A/N Hey guys, I'm back! I tried to make this one extra long to make up for how long it took to update!
I wanted to make a note of the name Richau Auden, I honestly just Googled 'French last names' and picked the first one haha. I didn't even realize it until she pointed it out, but the last name Auden is actually the name of one of Samitballi's characters, sorry about that! She's been a super great help and is always reviewing and you guys should check out her stuff because it's really good!
I went back and re-read over the first 10 or so chapters of this story and realized how many grammar and tense errors there were, sometime this week I'm going to go in and fix those, but to those of you who have been reading this story from the beginning and giving me a chance to improve, thank you so much. You guys are absolutely incredible.
Thanks for all the favs and follows, you guys rock!
Extra thankyous go out to you guys who have been reviewing, the feedback really keeps me going!
I don't own Marvel's stuff
Natasha had always had pride in her ability to judge a person's character upon a first impression. It had always just been like a sixth sense that she had. It had come in handy on numerous occasions in the past when she had needed to know an individual's intentions in short amounts of time.
That's why she didn't know what to do when she couldn't get a read on Richau right away. He didn't seem particularly bad, but there was an air of secrecy surrounding him the more and more they talked.
They had started with him asking Natasha about her background, qualifications, why she was in the business so young, and her capabilities physically.
She of course responded with the SHIELD formulated background and mentioned that she could handle any opponent faced against. She received a smirk when mentioning her hand to hand skills and a request to see those skills in action which she wouldn't turn down in a hundred years.
Auden led her from his office to the private gym that was three levels up and showed her to the women's locker room to change, since he said she damn well couldn't show her all in heels. Natasha knew she could, and was tempted to show him exactly where she could shove her heels, but held back, figuring he would learn soon enough just how capable she actually was.
She quickly changed, pulled her hair back, and strode out of the locker room with confidence. She was met with an interesting sight ahead of her. Lined up in the gym were nine men of various builds, all clad in what can be considered workout gear. What was surprising though was seeing Richau dressed similarly. Would she be fighting him as well?
Natasha just shrugged internally; she could take him.
One by one, the men all stepped up to fight Natasha. The first two were hesitant to actually hit her; she could tell it was because she was female. She however had no issues hitting an opponent who refused to advance. The others quickly learned that it was attack or be attacked by a whirlwind or punches, kicks, and thigh choke-holds.
At one point, Auden had them go after her in groups of two and three, which she also quickly brought down. She could sense that her (hopefully) future employer was impressed, even if he hid it well.
"Alright, that's enough; you can all go rest now, please make sure that Chris and Robert make it to the infirmary, thank you for all of your help." Richau nodded at his men who looked more than ready to leave. He knew that Natasha had tried not to actually do real damage, though it was greatly implied that she could, the two of them just received unintentionally hard blows to the head. "Alright Ms. Belrose, I believe it is my turn."
Natasha simply nodded and moved back onto the mats she had left to grab a drink of water while Auden had dismissed his men. He followed suit and nodded before falling into a fighting stance. Natasha leapt forwards with a high kick aimed at the spot where his arm would meet his shoulder blade. Just when she expected it to hit, he managed to redirect it to the left. Spinning around to face Auden straight on, Natasha threw a right hook that he quickly ducked under and fell into a crouch.
Richau swept his leg towards hers in an attempt to knock her down. Natasha expertly placed both of her hands on his shoulders and flipped her body over his, landing in a crouch behind him. Both of them spun around to face each other head on once again. They circled each other more, but Natasha got impatient and jumped towards him, locked her legs around his waist, twisted, and threw him to the ground, landing on top of him.
Richau flung Natasha off of him and advanced with practiced blows aimed at all the human body's weak points. Natasha defended all of them and flipped into offensive mode after landing a blow to Auden's ribs and gaining the upper hand.
Natasha decided to try a new move on him that she was practicing with Clint in training back at SHIELD.
She grabbed his arm and flung her legs upwards sideways and locked her ankles around his neck. Once upside down she pulled her ankles down and he was forced to flip over or risk a serious neck injury. Natasha landed on the backs of her thighs and her butt behind him on the mat.
Richau had the wind knocked out of his system from landing on his back which allowed Natasha to hop over and straddled his chest.
Auden seemed to gain a burst of adrenaline or his second wind because he quickly flipped them both over, so he was on top, using upper body strength that it didn't appear he had before they started fighting. Natasha, in a split second decision between slamming her hand into his solar plexus and going for the balls, kneed him in the crotch. As he leaned back from the pain, Natasha puller her upper body up and once again, rolled on top of him, pinning his arms down with her legs and resting her hands around his throat without any pressure, demonstrating how it would go in an actual fight.
