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Can't Hide it Forever

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            Natasha Romanoff was 23 years old and was in Vegas for her friend’s bachelorette party.

            Clint Barton was 25 years old and was in Vegas to forget everything about his ex-girlfriend, Bobbi.

            But no matter what the reason was it only took one life in the city to change their lives completely. They may not have been telling the truth when they said ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’. But both of them desperately tried to keep it secret.

            Natasha woke up with a major headache that was resulting directly from a horrible hangover. She stretched and opened her eyes to an unfamiliar hotel suite. She’d been staying in a double bed room with her best friend, Janet. So she was a little confused when she sat up in a king sized bed in a giant room. She glanced to her left and saw a blond haired man facing away from her in the bed next to her. Natasha’s eyes widened and she mouthed, ‘dammit’, to herself. She had promised herself and Janet that she would be good and have no one-night-stands. She had a bit of a reputation from the last time she went to Vegas for her twenty-first birthday. Natasha slipped out of the bed and found the dress she had worn last night laying on the floor. She pulled it on sloppily and grabbed her heels. As she reached for the high-heeled shoes with her left hand she gasped loudly.

            Clint jolted at the gasp from an unfamiliar voice. It was more alarming because he was supposed to be alone. He looked around in panicked confusion. Finally, his eyes rested on a red head standing in the middle of his hotel room. She turned when she heard the rustling of the sheets. The two strangers stared at each other. “Uh…hi.” Clint said in an awkward voice. He didn’t know what to say.

            “Hi.” Natasha replied in a strangely high-pitched voice. She cleared her throat as her cheeks turned red. “I-I…this is weird. I’m sorry, I don’t even remember your name.” She admitted.

            Clint held up his hands with a small smile. “It’s fine I don’t remember yours either. I’m Clint.” He introduced himself.

            “Natasha…” She replied. “Uh…do you remember anything from last night?” She asked the heaviness in her left still bugged her.

            Clint shook his head and stretched a bit. “When in Vegas right?” He tried to joke with a chuckle.

            “Right, quick question, do you have a ring on your left hand?” Natasha asked quickly.

            Clint didn’t seem to understand; he thought she was asking if he was married to someone else. “Don’t worried, I’m not married. In fact I just broke up with my girlfriend.” He told her but his eyes curiously went to his left hand. “Oh God I have a ring do you have a ring because I do.” His voice was full of nerves.

            Natasha nodded. “Did we…did we get married last night?” She asked warily. “We didn’t right?” She tried to think of reasons of having a wedding band without actually having being married.

            “I-I really don’t remember.” Clint ran a hand through his hair as he got more and more stressed. The one-night stand was suddenly turning out to be a consummation of a marriage. “There’s a chapel downstairs right?” He asked. “Maybe they would know if we were there or not.”

            Natasha bit her lip. “Yeah I guess that’s a good idea.” She really hoped she hadn’t gotten married to a stranger though. “I’m just going to go get dressed and freshen up. I’ll meet you in the lobby?” She suggested. It was awkward but she felt like she had to be nice and polite to him. There was a possibility that he was her husband.

            “Yeah, of course. I’ll be down there in five.” Clint nodded but didn’t get out of bed because he knew he wasn’t decent. Even though…apparently they had seen each other in their full glory even if they didn’t remember it.

           

            Natasha snuck downstairs and into her hotel room. She tried to be as quiet as she could but it was no use.

            Janet was waiting for her though because it was nearly ten o’clock. “You missed breakfast.” She said in a chilly voice.

            “I’m…”

            “Wearing the same dress from last night? Yeah I noticed.” Janet crossed her arms over her chest. “Do you even know how wasted you got last night?”

            “No…” Natasha remembered having a few drinks but after that it was a strobe lit blur.

            “You were by my side one second and then you’re gone. I had security looking for you!” Janet scolded. She was a few years older than Natasha and was like a sister figure to her.

            “I’m sorry, I really am.” Natasha hung her head in shame. “But Janet I made a huge mistake.”

            Janet glared at her friend. “What. Did. You. Do?” She was starting to think having her doe party in Las Vegas was a horrible idea.

            “I woke up in this guys bed and…well…” Natasha held up her left hand and glanced up at her.

            Janet stared at the band on her ring finger. “You got married to a complete stranger?” She gasped. “Natasha Romanoff, what the hell were you thinking?”

            “I wasn’t! I was blacked out drunk you know that!” Natasha snapped back at her. “I’m going to sort it out okay, don’t worry.”

            “I’m getting married to  in two days, you better have it sorted out before then. Nat, I need you to be my maid of honor not my matron of honor.” Janet replied with a heavy sigh.

            “I promise I will, I’ll be right back I’m going to the lobby. Tell the girls I’ll see them later at the pool.” Natasha said and went to go down to the lobby to meet…Clint.

 

            When she saw him standing in the lobby she felt her stomach fill up with butterflies. Natasha hadn’t realized how handsome he was back in the hotel room. His sandy blond hair was styled short over his gorgeous green eyes. He wasn’t that tall but he stood up straight and had a caring aura to him even though he looked physically strong. Natasha cleared her throat and walked up to him. “Hi.” She smiled nervously.

            Clint smiled and he subtly glanced over her too. He was struck at how the light hit her stunning red hair and how her emerald eyes held softness to them that he could read perfectly. It was as if he’d known her for years instead of just a night and a morning. “Hi.” He replied quietly. He would be lying if he said he wasn’t nervous too. She was beautiful but he didn’t want to be married to someone he didn’t know. Clint had been in too many relationships where he thought he knew the person but didn’t and it ended badly. This seemed like an extreme case of that.

            “So, should we ask the front desk or the chapel?” Natasha wondered.

            “Maybe try the front desk. They might do the planning.” Clint decided and went to walk up to the desk with her.

            The friendly looking hotel clerk smiled at them. “Well look who it is, the newly weds! How are you this morning?”

            Natasha’s heart froze. “So it is true? We were married last night?” She asked with a nervous glance towards Clint.

            The clerk nodded. “Oh…I’m sorry you two seemed like you were…aware of what you were doing.” She bit her lip apologetically. “This happens quite a lot however. It’s easy to annul the marriage.” She said quietly.

            Natasha felt her insides turn. “Oh my God.” She muttered and rubbed her eyes. She still felt the throbbing headache from the alcohol.

            “Thank you.” Clint gave the clerk a wobbly smile and put a hand on Nat’s shoulder. He steered her towards two comfy seats in the corner of the lobby away from curious ears.

            Natasha followed without thinking too much of him touching her. She sat down and put her head in her hands. “I can’t afford a lawyer I still have student loans.” She groaned. “I should never have come here, I’m such an idiot.”

            “Hey,” Clint said gently and sat across from her, “it’s okay I’ll take care of it.” He promised. “You won’t need to worry about lawyers.”

            Natasha glanced up at him. “Why are you helping me?” She asked suspiciously.

            “Because technically we’re married and I’m supposed to help you even if you want to annul it.” Clint replied with a smile. “And I don’t mind helping people.”

            “Well…thank you, Clint.” Nat said quietly. “I’m sorry this happened. I’m sure you didn’t want this to happen.” She laughed bitterly.

            “Hey, it was my fault too.” Clint shook his head and chuckled. “Are you staying…”

            “Hey Nat!” One of her friends, Felicia called. She was with Colleen and Carol and they all looked ready for the pool. “We’re going to the pool, let’s go!”

            Natasha stood up. “I uh…here.” She wrote down her number and gave it to him. “If you have any options for me, text me. I have to go but thank you.” She said and quickly went to follow her friends. She was still unsure how to feel but she kept the ring on.

Chapter Text

            Natasha turned her face to the scorching sun loving the way it made her entire body relax. She’d always been on the self-conscious side, till she had a few drinks, and wore a halter-top one piece. She closed her eyes behind her sunglasses and took a long exhale. It felt good after the nerve-wracking morning. But now it would all be worked out. The marriage would be annulled and they could move on with their lives without problem.

            Apparently her morning wasn’t over yet though because a shadow passed over her sun. “Hey good looking.” An unfamiliar voice said.

            Natasha opened her eyes and tilted her sunglasses down a bit to look at the man she didn’t know. “Can I help you?” She asked.

            “Just ignore him he’s been perving on everyone since we got here.” Carol said from beside Natasha.

            “C’mon, that’s not very nice.” The guy said with a sleazy smile. “Can’t help it with a group of beautiful women. Haven’t seen you around though….” His eyes wandered and Natasha felt like getting up and dealing with him herself. She lived alone in New York and took self-defense classes every week. They sure as hell paid off too.

            But before she could get the chance another shadow overtook the man. “Back off, that’s my wife.”

            Natasha recognized Clint’s voice because pieces of the night before were starting to return every time she heard it. He called her baby but for once in her life she didn’t feel creeped out by it. It was affectionate and meant something…or she thought it did. They were both wasted enough to get married and not remember the next day. A slow smile formed on her face to show her appreciation for Clint stepping in.

            The man looked terrified. “Oh, hey sorry bro I had no idea.” He stammered quickly and backed away.

            “That’s okay,” Clint’s dark face didn’t say it was though, “now beat it.” He threatened. The man listened and took off running. His face softened. “Sorry he was bothering you, ladies.” He said politely.

            Carol put her sunglasses on her head to get a good look of Clint. “No problem…” She purred.

            Natasha rolled her eyes. “Care, that was the guy I told you about.” She held up her left hand.

            Carol wrinkled her nose. “You always get all the hot ones.” She muttered. “Unfair.” She put her sunglasses on again and resumed her tanning.

            Natasha sat up in the pool chair. “You can sit.” She gestured to the empty seat next to her. Clint did sit down and clasped his hands together between his knees. “Why did you do that?” She asked quietly.

            “What him?” Clint asked. “He looked sketchy from miles away. I just wanted to get him away from you guys. I’d like to get him away from anyone really.” He said with a shrug.

            “You called me your wife.” She pointed out to him with a secretive smile and lounged back.

            Clint’s cheeks turned a bit pink. “Oh…yeah well I was just using that against him to make him run. Sorry if it bothered you, I was just being technical.”

            Natasha smiled and shook her head. “It didn’t bother me,” she turned her face back up to the sun’s rays, “I thought it was sweet.” She said truthfully.

            Clint looked at her with softened eyes. And although she couldn’t see him, his face was full of caring. “Could I take you out to dinner tonight?” He asked after a bit.

            Natasha opened one eye. “You think that’s a good idea based on what happened last night?” She half joked.

            “How about we do one glass of wine each and that’s it.” Clint offered. “I want to get to know you. Don’t think of it as me trying to stop you from annulling the marriage…I just feel like I owe you something.” He admitted his trail of thinking since she left the lobby.

            “You don’t owe me anything, Clint.” Natasha replied and closed her eye. “If anything I owe you for taking care of this problem.” She said.

            Clint shook his head. “No you don’t. But one dinner and maybe a dance, that’s all I ask.” He said gently.

            Natasha smiled and looked over at him. “Fine, pick me up in the lobby at eight.” She told him.

            Clint nodded. “Thanks Natasha, I’ll see you tonight.” He said and stood up to go back to the hotel.

            Natasha watched him leave and sighed. She closed her eyes again and took in some more sun to calm her down a bit. “I’m going out to dinner with the husband I barely know.” She said to Carol.

            “Oh that’s nice, honey.” She replied. “Don’t tell Janet, she’ll flip on you. She was already ranting about it to us.”

            “Yeah well she doesn’t have to know if it bugs her so much. Just cover for me and tell her I’m not feeling well.” Nat said back.

            “She’s going to find out.” Carol reminded her. “Janet always finds out about what you do especially. You’re not very good at hiding things.”

            “Yeah well because we’re friends I tell her things because I trust her. But not tonight I need her not to know anything for just a few hours.” Natasha said.

            “Deal, I’ll cover for you as long as I can.” Carol agreed.

            “Thanks babe.” They both smiled to each other and went back to getting a good, Las Vegas tan.

Chapter Text

Natasha decided not to wear the same dress she’d been married in. She figured it might be some bad luck or something. Instead she wore a more tasteful dress because that was her motive for the evening. She just wanted a nice clean dinner with no alcohol and definitely no life long commitments.

            She smoothed down the flowing black dress and went down to the lobby. Clint was already there again, standing in a button down oxford shirt and slacks. He smiled when he saw her. “You look beautiful.” He greeted her politely.

            “Thank you.” Natasha smiled. “You look very handsome yourself.” She replied.

