So I don't know where this came from, it attacked me out of nowhere sometime last night so, enjoy. I've recently become obsessed with this ship, so who knows if I'll write more Clintasha in the future.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Avengers or Clint/Tasha, so please don't sue me.
There are two versions of the mission in Budapest.
One is marked 'classified', a sealed report filed away in SHIELD headquarters under the lock and key of the latest security technology. It is an unusually lengthy report, that details the step by step process of Agents Barton and Romanoff infiltrating a den of Hungarian arms dealers over the course of several weeks, ending when their cover was blown thanks to an intelligence miscalculation and the sudden arrival of one of their old marks. It figured, Clint had muttered on the plane back to the states, that the scum of the earth all ran in the same social circles. After a fire fight that left both of them bruised, bloody and exhausted, they finally reached the safe point where they were extracted by fellow SHIELD agents (lucky bastards, who only had to sit around and wait) and taken out of Hungary for the foreseeable future. Their reports were typed on the plane and sent to headquarters before they were halfway across the Atlantic. Case closed. Nothing out of the ordinary here.
Debriefing was set for 0600 hours, just enough time for the Agents to find a cup of terrible coffee and splash some water on their faces following the landing. At 6 on the dot, Agents Barton and Romanoff were seated in a secure conference room with Coulson, who was flipping through the papers of their filed recounts from the past several weeks. After shuffling through the stack a third time (thorough, as always) he looked up at the Agents with an eyebrow raised.
"Anything to add?" he asked, in his usual tone, though he was sure there wouldn't be. Barton and Romanoff weren't the sort of Agents who forgot something in their report. The pair didn't hesitate before shaking their heads. Coulson glanced down at one of the final pages of the report, which presumably fell into the range of the last 24 hours of the mission, when everything went to hell.
"There's an hour here that is undocumented." Coulson noted, tapping the page with his index finger, before looking up at them "Starting at 1430. Anything to report?"
"We lost contact with intel in the firefight." Barton answered, his face passive, "When we realized we couldn't hold them off and that calling for backup was no longer an option, we took refuge to repair our communication units and alleviate the immediate threat. You'll see it noted in the report. Standard procedure."
Beside him, Agent Romanoff gave a curt nod to this timeline of events. Coulson's eyes scanned the report again, noted that this explanation coincided with the filed report and reached across his desk to pick up the stamp that would mark the case as closed. The files were sealed, processed and sent off to the archives. Agents Barton and Romanoff were dismissed to their quarters, with the promise of 48 hours to re-cooperate before they would be placed back on the roster of active agents. As the pair turned the corner towards the barracks, finding themselves in a deserted corridor, Clint caught Natasha's eye. She smirked at him, an expression that most might find uncharacteristic for the Russian.
"Standard procedure, Barton?" she said in a low voice, "You and I remember Budapest very differently."
And he grinned in response.
Because the second version of events was not quite standard procedure.
He'd asked her to marry him when they were under fire in Kiev two months before. It was a stupid thing to do, really, with the bullets raining down on them and the air so thick with dust and noise that it was a miracle she heard him in the first place. It wasn't even romantic, just a marry me in between shots over their makeshift barrier. And when she paused to stare at him, it was a miracle she hadn't been shot in the head. His eyes met hers, she nodded, shot a Ukrainian holding a machine gun and that was the end of it. They never brought it up again.
They had been under heavy fire from the arms ring in Budapest when a look shared between them indicated their next move. Run. As talented as they were when it came to tailing and infiltrating, Natasha and Clint had the same skill for disappearing in a bad situation. They wove through the alleyways, hoisting each other over the walls in their path and ducking in and out of crowded shore fronts before they found themselves on the rooftops, running. They were out in the open enough to know that a skilled shooter would be able to hit them. The lack of bullets nipping at their heels was a clear indicator that their enemies had fallen behind, but they continued running, just in case. When a bell tower rose up between the buildings ahead, they leapt for it, scrambling inside the open windows with a sigh of relief. Sanctuary.
