Natasha hated waking up, especially to the morning sun creeping through the blinds. She liked the night much more, it was in the darkness when she thrived, she hid in the shadows, calculating, waiting for the right moment to strike. The mornings were always the same before she joined S.H.I.E.L.D, before she was rescued by Shield. Everything was scheduled for her, decided for her and her thoughts weren't even hers.
She had to have breakfast in utter silence with the other girls, then it was time for practise, for torture. You could call it sad, but she didn't know what else to do, so she still did the same. After cleaning, she dressed in her uniform, after a year the Shield logo, still sat weird on her shoulder. She stared at her reflection up and down.
She could almost imagine her long hair, which could have hid the bird like logo. She remembered cutting it off, watching the strands fall, like getting rid of thousands of problems. She sighed, she expected the mirror to break, because of her ungrateful thoughts. Her face hardened the moment she remembered that's the exact way she shouldn't had ever thought. Her nails almost cut through her skin on her palm, holding back from punching the mirror, from hating herself.
She walked to the canteen, said nothing to nobody, the only noise following her in the lonely corridors was the tapping of her shoes. She sat down alone to eat or she would had done that a week ago.
A dirty blond mess of a head plopped down in front of her. "I love the food here. One would think it'd be worse than prison food." He spoke with his mouth full and a smile on his face. Natasha watched him as he shovelled the food into his mouth, she wondered if they fed him well.
Clint Barton was a mission successful, she brought him back to Shield HQ after catching an illegal group who hid in the same circus he was at. With the rest of his colleagues dead or on the run she had no other idea and the pick up group agreed to bring the heavily injured teen back as well. She had no idea what he was still doing here though.
"Why are you still here?" she asked, it must had come off as rude more than curious, because he stopped rambling. He chewed his food slowly, contemplating his answer while he stared at her with wide eyes.
"Well, this is a cool place." he shrugged after swallowing the food. She stared at his uniform, at the Shield logo above his heart. This guy did not act or look like he could be an agent. He had a goofy, smiley face and spiky hair.
"You could go back to school, nobody is keeping you here." she stated coldly, wathcing his body language closely, trying to read him.
Clint smiled under his nose awkwardly, the easy going expression gone. "I'd say that's not possible for me now." He huffed a laughter and looked her in the eye. "Why aren't you in school?" he asked. "Why are you here?" Putting the emphasis on the 'you' both times he watched her. Natasha didn't even flinch at the accusatory voice.
"I'm not good for anything else." she answered truthfully, she sipped from her coffee while maintaining eye contact, Clint was watching her like he could read her. His first mistake was when he tried, nobody could and that was just one of the reasons why she was still here. She placed her cup back onto the table.
Clint slumped back in his chair taking a bite of his toast and narrowed his eyes comically. They watched each other in silence, their brain not registering the noises around them. Natasha's stone hard poker face didn't change, it stayed neutral, unthreatened.
Natasha was a few seconds away from leaving him on his own and leaving only with her coffee. Clint swallowed the piece of bread in his mouth and grinned, his eyes were sparkling. "Check-mate then, cause I ain't leaving either." he stood up with his tray of mostly eaten food. "I'll see you later, agent." He put on his serious tone for the last word and walked off, humming something softly.
Natasha watched him stride off and disappear behind a sliding door. She was good at reading people, that was her job, so when in her life for the first time she was left confused after an interrogation, she felt like... like... This kid from a circus left Natasha Romanoff dumbfounded, this guy who was the simplest to figure out, if you didn't look past that left with no clues behind him.
They ate together every meal of everyday. Clint talked about his dream of tasting every pizza in New York City, he talked about his new sitcom he started watching and every piece of story that occurred to him. Natasha ate in silence, Clint didn't ask. Days went by and she saw no sign of that hidden piece of him, which slipped most minds. They talk or see each other at all any other time.
She was done with her dinner that day, she didn't eat much, it stuck with her from her training. She picked up the piece of chocolate cake they occasionally included as dessert.