            Clint shrugged. “I didn’t bring very many dress clothes for this vacation.” He admitted. “I wasn’t feeling very prepared. You really show me up.” He grinned.

            Natasha shook her head and they started to walk out of the hotel and down the extremely bright Las Vegas street. They didn’t hold hands or link arms because both were still nervous around the other. They both had wedding rings but they also had their doubts. “Why did you come here?” Nat asked curiously.

            “Uh…well I just broke up with my girlfriend. I live in San Francisco and I guess I just needed a break from the gloomy weather.” Clint shrugged and put his hands in his pockets.

            “Oh I’m sorry.” Natasha said respectively.

            “It’s fine.” He shook his head. “She’s…crazy and I needed to get away from all the drama she caused.”

            “Sounds fun.” She said sarcastically with a smile.

            Clint laughed. “Yeah, it really was.” He rolled his eyes and stopped at a restaurant to open the door for her.

            Natasha hadn’t been in a committed relationship for a few years so she didn’t really remember the silly gestures men made during the first few dates, opening doors, pulling out chairs, all of that stuff. She let him though and walked inside to be seated.

            They sat far away from the bar and ordered their one glass of white wine and dinner. Natasha suspected Clint was on the wealthier side because the restaurant was higher end and he wasn’t cutting any corners. Nat on the other hand was still paying for her college debts and wasn’t really living up to her marketing degree. She worked at a company but only as their secretary.

            “So what do you do?” She asked curiously.

            “Financial stuff.” Clint answered. “It’s all pretty boring.” He admitted.

            “You don’t like it?”

            “No, it’s fine it just always seems to bore people when I try to explain it.” Clint smiled sheepishly. “What about you? You said you had student loans, did you just graduate?” He wondered.

            “Yeah last year.” Natasha nodded. “I have a marketing degree but I’m just working as a secretary now in New York.” She said. “It’s expensive to live there but high paying jobs are always hard to come by.”

            “You should talk to my company, they’re looking for more fresh marketing people.” Clint said taking a sip of his wine.

            “Oh…thanks.” Nat nodded but she knew she couldn’t get anymore connected to him. “I’ll look into it.” She said without even asking what the company was called.

            After a bit of small talk and a few laughs, Clint paid the bill. They left but the night wasn’t over. He led her to a dance club. They were probably the youngest people there but Natasha felt giddy when she entered the large ballroom. She had always dreamed of being a dancer when she was little. And although the dream never went through she still loved the feeling of being connected to a partner in step.

            But as they both found they weren’t that great at dancing. But they still had a blast. Natasha ended up hanging off Clint’s arms laughing. Clint tried to lead her but they both kept stepping on each other’s feet and laughing even more.

            They got some relief as a slower song played. Clint pulled Nat close like it was second nature. Natasha wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her cheek to his shoulder. His confident arms held her waist and pressed their bodies close so there wasn’t a gap.

            Natasha linked her fingers together on his back and let him sway her back and forth. The music seemed to get to her and she felt tears sting her eyes. It’d been so long since she’d gone out with such a nice man, and an even longer time since she’d been held so tenderly in someone’s arms. She wasn’t even tipsy but she felt hot tears slip down her cheeks and stain his dress shirt. She knew it would be so hard to say goodbye to him. But she had no choice.

 

            It was late when they walked back to the hotel but not as late as they’d been out the night before. They held hands going back. Clint initiated it and Natasha was too selfish not to take his hand. That’s when she decided to ask him. “Do you want to come to my friend’s wedding?” She asked.

            Clint glanced down at her. “Oh, uh no I couldn’t intrude on their special day.” He shook his head.

            “You wouldn’t be, you’d be my plus one. I really want someone there. “I’m going to be the maid of honor and I don’t want to feel like the third wheel to Janet and Hank.” Natasha rolled her eyes. She was already their third wheel but didn’t want to admit it.

            “Are you sure they wouldn’t mind?” Clint asked.

            “I’m sure. Janet probably wants to meet you anyways. She’s heard about you already.” Natasha shrugged.

            Clint smiled sheepishly and nodded. “Yeah I guess I can go. I’ll pick up a tie somewhere to look a little nicer.” He decided.

            Natasha felt so relieved to have one more night with him. “Thank you so much, you don’t know how much it means to me.”

            “It’s no problem, really Natasha.” He smiled politely. “Now you should probably get some rest before the wedding.” He said.

            “You’re right, Janet would never forgive me if I had raccoon eyes.” Natasha laughed. “Thank you for tonight, Clint, I had fun.” She said as they went into the lobby.

            “I’m glad you did, I had fun too.” He said softly. “I’ll see you tomorrow then?” He asked.

            Natasha nodded. “I’ll be the one in pink.” She tried not to giggle. She got on her tip toes and kissed his cheek. “Goodnight, Clint.”

            “’Night Natasha.” He smiled when she kissed him. Then, he only wished he could remember the kiss he actually got during their wedding.

Chapter Text

Natasha loved weddings. She didn’t know why but she decided it was the childhood girly girl in her that loved the fancy dresses and beautiful flowers. She thought the vows were a little cheesy. Especially Hank’s who, knowing the scientist that wasn’t that good with words, probably got his right out of a Hallmark card. But she loved watching her friends dance for the first time. It was like a fairytale ending for them as they started marriage bliss.

            Natasha was sitting next to Clint as more wedding festivities occurred around them. She swirled around champagne in her glass.

            “Do you want to dance?” Clint asked setting down his own drink.

            Natasha smiled. “Yeah sure.” She stood up and let him take her hand. He led her to the dance floor and pulled her close. “You really like dancing huh?” She murmured to him with a warm smile.

            “I like dancing with you.” Clint corrected.

            Natasha couldn’t help her blush. “Well I like dancing with you too.” She returned the compliment. “You’ve been very nice to me despite the circumstances.”

            “What, the marriage?” Clint asked. “Yeah I guess it was unexpected but we’ve got it taken care of. I wonder how long an annulment takes though.” He said out loud.

            Natasha felt nervous when he said that. She of course was falling for him more than she intended to. She thought she could keep herself from liking him but he was too perfect to seem real. That was the reason though; she believed he was too good for her. Maybe it was insecurity but Clint was unlike anyone she’d met before and she knew she’d be selfish if she let herself be in a relationship with him. Whatever they had that night at Janet and Hank’s wedding was the last of it, according to Natasha at least. But fate had another idea.

 

            Clint didn’t hear from Natasha the next morning. They had shared a cheek kiss, said goodnight, and went to their separate rooms. He had her number but didn’t want to seem too desperate by texting her. He hung around the lobby until he recognized Carol walking by with another one of Nat’s friends. “Excuse me, you’re Natasha’s friend right?” He touched the blonde’s shoulder.

            Carol smiled at him. “You’re her Vegas husband.” She remembered. “Yep, I’m Carol.” She introduced herself helpfully. She eyed him appreciatively. “Did you have fun at the wedding last night?”

            “Yeah it was nice.” Clint didn’t go to her for small talk so he got right to the point. “Have you seen Natasha at all today? I texted her but she hasn’t responded.” He explained.

            Carol glanced back a bit nervously at Melissa who shook her head. She looked at Clint again and bit her lip. “I thought she told you.” She said sympathetically.

            “Told me what?” Her look alone gave Clint a bad feeling in his stomach. He thought everything had gone so well why did they look so…afraid though?”

            “She left early this morning.” Melissa spoke up.

            “Left?” Clint looked confused. “Where did she go?”

            “To the airport, she went back home to New York.” Carol answered. “We’re sorry we thought she would’ve told you. You two seemed to be really getting along.” She noted. She had no clue why Natasha would just leave the poor man high and dry.

            Clint had to think for a minute before opening his mouth again. “No…she didn’t tell me.” He said quietly looking at the lobby floor. “I guess she didn’t feel the same way.” He swallowed and glanced up. “Uh…thank you Carol.” He said wanting to just get away. He felt so embarrassed that he had to find out about Natasha leaving this way.

            Carol nodded. “Sorry Clint.” She said awkwardly and she and Melissa went to walk away. They left Clint standing in the lobby with his hands in his pockets not understanding why Natasha had done this to him.

 

“Hey Nat. I just ran into Carol in the lobby and she told me that you left to go home. I guess I wish I could’ve said goodbye to you. Uh…I had a fun time even if I can’t remember most of it. Sorry that it didn’t work out.”

            Natasha saved the message but never called him back. Sometimes she would pull it up just to hear his voice. It made her cry.

            “Hey Natasha, sorry for calling again but I have the annulment papers. I hope you don’t mind but I got your address from your friend Jessica. You just didn’t call back and I wanted to get them to you as soon as possible. I sent them to you so you should get them soon. Just sign them where it says and send it back. Thanks.”

            It was a few months later and Natasha kept the new message too. She never responded though. His voice had changed and he sounded more business-like. This situation was just business to him. She got the papers in the mail and opened them. She didn’t read it though and didn’t sign it for a few days. She couldn’t even read her own mind set let alone legal terms. Her thoughts were so skewed those four months. She couldn’t stop thinking about Clint and that made her despise herself. 

Chapter Text

Finally, one night she forced herself to sign on the lines and shoved the papers back in the envelope. She threw it in the mail after rewriting the addresses. Afterwards, she stomped upstairs and went to grab an unopened bottle of vodka from her cabinet. But she hesitated before opening it. It’d been four months and she’d been feeling weird. Her stomach was bloated, she couldn’t stand some foods, and worst yet she had missed her time of the month every month since she left Vegas. The sight of alcohol made her really think if there was a possibility. Natasha bit her lip and glanced at her phone. She was tempted to call Jessica who, out of all her friends, lived the closest to her. But something told Natasha to find out for sure first. She slung her purse over her shoulder and went out to the drug store not too far away from her apartment.

                       

            “Yes my dearest?’ Jessica answered right away because it wasn’t that late at night.

            Natasha rolled her eyes at the familiar greeting from her friend. “I’m in huge trouble.” She said without responding to the greeting.

            “Do you need me to bail you out?” Jess asked putting the phone between her shoulder and ear to grab her keys.

            “I don’t know if you can.” Natasha ran her hand over her eyes. “I took a pregnancy test because I’ve been feeling off lately.” She explained. “And it came up positive a few times.”

            Jessica’s mouth fell open. “Are you serious?” She asked in disbelief. Of all the girls, Natasha would be the least apt to get pregnant. Sure she had one-night stands but she always used protection. “How in the world? Who’s the father?” She wanted to know so many things all at once.

            “Well, by doing the math it should be…well it has to be Clint.” Natasha said nervously. She knew of all the men she’d slept with in her life she couldn’t have a sweeter guy as the father but she also couldn’t have it be a more awkward situation.

            “Jesus…” Jessica whispered. “I’ll be over in a second, have you called him yet?” She asked as she left her own apartment to walk to Nat’s.

            “Are you kidding?” Natasha scoffed. “I haven’t said a word to him since Janet and Hank’s wedding.” She said. “I’m such an idiot.” She groaned and wanted to slap herself.

            “Just calm down, I’m sure he won’t mind if you call him and explain what’s going on.” Her friend assured her.

            “Oh yeah, I’m sure he will. ‘Hey Clint, remember me? I’m the one you married and slept with in Vegas. Guess what, we annulled the marriage but it doesn’t matter because turns out you are stuck to me because I’m pregnant and it’s your child!’” Natasha said sarcastically. “Yeah right, Jess, that’ll never end well.”

            “You’re going to have to tell him.” Jessica pointed out. “If you don’t now it’s only going to get harder. You don’t want your ten-year-old asking who its father is right?”

            Natasha groaned when she thought of actually having a ten-year-old. “No.” She finally said. “But even if I did tell him what good is that going to do?” She asked.

            “It’s going to give you someone to support you.” She replied sharply. “You know we’ll all be here for you but it’s not our kid. You need someone who’ll always be there to take care of you and the kid.”

            Natasha felt like crying. “I don’t know how to tell him.” She sniffed pathetically. She just wanted to give up, get rid of the baby, and never have anyone else know.

            “I’ll call him for you.” Jess said as she walked into Nat’s apartment. She hung up her phone and reached for Nat’s who dutifully handed it over. She found his number and dialed it.

 

Since it was earlier in California than it was in New York, Clint was just finishing up dinner. He pulled out his phone and thought he’d misread the caller ID. But it was Natasha’s number and after four months it was finally calling his phone. He answered a bit warily, maybe she’d accidentally dialed his number or she was drunk. “Hello?”

            Jessica smiled when he picked up like she was putting on an act. “Hi, this is Jess, how are you?” She wanted to be polite to him before she revealed the news.