Richau called mercy when he quickly realized that there was no way out of her hold. She immediately got up and offered a hand down to him to help him up which, to her surprise, he took.
He walked over to where the water fountain was and took a couple of seconds to just let the water hit his now-sweaty face. Natasha just stood off to the side, wanting to bring her breathing back to normal before getting water.
After her lungs had calmed down, Natasha turned towards the fountain to see Richau leanig against the wall with his eyes closed and his chest heaving. She walked over and took a big swallow of the icy cold water that felt wonderful on her throat.
After she was done with the water, she turned towards Richau Auden with a point to make.
"For the record Monsieur Auden, I could have done it in heels."
Natasha had to admit, Auden was not half bad with hand to hand fighting. He was actually pretty decent at it. If she was just a normal girl without the extensive training she had received, it would have been extremely difficult to beat him. She had to wonder where he had picked it up from, because she knew all too well that people who can fight well like that aren't just born. They're trained.
After both of them had changed back into their original clothes, Richau led them back to his office.
"I must say Ms. Belrose, I have been looking for someone of your skill for quite a while now, and I will admit that I struggled in my search until now." He paused and looked unsure how to phrase his next statement. Natasha dipped her head in encouragement to continue. "I, ah, understand that your specialty is in private security, but I would like to hire you for a combination of fields that are related."
"What would those fields be, Monsieur?" She asked curiously. Natasha wasn't sure how much change in a mission is considered SHIELD sanctioned and didn't particularly want to blow her first opportunity to prove herself.
"It would include private security for the most part, but I am also in need of an investigatory specialist and a computer expert. I understand you specialize in one area, but something tells me you can do much more than you are letting on." Natasha kept a blank face while processing everything he had said. "I also understand that trust is not easily given by members of your field, which is why I am willing to give some information before expecting an agreement if you would like." While Natasha thought his faith in someone he just met was foolish, she could appreciate Auden's openness and understanding.
"I would like to hear it before making my decision." She told him, enjoying the free information he was giving without expectations in return.
"As you know, my company is largely involved in the shipping industry as well as security. On one end, we are your average shipping company and on the less known end, we provide loans and grants towards businesses and companies that represent honest motives that require protection from groups with not so honest and good intentions. As of late, it had come to my attention that another shipping group here in Nice has begun to seriously delve into a poor choice in exports as well as threatening my company, and more specifically, myself."
Huh. For once in her life, Natasha got in with the good guys on accident. Deep down, she was slightly happy to learn that Richau Auden was not one of the baddies; it meant that her ability to judge someone's character was still good. "What would my job be, exactly?" She inquired.
He smiled glad that she wasn't saying no. "I am in need of personal security, similar to that of a bodyguard that is discreet and won't appear as one. Also, I am looking for someone who can look into the previously mentioned group and gather information, which may include things from their computers."
Natasha smiled, it sounded like he needed a hacker. She could definitely handle that. For the bodyguard part, she could actually bring Clint into it; she knows that if he doesn't have something to do, he'll get bored very quickly. On top of Auden giving her a job she'll actually enjoy, he's going to unintentionally pay her to do SHIELD's work of spying on the bad guys.
"I think I would like that job very much Monsieur Auden, but I have a contact who I have worked closely with on several occasions who could handle the personal security, thus allowing me to concentrate my efforts better." Natasha told him hopefully. Not only would Barton being involved allow her to concentrate better, she would feel better with her partner close by to watch her back.
"Well then Ms. Belrose, I believe you should make a phone call then, and please call me Richau if we are to be working together from here on out."
Richau stuck out his hand for Natasha to shake as she stood. "Nicolette." They shook hands and Natasha stepped into the hall to call Clint.
After Clint arrived in professional looking clothes with the cover of Steve Johnson, an American friend of Nicolette who was in France looking for work, Auden asked him similar questions to what he asked Natasha and had him fight the same men Natasha had fought, minus the two who had to go to the infirmary. After Clint put all of his men on the floor, even when Richau ordered four to go after him at once, and after Clint landed another one in the infirmary, Richau was satisfied and didn't bother changing again and fighting the obviously competent archer.
"I am impressed with both of you and am willing to more than compensate you for your services as well as cover any sort of medical expenses that arise during your employment." Auden told both of them, satisfied that he finally found people for the job.