"Dude! How can you eat that!" Clint spoke to her for the first time in days, he talked, yes, but never addressed her like that. He stole her food whenever she finished eating without a word, only a look and when she didn't do anything to stop him, he ate the rest of her portion too. But now he actually addressed her. "That's the most disgusting thing I ever had!" he explained, she just tilted her head and chew her bite of cake.
"It's so dry! Like.. I was so excited the first time I saw it! I was just like, 'Yes! Chocolate cake!' and then I bit down and urghh..." Clint imitated like he was throwing up.
"I don't know what you're talking about..." she shook her head slightly.
"Wha--!" Clint was about to shout, when Maria Hill stepped into the canteen.
"Agent Romanoff, with me now!" she ordered and turned back, certain the girl will follow her. Natasha did just that, keeping her piece of cake in her hand.
Clint stared after her in delight as he watched Natasha try to hide the disgusting chocolate cake behind her back, while keeping up with Agent Maria Hill.
Clint hadn't seen Natasha for two days when he got called into Nick Fury's office. That man was the scariest, after Natasha, but he was the boss so naturally Clint was a bit nervous going to meet him. He opened the office door slowly, after no response when he knocked.
"Mr. Fury?" he asked uncertain, when he saw the man looking out his window without moving.
"Take a seat, son." he ordered and Clint didn't have to be told twice. "I am assigning a mission to you." he said in his iconic slow way. He turned around and Clint got a good look at his eye patch. He wondered what the story was behind it, how could such a tough looking guy like Fury get it.
"Of course, I'm not throwing you in to the sharks right away. You won't be going alone." He paced around his desk, getting closer to Clint and then leaning against his desk. Clint wanted to protest at first, that he'd be fine, but did not have time nor the balls to do it. "You're going to accompany Ms. Romanoff."
"What?! Really? She know about this?" he asked, standing from his chair to be at least a little closer to eye level with Fury.
Fury looked Clint in the eye and Clint did not like the shit eating grin on his face, it was subtle in a Nick Fury way, but it was unmistakeably. "Good luck, agent. Ms. Romanoff will fill you on the way." Fury started walking back to the window, entirely ignoring Clint's incoherent noises of distress. "Of course only if you catch your flight." he looked back at Clint over his shoulder.
"Now!?" Clint looked at the door, but Fury didn't give him an answer so he started running.
He arrived at the hangar shortly, panicking as he looked around to catch a glimpse of Natasha's redhead. He calmed his body as he scanned the area and spotted her easily. She was walking towards an aircraft with a big sports bag. He jogged up beside her.
"So, where are we going?" he asked casually, keeping up with her quick strides. She looked at him and furrowed her eyebrows.
"We? Nowhere. I have something to finish." She explained vaguely.
"Well, that's great I'm going with you." he smiled proudly.
She moved as lightning, Clint had no time to react, only a prophet could predict those moves. He was easily pinned against a nearby crate with Natasha's arm across his chest keeping him in place. He could study her face from close, but no muscle moved in her face, but her eyes still shot daggers at Clint.
"Listen to me, I'm not going to repeat myself. I work alone and only alone." She whispered articulating every word perfectly. She pushed him once more and turned away to grab the bag Clint didn't realise she dropped.
"Well, Fury has other plans." Clint spoke up after a moment of shock. He hurried up on the craft after Natasha. She look back at him from the front of the plane.
"Fury does not--" Natasha began, but got interrupted as Clint tried to do something on the keypad.
"Come on, let's go. How do you close this thing..." He told the last part more to himself.
Natasha relaxed her muscles and watched him turn on and off several lights or start the air-conditioning in the plane after she sighed. "Barton..." she spoke up.
"This is my mission two!" he exclaimed.
"Barton..." She called his name more sternly.
"I'm going with you!" he argued.
"Barton!" she raised her voice and Clint gave her his undivided attention.
"What?!" he shouted.
"The lever is on the other side." she pointed at the back of the plane.
