“Coulson, I’m trapped!” Skye shouted.
“Where are you, Skye?”
“Still in my sniper perch on the top level, but the Hulk smashed the ladder on his way past and now I can’t get down!”
This mission had been a total crapshoot. Skye silently cursed Coulson under her breath; why hadn’t he checked in with Maria Hill, their Avengers liaison, before coming out here? Now they and the Avengers were on the same mission at the same damn time with two totally different plans, and the whole thing had gone straight to hell.
“I don’t suppose I could beg a lift off Iron Man?” Skye whimpered a bit hopefully. The whole structure of the catwalk she’d been perched on – taking out HYDRA agents with her sniper rifle very handily until the explosions started going off – was starting to shake in a very unnerving way. The only flaw in her plan was that Iron Man had zoomed out five minutes ago and not returned.
“I see her, Coulson, I’ll take care of it,” a low, calm voice said over the com.
Who the hell was that? Skye felt the catwalk begin to shake even harder – the Hulk was smashing stanchions down below – and retreated, grabbing onto a beam that looked more stable than most.
She was just in time. The catwalk dropped from beneath Skye’s feet, and she clutched frantically at the beam, suddenly dangling by her arms, unable to keep from letting out a panicked scream.
She turned her head to see a man coming at her, swinging from a steel cable, one arm outstretched to grab her. She twisted towards him and reached out a frantic hand as he got close. He landed lightly against the wall, bracing on the soles of his feet, and slipped his arm around her waist.
“I got you, sugar,” that low voice said in her ear. “Just hang on tight.”
Skye flung her arms around him as he pushed off again. He had black tactical gear on and she grabbed onto a strap across his lower back. She didn’t speak; if she did she might shock him into letting go, and frankly her own hands were shaking too much to trust her grip just now. Instead she clung on tightly, putting her head against his chest and shutting her eyes as they dropped.
“I’ve run out of cable; we’ve got to drop,” he shouted then, “just hang on to me, I’ve got you.”
“I can jump…” she opened her eyes and saw they were still at least twenty feet up. “No!” but it was too late, they were falling, and he was twisting in mid-air to make sure he landed underneath her…
They never hit the ground, and Skye opened the eyes she’d shut in horror, thinking that her soulmate was just about to sacrifice his life for her without even knowing that she was his soulmate.
Hulk’s giant hand deposited them safely on the ground together. And Skye looked up into Clint Barton’s startled blue-grey eyes. Coulson was shouting in her ear, asking if she was all right, but she couldn’t hear anything except the pounding of her heart.
His arm still locked tightly around her waist, he raised his free hand and traced a gentle finger across her cheek. His hand was trembling slightly, Clint was a little horrified to notice. But then, he’d just come damn close to sacrificing himself for a girl he didn’t even know. All he knew was that Coulson valued her, and therefore she must be important. How important, he could never have imagined.
His soulmate. This young, beautiful girl with her dark eyes and tumbling dark hair, skin as soft as a ripe peach, was his soulmate. I can jump… No! had appeared on his inner arm on the night of his very first performance in the circus as The Amazing Hawkeye. He’d been twelve, and the burning sensation on his bow arm had almost – but not quite – thrown off his aim. He’d wondered, back then in his long-lost youth, if she would be a trapeze performer or something like that.
“You’re Hawkeye,” her stunned whisper startled him from his trance.
“And you’re my soulmate,” he replied, “but right now we really need to get the hell out of here.”
She followed him blindly, trusting, as he raced through a maze of fallen girders and burning equipment, twice stopping and turning to boost her over obstacles she’d have struggled to climb on her own. And then at last they were bursting out into the open air, taking in great gulps to fill smoke-ravaged lungs.
“Skye! Skye, report!” Coulson sounded near-hysterical over the com. Clint thumbed his own on.
“She’s all right, Coulson, I got her. Smoke inhalation, but we’ll both be fine. We’re outside the southwest corner of the building.”
“Thank God,” he heard Coulson’s sigh of relief. “Take care of her, Barton, we’ll be there shortly with medical assistance.”
“Always,” he said softly, “she’s my soulmate.” He didn’t bother to listen to whatever creative curse Coulson would come up with in response to that bombshell. Just pulled his com from his ear and moved closer to his soulmate. Skye. Her name was Skye. She looked up at him from her soot-smudged face and smiled.
“May I kiss you?” he asked, and her smile widened.
“Considering your reputation for doing whatever the hell you like, Agent Barton, I’m surprised you bothered to ask.”
“I don’t care what other people think of me,” he shrugged. “Only what you think.”
“I think I’ll be very disappointed if you haven’t kissed me before my team get here.”
“I shouldn’t care to disappoint a lady,” he murmured, before slipping his arm around her again, dipping his head. She reached up to close the distance between their lips eagerly.
They were kissing so passionately when Jemma found them that she had to cough loudly twice and then shout Skye’s name to get her attention.