Clint and Natasha quickly worked out agreements with Auden and agreed to meet him the next day in the same building with Natasha as his 'assistant' and Clint as an old friend who would be like an advisor to the company.
Before they left, Richau provided Natasha with information to get a head start on researching about the group that was threatening Auden's company for refusing to ship their goods to the places they didn't have ships for yet.
When they left the building, Natasha and Clint parted ways and went in opposite directions in view of the building and met back at their villa.
Natasha was the first one back, and by the time Clint made it, it was almost completely dark out. He had to take the underground route to avoid being seen and it took him nearly 20 extra minutes.
Clint was thrilled that he would now have something to actually do for the mission, but he was less than happy about the short notice and the cover story he had to pull out of his ass. The only warning he got was a quick text of go with it before Natasha was calling him as Belrose telling him to get over there. She would definitely be hearing about that later.
Natasha had made a quick stop for carry out food on her way back to the villa, so hot food was waiting for him which she hoped would help make up for the short notice call.
Though Clint walked into the villa with his eyes narrowed towards his partner, the minute he smelled the food she brought back, his mood instantly improved. Natasha watched his face carefully, taking in his irritated expression. She would have believed he was still irritated had the slight twitch at the corners of his mouth at the sight and smell of the food not given it away.
She could swear sometimes that he was secretly just a child stuck in a bigger body. Natasha watched his eyes zero in on the slices of chocolate cake on the table.
"You know, I think you owe me your slice as well after that little stunt you pulled." He teased with an air of seriousness. All of that chocolate cake would be his. Natasha just shrugged and pulled an extra bag out of the fridge.
Inside were about ten more slices, individually packaged. "Go ahead; I've got plenty more right here if you're still hungry after that." Natasha said it with a smirk, but Clint saw it for the unspoken apology that it was. He knew that she would sooner shoot herself in the foot than say 'I'm sorry' to him.
Clint didn't care, chocolate cake was better than any apology he would ever get.
After they ate dinner, Clint and Natasha began researching the company with the information Richau had given them. Within two hours, they had a nice bunch of information to go over tomorrow. From what they could tell, Auden had managed to pinpoint the right group. Natasha put her hacking skills to work and found plenty of files, emails, and memos that proved it.
At midnight they called it quits and went to bed for the night. While Clint fell asleep right away, Natasha couldn't get her mind off of Richau Auden's reasoning. Why would he care what the other company was doing enough to get himself threatened? After giving up on sleeping for a little while, Natasha began delving into Auden's company deeper, looking for something that could be bad or worrisome to the mission, but she found nothing. The guy seemed to just be good, through and through. He even donated money to completely unrelated charities, like homeless shelters and an orphanage in Paris that filed for bankruptcy a year ago and would have shut down without the money.
Once she was satisfied, Natasha shut off her computer and crawled into her bed, determined not only to finish the mission, but to keep this honest to God good man alive.
Over the next week, Clint and Natasha worked closely with Richau. She showed him everything she had found from hacking on her laptop and continued to monitor the activity from Richau's office computer as well as even teach him some of the basics. The three may start work around 9am and not finish until nine or ten at night, but they didn't constantly work the whole time.
When Clint heard from Natasha about Richau's hand to hand skills, he immediately wanted to spar with him. After that, it became a habit for the three of them to take a break and spar almost every day at some point. They tried different combinations of who was against who, needless to say, he was impressed whenever Clint and Natasha went up against each other.
It was later that week when Richau got an invitation to a charity event that the leader of the trafficking company, Alexander Dupond would be at. It was the best opportunity they would have for Clint to get in the warehouse and shut it down. Richau was obligated to attend the event, due to the fact that many of the charities he's been donating to would be sending representatives. Natasha and Clint didn't tell him what their plans were, only that Clint wouldn't be able to attend due to other business and that Natasha would be acting bodyguard in his place.
Luckily the whole event wasn't going to be formal, so Natasha would be able to fit a new SHIELD-designed form of thin Kevlar underneath her shirt and blazer as well as have more space to hide her guns. Not that she would have had an issue before, but Natasha wasn't going to complain for something being easier for her.
When the night of the event came, Natasha and Clint parted ways in the villa, double checking all of their weapons together before they each left. They would have comms in throughout the night, but Clint wouldn't be turning the sound on from his end until he reached the warehouse.