            “Oh uh hi Jess.” Clint replied. “I’m okay…is there a reason you’re calling?” Even though he had nothing against Jessica he wanted to get rid of any trace of Natasha from his life, including her friends. It was all too painful for him. He of course had to get rid of the wedding ring, selling the cheap band off weeks after he got back home.

            “Yeah, Nat’s here and she just told me some news that she needs to tell you but is having a hard time doing so.” She told him. Natasha looked embarrassed, curled up on the floor with her back against the couch. She rested her chin on her knees and stared at the floor.

            Clint narrowed his eyes in suspicion. “Okay?”

            “She’s pregnant and it’s your child apparently.” Jessica said without anymore beating around the bush.

            Clint wondered if he’d actually heard the words she’d just said. He repeated them in his head a couple times before finally breathing. His heart was racing when it really hit him. “Are…is she sure?” He stammered.

            “Yeah, she took some tests. Sorry, I guess but she needed you to know.” Jess said awkwardly. She hated the situation she was in the middle of but she would do anything for Natasha and vice versa.

            “Well, tell her that I’ll fly out to see her.” Clint said. He didn’t want to hear the news but there were a lot of things he could’ve done to avoid it. When he realized that he knew he had to step up. He wasn’t raised to avoid responsibility.

            “He’s going to fly out to see you.” Jessica whispered to her friend who was still slightly rocking in panic.

            “What?” Natasha’s voice went up a few pitches. She lunged to grab the phone. Jess easily gave it up, not wanting to fight her. “You can’t come out here are you crazy?” She demanded to him.

            “What do you mean I’m crazy?” Clint instantly recognized Nat’s voice but didn’t want to waste any formalities on her. He was still pissed but that was another conversation they needed to have. “I have to come out to help.” He said like what she was saying was crazy.

            “Clint,” Natasha stood up and went to the linen closet to finish the conversation so Jessica wouldn’t have to hear, “I know you’re a stand up guy or whatever and I respect that. But I didn’t call you so you’d come rushing to my side.” She said. “I know this…this connection we have doesn’t mean anything to you and that’s fine. All I ask is for a little support and I’m open to you being in the baby’s life if you want. But I’m still just pregnant; the baby’s not due for a while. In fact I’ll let you know ahead of time so you can come see when he or she is born.” She said very matter-of-factly. “We annulled the marriage, you don’t have to be with me anymore.”

            “Natasha, I don’t know why you think this relationship doesn’t mean anything to me. I fell for you.” Clint openly admitted to her. He wasn’t afraid of her knowing anymore. “I don’t know if it was when I married you but I knew when I started really getting to know you, you were special. If you’re pregnant I’m going to be there to support you even before it’s born.” He said firmly. “You don’t know how much it crushed me when I found out from your friends that you’d left without so much as a goodbye!”

            “I’m sorry I…” Natasha tried to interject but he stopped her from going any further.

            “No, Natasha, look I’m sorry that this happened. I wish we’d used protection but whatever. I just wish you could’ve told me about the baby yourself. I mean why did you even bother if you were just going to have Jessica tell me?”

            Natasha was in tears but she was quiet about it. She didn’t want him to get more upset or worse feel bad for her. “I’m sorry…” She whispered.    

            “I’ll call you later when I get a flight.” Clint said. “Goodbye, Natasha.” His voice was stiff and chilly.

            “Bye Clint.” Natasha’s words stuck in her throat. She heard the click of him hanging up. She burst into tears and dropped her phone.

Chapter Text

             Jessica opened the closet door. “Oh sweetheart, it’s going to be okay. He’s just a little upset but you’ll sort it out.”
            “No we won’t!” Natasha snapped at her through her tears. She collapsed on the couch covering her face. “He hates me and I don’t blame him! I’m a coward who can’t even talk to him over the goddamn phone!” Her voice was muffled but loud enough for Jess to hear.
            She sat down next to Nat and put a hand on her shoulder. “Sh, you’re going to be just fine. You’re pregnant though and you can’t be all up in arms like this. It’s not good for the baby…at least that’s what I’ve heard. Either way you need to calm down.”
            “No what I need to do is tell him not to come. If he’s so angry at me about not telling him then I don’t want him around.” Natasha got up and went for her phone that she’d left in the closet.
            “Uh…Nat, I don’t think that’s the best idea.” Jessica said biting her lip. “I mean if he wants to come then he must not be that mad at you.” She tried to point out.
            But Natasha was livid and wasn’t listening to a word her friend said. She grabbed the phone and texted Clint’s number, don’t even bother showing up. She burst out into tears again and curled up on her side on the couch. “I hate him, Jessica, I hate him!” She cried.
            “Sh, no you don’t you’re just upset.” Jess sat next to her and rubbed her shoulder. “Why don’t you sleep on it, hm?”
            “Don’t feel like sleeping.” Natasha muttered. She was tired but also too worked up to even think about shutting her eyes.
            “You should get some shut eye, it’ll help.” She pointed out to her. “C’mon even just for an hour? I’ll stay here if you want me to.” Jess promised.
            “No.” Natasha sniffed stubbornly. “I don’t want to.”
            “Fine, then I’m calling a few other people to help.” Jessica decided Nat either needed to sleep or rant angrily which would lead to passing out of exhaustion.  
            Natasha sighed. That didn’t sound too bad to her. “Fine, Wanda and Patsy can come over.” She picked the other two friends who lived relatively close to her apartment.
 
            Wanda and Patsy brought over drinks not knowing Natasha was pregnant. They freaked out but Jessica gestured for them to stop. That’s when Nat let out all of her fury, sadness, and confusion. Eventually after ranting her heart out she passed out on the couch, out cold sleeping, just like Jess had predicted.
            Jessica gently took the tissues out of her friend’s hand and tossed it in the trash. She grabbed a blanket and put it over Nat. Jess felt terrible for her but she knew everything would work out. She decided the next morning she would call Clint to talk to him but Natasha didn’t necessarily need to know that. 

            “Hello?”
            “Hi, Clint, sorry it’s really late but I really need to talk to you.” Jessica started nervously. She didn’t know how he would respond to her calling him.
            “Oh…hi Jess. It’s okay it’s earlier here.” Clint said in a dull voice. He was still upset from his conversation with Natasha earlier. It had gotten worse when she texted him to not even come.
            “Right, time zones.” Jessica rolled her eyes at herself not remembering that Clint was in California. “Sorry, so could we talk?” She asked biting her lip.
            “About?”
            “Natasha.” Jessica looked over at the red haired woman who was still out cold, curled up on the couch. 
            “Sorry, but I don’t really want to…” Clint ran a hand through his hair. “She was clear about how she wanted to leave things and I can't change that.” He muttered.
            “I know but I think she was just caught up in the moment. I think she really needs someone to help her with the baby.” Jessica replied. “She’s just really stubborn and emotional to admit it.”
            “Look, Jess I appreciate you calling but it’s Natasha’s call. She said she didn’t want to see me, she didn’t want help, and so I’m not going to come. It’s fine. If she wants money for the child that’s fine, I really don’t care. I really would want to make amends with her and meet my child but…but it’s her choice.” Clint’s voice cracked a little bit as he spoke.
            Jessica could hear the hurt in his voice. She really had wished that she'd stopped Natasha from texting that message to Clint. “Will you at least promise to keep in touch?” She asked quietly.
            Clint nodded to himself, pinching the bridge of his nose, and closing his eyes. “Yeah, yeah Jessica, I’ll keep in touch with her.” He promised. “Thanks again for calling.” 
 

Chapter Text

            Clint couldn’t take his eyes off her and she was staring right back at him. Her friends were trying to get her attention but she waved them off. When they decided to get more drinks she stayed put. Finally, he closed the gap between them and introduced himself. She had the nicest smile, according to Clint. They were both a few drinks into the night already but it would get so much crazier and they had no idea what it would bring. 
 
            Another two months passed with no contact between Clint and Natasha and both were torn up about the fact. Jessica noted that they were both two stubborn to admit they were wrong though. But she didn’t know Clint that well and apparently he was less stubborn than Nat was.
            Natasha was just getting out of the shower when she heard the phone ring. She wrapped a towel around herself and answered the call without checking the caller ID first, her first mistake according to her.  “Hello?”
            “Hi, Natasha, are you free to talk?” Clint asked.
            She paused almost shocked when she heard his voice. “Um…yeah okay.” Natasha said quietly. “I honestly don’t know why you’re calling though. I thought we were all set with this situation.”
            “Natasha, we still need to…”
            “No Clint. You don’t want to be there for me and that’s fine I don’t need you to be. I’m okay on my own because I have been for a while and I’ve done all right.” Natasha cut him off. “If you don’t want to help then I don’t see why you should even bother calling.”
            “When did I ever say I didn’t want to be there for you?” Clint demanded. “I called you months ago saying I would fly across the country to see you.” He reminded her firmly. “How does that sound like I don't want to be there for you and the baby?"
            Natasha swallowed when she remembered that was what he said. She was starting to feel like she was in the wrong instead of her previous thoughts that Clint was being the horrible one. “But why…why would you even bother?” She asked helplessly. “I bet you hate me by now.” She ran a hand through her hair.
            “I don’t hate you. I could never just hate you.” Clint said wearily and ran a hand over his eyes. He was so frustrated and just wanted Natasha to understand that he wanted to be there for her. “I just want to help you, okay? We’re in this together now because it takes two to do this right.”
            “Yeah, I know we are and we hardly even know each other.” Natasha mumbled. She felt like anything would be hopeless. “How is that going to work out?”
            “Well maybe for starters I can fly out to New York. to see you.” Clint brought up his original plan. “We can get to know each other, doesn’t mean we have to date or anything but we do need to work together for this child.”
            “I agree…I can pay for your ticket if you want.” Natasha offered even if she cringed at the idea of expensive airfare. She decided it would be a peace offering though and knew she could deal with the cost. 
            “Of course not, I’ll pay for it. You don’t have to worry about anything, I can even get a taxi from the airport. I’ll get a flight for this weekend, okay?” Clint asked gently.
            Natasha nodded to herself. The guilt and burden slowly eased off her shoulders and it was replaced with confusion of what he would bring to her life. “Okay.”
 
            A few days later and Clint walked off the airplane and out into the JFK terminal. He shifted his bag further up his shoulder and went to the baggage claim to get his suitcase. He was a little surprised to see a familiar red head standing near the doors. She was wearing a somewhat form fitting long sleeved t-shirt and Clint could see the small baby bump. Clint walked up to her from the side. “You really should be sitting down.”
            Natasha glanced over and instinctively smiled when she saw who was talking to her. She was strangely surprised to see how Clint hadn't changed at all. She figured it hadn't been a long time since she saw him but Natasha almost expected him to be completely different. “I’m fine.” She assured him. "I'm not that pregnant that I can't stand." 
            “I know but I was reading baby books and now I’m totally protective and paranoid.” He half joked and put his bag down to open his arms out to her.
            Natasha laughed softly. “Fair enough.” She murmured and hugged him gently. His warmth felt so familiar from dancing with him in California. She closed her eyes and rested her cheek on his shoulder. “Thank you for coming.” She whispered.
            “It’s not a problem.” Clint smiled. “You ready to get to know each other?” He asked playfully, pulling away a bit to look at her. "Because I totally am." 
            Natasha smiled and looked down. “You might find out things you don’t like.” She admitted. "You've hardly even scratched the surface of my personality and you've still seen some bad parts of me." 
            He just shook his head. “Look, I hog the covers and I swear I’m a mosquito magnet.” Clint shrugged. “But honestly I can deal with some flaws because I have them too.”
            “Well…I guess we’ll see.” Natasha bit her lip in uncertainty. She wondered if he was telling the truth or if he justthought he could oversee her flaws. She knew she had a lot and most people couldn't deal with her for more than a few months. She'd been dumped so many times because men didn't like seeing her cry or get emotional. Clint had seen some of her darker side but he'd persisted. Natasha was still reluctant to believe that he would be able to put up with her. 

Chapter Text

            Clint was in New York for a few days before he and Natasha found a semi-normal routine for the both of them. He stayed in the guest room and worked from his computer and phone. He assured his boss that he’d go and talk to the branch head of their company in New York. But for the meantime he was fully there for Natasha. He got takeout for her when she craved certain things and sat up talking with her when she worried.  
            “I have to go shopping for the baby.” Natasha told him as he was working a bit at his laptop.         
            Clint glanced up. “Oh, I’ll come if you need help.” He said and closed the lid of his laptop.
            “Oh no, if you’re working that’s okay.” Natasha shook her head and grabbed her purse and keys.
            “Natasha, come on.” Clint gave her a look. It was the look that said ‘remember what we talked about?’.
            She sighed. “Fine, you can come. I wouldn’t mind the company.” She admitted.
 
