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Hanger

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As Clint comes in after a day of working in the barn, he is greeted at the door by the smell of vanilla. His daughter runs up to him with a cookie in her hand.

“Daddy! You have to taste this!”

He scoops her and kisses her flour coated forehead. “Did you bake with mom today?” He asks as he leans over and takes half the treat in one bite.

She giggles and waves the rest of the cookie in the air. “Nope.” He struggles to swallow and she laughs harder. “Auntie Nat!”

Just then he sees the assassin leaning in the doorway. Natasha shrugs and gives a small smile. “Sugar looks a lot like salt.” The small girl giggles as Nat grabs at her. “And your little duckling didn’t tell me I had the wrong one!”

The sound of her daughter’s squealing brought Lara out of the bedroom. The screams coming from the front of the house pumped her full of adrenaline. She stopped only long enough to take the gun down from the safe in the closet. The sight that greeted her in the kitchen stopped her in her tracks and froze her breath in her throat. Flour covered…everything: counters… cabinets…and the three bodies in the room. Her daughter was held tightly by Clint while Nat was trying to… well Lara wasn’t sure what her friend was doing. Then she heard Nat’s laughing voice.

“Open up Brat. It’s your recipe taste it.” The cookie in Nat’s hand was pressed against an open mouth but not pushed in.

“Nat? Clint? What is going on? And what the hell happened to my kitchen?” Shock held her frozen in place. She had only been out of the room half an hour to feed Nate.
Clint looks up from where he was kneeling on the floor with his daughter to see his wife standing in the doorway, white faced and armed. The smile slides off his face. Carefully the archer sets Lila down and reaches slowly for the gun that was, thankfully harmlessly pointed at the floor.

“Oh, Laura, no.” he croons.

He clicks the safety on and slides the weapon into the back of his waistband of his jeans keeping his back facing away from Lila.

Having missed the interplay between her parents, Lila grabs a cookie from the pan on the counter and waves it at her mother. “Auntie Nat baked cookies.”

“I wouldn’t eat that Laura.” Natasha smiles. “No one warned me that you kept salt in the same type of container as the sugar. Why do you need that much salt around anyway?” She reaches down and lifts the little girl onto her hip.

“P-p-pickles, I use it for pickling…those ones you like so much. Nat? What happened?” She looked around again as if she wasn’t sure she had seen it the first time. “I wasn’t gone that long, was I?” She focused on her friend, and started to giggle. “Let me get my camera. Bruce will want to see what you’re going to look like when you go gray.”

Natasha put a hand to her hair. “Well.” She looked around with a wry smile. “I guess we kinda made a mess.” She put Lila down. “I’ll start cleaning up.”

Just then the sound of the baby, Nate, fussing from the bedroom drew their attention.

“I’ll get him.” Lila shouted and started to rush from the room, only to be stopped by her mother.

“Oh no you don't. No. You will help Auntie Nat clean the mess.” She turned to Clint. “And you too, Clint. Don’t think that I don’t know you helped make this mess.” As he opened his mouth she waved at his hair. “You’re as gray as Nat dear.” With a slight of hand she slid the gun from his back and hid it in the folds of her skirt. “I’ll take Nate and Conner into town and get pizza for dinner.” Looking around she smiled with amusement. “Think you can get this place clean enough to eat in?” Wthout waiting for an answer she turned and sped into the bedroom to put away the gun and gather her youngest son.