. Handing the harness to Clint she said: "your turn Clint," he smiled, took the harness and allowed the worker to put it on him.

"If I die, I'm going to kill you," Clint laughed, running his fingers through his hair. "You only live once," Clint mummered to himself and, grabbing Natasha's face he gave her a kiss (this kiss, was quite like a hero's last kiss to the heroine) and swan dived off the metal grate. Natasha smiled and took a drink of water. This was the first time that Clint had left the house in months; ever since he was dismissed from SHIELD because of his newly adopted drinking habit. Listening to him yell, scream and laugh all at the same time, Natasha smiled.

It was good to see Clint smile again, she mused, suddenly she began to plot of ways she could get Clint back into SHIELD and maybe, if he was lucky, into the Avengers. His mistakes weren't that big, he could easily atone them if he tried. Natasha was so caught up with her own thoughts that she didn't notice the silence. Straining her ears, Natasha tried to listen out for Clint but she heard nothing. There was just silence. Turning to the workers, she asked: "what's happened? Why has it gone quiet?" the workers looked at Natasha and then back at the water. Dread filled through her. They didn't need to say anything: Clint was dead.

"The chord… the chord… I'm so sorry miss but the chord snapped. I'm sure we could call the police and let them find him. He looked strong, maybe… maybe he's still alive,"

Natasha looked over the edge, her knuckles white from gripping the metal too hard. "Not possible." She stated, her voice unwavering. "He's dead," at that, Natasha pulled her phone out and called Tony Stark. Pepper answered, "Pepper can you put Stark on? Stark, it's me, can you come? Track my phone you idiot! Clint's dead Stark, I need your help in recovering the body. It's in rapids." Ending the call, Natasha waited for him. He shouldn't be too long. As she waited, Natasha stared at the rapids below, the white break splashing at the rocks, hissing and screeching as they broke. The workers ran to the phone to call the police but Natasha stopped them, "Don't bother," she said. They stared at her; frightened. "I have friends in high places they'll do it for you." Natasha walked to the end of the metal grate and sat down, her feet dangling over the edge.

His body was never found.

On the 25th, Clint died.


(After)

(…Just a little older that's all…)

It had been a month since Clint died. Not much had happened in that time period: a few cars crashed here and there, there were a few less evildoers in the world, people still swore at one another, the president stayed in office and SHIELD carried on. Even Natasha, who only a few weeks prior wouldn't move out of her bed, was doing better. Everyone was just a little older (not so much wiser).

Tony married Pepper. Bruce didn't hulk out. Thor kissed Jane. Steve met up with Peggy one last time. Coulson got his vintage cards signed. Natasha remained mute. The suicide letter remained on her desk, just sitting there, not gathering dust (because Natasha examined it every night and made little changes to the words or penmanship) but rather, and soaking in the sun. It was just paper after all, as Natasha reminded herself often, it had no power of her. Only God knows what she wrote and only God will read its content.

The marriage was carried out with much fan-fair: helicopters, lifelike ironman suits blasting canons and basically the whole of America (if not the world) watching.

Bruce had found an old and age-torn pictured of Betty Ross. He never told anyone but Natasha had seen it several times; he kept it pressed between his chest and clothes: right next to his heart. Ever since he found the picture, he hadn't "hulked out" once.

Thor sent a handwritten letter to Jane, explaining the situation and where he was. She was in there within the day. Their reunion was bittersweet, filled with kisses and hugs. They drank coffee after their embrace, laughing and talking as though they had never been apart.

With the help of Coulson and Maria, Steve managed to find Peggy. To his surprise, she was still alive. Widowed, but alive. He left in the dead of night and came back a day later, his face beaming and muttering something about finding his right partner.

Coulson, crippled as he was, asked Steve to sign his cards. After explaining the situation with the cards to him, Steve kindly went out and bought him the first edition Captain America Trading Cards. His face lit with glee when he saw them: signed and perfect.