            Clint didn’t think he’d ever been a baby department store. It was…different to him. There were a lot of women who either had little kids with them already, had a kid on the way by the looks of it, or was both pregnant and had another kid already with them. Some had their husbands with them others had friends or family and then there were some who were shopping alone. It was interesting to observe as he walked in. “Is this the sort of thing that you register for?” He wondered out loud.
            “If you’re having a baby shower, yeah. But I’m not so no…if my friends want to get me something I'll just let them know what I need.” Natasha shook her head and got a cart. “Uh…I don’t really know about gender or anything so I guess neutral colors? Does it really matter though?” She asked herself.
            “I really don’t know…” Clint shrugged and put a hand in his pocket. He looked around and saw a lot of pink and blue which made him wonder what the gender of their baby would be. He could imagine both easily and he probably wouldn't mind either way. He would just be content with what they got. He smiled a bit to himself and followed Natasha down the aisles.
            They picked up a few necessities like carriers, pacifiers, and diapers. When they got to the clothes though, Clint was taken aback. He held up a miniscule pair of socks. “No way.” He showed them to Natasha. “There has never been a human that small before.”
            She giggled. “It depends how big he or she is at birth. Some are premature and smaller. I'm not sure what size those would be for.” She shrugged.
            “Jesus.” Clint looked at the tiny onsies all lined up. He slowly flipped through them with a stunned look on his face. He didn't know babies could be that tiny. “I don’t want to like…break the kid when I hold him or her.” He looked unsure of himself.
            “You won’t.” Natasha smiled and shook her head. “You’ll be perfectly fine.” She gently touched the soft fabric of a small t-shirt that said ‘Mommy loves me the most’. She smiled and felt her insides twist from so many different emotions she was feeling. She was scared to be a mother but also excited and anxious to hold her newborn in her arms.
            Clint looked over at her and saw her space out a bit in her own thoughts. He could almost see her mind running on emotions. “That’s cute, do you want to get it?” He asked gently.
            Natasha bit her lip and nodded not taking her eyes off the shirt. “Yeah…I do.” She said softly and took the shirt off the rack holding it tighter than necessary.
            “Okay but only if I can get this one too.” Clint said. She glanced up and and saw him hold up another tiny shirt that said ‘I love Daddy’. Natasha stared at both the shirts and the reality of it all seemed to hit her. She started to cry but she wasn’t sure what emotion was causing the tears. Clint felt mixed too but the majority of him was proud and happy to be a father. He smiled and hugged her gently. “Hey, don’t cry.” He said gently. “We can alternate so the baby wears each shirt equally. No favorites here.” He joked to get her to smile.
            Natasha giggled and wiped away her tears. She felt so stupid for crying in the middle of a store. “I’m sorry it’s just all so…real for me now.” She tried to explain the heaviness in her chest.
            “I know I get it. It’s a pretty big deal but we can handle it just fine.” Clint nodded in understanding. He started to push the cart to the register. "We'll learn together." He assured her and pulled out his wallet when they reached a line.
            “No, you don’t have to pay.” Natasha went for her purse to get her own wallet. “I got it…”
            “Nat, don’t be ridiculous I can pay for this stuff.” Clint replied and took out his credit card. “I told you I’d support you and the baby.” He reminded her.
            Natasha sighed. “But I can handle it too…”
            “I know you can. You can buy something else if you want but I promised I’d be there for you.” Clint said, his green eyes soft as he looked at her.  
            “And I believed you.” Natasha smiled back at him gratefully. She'd been looking at the price tags warily. “Thank you for this.” She murmured. “I really appreciate everything.”
            Clint smiled and went to check out leaving Natasha to her thoughts. She felt like she was in the middle of a tug of war. One side of her wanted to fully trust Clint and open up to him but the other side was highly unsure of his intent. It was giving her a headache that she couldn’t ignore for even a second. 

Chapter Text

            They returned to Natasha’s after shopping. Clint went to take a shower and she was left to deal with the problem of having a two-bedroom apartment, both of which were occupied. But she still needed a space for the nursery. She sighed and just set the bags down content to solve the issue another day. “I mean we still have quite a few months left right?” Natasha said to her baby bump. She stopped and realized she had talked to the baby for the very first time. She figured the shopping trip with Clint had brought her into a new level of acceptance. The baby was really theirs and she or he would really be in her arms in just a short amount of time. She sighed, her headache developing again, and went to throw together a dinner for the two of them.
            Clint had left his phone on the kitchen counter while he showered and it vibrated against the granite surface. Natasha passed by it and curiously glanced at the screen.
            When are you going to call? I need to know when you’re coming home.
            I miss hearing your voice and just want you to hold me again. 

            Natasha’s heart stuttered when she finished reading the text. How could she have been so damn stupid? Of course he could be in a relationship back in California. Being in New York with her didn’t mean they were a couple; they were just going to be parents together. She scolded herself for ever thinking that he would actually want to stay when she hadn’t called him for months and had her friend break the baby news. The only reason he was there, or so she thought, was because he didn’t want to be viewed as a deadbeat to his friends and family. He would be there for the baby and that was the extent of it. He didn't really care about her, why would he? Why would anyone? 
            Natasha’s knees gave out on her and she slowly slid to the floor, her back against the cabinet. Her green eyes filled with shamed tears and she broke down, covering her face hoping it would all just go away. How was she so naïve to believe that him being kind and sweet meant that he had feelings for her? She had made so many mistakes that Natasha believed Clint couldn’t trust her. She strung him along selfishly, left him hanging without a word for three months, and then didn’t have the courage herself to tell him the news telling him to just forget about it.
            Clint got out of the shower and changed for dinner thinking nothing was wrong. He walked out and heard the soft sound of Natasha crying. He went around the counter to see her sitting on the floor curled up in a tiny ball. “Hey, what’s wrong?” He asked gently, kneeling down and putting a hand on her knee.
            Natasha’s head shot up and a look of embarrassment crossed her face. She quickly wiped her eyes and straightened up. “N-nothing’s wrong. I guess it’s just hormones.” She attempted to make up an excuse.
            “Natasha, you’re crying there has to be something wrong.” Clint replied. “Just tell me what it is.” He coaxed wanting to help her in anyway that he could. He also felt an odd intuition that her crying had something to do with him.
            She couldn’t help it and burst into tears again. “I don’t know why you’re here Clint! I really don't!” She cried. “You should be at home living your life, working, and taking care of your girlfriend. I don’t need you here I can be a single mother, I'll get by and everything will be fine. It’s all right, I don’t want to end your life. You're such a kind and caring man and you deserve to be happy.” She ranted hardly getting enough air to finish.
            “Whoa, whoa, whoa.” Clint shook his head and held out a hand to stop her. He could hardly believe the words she was saying. “Just breathe for a bit okay? I don't want you passing out." He waited until she took some slow but shallow breaths. "For starters, who said I had a girlfriend?” He asked in confusion. “Look, Bobbi and I broke up before I ever met you. When I went back I was hurt so she and I sort of had a thing going again but it didn’t mean anything. I would hardly call it dating.”
            “But you already have a life in California.” Natasha jumped to another conclusion on her list.
            “And I can start a new one here. It’s okay, ‘Tasha. I really want to help you and the baby. If that means giving up a clingy girl and a few work-friends then okay, done.” Clint told her his eyes never leaving hers. “I trust you so you need to trust me that I’m happy here.”
            “Why do you trust me?” Natasha asked her voice hardly above a hoarse whisper. “After all the horrible things I’ve done to you, why do you even listen to a word I say?”
            Clint sighed and looked down at his hand for a second. “Well…I thought about that too.” He admitted. “I hated myself for wanting to see you again even if you never called back. But I realized we all have things we’re working on at different times. Our time apart from Vegas to when we met up again…that was our time to work on ourselves. But now is our time to work together. So I trust you.” He concluded with no hesitation.
            Natasha sniffed and leaned forward to hug him tightly. “I trust you too.” She whispered back to him.
            Clint smiled and hugged her back. “Thank you.” He closed his eyes and let out a breath of relief. He felt like things were finally falling into place for him and that maybe Natasha and their baby was the life he was supposed to live. 

Chapter Text

            Natasha wasn’t sure how she woke up in his arms. It just happened. She was still emotional and he asked if he could do anything for her. She didn’t know why she wanted him near but she asked him to sleep in her room. He agreed without asking questions.

            Now Natasha woke up enveloped in warmth. Clint was on his side, slightly leaning into her back, his arm slung over her waist and his legs tangled with hers. She felt his heartbeat against her back and heard his soft breathing. She felt like if she moved even an inch it would disrupt the quiet calmness. She blinked a few times and tried to make sense of it all. She didn’t know what to do. There were heavy feelings that were sitting in her stomach and she had the urge to let them out and tell Clint how she felt towards him. But she didn’t know how he would react. Would his kindness ever have a breaking point? Would he stop and give up on her if she wanted more from him? Natasha bit her lip and went to untangle herself from his arms.

            Clint groaned and pulled her closer to him. “Nat…” He mumbled with his eyes still closed.

            “Sorry.” She whispered back and stayed still. “I didn’t mean to wake you up.” Her eyes moved from the floor to his hand.

            “It’s okay.” Clint woke up a bit more and yawned. He noticed his arm was around her and he subtly moved so he wasn’t touching her. He didn’t want to make her uncomfortable. He sat up and stretched. “Did you sleep well? I didn’t kick you or anything right?” He smiled sleepily.

            Natasha smiled weakly. “No of course you didn’t.” She shook her head. “I slept fine thank you.” Her eyes went down.

            “Is something wrong?” Clint asked. He was afraid that he had overstepped his boundaries by sleeping in her bed even though she’d asked.

            “No, nothing.” Natasha shook her head again. “I’m just caught up in my own thoughts.” She mumbled and stood up almost to avoid the conversation. She went through her drawers to pick out an outfit for the day.

            “Look, I’m sorry I should’ve just slept in the other room it wasn’t fair for me to…”

            Natasha glanced back at him with a funny look on her face. “Clint, I asked you to. If anything I should be thanking you for calming me down last night.” She said the last part quieter and more to herself.

            Clint sighed. “Yeah but…”

            “But nothing. Just don’t worry about it okay?” Natasha went into the bathroom to change.

            Clint waited still sitting in the bed resting against the headboard. He wanted Natasha to feel comfortable enough to come to him when she had problems. But at the same time he knew pressing her for an answer would only push her away. He decided to wait for her. He heard the slight rustling of clothes as she changed and then the sink turned on for a second and turned off. He cleared his throat and spoke. “Is there something bothering you?” He asked making his voice a little louder so she could hear him behind the door.

            Natasha looked at herself in the mirror and silently yelled at herself to answer truthfully. She sighed and shook her head. “It’s nothing terrible you don’t need to worry about it.”

            Clint pushed back the covers and quickly went across the hall to get a change of clothes. “Look, I told you right off the bat that I would worry about you and the baby because it’s only natural for me to.” He reminded her and changed into a pair of jeans. He pulled off his shirt right as she opened the door.

            She tried to advert her eyes but it was hard to. She didn’t remember sleeping with him in Vegas but seeing him shirtless she sort of wished she had... “Clint, I don’t need you to worry…” She forced herself to talk so he notice that she was thinking about his abs.

            “And I don’t need you to tell me what to worry about.” Clint gave her a look but it was angry it was just reminding.

            Natasha bit her lip and shook her head. “Whatever…” She mumbled and dropped it. He didn’t seem to want to though.

            “It’s not whatever. Tell me what you’re thinking about.” Clint coaxed and pulled on a t-shirt.

            “I’m just afraid you’re going to leave if I…” Natasha let her voice fade away but her eyes finally met his.

            He could see the helplessness in her green eyes. Clint could almost read her mind and realized she wanted to say something but didn’t know how. “It’s okay.” He said quietly. “You can tell me anything.”

            “I’m afraid you’re going to reject me when I tell you I have feelings for you!” Natasha blurted tearfully. She stumbled back a step as if she couldn’t believe she’d said the words out loud.

            Clint stood absolutely still. “You think I’d leave you if you told me that?” He asked gently. He didn’t want to spook her by overreacting. But inside he wanted to say the same thing. He was scared she would push him away if he confessed how he felt.

