Tony flew ahead of the helicopter as the team made their way back to SHIELD from a particularly difficult mission. He didn't usually do this kind of thing. Domestics was way out of his sphere of job specialties; but Clint had practically begged him, and when Tony saw what terrible shape Natasha was in, he couldn't say no. Tony landed on the roof of SHIELD and saw Agent Phil Coulson holding onto little Dominic Romanoff-Barton's hand. The little child bounced on his toes excitedly, "Uncle Tony! Uncle Tony!"
Tony exchanged a glance with Phil that conveyed that there had been trouble on the mission. Phil nodded his understanding in reply before releasing Dominic's hand. The little boy rushed over to Tony who then picked up the ginger headed five year old, "Hey Dom, I've got an idea, why don't we go out on the town just you and me? Sound good?"
"But what about Mommy and Daddy?" He asked, turning his big brown eyes up to the helicopter still a few miles away.
Tony looked back at the helicopter a moment before answering, "They're going to be a little busy when they get here, and your dad asked me to make sure you had some fun. Come on, let's go see what mess DUM-E's gotten into today."
After Tony got out of his Iron Man suit, he and Dominic went down to find that DUM-E had actually managed not to get into any trouble that afternoon. They played around with some of Tony's less volatile gadgets and inventions in his workroom until Tony heard a commotion nearby. He set Dominic down on the floor and poked his head out to see a team of men and women in scrubs rushing down the hall toward the medical unit. A sinking feeling settled its way into Tony's gut and he scooped Dominic up and quickly made his way outside.
Tony didn't know where else to take the kid, so he decided that they would walk to the mall. He got him some ice cream and they walked around at the different stores for a while, little Dominic looking in every store window pointing out all the different things. He was absolutely captivated by everything. They walked along for a while until a group of teenage girls crowded around them, shoving papers in Tony's face so that the famous Iron Man could sign them.
After the girls finally left, Tony looked down to find that his little ward had gone missing, "Dom! ...Dom! …Dominic!" He called out.
"Over here Uncle Tony!" Tony followed the direction the little voice had come from and find Dominic at the register in a shoe store. He was reaching up almost above his head to give the lady behind the counter a box of shoes to ring up.
The woman looked down at the few nickels and dimes in the little boy's outstretched hand and smiled at him, "I'm sorry sweetie, but I don't think you have enough money to buy these."
Tony scooped the child up and pulled a credit card out of his wallet. "I'll take them," he said to the store clerk. "Sorry for any trouble he may have caused."
"Oh no, it's quite alright," she replied kindly, slipping the shoe box into Dominic's arms with a smile, "Have a good evening."
They mall crawled a bit more, this time Tony sat Dominic up on his shoulders so they wouldn't get separated. The small boy held onto the box of shoes by resting it on Tony's head, but finally got tired of it and handed it to the billionaire to carry himself. Tony opened up the box to see what he had just purchased, but instead of finding the light up Transformer shoes he was expecting to find, he saw a pair of red, silk, slip on flats with bows embroidered on top.
"What's up with these shoes Dom?"
"They're for Mommy."
"Oh?" Tony couldn't help smiling a little, "You think they'll make your mom look pretty?"
"Mama's always pretty."
He smirked, "That she does." Just then, Tony's "Shoot to Thrill" ringtone went off. He grabbed the cell phone out of his pocket and put it to his ear.
"Tony," it was Clint's voice on the other line and he sounded distressed, "Tony, is Dominic there? Can you give him the phone please and then bring him back as soon as you can. We're in room 27."
"Yeah, we'll be there soon," Tony handed the phone up to Dominic, "Here, your dad wants to talk to you." When he finished talking, Tony took the phone back and they walked quietly back to SHIELD, "So what's going on Dom? What did your old man say?" The boy didn't respond for a few moments. "Dom," Tony tapped the boy's foot hanging off his shoulder lightly.
"He said Mommy isn't feeling too good."
The sinking feeling Tony had gotten earlier in his stomach deepened and he picked up his pace a little. They arrived at SHIELD headquarters soon and made their way down to medical. Steve came out of room 27 just as they were entering the hallway. The look on his face was more than enough to tell Tony that things weren't looking good, but as soon as Steve looked up and saw Dominic, he tried to mask his worry, "Hey Dom." He took the boy from Tony and sat down with him on his lap in a nearby chair.
Tony exchanged glance with Steve and was about to ask if it was alright that he go inside, but Steve could tell what he was about to ask and just nodded that it was clear for him to go inside. Once Tony disappeared into the medical room, Steve turned to Dominic.
"Your dad told you what happened right?"
Dominic nodded his head and stared down at the shoe box in his hands before looking up at the super soldier, "Uncle Steve," he asked quietly his eyes seeming to get even bigger than they already were because of the tears that were building to build up in them, "Will she get to meet God?"
There was no impact that Steve had ever endured in all the missions he had ever been on, no explosions, no stab wounds, no broken limbs, that hurt quite as much as the words that this child in his lap had just uttered. His eyes began to burn a bit, but he tried to keep a strong face on for Dominic's sake, "Yeah. Yeah, I think she will."
They looked up when the heard the door open and saw Tony standing there holding it ajar. He looked down at Dominic who then hopped off of Steve's lap and walked into the room alone. He climbed up onto the hospital bed and sat with his legs folded under him.
The heart monitor beeping called the boy's attention, and he watched the line on the screen jumping up and down. He didn't realize that it was beeping less frequently than it should. He cast his eyes down on the woman in the bed. She didn't even look like the beautiful mother that he knew. He face and body were covered in bruises, cuts, and stitches. She had iv drips in her arm and tubes in her nose and her green eyes lay closed to the world.
Clint didn't look very well himself, sitting in a chair at the bedside. He was absolutely distraught and he had a good number of cuts, bruises and stitches too. His eyes were red and he had tear tracks shamelessly shining on his cheeks in the harsh light of the medical room. He looked at his son but he couldn't bring himself to tell him that the doctors didn't think she would wake up. Just then, Dominic took her hand in both of his; and her eyes fluttered. It was just a twitch really, and after a few struggling moments she was able to force her eyes open and saw he little boy holding onto her hand.
Dominic quickly grabbed the shoes out of the box and held them up for Natasha to see them, "Look Momma. I got these for you." She smiled weakly as he crawled down to the end of the bed to slip them on her feet for her. They were just the right size.
"Thank you baby, I love them," she whispered.
"I love you, Momma," he said and crawled to curl up against her side.
The beeping was becoming less frequent.
Natasha knew that she didn't have much time left. She reached for Clint's hand and squeezed it gently. He squeezed her fingers back and stood up from his chair to kiss her ever so gently. She seemed so frail that even a kiss might make her shatter. She kept hold on his hand as he sat back down. She pressed her lips to the top of Dominic's head, stroking his red locks off of his face with her hand.
They stayed like that for another two hours. The last two hours that they would have together, until the monitor ceased to beep.
At the funeral a day later, an agent attending the service noticed the curious pair of red silk shoes on Natasha's feet. He made a comment to a fellow agent about how he had only ever seen her walking around in high heels. In fact, the woman who had been preparing the body for the casket had originally put a pair of black stilettos on her feet, but Dominic had changed them before the funeral service. When Clint asked him why he changed the shoes Dominic explained that the other shoes were too pointy and could pop a hole in the clouds, "I want Momma to be able to stay in Heaven."