Clint followed his mark along the rooftops of Rijeka, her vibrant red hair making it easy for him to trail her through the crowded market place. Clint was a seasoned veteran when it came to watching people; he spent his entire life doing it from the time he was old enough to walk on his own. Whether he was on or off the clock, he was keeping an eye on everyone around him, watching their movements, remembering their faces. He was one of SHIELD's best and brightest, even if he had a stubborn streak to rival Fury's. SHIELD knew if they sent him to get rid of someone, they would be removed; it would only be a matter of time.

He had been trailing his mark for the past few days, trying to establish a routine of her movements. As he watched her buy fruit at a stall, he could hardly believe that this was the infamous Black Widow. She looked absolutely average. Actually that was untrue; the Black Widow, also known as Natasha Romanoff, was anything but average. Her bright red hair easily stood out, the shoulder-length curls bouncing as she walked along the street. Her graceful movements made him think of a dancer, moving smoothly across the stage, awing everyone with her effortless movements; although the Black Widow would be better defined as a graceful predator, stalking her prey who was unaware of her presence until it was too late. Her creamy skin exposed by her summer dress had a healthy glow, her porcelain cheeks flushed with color. And her eyes, her beautiful green eyes watched everything around her: the little boy playing with a dog between the stalls, the old man trying to haggle with the lady selling vegetables, the teenager trying to pick pockets a few people away from her. No, Natasha Romanoff was far from normal. But that wouldn't matter; she was just another mark.

Natasha could tell someone had been following her. It began quite suddenly, the feeling of someone's eyes on her back as she exited a clothing store one evening. She looked around nonchalantly, as if searching for a street sign to orient herself, while she tried to determine where her watcher was. She wasn't surprised that someone was watching her, it wasn't the first person and it probably wouldn't be the last. She had a long list of sins behind her, a trail of dead bodies left in her wake. The person who began as an innocent little girl growing up in Russia was long gone, as dead as any of the targets she was sent after. She made a fortune killing for those who ordered, first for the Red Room, then for her own clients, amassing her wealth in various banks around the world. After years of committing crimes for others, of brushing aside her conscience to continue doing the only thing she knew she was good at, she decided to abandon the lifestyle and start somewhere new. Unfortunately assassins didn't just leave their jobs; they were permanently removed. Her line of work left her with a lot of enemies who would pay to have her head served up on a platter before them. Whoever was watching her, whoever they were sent by, they wouldn't be the last person to try to kill the infamous Black Widow. The thought left her incredibly tired. A lifetime of killing was exhausting enough, even if she never showed it through her cool façade, but a lifetime of defending off killers sounded unbearable. The last thing she wanted was to spend her entire life looking over her shoulder, waiting for someone to sneak up on her and end her life; that was part of the reason she left the assassin business in the first place. As she walked back to her apartment, she began to think maybe it was no longer worth fighting off the killers; maybe it was time to let go.

'What the hell is she doing?' Clint wondered as his mark walked into an empty alleyway. It was almost midnight when Clint noticed movement in her apartment. He worried momentarily that he had been noticed, that she was attempting to make an escape, but she simply walked through the town aimlessly, finally ending up here. Clint watched her from the rooftop next to her, his arrow trained on her heart. 'What are you doing, Romanoff?'

Natasha leaned her back against the wall that closed off the alley, a dead end for her death. After being watched for a few days, after numerous opportunities to kill her were left untaken, Natasha decided this person would be the one, this person would have the glory of killing the Black Widow. "I know you're there," Natasha called out into the night. "I'm not gonna kill you."

Clint raised an eyebrow as he listened to Natasha, his curiosity getting the better of him as he repelled down the side of the building. "Ms. Romanoff, very nice to meet you," he said, his arrow still trained on her. "I assume you know why I'm here."

'A bow and arrow, that's quite different,' she thought as she sized up the man in front of her. He seemed perfectly capable of killing her, but she was also perfectly capable of killing him. "Of course, you're here to kill me," Natasha replied, shrugging her shoulders nonchalantly. While she looked calm on the outside, internally she was at war with herself. Every instinct in her told her to draw the gun from her hip or the knife from her back and kill the man before her, but she forced herself to stop; she wasn't going to run anymore, she wasn't going to fight anymore. If her life was going to end it was going to end on her terms and her terms alone, even if the means were unorthodox.

"And this doesn't bother you in the slightest," Clint stated, watching her closely. She didn't seem like she was preparing to attack; she wasn't tensed at all. She just seemed…resigned. Something tugged at Clint's mind, a feeling he couldn't shake off as he looked into her green eyes. Something looked so familiar. "I must admit I expected much more fight from the infamous Black Widow."

"You get tired of fighting all the time. Sometimes you just want it all to stop. You understand," Natasha replied, not sure if he would understand. She waited for the moment the conversation would stop, for his taut bowstring to release and end everything. 'He has warm eyes,' she thought with something closely resembling relief as she watched him. 'At least if I'm going to be killed by someone, it's not by someone with cold eyes.'

'She looks like me,' Clint thought in surprise, finally realizing what looked familiar. Her eyes possessed the same haunted, tired look his eyes had before he met Phil, the eyes that said they saw too much and harmed too many, that were desperately looking for a way out, a way to change no matter what the price. He was lucky enough to find his escape in SHIELD, the woman standing in front of him was willing to take her escape in the form of his arrow through his heart. But she could be changed; she was stubborn enough that she could be saved and changed. 'Phil's gonna murder me,' he thought as he turned off the communicator in his ear. "Ms. Romanoff, I have a proposition," Clint said, lowering his arrow.

Natasha raised an eyebrow as he lowered his weapon, wondering what kind of rookie was sent to capture her. No one ever lowered their weapon around her. "Yes?"

"See the thing is my boss is gonna have my head if I don't kill you," Clint explained, running a hand through his hair. "And honestly I don't want to kill you, but I don't wanna die either; Phil can give a hell of a tongue lashing. The only way I could get out of it is if I bring him something valuable. That's where you come in. You've got potential and I'd be lying if I said I didn't see a little bit of me in you. You're looking for a way out and you're thinking my arrow is the only way. I'd like to offer you a different escape. How would you like to work for the good guys for once? SHIELD could always use your particular skill set." Clint held his hand out to her, offering her a new chance, a new life.

Natasha stared at Clint, her eyes filled with shock at his words. An escape, a chance to start again, it seemed almost too good to be true. She hesitated in taking his hand, wondering what she was getting herself into.

Clint could see her wavering, torn between a past that was too horrible and a future that seemed too good to be true. "Come on, Romanoff, you've got a lot of red in your ledger; this is your chance to wipe some of it out."

Natasha thought about the blood that was on her hands, soaked into her skin. The chance to wash some of it away, to be able to see herself past all the deaths she had brought was too tempting. She slipped her hand into his, oddly comforted by his roughened hands. "SHIELD, huh? I've never been to America."

And that's how our favorite assassins met (in my opinion) Reviews please!