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After the War

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Sergeant Clinton Barton had plans now that the war was over. To be honest, he'd been forming these plans since Bastogne, where he had spent far too long sitting in freezing foxholes waiting for the Germans to bomb the shit out of his company.

In no particular order, these plans were:

Move somewhere where it didn't snow;
Get out the hell of the army, and;
Track down that genius redhead who worked for the British Foreign Office and see if she wanted to walk out again.

There'd been other girls, particularly in Austria once victory had been declared, but Natalia Romanoff?

She'd been something, all right. He wouldn't be surprised if she'd found herself another man, but he'd be disappointed.

From Austria he was sent to France – along with most of his company, but only most because Army bureaucracy had to be actively fucking with them now – and from France, he escaped to England for a furlough as soon as he could.

He didn't find her.

She found him.

How Natalia managed to track him down was something he actually never found out, but later he'd put down to her secret powers. Scratch that. At the time he put it down to her scary secret powers. But whether it was magic or connections from the other debutantes still working in Intelligence, he got a telegram at his hotel asking if they could meet.

Hell yeah, Barton thought, and so he arrived at the café at the appointed time and day, and there was Natalia Romanoff. She was, it should be said, a damn fine-looking woman.

She also had with her a baby stroller

Barton's steps slowed.

“Ah, Sergeant Barton,” she said, and there was a small smile and those amazing polished vowels of hers and a baby stroller.

“Ma'am,” he said, eyes glancing from her to the kid. Baby. Cute little thing, sturdy with a head full of wispy blonde curls, chewing its (his? her?) fist. He had no idea how old, but the baby looked like she (he?) wanted to get out and start crawling.

Natalia's smile didn't move an inch, but he found himself glancing at her sharp red nails anyway.

“Uh, congratulations?” Barton added, and then stopped. She also wasn't wearing a wedding ring.

“So we avoid wasting time,” Natalia said, and that bluntness was something he'd liked but things were moving a bit too fast and too slow all at once. “This is Meg. Margaret. You're her father.”


Natalia rolled her eyes slightly. “So, are you going to take a seat, or are you going to go running away?”

“...not running,” he managed, but he didn't take a seat. Instead, he squatted down in front of the stroller and regarded Meg. His daughter.

“Hi,” he said, quietly.

Meg gnawed her fist and stared back, and he'd never seen anything more terrifying than when she suddenly shrieked with laughter and smiled at him.