Written for a prompt by Vassalady on tumblr:

"I really want fic where Steve and Natasha are in love, but she puts Clint first one hundred percent of the time. Steve knows this and accepts it, even if he isn't necessarily happy about it... Because Natasha sees it as she owes everything to Clint. She will do anything to make sure he is alive and well, even if it means doing something that she can barely stand to do.

Even if it means shattering her heart and the love that she never believed in. Even if it means shattering Steve's heart."


I am not yours, not lost in you,
Not lost, although I long to be
Lost as a candle lit at noon,
Lost as a snowflake in the sea.

You love me, and I find you still
A spirit beautiful and bright,
Yet I am I, who long to be
Lost as a light is lost in light.

Oh plunge me deep in love - put out
My senses, leave me deaf and blind,
Swept by the tempest of your love,
A taper in a rushing wind.

-Sarah Teasdale


I.

Battle tended to strip her to her barest self; of instinct and muscle memory and snap judgments.

So when she heard her name from two directions, two desperate cries for aid; she was already moving towards one of them before she realized what she had done.
She was running to the man she owed her life, rather than the man she loved.

It was automatic for her to go to Clint; natural. She didn't even think beforehand, she just went.

But this time, she looked back.

Steve could handle whatever it was, she knew. She trusted in that implicitly.

She tried to tell herself she was going to help the least advantaged of the two of them, that this wasn't what it was.

Even so, the new bond that connected her to Steve seemed to pull painfully tight as he shattered, watching her leave.

His eyes caught hers, and they both knew she would never be able to give him what he deserved.

There was too much of her tied to another man.