            “Why wouldn’t you? You don’t want to have a relationship.” Natasha muttered and rocked back and forth on her heels.

            Clint snorted. “Natasha, you have no idea what I want or don’t want.” He replied. “I never said I didn’t want to have a relationship with you.”

            “Doesn’t mean you want to!” Natasha retorted feeling angry that he was arguing about this.

            “I do!” Clint snapped back.

            They both went silent for a second and stared at each other. “You do?” Natasha whispered shakily.

            “I-I…yes.” Clint nodded firmly. “If you want to…”

            “I do…” Natasha felt tears in her eyes and swallowed. “Clint, I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone like you.” She continued and tears slowly rolled down her cheeks. “I’m terrified of the way you make me feel because I’ve never felt this way before. I feel happy and if I had to do any of this I would do it with you. You’re so perfect and loving and I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done for me…I don’t deserve the amount you’ve cared for me.

            Clint slowly smiled and walked up to her to hug her. “We’ll take it slow I just want you to be comfortable. Nat, you make me feel so happy too. You’re beautiful and even though we didn’t plan to do any of this I’m sort of glad it all happed.” He admitted.

            Natasha wrapped her arms around his neck and closed her eyes. “I can’t believe this…will it work?” She wondered out loud.

            “I think once we get to know each other and spend more time with each other, it’ll work out. So with that said do you want to go out on a date tonight?” Clint asked softly.

            Natasha smiled and nodded. “I’d love to.” She whispered. “Thank you Clint.”

            He didn’t say anything else, he was too happy. Instead he kissed her cheek and buried his face in the crook of her neck.

Chapter Text

            It was a subject Natasha was extremely uncomfortable about. But she was six months pregnant and she and Clint had been living together for two months. Most nights he spent in her bed. But they had only ever hugged or shared a friendly kiss on the cheek. So when Clint asked she felt obligated to say yes. 
            “Do you know when your next appointment is?” Clint asked from across the table one morning during breakfast. He put down the paper to look at her.
            “For what?” Natasha glanced up back at him from her breakfast. She enjoyed the quiet moments they had together. Just being in his presence made Nat feel like they were getting more used to each other. But of course there were still parts in their life that would make them feel a bit awkward around each other. But two months had gone by and there were few of those moments left...but of course one of them had to come up that morning. 
            “The baby.” Clint clarified looking in her eyes to try to read her expression. “Don’t you have to go in for ultrasounds and checkups, things like that?” He asked.
            Natasha nodded and averted her eyes. She bit her lip because she knew why he was asking. “Uh…I have to go in tomorrow actually at eight.” She told him quietly.
            “Oh, would you mind if I went with you?” Clint asked with a hopeful look. “I’d like to be there and see what it’s all about. It sounds pretty interesting.” He shrugged a little sheepishly.
            Natasha cleared her throat. “Uh…really? I mean it’s sort of boring.” She lied and scratched the back of her neck. “You probably don’t want to go, it’s long and nothing happens at least nothing has happened yet.”
            “I doubt that, I mean I’d like to see him or her.” Clint said earnestly but then he started to understand why she was making up excuses. “Unless you don’t want me to go?” He asked a bit quieter. Maybe she thought they weren't close enough or he didn't...deserve to go?
            Natasha shook her head. “It’s not that I don't want you to go, I just…I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable about all of…it.” She finally told him the truth.
            He didn't seem to think it would be a problem though. “I wouldn’t be uncomfortable, would you be if I went?” Clint asked slowly seeing why she was saying no.
            Natasha shrugged. “No…no you can come I wouldn't be uncomfortable.” She lied but just wanted to let him go so he wouldn’t keep pressing her for an answer. Before Natasha only brought her friends to the appointments. They told her to invite Clint to one but she wasn’t sure how it would all go down. No she had no choice but to find out first hand.
 
            Clint and Natasha sat next to each other wordlessly in the waiting room. Natasha put a hand on her growing stomach and glanced over at some baby magazines on a table next to her. She looked away though she still wasn’t ready to look at those damn things yet.
            Clint was looking at the same thing and reading some of the subtitles. Baby Yoga? Laughing Therapy? Unlocking your Child's Potential? What the hell? He raised an eyebrow and had to look away from the colorful magazine cover. He hoped parenting wouldn’t be that complicated. 
            “Natasha?” The nurse called them into the next room. She stood up and Clint followed close behind. Natasha was surprised she wasn't bolting out the next door to escape. Nat got dressed in a Johnny with Clint looking away per her instruction. She lay down on the table and waited. Clint sat down next to the exam table and awkwardly cleared his throat.
            “I told you you’d be uncomfortable.” Natasha mumbled and wrung her hands together nervously. She didn't want this to make them more awkward around each other. 
            “I’m not, I just don’t know what to say. I really don't know much about this stuff.” Clint admitted. “Could we find out the gender today? Are you far enough along?” He asked. He subtly hoped they would be able to. He'd had a few dreams in the last two months about finding out.
            Natasha shrugged. “I really don’t know.” She shook her head but remember the previous appointment she'd had. “Maybe, they said last time there was the possibility they could find out if the baby was in the right spot.”
            “That’s…” The doctor walking in cut off Clint’s sentence.
            “Miss Romanoff, nice to see you again.” Natasha smiled at her not sure what else to say. It’s nice to see you again? Thanks for looking at my insides at my fetus? “So is this the lucky man?” Doctor Anna asked smiling at Clint.
            “Hi, I’m Clint.” He smiled and shook her hand.
            “I’m glad you’re actually here. Natasha told me a lot about you but she never brought you along!” Anna smiled and went to set up the ultrasound machine. “You’ve got a beautiful baby growing in there.” She squirted out the cold goo onto Nat’s stomach.
            Natasha gave Clint an apologetic look for her doctor's...antics, but he was smiling and looking at the screen anxiously for any sign of their baby. He was sitting right on the edge of his seat because it was one of the most important events of his life. Clint knew he'd look back at this moment, the first sight of his child, and feel a sense of joy. 
            Anna moved the scanner around Natasha’s stomach and kept her eye on the screen too. “There’s the head.” She pointed out the shaping blob to Clint. “And a little hand near a foot.”
            His mouth opened slightly in awe. “Oh…wow.” He said quietly.  
            Natasha couldn’t help but watch too in amazement. The baby had grown probably the most she’d seen since the last ultrasound and dreams were starting to form as well. Holding her baby, kissing its tiny hand, seeing its small smile, and Clint...Clint holding their baby, whispering softly to him or her. Natasha's stomach turned and she knew it wasn't the baby moving. 
            A smile formed on Anna’s face. “I promised you a gender last time, would you like to know now?” She asked wiping the goo off of Natasha's stomach with a towel. 
            Clint and Natasha looked at each other. He nodded slightly and a shaky smile crossed Nat’s face as she nodded too. “I think so yeah.” She said quietly.
            “Well break out the pink, you two are having a sweet baby girl.” 

Chapter Text

            A little girl. Clint was ecstatic of course because either way he would’ve been. They could start to buy little pink things for the nursery and even start to think of names. They started moving furniture out of the spare room and replacing it with the new furniture for the baby. A crib painted white, a changing table, and a little dresser that held all the clothes they’d bought on their shopping trip. Natasha picked out a spot where she wanted to put the name they would pick for her up on the wall. Things were going well and not just in the baby sense but also in the relationship. Natasha and Clint learned more about each other and had trust in one another that most people couldn’t rival. Things were good.

            “Do you want to go out for dinner tonight?” Natasha offered.

            Clint had just returned home from work and was loosening his tie as he walked to the bedroom to change. “Not tonight, I have to do some work.” He said.

            “Oh…okay. You’re really busy huh?” She noted. He’d been working late for the last few nights.

            “Ever since I transferred from California they’re on my back about making up for lost time.” Clint sighed from the bedroom. “It’ll be over soon though.”

            Natasha stood up when she heard someone knock on the door. “Well, let me know if I can make you something.” She said to Clint and opened the door.

            “Surprise!” Janet was standing at the door surrounded by everyone in the friend group that went to Vegas together. They were all carrying pink things and Natasha soon realized what it was for.  

            “Oh…wow.” She laughed and shook her head. “You guys really didn’t have to do all this…” She turned when she heard Clint clear his throat behind her. He was looking around as if he was oblivious to the baby shower forming outside their door. “You knew about this didn’t you?” Natasha smiled slyly.

            Clint finally looked at her and smiled. “Knew about it?” Carol piped up. “He planned the whole thing.” She said and the girls started to file in and set up.

            “You planned this?” Natasha asked him softly.

            “Well, I don’t know about planned but I helped put the idea in their heads.” Clint admitted. “Do you like it?” He asked hopefully.

            Natasha nodded and hugged him close. “Thank you.” She said softly.

            Clint smiled and hugged her back, pressing a kiss to her forehead. “You deserve it.” He murmured back. “Now have a good time okay? I’ll be back later, I’m going out with a couple work friends.” He withdrew from the hug and pulled on his coat. “Have fun ladies.” He said to the girls and waved at them.

            “Bye Clint!” They all replied with a few giggles as he left the apartment.

 

            “Ugh worst date had to have been Tony Stark my senior year.” Jessica complained. They were all sitting and talking after Natasha had opened gifts from them. “He showed up two hours late and said it was because he had to drop another girl off.”

            “Please, you had to have been there in college.” Melissa gestured wildly with her glass of champagne. “Met this guy named Luke my sophomore year. He brought me to this frat party and dared me to do a keg stand. Let’s just say I left pretty early.”

            “Well Felicia had Peter didn’t you, Fels?” Colleen piped up and pointed her friend.

            The woman rolled her eyes. “Don’t even mention that scum bag.” Felicia groaned. “I dated him for two years before I found out he was engaged to this red head. Dropped that one like he was a spider.”

            “I was stood up once or twice but nothing like Patsy.” Carol shook her head. “Remember that guy?”

            “Robert Baxter.” Patsy nodded. “I was infatuated with him so when he stood me up twice in one week I gave him another chance.” They all shook their heads and made disapproving sounds. “Three weeks later and we were talking but I realized I still hadn’t even had a first date with him.

            “You should’ve met Pietro’s ex-girlfriend, she was a piece of work.” Wanda said. “Crystal, she kept having affairs and I told him to quit her but no he kept taking her back.” She shook her head. “Took him years to leave her.”

            “Well, I feel like everyone settles eventually.” Janet shrugged.

            “That’s because you’re married, Jan.” Jessica rolled her eyes. “I’m sure Natasha would say the same thing, right Nat?” They all seemed to turn their eyes directly at her.

            Natasha swallowed and shrugged. “Uh…are you talking about Clint?” She asked. Melissa snorted as she got up to get another drink.

            “No we’re talking about the other father of your child who lives in your apartment.” Felicia said sarcastically. “Of course we’re talking about Clint!”

            “What’s been going on between you and your baby daddy?” Patsy leaned forward in high interest.

            Natasha wrinkled her nose at the term. “Don’t call him that, sounds weird.” She mumbled.

            “Okay, well what am I supposed to call him?” Patsy asked. “Your…boyfriend?” All the girls twittered in excitement.

            “I don’t know, okay?” A nervous smile formed on Natasha’s face. “We haven’t made anything official yet.”

            “You two have to be close though.” Colleen said firmly. “You live together and you said he takes care of you.”

            “He does but…”

            “It sounds like you two are married, more like it.” Janet said in a stage whisper. “That’s exactly how Hank and I are. We’re not concerned with labels, we’re married, we live together, we love each other, and that’s it.”

            “It’s a little more complicated than that…”

            “Oh no, does he have a girlfriend?” Wanda gasped.

            “No! No, of course he doesn’t.” Natasha shook her head. “We just…. after Vegas we’re still settling some things.” She tried to explain.

            “Oh really?” Melissa asked from down the hall. “Because I found a little something in your bedroom, missy.” She threw one of Clint’s shirts into the group sitting in the den.

            They all squealed and grabbed at it. Natasha’s face turned bright red and she yanked his shirt from their hands. “It’s nothing! So we’re sleeping together…” It was like Natasha had told them all a celebrity was coming to visit.

            “You’re sleeping together?!” Janet exclaimed with a grin on her face. “Natasha Romanoff, pregnancy doesn’t stop you does it?!” They all giggled and started to input their ideas too.

            “In the same bed, idiots!” Natasha yelled over their commotion. “We’re sleeping in the same bed, not sleeping together.” She rolled her eyes. “You’re all so crazy.”

            “Aw, that’s no fun.” Carol complained. “He’s so attractive how couldn’t you?” She asked.

