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Budapest is chapter seven. Avengers events from chapter ten to fourteen.
summary/note: This is an interlude chapter about both Clint and Natasha’s feelings over the events so far, and how they are faring with the changes. there’s not really much story, its fill in and follow up. I think chapters like this are important to truly understand what our protagonists are going through. Enjoy.
He slips out of bed and he knows it wakes her, but only for a moment when she realizes there’s no danger and her eyes slip shut again. He slips down the hallway to the other occupied bedroom. Pinpoint lights, a map of the stars spill out of the room softly. A gift from Uncle Tony to keep the monsters of the dark away. He walks without a sound, as if he doesn’t even actually touch the floor. He is, afterall, a predator of the skies. He just has to make sure she’s alright. He’s got a family now. It’s not just him, or just Natasha. It’s Vera too. She’s sound asleep. Twitching in the way children do when they are deep in sleep, but she’s got a smile on her face. He picks her teddy bear off the floor where it’s fallen and sets it next to her pillow and leaves. There’s so much more at stake now. Back into his room, past his sleeping wife, and out the window. He sits on the roof, the shingles hard and gritty against the palms of his hands as he leans back. The autumn breeze feels good across his bare torso and flowing through his cotton sleep pants. He likes it up here. It’s like all his old perches. Not that he misses his old life, he doesn’t. The women, the gambling, the booze. It was hollow. Trying to fill him up with anything to make him feel okay. But it just got him in trouble. He liked the bar fights, the good booze, and furious fucks. But now it seemed shallow. He had Natasha to spar with, and she was a better fighter than any mob hired thug. She also liked good alcohol and the sex was not just mind blowing, but he finally understood what “making love” meant. He’d spent so much time trying to block out not having her, trying to replace her, that he never saw she felt the same way. Now he had her. He had more than her. He had Vera too. Beautiful Vera, with her blonde curls and stormy blue eyes, and her freckles that became more and more apparent as the summer wore on. It had been five months since they brought her home. Her sixth birthday was next month, he was carving her a bow, Natasha wasn’t happy about it, but he didn’t care. Sometimes he just stood back and watched them together, Natasha and Vera. His girls, his family, his loves. Natasha was still afraid, worried about being a good mom, but it came so naturally to her, and it only made her more beautiful to him.
He wished Coulson was still around. The blood loss from his fight with Loki had cost him his career. Starved his brain of oxygen, permanent brain damage. It’s not as bad as it could have been. He lost his memory of his time in SHIELD, with Clint. Of his military career, and basically everything. But being a smart man, he’d had a whole other life planned. He was a mailman in Seattle now. Clint almost laughed. They’d always joked about Agent K being his father, but now he was Agent K. Except his name was Phil Coulson, he was a mailman for the US Postal Service. He and his new wife just had a baby. Fury classified Phil as a DNC, do not contact. But he never said Clint couldn’t check up on him. And so that’s what he does once and a while. Just to make sure the man that saved his ass and kept his secrets has someone to do the same. But he still misses him. Coulson would be happy for him. He had Tony to joke around with, play pranks on the others when Natasha was being a serious adult. He had Steve and Thor to drink and do man stuff with, they even confided in each other. But there’d always be an irreplaceable spot in his heart for Phil Coulson.
He heard Natasha sit up sharply in bed, gasping for air, “Tasha?” she didn’t answer. Her posture was unlike his Natasha. “Nat?” Her head twitched little in his direction. “Natalia?”
The Russian words came out of the half dark cold and defensive, “This isn’t where I’m supposed to be.”
“No it’s not,” he could see her bristling, readying for a fight. “This is Natasha’s house.”
“Who the fuck us Natasha?”
“Do you remember Vera, Nat?”
And suddenly Natalia crumbled. The cold hatred shuddered out of her posture and transformed into something smoother, but still defensive. “Clint?” She asked quietly.
He crawled back through the window at the head of their bed, and next to her. He ran a hand over her hair and pulled her close, she was still shaking. “It’s okay, you’re back now. It’s okay.”
This would happen every so often, the way your worst nightmares come around the second you stopped wondering when they’d be back. She’d wake up as someone else. Sometimes she’d fight him, try to escape whatever place they were in, not remembering the new life she had. It had been happening as long as she had been Natasha. Natalia was still always there. Just like Bruce and the Other Guy. She always felt guilty, for not being able to control it better. But now it scared her. What if she woke up and hurt Vera? That was her biggest fear. Something that ran so deep, Clint knew it would knock Natalia out of her. She let him hold her, breathing in the smell of his skin and the night air on him. Even when they had just been partners, he always knew how to comfort her best. He could always see beneath her, he knew what vicious things went on in her head, and he knew how to calm them. And she could see beneath Clint’s gruff hardness. Maybe that’s why they worked so well together, she thought. Never in her wildest dreams did she ever entertain becoming a mother. She never had the chance to even have a babydoll as a little girl. But when he suggested a child, despite the initial panic that swept her, if there was anyone who would have her back through anything, even parenthood, it would be Clint. She was too afraid to see what a biological child would turn out as. To afraid that the Red Room altered her permanently to destroy any chance of a happy, well child. But then they destroyed the Red Room. And there was Vera. Despite the horrors, the experiments, and the tortures of the Red Room, Vera was happy. She was resilient, she refused to give up or give in. Natasha may have not given birth to her, but she knew Vera was her daughter. The shocking match up of Vera and Clint’s eyes and hair was just a stranger coincidence, but she didn’t care. She would protect Vera with her life, even from Natalia, even from herself.
The last year had been Hell on Earth. But she realized after everything, she had Clint, who was her everything. She had Bruce who was her confidant and closest friend. She had Steve and Thor to watch out for Clint. She had Maria and Jane to spend real girl time with. She even had Tony’s care, in all his ridiculously lavish and outlandish affections. She had Nick Fury, who was the closest thing she ever had to a father, and was coming over for dinner with the rest of the team this weekend. She had gone from having nothing, not even herself to trust, to having Clint, to having the entire team. The exponential growth was still something that baffled her, but she accepted it with grace. She loved her newly found and formed family.
“Yeah, babe?” he answered sleepily against her hair, still holding her close.
“You’re the best partner a person could ask for,” she said, actually saying volumes more.
“Right back atchya.”