Natasha met Richau at his office building where they met a car that would take them to the event. It was a short drive, only about ten minutes into the city. Nearly as soon as they arrived, Natasha spotted Alexander Dupond. His long blond hair and striking blue eyes as well as his muscular figure made him quick to find. If Natasha had to guess, she'd say he was a mercenary who saved up enough money to move up in the business.
The night was going well enough. Natasha and Richau avoided conflict with Dupond and enjoyed a wonderful dinner. Clint had breached the warehouse and was thus far injury free. He was steadily making his way through all of the security and mercenaries in the warehouse, arrows flying and eventually bullets when his arrows ran out. Natasha wasn't too worried until she heard 'Oh fuck.' through her comm followed by a grunt before the signal died. Clint's line was completely dead and she had no idea what had happened.
It immediately set her on high alert. She scanned around the room, checking all of Dupond's men to see if they were reacting. They must not have been connected to the warehouse because none of them gave any sign of hearing anything out of the ordinary until Dupond's phone began to ring. The hall was filled with talking, laughter, and a couple of drunken shouts from the bar, so Natasha couldn't hear what he was saying. She could tell it was an intense conversation from the way his face tensed up and his eyes flashed.
He immediately stood up and began walking towards Richau with an expression that should kill. Natasha had expected an angry confrontation until she saw his hand reach into his jacket and pull out a gun, aimed directly at Richau's head. Natasha didn't even think as she stood up, blocking Richau with her body as the shot went off. Natasha distantly recognized several screams. She felt the bullet hit her torso as she turned around, gun in hand. Not even a second passed before she put a shot in the middle of Roche's eyes.
His guards that had accompanied him to the event started moving in on Natasha. Two started running at her in the process of pulling out their guns. Both were dead before they could even turn the safety off. Natasha had moved away from where she was sitting with Richau, drawing the attention away from him and towards her. She dove behind a column as bullets rained down around her from the remaining five guards. By this point, Richau had drawn his gun and had dove behind his own column. The other people in the room were exiting in mass chaos and luckily none of the guards were paying them any attention.
The bullets stopped and Natasha ran down the row of columns, trying to get to the one that Richau was ducking behind. A trail of bullets followed her, but she was quick enough to avoid them. By the time that Natasha reached him, two guards had closed in on the right, closest to Natasha. She took a risk and dove out to shoot one of them. It hit his chest and he went down, surprising the other guard with him. While the other's back was turned, Natasha ran and jumped at him, wrapping her legs around his neck and snapping it. He was dead before he hit the ground.
Two down, three to go.
As soon as the guard whose neck she snapped hit the ground, Natasha was dodging bullets again. With their attention on her, Richau was able to jump around and put a bullet into the head of another. When the last two guards turned to watch their comrade crumple to the ground, Natasha put four bullets in one and three in the last.
With all of the guards down, Natasha lifted her shirt to check where the bullet hit. Luckily it was the Kevlar; she hadn't known and hadn't stopped to worry about it when it had happened. Once she checked that she didn't have a severe wound somewhere that would make the situation worse, Natasha knew she had to get to Barton.
Natasha turned towards Richau who was breathing deeply. Having an attempt on your life tends to do that to people.
"I need you to take me to the warehouse. Now." She put all authority into the last word and prayed that he would listen without question. He just nodded wordlessly and ran out of the room with Natasha on his heels.
The ride there was dead silent. Other than the sound of Natasha reloading her guns and checking her knives, that is. She hoped to a God she didn't believe in that Barton was okay and alive. She was also trying to get a read on what exactly Richau was thinking. He had an intent look in his eyes that held suspicion and confusion, towards her, towards the situation.
"Why are we going to this warehouse?" He asked tensely. She made her face go deceptively blank.
"Just drive." He narrowed his eyes but didn't slow down at all. Neither spoke for the rest of the ride. .
When they got to the warehouse, Natasha practically flew out of the car towards an exploding arrow-size hole in the side of the warehouse that was alive with the sound of gunfire and yelling. If they were still shooting then Barton had to be alive, right? To her dismay, Richau had followed her from the car.
"Go back." She hissed. The last thing Natasha needed was for him to get in the way or get himself shot. He feverently shook his head. Natasha narrowed he eyes and turned back to the hole. Barton needed her help and they didn't have time to sit around arguing.
Peeking in, all of the men had their backs to the hole and were focused on the stacks of crates across the floor.