            “Because I’m pregnant, not single and desperate like some people I know.” Natasha glared at them.

            “But that’s still a big thing.” Janet spoke up. “It was years before Hank and I moved in together. I don’t think I ever slept in the same bed with him even if I slept over his house when we started dating.” She shrugged. “You must care a lot for each other.”

            “Well, of course we do.” Natasha said softly and all the girls quieted down to listen. “We made a few mistakes but they all led to us being here. He…he came to see an ultra-sound with me and you should’ve seen the look on his face when we found out it was a girl.” Her eyes got a little dreamy as she remembered. “It was like it was all he ever wanted…and I was a part of what he wanted.” She blushed when she remembered whom she was talking to. “It sounds sort of silly but I think I love him.”

            Janet looked at her best friend earnestly and reached over to touch her hand. “You don’t need to tell us that, you need to tell him.”

 

            Once the girls left, Natasha was left alone but only for a little bit. Carol texted Clint to say they were gone and he should go back home. He did the second she sent him the message. He opened the door and smiled when he saw Natasha still on the couch looking through some of the hilarious cards her friends had given her.

            She started to read some to him and he sat down next to her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. “Congratulations on being nine months sober, congratulations on being only nineteen babies away from having a reality show, attending your baby shower reminded me to take my birth control pill, even though you let my house plants die while I was on vacation I think you’ll be a great parent.”

            Clint chuckled and shook his head. “They’re a funny bunch, huh? Did you have fun?” He asked.

            Natasha smiled and nodded. “It was nice to sit down with them all and talk.” She said.

            “Come to any brilliant conclusions?” Clint was joking of course because he didn’t know exactly what they’d talked about.

            Natasha glanced up from her hands and over at him and nodded. “I did, actually.” She said quietly.

            “Oh really?” Clint looked back at her with a smile. “What did you come up with?” He wondered.

            “That I love you.”

            Her words came out soundly, they were rushed or choppy, it was natural. She knew because it was the truth.

            Clint’s face softened and he felt his pulse quicken. “I love you too.” He replied just as easily as she had said it. “I really do, Nat. Being with you has been the best few months I’ve had for a really long time.”

            “I feel the same.” Natasha murmured. Her green eyes shone happily and for the first time in her pregnancy she looked like she was glowing.

            Clint smiled. “Would it be alright if I uh…” He moved a little closer to her, gazing right into her eyes. “I mean…could I…”

            “Just kiss me, Clint.” Natasha put an arm around her neck to pull him closer. He laughed softly and leaned forward to kiss her. Things were great.

Chapter Text

            Things were great until the complete unexpected happened. No one ever thought something like it could happen especially to a couple like Natasha and Clint. But it did and they were forced to cope with the aftermath.

            Natasha was thirty-six weeks pregnant. She and Clint were preparing for the baby and balancing a relationship at the same time. It all seemed to work though; all their friends would say so.

            “That’s great, Janet!” Natasha was on the phone waiting by the microwave for the bag of popcorn to finish popping. “I can’t wait to see you so we can talk about it more but I’m happy for you.” She smiled. “I know…I know.” Her eyes wandered over to Clint who had walked into the kitchen. He went up behind her and wrapped his arms around her, placing his hands gently on her stomach. He placed a kiss on her neck right under her jaw. Natasha felt her knees go weak but she tried to stay alert. She put a hand over Clint’s and tilted her neck slightly to invite him to continue so he did. Natasha tried her best to listen to Janet but she was just paying attention to Clint’s gentle touches. Finally, Janet had to go and hung up. Natasha put the phone down.

            “What was Janet calling about?” Clint asked lifting his head, and resting his chin on her shoulder.

            “They found out she’s pregnant.” Natasha answered. “She’s so happy, Hank was surprised but I’m sure he’s more than excited.”

            “He should be, it’s sort of the best thing ever.” He murmured back with a smile.

            Natasha laughed softly and leaned back into his chest. “I love you.” She whispered.

            “I love you too, Nat.” Clint replied. “And baby girl.” He added and lovingly ran his hand over her large stomach.

            “Baby girl yet to be named.” Natasha sighed. She wanted to pick a name before the birth but every name she came across in all the baby books ever made didn’t seem good enough. She wanted the perfect name for their daughter, who she knew would be perfect herself.

            “We’ll find a name.” He promised. “It’ll just be a matter of time before the perfect combination of letters arrives before us. The heavens will open up.” Clint joked.

            “Hey, this is serious!” Natasha protested.

            “I know, I know!” Clint laughed and nuzzled her neck. “You can take as long as you want, I want you to be happy with the name she has.”

            “I only have about four weeks left though.” Natasha bit her lip.

            “You’ll find it.” Clint promised softly. He looked up when he heard the door buzz. They both looked at each other in confusion. It was late and they weren’t expecting anyone. “I’ll get it.” He said and withdrew his arms from around her. He walked to the door and glanced through the peephole before he opened it. Admittedly he was surprised to see who was standing there but he figured there had to be an explanation. “Bobbi…what are you doing here?” He asked with a confused look on his face.

            Clint’s ex-girlfriend smiled. “I came to visit you, silly.” She said like they hadn’t been apart for months with no communication. “We haven’t talked in a while so I decided to fly over so we can get dinner and have a real conversation. We need to talk about our relationship.” Bobbi went to enter the apartment.

            Clint blocked her entrance though. “Bobbi, we’re not dating anymore, I told you that. We’ve haven’t even talked. How did you know where I was staying?” He asked.

            “Your office told me.” Bobbi shrugged like it was nothing. “But I don’t know what you’re talking about, we’ve been dating for a while.”

            “No, I told you that I wasn’t coming back to California and we weren’t together anymore.” Clint replied firmly.

            Bobbi’s bright face fell. “But you…”

            “You should probably leave.” Clint suggested and started to shut the door. The whole interaction was giving him a bad feeling in his stomach. He knew she was unstable and always had been.

            “I came across the country to see you!” Bobbi replied strongly. She noticed his wary face though and toned it back. “I wanted to see you even if we aren’t dating.”

            Clint eyed her face and found a sense of calmness in her eyes. “I’m seeing someone else.” He told her right away. He figured that would set her off.

            But it didn’t. Bobbi shrugged nonchalantly. “Okay, that’s fine with me, we’re not dating like you said.”

            Clint felt the strange feeling inside of him grow. “So…”

            “Are you going to invite me in?” Bobbi prompted like he was the one being rude.     

            Clint had no idea what he was thinking. It was like she could cast a convincing spell. “Yeah, uh sure come in.” He opened the door wider and stepped aside to let her enter the front hallway. “Do you want a drink?” He asked walking into the kitchen.

            “No that’s alright.” Bobbi said and looked around with interest. Besides that, Clint couldn’t read her expression.

            “How are you doing?” Clint asked awkwardly trying to be as polite as he could be to his crazy ex-girlfriend who wasn’t acting crazy at all.

            “Fine, fine.” Bobbi nodded with a shrug. “Just been sort of busy.” The two walked into the kitchen and found that Natasha had left for a minute.

            Clint was a bit relieved he wasn’t sure how to explain the situation to her yet. He took the time to think of a reason. “That’s good. I’m glad you’re doing okay.” He said.

            “You seem to be doing well yourself.” Bobbi said with another glance around the apartment. Her eyes zeroed in on a picture of Clint and Natasha but he didn’t notice her eyes flick to a wired look. He just noticed her looking.

            “That’s Natasha, my girlfriend.” Clint prefaced.

            “Oh…she’s pretty…” Bobbi nodded and went back to her calm look and leaned against the kitchen counter next to the sink. She glanced down into the sink and its contents and made a mental note.

            Seconds later, Natasha walked back into the kitchen. She was surprised to see the blonde haired woman standing across from Clint. She glanced at her boyfriend with a questioning look.

            “This is Bobbi.” Clint said hoping she remembered the name so he didn’t have to say ex-girlfriend out loud. He didn’t think it would settle well.

            Natasha nodded and placed herself right by Clint’s side. “Right, nice to meet you.” She said with a polite smile.

            “Nice to meet you too.” Bobbi’s fakeness was starting to show through as it became harder for her to keep up the act. She stared at Natasha’s pregnant stomach. “Nice to meet you…” She repeated quieter.

            “What brings you to New York?” Natasha wondered and placed a hand on her stomach.

            “Oh, you know…you and your baby.” Bobbi said as if she said something like sight seeing or business.

            Clint immediately saw Bobbi’s eyes change again and her hand go into the sink. He reacted quickly and pulled Natasha behind him. Bobbi didn’t notice and pulled the large kitchen knife out of the sink. She lunged and attacked Clint with the intention of going after Natasha and her unborn child.

Chapter Text

            Natasha screamed as Clint hunched over and fell to the floor, the knife still in his stomach. Bobbi’s eyes widened when she realized what she’d done. Her crazed eyes glanced up at Natasha before dashing out of the apartment in fear. The knife dropped and clattered to the floor. Natasha dropped to the floor too. She saw the blood already start to spread on his gray colored t-shirt. The dark color made her stomach sick and tears of panic come to her eyes. “Clint, oh my God, Clint please, just stay with me okay?” Her voice shook and she tried to get back on her feet to grab the landline phone. She called for an ambulance sobbing.
            “Nat…” Clint groaned and tried to sit up. He had pounding in his ears and his lower body had gone numb. The stab had really only felt like a punch because of the shock. He didn’t even realize that he was bleeding out of his stomach. “Don’t call an ambulance, I’m fine. Just get me an ice pack. I'll be fine.” He slurred his words and could hardly breathe.
            “No you’re not! She stabbed you!” She was hysterical and per the operators instructions she grabbed a dishtowel and pressed it to his stomach to try and stop the bleeding.
            Stabbed? Clint noticed the flash of blood and felt a little faint. Okay maybe his crazy ex-girlfriend had stabbed him. “Nat, Jesus, Nat am I going to die?” He wasn’t really sure at that point and she was the only one who knew the answer. 
            “No, you’re not.” Natasha said firmly like she really did know. “If you die before our little girl gets here then I’ll never forgive you.” She told him as an incentive to heal.
            “But then I’ll be dead…” Clint’s sarcasm wasn’t dying, that was for sure. His green eyes were full of a fading laugh. 
            “This isn’t the time for joking!” Natasha yelled at him in panic. He was scaring her because he was joking with a gaping wound in his stomach. “Just breathe and don’t you dare go anywhere.”
            “I’m on the ground dying I’m not going anywhere.” He mumbled but didn’t want to upset her so he kept the line to himself, saying it under his breath. 
            The ambulance arrived at the curb and Natasha could see the flashing red and blue lights through the windows. It was a feel of relief but at the same time she had no idea what was going to happen to him. She let EMTs in and they ushered her aside so they could either work on Clint or get him to the hospital. One young woman sat Natasha down, immediately realizing she was pregnant and walked her through some breathing. It worked just enough for Natasha to stop hyperventilating. 
            
             Finally, they opted to get Clint onto a stretcher and to the hospital as quickly as they could. “’Tasha…” Clint was still awake and was adamant about staying with her.
            Natasha went to stand up but the EMT advised her to wait until a friend could drive her over, as the ambulance ride wouldn’t be anything for the faint of heart. She eventually agreed and had to listen as the ambulance screamed down the road.
            Police showed up to take pictures and a statement from Natasha who was immediately wrapped in a shock blanket to calm her down. It took a while until she was calmed down enough to say anything. 
            “She just…she just went at me but he stepped in the way to protect me.” Her voice was shot and she could hardly relive the event that had happened mere minutes ago. “I don’t know where she went or which way she ran.”
            “We’ll take care of her, don't worry about that. She can't have gotten too far, we'll catch her.” The officer promised her. “I wish you the best of luck.” He said not wanting to get her more hysterical and decided to go back to the investigation happening in Nat's apartment. 
              Melissa pushed through the NYPD officers and rushed to her friend’s aid. “What happened? Is everything okay? Is the baby okay?” She gasped after running from her apartment when she saw the ambulance and Clint being wheeled out of the building. She was terrified for her friends and their unborn daughter and dashed over to the apartment building. 
            “She-she stabbed him!” Natasha hiccuped and felt her chest tighten as she had to say it again. “She just-just stabbed him!”
            Melissa’s eyes widened. “Who stabbed him?” She asked in shock. “Is he all right? What happened to him?” She reached out to touch her arm comfortingly but she was in a panic herself. Who in the world would stab the charismatic businessman? 
            “His ex-girlfriend.” Natasha’s blood boiled at the thought of the horrible woman. She wanted nothing more than for the police to find Bobbi and sentence her to life behind bars. It would be justice in Nat’s eyes. Then the image of Clint’s stomach bleeding interrupted her thoughts. Natasha felt her whole body ache in anxiety. “I don’t know if he’ll be all right.” She hiccuped again and collapsed into her friend’s arms.
            Melissa held her tightly taking care of Natasha's baby bump. “It’s okay he’ll pull through, I’m sure he will.” She said even though she really had no idea what reality Clint was in for. 