Taking refuge in churches was a typical move for Natasha and Clint, who found that despite the ruthlessness of their marks, some of them proved to be surprisingly devout. More than once it had kept them alive long enough to regroup and repair before taking on the enemy with newfound fire. Bell towers like this one were preferable, as opposed to running in the front doors with guns blazing for the entire congregation to see and typically, they would be content to sit in the rafters until the coast was clear. Natasha breathed deeply, her breath coming back to her as Clint tested the comms to determine if they could reach their reinforcements. As he popped the backing from the radio, Natasha began picking over his skin for lacerations and injuries that had thus far gone unnoticed. Aside from a few minor cuts between them, they were both in fairly good shape.
"Radio's out." Clint said in a low voice, inspecting the circuits, "Damaged in the shuffle. We'll have to scrap one to repair the other."
"Typical." Natasha muttered, earning her a smirk from Clint. He set the comms down on the floor beside him, before taking in their surroundings. Natasha pulled a slim field toolset from her pack and reached over him for the abandoned transmitters. His hand on hers stopped her motions and she glanced up to find his blue eyes bearing into hers. In an instant his hands were tangled in her hair, his mouth pressed to hers and the comms were momentarily forgotten as she kissed him back with equal fervor. When they broke apart they were each breathing heavier than before. Clint brushed his finger tips over the side of her face, eliciting a small smile from her in response. He shifted out from under her carefully, reaching his gloved hand out to pull her to her feet.
"I have an idea, come on." And she took his hand and allowed herself to be lifted upright. She didn't ask where they were going, only followed him as they descended from the bell tower.
The church itself was empty, not entirely surprising for a weekday in the early afternoon, and the only other occupant was an elderly father dressed in the white robes of the church. He was busying himself by monitoring the candles in the room, assuring them none of them were burning low and marking himself with the sign of the cross as he passed the alter. It was a Christian establishment, that much was obvious, but what denomination they didn't know. Neither were particularly religious.
"Apa" Clint addressed the father in Hungarian, causing the man to start with surprise at their sudden appearance. They looked rough, Natasha knew it, and that knowledge was confirmed by the way the father's eyes ran over them with apprehension. Noticing this, Clint held his hands out, palms forward in the universal signs of peace. "We mean no harm." he continued in the man's native language, "We hoped you might grant us a favor."
Natasha watched her partner with uncertain eyes, for once not sure of what he was planning. The father collected himself and approached them slowly.
"And what favor is that, my son?" the man asked, hands clasped behind his back.
"Will you marry us?"
Natasha's hand darted out to snatch her partner's wrist, her fingers digging into his flesh in an effort to convey her message. What the hell do you think you're doing? Clint only glanced down at her and smirked, evidently pleased to have caught her off guard for once.
"Without witnesses and documents, a marriage won't be legal." the father replied, choosing to ignore Natasha's reaction to the request. Clint looked back at the man, his cocky smirk fading into a more serious expression.
"It will be legal to us." Her hand slipped from his wrist to lace her fingers in his, a small motion that caused him to look down at her again, the love and devotion that he usually masked written clearly on his face. And she smiled at him, a genuine smile that she reserved for when they were alone together, unthreatened and unburdened by the constant stream of life or death missions. The father watched them with searching eyes, baffled by the foreigners who appeared from no where, requesting a marriage that ultimately would not exist, before he finally smiled and nodded.
"Before God then." the father said, turning towards the alter and gesturing for the agents to follow him.
Clint made a good show of pretending the comm repair had taken longer than usual.
And years later, they would cite that day with a casual tone, speaking in a code that only they understood. Leaning against the counter in the communal kitchen at Stark Tower, Clint would hand Natasha a mug of coffee and she would smile into it and murmur, "This is just like Budapest all over again."
He would smirk, take a sip of his coffee and give her a considering nod before replying, "You and I remember Budapest very differently."
Onlookers would share a confused glance and the braver ones would question what had happened in Budapest (they had heard this from the assassins more than once after all, everything seemed to be like Budapest) and Clint and Natasha would offer the same response.
That's classified and a shared, secret smile.
Because no one needed to know that Budapest meant 'I love you'.