Clint was having a nightmare. He dreamt of his mother, brother and the real reason this dream was a nightmare, his father. He was dreaming that they were all still alive and that they it was his mother's birthday. After all of the happy stuff his father started to drink, which had never been good. After being beaten to a pulp, he asked his mum why she put up with it.
"Because I love him very much Clint. And while that may hurt me, love is all I know how to give. You can't help who you fall in love with, you can only love them the best you can. He loves me too, in his own way." She had said this so many times before.
Clint awoke with a start. He sat up and looked over at the sleeping Natasha next to him. God that woman made everything better. He was more, for want of a better word, human with her around. Because he loved her and she loved him and they did it in their own special way. He knew what his mother had meant.
He looked around Natasha's apartment at all of the pictures that hung all over the walls. The majority where just of the two of them laughing, smiling, messing around and generally enjoying themselves. He thought back to all of the memories those pictures held. He managed to locate his favourite photo by the door. It was of him giving her a piggy back at a theme park and although her head was thrown back in laughter, yet her eyes were wide open and they could see everything perfectly. This was the first time he had wished that a relationship would never end. He wanted to go back to that moment and relive it forever.
Clint looked at another photo, this time it was the one closest to Natasha's heart, with the two of them kissing in the rain. She had her ballet shoes over her shoulder and was wearing her favourite pair of jeans, the ones she continued to wear after she ripped them. He was wearing his S.H.I.E.L.D uniform because he'd just got back from a 5 month long mission without her. Clint knew for a fact that this was her phone background, as well as having pride of place on the bedside table. He also knew that when she missed him she would hold her arrow necklace and look at it. Clint did it as well with his favourite photo and the spider charm on his keys. It made them feel less alone even though with the avengers they would never be again. Although neither assassin really had a home they had to wait to be reunited and Clint thought his home was with his beloved spider.
Strange to think that if they hadn't had such messed up lives they never would have met, Clint thought. They both had so much red but gradually the pair were wiping it out together and it was because of each other that their ledgers were being wiped out. Like it or not (mostly not in Natasha's case) love was all they could do for the other (despite her insisting love is for children on multiple occasions). The time that they spent alone was what put the past to rest.
"Nat, my..."he paused to checked the clock,"3am thoughts are really deep. Remember what I said last week? About life being easier with you in it? I want you to take that with you because love can't die" He murmured softly in to the sleeping redhead's ear.
Suddenly Natasha's phone started ringing. Clint picked it up and answered.
"Hello?" He asked throatily.
"Agent Romanoff, we need you or Agent Barton to come in. Both preferably." Spoke Maria Hill, clearly functioning on half an hour of sleep in 3 days and about 15 cups of coffee.
"It's Barton, I'll be there soon. Nat's asleep and she's peaceful, I'm not going to wake her."
"Fine. You have an hour to get here," and then she hung up. Clint groaned and got up wishing he didn't have to go in.
10 minutes later he was ready to go. He quietly made himself a cup of coffee and a piece of toast, because Natasha always nagged him to have breakfast. He kissed her forehead softly and took a picture of her on his phone, being careful not too wake her. He put his phone in his pocket and contemplated writing a note to say where he'd gone.
"Nah, she'll only worry," he thought. "Then kill me for not letting her come." He wanted to say goodbye, to hold her tight and vow to keep her safe, then have her jokingly punch him and promise the same.
"I'm going away Nat. Dunno for how long yet, but I'll call if it's more than 2 days. я люблю тебя , I love you." He said this as he was leaving.
"Clint?" Natasha woke as the door shut behind him. She took her locket off and opened it. The red room had issued each sixteen year old in their 'care' one to put photos in to make covers more believable. It now held a picture of a shirtless, beaten-up, bruised and bleeding Clint. She signed 'I love you and come back safe, idiot. I'll read your note in the morning'
As Clint drove to S.H.I.E.L.D he went down 6th street, just because. He spotted the place where Natasha's photo was taken. When he got to headquarters he suited up and called the Russian. It went straight to answer phone, so he left a message only six words long, that said it all.