Chapter Text

            “It was just a small tear, thankfully the knife didn’t hit any major organs.”
            Clint was trying to listen but he had just woken up from surgery and was still drugged up. He blinked a few times before he answered. “Uh…okay.” The ringing in his ears quieted down a little bit so he could listen but his mind still wandered in the painkiller haze.
            “You’ll recover just fine.” The nurse said gently. “Just rest for a bit and then you can go home as soon as we've cleared you. I don't think it'll take very long.”
            “Is ‘Tasha here?” Clint slurred and turned his head a little bit to the side. He'd almost expected her to be there when he woke up. “I wanna see ‘Tasha.”
            “Your girlfriend?” The nurse asked. “I think she’s out in the waiting room. Would you like for me to go get her?”
            Clint nodded weakly. “Yeah…” He closed his eyes and started to feel the dull ache in his stomach where Bobbi had stabbed him. The stitches closed the wound up but the internal scarring still pained him.
            The nurse asked someone to call in Natasha for him. She was still out in the waiting room after sitting for close to two hours while Clint went through the repairing surgery and stitches. She had calmed down a bit but she felt a bit of pain in her stomach that she assumed was from the stress. She ignored it though, too worried about her boyfriend. Every nurse that came in she hoped would call her. She just wanted to see Clint to make sure he was okay. Finally, a nurse did come to call her.
            Melissa helped her stand up and walked to the recovery room but waited for her outside in the hall. She guessed they would want their privacy. Natasha walked in slowly with a hand on her stomach. She couldn’t stop thinking about how if Bobbi had gotten to her before Clint had. She could’ve died…the baby could’ve died too. She swallowed and tried to block out the idea. She went up to the bed and smiled weakly when she saw Clint’s eyes half opened.
            He glanced over at her and a smile formed on his face too. “Hey…” He mumbled. Seeing her was like an angel but he was glad to know that he wasn't in heaven.
            “Hi.” She whispered. “How are you feeling? Are you still waking up?” She asked and reached for his hand. It felt like touching him would make her convinced that he was alive and well.
            “Yeah…I’m fine though. Can’t feel anything yet.” Clint stretched a bit and yawned. He tried to squeeze her hand but he couldn't feel it too well yet. “I’m sorry this all happened. I shouldn’t’ve let her in, I had no idea she would do something like that.”
            “We both didn’t know.” She replied. “You can’t blame herself for what she did.” Natasha almost shivered at reliving the memory for the thousandth time that night.
            Clint looked at her, observing her closely. “You look tired.” He commented. “Have you slept at all tonight?”
            Natasha shook her head. “No, Melissa tried to get me to, but it’s pretty late so it doesn’t really matter anymore. I don't mind being up.” She said. “You don’t need to worry.”
            “I’m going to worry about you especially all the stress she put you through. That can’t be good for the baby.” Clint bit his tongue from saying anything else about Bobbi. He’d rant about it later to someone else. Natasha didn’t need to hear it.
            “I’m fine…”
            “And you’d tell me if you weren’t right?” He eyed her as he started to become more aware of his surroundings the more the anesthesia wore off. The alarm bells were ringing once he put together how much grief Natasha went and how she looked like she was experiencing pain at that current moment.
            Natasha had to sit down because of the pain in her lower abdomen that kept jabbing into her. “I’m completely fine. I just want you to rest and get better.” She said softly.
            Clint sighed. “You wouldn’t lie to me though, right?” He asked again not sensing that she was telling him the truth. He didn't want to make her guilty he just wanted to know. He didn't want anything to happen to her because of something Bobbi did. 
            “It’s just a little stomach pain, it’s nothing.” Natasha didn’t want to lie to him but she didn’t want him to worry either. More stress wouldn't be good for him. 
            Clint looked alarmed even though she waved him off. “You should at least get looked at.” He said. “We’re in a hospital and you wouldn't be wasting their time. You want to make sure that the baby’s okay.” He tried to convince her into getting some help if she was in pain.
            “Clint, it’s not an emergency….”
            “You don’t know, please Natasha, for me?” He pled softly, his green eyes looking right into hers. “It would make me feel better if they made sure.”
            She sighed and nodded. “I’ll talk to the nurse about it.” She promised and leaned over to kiss his forehead. The pain stung at her but she tried her best to ignore it. “I’ll be right back, get some rest.” She stood up shakily and went to find one of the nurses that were looking over Clint. Minutes later she would be rushed into the maternity ward. 

Chapter Text

            “I'm sorry, but you all cannot come in here at once. They’re very busy and working on helping her!” The nurse had to practically barricading the door to hold back Natasha’s friends from going inside.
            “She needs someone there for her!” Felicia said angrily. “She’s probably terrified, she’s needs us to be by her side! Her boyfriend's in the freaking recovery room so she has no one else but us!”
            “We’re her best friends!” Jessica added although she wish she could've said sisters so they would've considered letting them into the room. 
            “I understand but only family members are allowed in, I’m sorry.” The nurse looked terrified as the fierce girls still argued with her.
           
            They were all scared though. Natasha hadn’t told Melissa or Clint that she was throwing up blood while she waited for Clint to recover. She figured it was just something that she ate and everything would be okay. She walked out of the recovery room after talking to Clint and promptly fell to the ground, passing out cold. They rushed her to the ward to make sure the babies were okay from the fall. That’s when they found the umbilical cord had wrapped around the little girl’s neck. The doctor’s immediately went into an emergency C-section to save the baby. Now the girls were all anxiously awaiting the outcome of their friend’s premature surgery.
           
           They backed off a little bit after waiting for a while and when it was clear the nurse wasn't giving in. “It must’ve been the stress from Clint.” Janet whispered. She put her hands on her stomach. She couldn’t even imagine this horror and was now terrified for her own baby even if she was only a few weeks along.
            “Do you think it could happen that quickly?” Wanda asked. “I mean…that was hours ago.”
            “She was hysterical.” Melissa nodded. “I was surprised she was still upright that entire time.” She sighed heavily. “I wish I could’ve caught her…maybe this wouldn’t have happened.”
            “You wouldn’t have been able to know that she was going to fall.” Colleen put a hand on her friend’s shoulder. “It’s not your fault, it’s no one’s fault. If we had known we would’ve all helped.” The other girls nodded in agreement.
            “Well…I guess this is why they say not to sleep with guys in Vegas.” Carol joked trying to make a positive outlook on everything. It sounded wrong though and they knew this was different. 
            They all laughed weakly but fell silent after a few seconds. Their minds wandered to the worst possible situation and they stared at the operating room door.
 
            Clint woke up again an hour or two later. His first thought was Natasha. “Hey…have you heard from my girlfriend?” He asked the new nurse sitting by his side. “She was supposed to check in with a doctor about pains in her stomach, she’s eight months pregnant. I don't know if they told you anything new?”
            The nurse looked at him in shock. “Oh…yeah she uh…let me go check.” She stood up to make sure what she’d heard in the break room about the poor woman was actually true.
            Clint’s stomach dropped a little because he’d almost expected to wake up to Natasha siting by his bedside again. She would say something about the baby kicking or just something she ate that didn’t agree with her stomach. But her absence made him worry. What if they'd found something wrong and he couldn't be there to be by her side like he was supposed to?
            The nurse came back with a doctor from the maternity ward. “Mr. Barton, I’m glad you’re awake. We just finished the procedure with Miss Romanoff. Good news, she and the baby are okay. Natasha is resting now however the baby is in the NICU. She’s just too small still and there are several health concerns we have about her.”
            Clint felt faint but he knew he needed to stay strong. “I need to see the baby.” He said as if his daughter would die any second and he would never see her alive.
            “You’re still recovering maybe…”
            “No, I need to see her.” He insisted again. He wasn't going to give in even if he was dying himself. He wouldn't be able to live with himself if he never saw his daughter's eyes open or her move or even her breathing.
            The doctor gave the nurse a slight nod and she started to take out the IVs in Clint's arm. She handed him his clothes so he could change and brought him over to the NICU.
            The doctor brought Clint over to the incubator where his and Nat's baby was. “She’s just three pounds but I have a strong feeling that she’ll make it.” He said gently. “There’s no need to worry, we’ve dealt with cases like these before.”
            Clint stared at the tiny little baby hooked up to IVs and tubes. He had so many emotions running through his head he felt like breaking down in tears. “Wow…that’s really her.” He whispered and sat down in front of the incubator. “Hey princess…” He said and gently put a hand up to the glass. His daughter yawned and shifted over a bit so her closed eyes were facing him. "We're going to bring you home." He promised quietly. "We're going to be a happy family, you, me, and mom, okay? I promise..." 

Chapter Text

            Carol sat down next to Clint. “Hey…Nat’s awake if you want to see her. They said it's alright for you to go in there.” She told him gently hoping he'd get up right away and come with her.
            Clint glanced over at her but shook his head. “Is she okay?” He asked. His eyes went right back to his daughter who was still in the incubator. He had hardly moved the last twelve hours. Her life hung up in the air and no one knew how long she was going to live or if she’d pull through. Clint wanted to be there every second of her life if it was going to be that short.
            “She’s fine, just a little sore. It was pretty traumatic for her body I guess.” Carol said. “She’s asking for you though. She wants to make sure you’re all right too. You should go see her.”
            “I can’t leave her side.” Clint said quietly. “Not until they guarantee that she’s going to live.”
            “The doctors said she’d be alright.” Carol replied softly. “You should go see Nat, she needs you right now. She’s pretty upset that she can’t see her own daughter and she needs your support.”
            “I’ll see her later.”
            “Please Clint, just for a minute then you cam come back…”
            “I said, I’ll see her later.” Clint said stubbornly. He laced his fingers together and stayed sitting by all the machines keeping his daughter alive.
            Carol sighed and stood up. She knew Natasha wasn’t going to like it when she came back without Clint. “I’ll be back later if you change your mind.” She mumbled to him before leaving the NICU.
            He didn’t say anything back. He watched as his daughter yawned and stretched her tiny fist in the air. Clint loved Natasha more than anything but there he made a choice to protect their daughter. For God’s sake he got stabbed for her so of course he would stay by her side too.
 
            Hours passed and every check on the premature-born was uncertain. The doctor could neither say she would live nor could he say she would die anytime soon. “We just have to wait and see,” was all he ever said. Clint was growing frustrated. All he wanted to do was take his daughter home so he and Natasha could start their family life together. But the more he stayed in the NICU the more he realized Natasha wasn’t exactly going to embrace him warmly. He knew they would probably have to talk about some things. Maybe he was wrong for not seeing Natasha even for a little, but he still stayed put.
            Eventually, Carol returned like she said she would. “They need you to sign the birth certificate.” Natasha wasn’t the only one upset at Clint. The girls were too. They were the ones who had to look after their friend as she recovered from the emergency C-section even though it should’ve been the boyfriend holding her hand. But instead they had to sit with her when she was in pain and cried about the baby and Clint. So no, they weren’t happy with him either.
            Clint took it and went to sign his name. That’s when he noticed the birth name was already filled out. “Natasha named her?” He asked a bit surprised. He thought she didn’t have any names lined up for the birth but apparently she’d thought of one.          
            “She was going to wait for you but she decided you were taking too long.” Carol answered unforgivingly. “We all agreed too.”
            “Sorry.” Clint muttered. He didn’t think he should be persecuted for wanting to stay by his fragile daughter. He looked at the name written out by Natasha, Celeste Helen Barton. He mouthed the name out and then said it so he could hear it. “Celeste.”
            There was a small coo from inside the incubator.
            Clint looked over and saw his daughter’s eyes open for the very first time. He smiled widely. “You like the name mom gave you?” He asked softly. He was nearly in tears when he saw her sparkling green eyes. “Celeste?” He whispered.
            The baby girl made another small noise and moved a bit.
            Clint couldn’t believe his eyes. She was improving, maybe there was a chance she would survive everything. They could have a family together. He stood up suddenly and went to go find Natasha, leaving Carol to watch Celeste.
            Natasha looked up when she saw her boyfriend walk into the hospital room. Melissa instantly went on the defense for her exhausted friend. “Listen, you. You need to leave before…”
            “It’s okay.” Natasha spoke up. “I want to talk to him alone.” She said quietly. Melissa looked at Janet, the only other one in the room. They shrugged but decided to file out without another word.
            Clint went up to Natasha and hugged her gently. “Celeste opened her eyes.” He whispered to her. “She’s moving, she’s awake, and I think she’s going to be okay.”
            Natasha swallowed and felt tears sting her eyes as she did her best to hug him back. “I just want to see her.” She sniffed. “She must be so beautiful. I don’t know why they won’t let me see her, I feel fine.”
            “C’mon, I’ll bring you down there.” Clint said. He didn’t want to waste another moment he just wanted his family together. He helped take out the IVs in her arms and picked her up, bridal style, to carry her to the NICU. He brought her to the incubator and sat her down in the chair he was sitting in before.
            Natasha pulled the bathrobe she was wearing closer around her and gasped softly when she saw her little girl. Celeste’s eyes were still open as she looked around her clear surroundings. “My baby…” She whispered. She burst out into tears and half fell into Clint’s arms.
            He held her close. “She’s going to be alright.” He promised. “We’re going to be a family. We’re going to be okay.” 