Natasha still didn't speak a word, but merely talked with her gestures. SHIELD had begun to accept Natasha like that now. Mute. Well, everyone except Bruce. Every day he would ask her how her day was and what she was doing today. She never replied. Bruce would walk her to the helicopter she was catching and would hug her. He didn't know whether Natasha liked hugs but he hugged her nonetheless. Occasionally, she would hug back, but very, very rarely. Bruce would open up to Natasha, telling her everything about his life and would laugh at his own jokes. Natasha only smiled back weakly. He would walk her to her car and would kiss on the forehead if she cried. "I've been low before Natasha," he would say frequently, "if you ever fell that low; low enough to…end everything come to me. Come to me Natasha and I'll help you." One day, she took him up on that offer.

It was the middle of the night and rain was pouring from the heavens. Bruce was sitting in his favourite chair, a book in his hands when the doorbell rang. He opened the door and smiled softly when he saw Natasha standing in his door, she wet and crying. Without saying a word, he pulled her into a hug. She began to cry. Pulling away from Bruce, Natasha's shaking hands pulled an ink stained and reasonably dry letter out from her pocket. It was crumpled into a tight ball. Bruce read the letter, clicking his tongue and nodding slowly. "Do you want a cup of tea?" Bruce asked when he finished reading. Natasha nodded slowly. Walking into the kitchen, Bruce threw the letter out the window and watched as the rain hit it to the ground.

"I miss him," spinning around, Bruce saw Natasha standing in the kitchen doorframe. "Bruce, I have to ask you to do something for me," her voice was calm.

"Of course, what is it?" Bruce asked. If he could do anything to help Natasha, by hell, he would do it. She took a deep breath and told him.

On the 1st, Natasha spoke.


(Right now)

(…The same old scenario, the same old rain…)

Natasha was surprised at just how much it hadn't changed. The trees still swayed to the same rhythm, the water still hit the rocks at the same angle and the birds still sung the same song. Everything was the same. Serenity; it felt like serenity. A passerby wouldn't have guessed that tragedy happened here only a month prior. The wind hit her face, whispering secrets into her ears.

"Natasha, we don't have to do this you know." Bruce cautioned from behind.

Natasha shook her head, "No, I have to," she shot back calmly, "I have to do this." She sounded as though she was convincing herself as well as Bruce.

Taking a deep breath, Natasha jumped. Natasha felt free, and, in the first time in months: content. Natasha wasn't sure why she needed to jump but she knew, deep down, that if she didn't jump he would haunt her forever. She had always feared losing people close to her so she never let people in; then came Clint. She fell for him and let him in, then, she lost him. Natasha could deal with guilt: it was her fault that many people were dead and that was just something she had to live with but when it came to dealing with loss and love, she was at a loss. That was what this jump symbolized to her, she realized as she fell, dealing with loss and love. Clint had died here so she would let him go here. A perfect circle.

She loved Clint; she would always love Clint. He had saved her life too many times to count, as she had done with him. What they had was an innocent love, a love not-worthy within the pages of history. They were just two people who went about their abnormal lives, learning to love and screwing up.

God knows what you're hiding in your weak and drunken heart, Clint. She inexplicably remembered the first words she had said to Clint in three years.

"Yeah well, God and I both know what you're hiding in your heart Natasha," she heard Clint's voice, "love again Natasha. You look even more beautiful when you're in love," she looked around for Clint but saw nothing. Upon hearing his voice, Natasha felt at peace.

Letting out a familiar scream of joy, Natasha extended her arms and spread her fingers out, allowing the wind to dance through them. She felt a surge of happiness as the bungee pulled her away from the moment. This was it. Life. In all its glory. Sometimes it was good, other times, it was really bad. But there are those small moments - those miniscule moments - that let you remember why you're alive. These moments are the moments that you remember when you're feeling low - the moments that God has granted everyone to remember why we're alive. God. This was one of those moments of Natasha.

On the 2nd, Natasha smiled.