"I'm not-- Wait, what..." he looked at the lever and stepped to pull it.
Natasha got in her pilot seat. She set everything ready for takeoff. She'd learnt it a few months ago, but now it was like second nature for her. She could easily operate any shield aircraft if she needed to. She might not had been the best pilot in the agency, but she could fly steadily.
"Okay, so--" Clint walked up to her.
"Here are the rules: One, you don't get in my way. Two, you do as I say. And three, no excessive talking on missions." She turned her gaze towards him to see if he'd understood.
"Aye, aye, captain." Clint saluted and sat down next to her his blood pumped with adrenalin. They both strapped themselves in and got mentally ready.
Take off, in one..." Natasha started talking on the coms. "Two.." she flicked a switch. "Three." She started the engines and started to take off. The order came one millisecond too short, when the red lights started blaring.
"Takeoff denied, I repeat, takeoff denied. Put down the aircraft." Clint panicked as Maria Hill yelled at them through the com. The hangar doors started closing and they already picked up speed, while Natasha tried to slow the down as much as she could, because collision was unavoidable at this rate. She turned the plane and crashed one wing, with that blew an engine as well.
The hangar doors closed fully and Shield agents ran to their rescue. Clint and Natasha banged their heads on the back of their seat, both of them earning a minor concussion. They groaned as they came to their senses, undoing their seatbelts.
"You are the worst pilot ever." Clint joked while rubbing his head.
"Rule number three." she groaned as she took off her gloves and looked at her hands with a slight burn, it was uncomfortable, but she'd survived worse.
They stood up as agents rushed the plane, helping them off. "What's happening?" Natasha asked when she was met with a familiar face.
Agent Coulson ushered her down, keeping a protective hand on her back. He was one of the agents getting her out of that hellhole, she knew him well. "We are on lock down, nobody knows more." he informed her while she looked around her at the rushing people. "Are you okay enough to get to your room?" he asked and let go of her, she looked around, but lost Clint in the big chaos.
"Yes." She nodded and ran to her room, like everybody else. No one went out, nor did anybody came in.
It'd been days since she was stuck in her room, she got food and water, they told her she could request anything like books or games, they weren't locked up in prison. Her days went mostly like what she did every other normal, no lock down day, just in a tiny room. She was sick of basic exercises and wondered if they could install a punching bag in her room. She didn't know, but if they weren't going to tell her anything, they might as well solve this problem.
It was the fourth day of being locked in her room, when dinner came and Agent Dylon smiled at her funny when giving her portion. She took it with a sigh. "How much longer?" she asked, like every time.
The woman shrugged. "I don't know more than you." She parted with a wave and the door locked up. Natasha sat down on her bed, she was sick of the monotone days and if not sitting at her desk changes it just slightly, she'll do it.
Balancing the tray in her lap she noticed that there was something wrong. She accidently got more than one chocolate cake. She almost got up to call whoever picked these up to tell them there was a mix up, when she noticed a piece of paper folded under one of the cakes.
She folded it out and was met with perfectly shaped handwriting. 'Hey, it's been a while. The lady says you're locked up as well. She also said you're still not eating all your food. So, have this shitty cake at least. - Clint'
Natasha felt her lips twitch and looking at the two slices of cake made her warm inside. It was a bummer, they couldn't use any communication devices, even the secret Shield server was inaccessible.
So they did that after Natasha sent back a letter. They exchanged notes like they were from the 19th century. She thought Clint would write down all of his thoughts, but he kept the notes brief as well. Agent Dylon always came in with a smile like she knew what they were writing about, but either way she was their messenger pigeon every meal of the day.
Almost a week passed by and the days blended together, Natasha felt like she'd been stuck in her room for ages now. She looked at her clock, it was around 8 am, so breakfast should be here shortly. She got excited for the letters, she noticed, it was like having an actual friend.
But when her door opened it was not Agent Dylon nor her breakfast. It was Nick Fury in full gear towering over her. "Agent Romanoff, I have a mission for you."