Chapter Text

            After a few days, Celeste could be moved into Natasha’s hospital room. She was still attached to some IVs and tubes but they could finally hold her. Clint was asleep in the corner, completely worn out from all the stress and emotions stemming from the hospital environment. Natasha tried to get him to go home for even just a few hours so he could get some good rest but he refused.

            Celeste was a quiet baby. But after hearing, vision, and some other tests, the doctors told the new mother that it might just be a disposition because it wasn’t a health problem. She slept soundly and only cried when she absolutely needed something. Natasha held her as much as possible. She felt empty if she put her in the bassinette next to the hospital bed. She would only feel okay without Celeste, if Clint was holding her instead.

            “Daddy’s asleep huh?” Natasha whispered softly to her daughter. “It’s been a long few days. But we’ll get to go home soon.” She promised the newborn.

            Celeste yawned and opened her eyes when she heard her mother’s voice. She blinked and wriggled a bit in her swaddle to get more comfortable.

            Natasha smiled at her lovingly. “You look just like him.” She murmured. “But maybe you’ll get mommy’s hair?” She wondered out loud. “Would you like that?” Celeste just stared up at her with soft green eyes. Natasha leaned down to kiss her small forehead. “I love you and I’ll always protect you.” She promised and cradled her daughter close to her chest.

            Clint woke up a bit and yawned. He opened his eyes and smiled instantly when he saw Natasha holding their daughter. He stood up and walked to the edge of the bed, kneeling down, and resting his elbows near Natasha.

            Nat smiled over at him. “Did you get some sleep?” She asked.

            Clint shrugged. He wasn’t really concerned about how many hours he got. “I’m okay.” He said hoping it would be good enough for her.

            It really wasn’t, she was still worried about him being so tired, but she was too happy to argue. She looked back and Celeste. “Who’s that?” She whispered. “Is that daddy?”

            Clint smiled when Celeste’s eyes moved over to him. “Hi princess.” He said softly. He found her tiny feet in the swaddled and wiggled her toes gently. “How’s your third day in the world going?” He smiled.

            “She’s getting better and better every day.” Natasha said in a relieved voice. “They weighed her and said she gained a lot, she almost five pounds.”

            Clint made a surprised face at Celeste. “Five pounds!” He exclaimed. “You’re getting so big!”

            Celeste’s small lips turned up a bit into her version of a smile and she closed her eyes to fall back asleep.

            “She’s so perfect.” Natasha commented silently. “I can’t believe she’s actually real…she’s here though.”

            Clint smiled and stood up so he could kiss her cheek. “I’m just happy I made a mistake in Vegas.” He said back.

            “A mistake?” Natasha pretended to look offended.

            “A very good mistake!” Clint corrected himself. “One of the best mistakes of my life, a mistake that I would do over again if I could.” He promised.

            Natasha giggled. “I’m just teasing you. I would do the same too.” She admitted. “Maybe…one day we’ll make another mistake?” She shyly looked up at him.

            “You’re thinking about another kid already?” Clint raised an eyebrow.

            Natasha shrugged. “Sue me, I just miss being pregnant.” She rolled her eyes.  “I’m kidding of course. I just…I don’t know what the future holds for us but maybe we…”

            “Nat, are you asking me something?” Clint wondered.

            “No…wait what? No…I.” Natasha shook her head, all flustered. “I just wanted to know if we were going to stay together.”

            “Well, I wasn’t going to just leave you after this munchkin arrived. I love you both too much.” Clint reminded her. “Unless you were planning to ditch me?” He teased.

            “Of course not. You risked your life for me…you-you’ve been there for me and been the kindest person I’ve ever met.” Natasha whispered. “I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

            Clint felt so at peace when she said those words. It only solidified the fact that they were bound together for life because they both wanted to be, not just because of Celeste. “Well I’m really, really glad to hear that.” He told her.

            Natasha smiled at him with such a look of love it shone through her green eyes. So much so that she didn’t even have to say the three words because he already knew. 

Chapter Text

            “Alright so this is Celeste’s first day home.” Clint said as he held up his phone, recording a video.

            Natasha looked up and blushed. “Clint…” She scolded gently. “I don’t want to be on camera.”

            “Why not? You look beautiful.” Clint grinned. “Doesn’t she, Celeste?” The little girl yawned and closed her eyes. “I’ll take that as a yes.” Clint chuckled. “Nat, are you happy that she’s home?”

            Natasha smiled. “Of course I am. I’m sure she is too.”

            “Are you happy, Celeste?” Clint cooed and zoomed the camera at his daughter.

            There was a small smile that formed on her lips even though her eyes were closed. Her small fist moved slightly in the swaddle too.

            Clint smiled and turned off the video, putting his phone down too. He knelt down in front of Natasha who was sitting on the couch with Celeste cradled in her arms. “I’m so happy I can’t even explain it.” He said in a shaky voice as he looked at his daughter sleeping. There was a moment in that hospital that he wasn’t sure if he would have Celeste home.

            Natasha smiled and leaned forward slightly to kiss the top of his head. “You’re such a dad, you were made for the role.” She praised gently.

            Clint glanced up at her. “You really think so?” He asked as if he never thought he would hear those words from her.

            “Of course. I think I knew from the minute I stepped off the plane and you hugged me. I still barely knew you but I could…sense that you cared for the people you loved. Celeste and I are fortunate to fall under that list.” Natasha said softly.

            “You two are the top of that list.” Clint smiled.

            Natasha returned the smile but with a sigh. She looked down at Celeste. “So I guess we have our lives planned out huh?” She murmured. “Raise this little monkey?” She cooed.

            “Well there’s something else we haven’t really talked about.” Clint brought up with a nonchalant shrug.

            “Clint, I just had a baby we’re not talking about having another one.” Natasha told him firmly.

            He chuckled. “No of course not, that’s not what I was talking about. I was talking about you and I.” He clarified.

            “What about us?” Natasha thought it was all pretty simple at that point; they were in love and had a child together. She couldn’t think of anything more there was to their situation. It seemed like a happily ever after to her even though it was just the beginning.

            “Well…” Clint cleared his throat. “We’re not exactly married or anything…” He pointed out.

            Natasha looked surprised. “Oh…right.” For a second she almost thought they were married because it certainly felt like they were. “Well, if you want to…”

            “No it’s only if you want to, I don’t want to rush you into…”

            “You’re right though it might be good…”

            “You might not want to…”

            “But then again…”

            “It’ll probably just be a logistical thing…”

            “For Celeste…”

            “Right…”

            Both of them stopped talking over each other and laughed nervously. Clint reached over and put a hand on her knee. “If you’ll marry me…”

            “Of course I will.” Natasha whispered. “But only if you’ll have me.”

            “Please,” Clint rolled his eyes, “I’d be crazy if I didn’t want to have you as my wife.” He said.

            Natasha laughed softly. “Thank you.” She said quietly.

            “For what?” Clint tilted his head to the side in confusion.

            “For just…giving me a chance even after I took off and said those horrible things.” Natasha looked down shamefully.

            “Nat, those things don’t matter anymore.” Clint reached up so she was looking back at him. “They’re in the past and they only brought us to where we are before. I’m damn happy that I got drunk and had sex with a stranger in Vegas because that stranger was you. Where would I be if I didn’t have you? I’d probably be miserable and without a purpose. But we’re together and we have a beautiful daughter.”

            Natasha was in tears. “What did I do to deserve you? You’re too good for me.” She hiccupped.

            “Nothing, you were yourself and honestly I think we were meant to be together. Fate’s a crazy thing but it worked in our favor.” 

Chapter Text

            Celeste was sitting on a blanket among the green grass of spring. She looked around silently as the women in dresses and men in ties and suits mingled a few feet away. There was an arrangement of chairs in rows facing a platform covered in flowers. The warm sun seemed to brighten everything up and make it seem surreal to the young baby. She touched the soft blanket in front of her curiously, but her eyes still watched the people talking a language she didn’t yet understand. They all seemed happy to her though and that made her feel at peace and calm. There didn’t seem to be a reason to have a fit or cry but she would have to see later on how she felt.


            “Hey princess.” Clint had walked up the aisle to stand at the altar and found his daughter. “What’re you doing? Trying to find out what's going on?” He bent down to pick her up. Celeste cooed softly and reached out to touch his cheek. Clint smiled and touched her small cheek back. “What’s that?” He murmured and stepped up to take his place as the groom. Celeste babbled a bit trying to tell him what she thought it was. Clint chuckled and tousled her auburn hair that shone red in the sun. "You're a funny kid." He said lovingly.


            As the wedding started, Clint still held Celeste close in his arms. He and Natasha agreed that she should be a part of the ceremony because they were a family. When Nat walked down the aisle in her simple but beautiful dress, Celeste instantly knew who it was and she squealed happily. Natasha smiled and when she reached Clint she gently kissed the one-year-old’s cheek. “Hi my love.” She whispered to her.
            Throughout the short ceremony, Celeste distracted herself with the red rose pinned to Clint’s suit jacket. Towards the end though, she got a little impatient and started pulling out the petals and dropping them. Eventually, Natasha took Celeste from his arms so Clint could properly kiss her. Celeste giggled when she was wedged between her two favorite people in the world. It made Clint and Natasha smile when they parted.

            “I think she approves.” Clint murmured to Natasha. "That's a relief." He joked. 
            “I’m sure she does.” She smiled and gently kissed his cheek, keeping him as close as she could without crushing Celeste in her arms. “I love you so much.” She whispered to him as if he didn't know already and the wedding wasn't a good enough give away. 
            “I love you too.” Clint pressed his forehead to hers and closed his eyes for a second just to savor in the moment.
 
            In the middle of the reception, Natasha was sitting down to rest her aching feet from dancing for hours nonstop. Clint had actually gotten hold of Celeste after she was passed from guest to guest. She wasn’t put down for even a second the whole party. He took his daughter out to the dance floor during an upbeat song and started swaying and bouncing her around in his arms. Celeste was ecstatic as he spun around the dance floor with her and she squealed shrilly, a large smile on her face and her eyes shone her parents' brilliant green.


            Nat watched with a warm smile on her face and tears of happiness in her eyes. She couldn’t imagine a more perfect day in her life or one in the future that could possibly be better than that one. She reflected on the life she was living before she haphazardly fell into Clint’s life path. If she continued down that road she couldn't imagine ever being as happy as she was in that moment. If she hadn't met Clint, she would sleep around probably, get drunker every night, and continue the boring old job she always did. But now she was married to someone she loved and had a beautiful little girl. At the beginning Natasha couldn’t see an ending she would like to her story they all seemed bleak and frustrating. What if Clint had abandoned her from the start when she told him about the pregnancy? She would be raising Celeste alone in her tiny apartment, probably just getting by, and wondering what she could’ve had with the father of her child. But Clint persisted and she knew he was the kind of guy who would never leave his daughter and the woman he loved behind. Natasha could take solace in that.


            Clint caught his wife’s eye and gently made Celeste’s tiny hand wave to her. Natasha bit her lip and waved back. “I love you.” She mouthed to them both over the loud music. Her Vegas ‘one’-night stand smiled and winked at her in response.
            “Best drunk decision ever.” Natasha murmured to herself with a small smile.

(Okay and that's it! Sorry for the abrupt ending but I couldn't think of anything else to do. Thank you to everyone who read my little fic! If you like Clintasha check out my page for more fics.)