Natasha grabbed both of her guns and silently entered the hold in the wall. Without warning, Natasha started firing with almost every shot being a kill shot. As soon as they realized that the shots were coming from behind, half of the mercenaries all flipped around and started firing at her. Seeing more crates to her left, Natasha ran, hoping the wooden boxes would provide some decent cover.
With the group of mercenaries split between waiting for Clint and waiting for Natasha, they noticed Richau a second too late when he started firing at them from the hole.
It caught all of them by surprise which provided Clint and Natasha another opportunity to bring the group size down. She quickly ran out of ammo and had to start on her knives. Natasha ran at one guard and launched herself at his back, effectively slitting his throat before using him to cover more incoming bullets.
Clint was across the room, in a similar situation, working with knives and hand-to-hand. Both of them kept the mercs from getting too close to the hole where Richau was at. As the numbers dwindled down, more of the mercenaries ran out of bullets and had to use hand to hand as well. Natasha and Clint worked themselves into a back to back position where they would be most effective.
Clint had one in a backwards choke hold and Natasha delivered the final upwards blow to the nose before throwing her legs around the next one's neck and twisting. At that point, Richau had joined their little circle, and after five more minutes of intense fighting, all of the mercs were down.
"We need to call the police and bail." Barton spoke up. Both Natasha and Richau just nodded, Natasha surveying the area. After he made the phone call he asked, "Alexander Dupond dead?" Natasha gave another affirmative nod. "Then let's go."
Richau drove the three of them back to his corporate building where he told them a large first aid kit was waiting. They all got out of the car and went in.
Natasha peeled off her Kevlar to check her ribs, luckily none of them were broken from what she could tell, unfortunately, Clint's were. He had four broken ribs on his right side and deep bruising on the others. When Natasha asked why the hell he wasn't wearing Kevlar he gave some bullshit excuse about his range of motion in his shoulders.
Clint and Natasha didn't even bother with their cover names at this point. They were shouting at each other in the warehouse and Richau knew their names were just covers by now. For his part, he just sat and listened to the two of them while they cleaned up. He hadn't gotten any injuries, but had a killer headache so he took three aspirin and closed his eyes.
When the assassins fell silent, Richau opened his eyes to find both shooting him wary glances. "I'm not going to freak out, if that's what you're expecting, though I do think the two of you haven't been completely honest with me." He told them.
"I'm Agent Barton and this is my partner, Agent Romanoff." Richau nodded.
"I figured you two were more than old acquaintances. You fight like you're partners." They didn't respond. Neither knew how to. "Who do you work for? French intelligence? American? English?"
"SHIELD." Clint said, only bringing confusion to Richau.
"Is that supposed to mean anything to me?" He asked, exasperated by the one-word answer. They've been lying for the last almost two weeks, and he deserved some answers, damn it.
"No, or at least it shouldn't. We are the good guys though." Richau didn't look entirely sure.
"Why did you come to me instead of just going for Dupond on your own? It would have saved you a hell of a lot of trouble." Natasha knew it was mostly her call to work with Richau even after they learned about whom and where the trafficking was coming from.
"You needed the security, that's our specialty." Natasha flat out told him. He had proved himself that night by helping them and holding his own once the firefight started.
Richau didn't respond as he turned around and reached into his desk drawer. Both assassins tensed and reached for their guns. While he was still sorting through stuff, without turning around Richau spoke.
"You can relax, I'm just getting you your money I promised at the start of this whole whatever you want to call it." Clint and Natasha both let their hands fall back to their sides. He was still going to pay them? Natasha expected a 'screw you', not 50,000 Euros, each. When he turned back to face the pair, he held a solid black bag in each hand. "There's fifty thousand for each of you, and something extra for Ms. Romanoff. I figure she deserves it after taking a bullet for me, even if it only hit Kevlar." He turned his grateful eyes towards her. "You can say all you want that you knew you had the Kevlar on, but I saw you react, and you didn't think twice when you stood up."
Natasha looked away, refusing to make eye contact. That is until she felt him grab one of her hands and watched him bring it to his lips in the polite style that Europeans are so familiar with.
"If either of you are ever in France again, please do not hesitate to call. I have greatly enjoyed your presence these past days and am sorry to say I will be missing the company greatly. " He pulled out two business cards, one for each Agent. They both nodded and Clint stood to shake Richau's hand.
As they were walking out of the office building, Clint turned to Natasha with a mischievous smirk on his face.
"Let's go get hammered."
So what did everyone think of the end of that mission?
What about our favorite duo planning to go get drunk off their asses?
Please leave me a review!