The mission is like any other, even if it takes place in the heart of the country. Get in. Retrieve the files and eliminate the target. Get out. They flirt and banter along the way, make a bet who’s going to finish their task first (her downloading the files or him taking out the target). They never find out. It’s all a trap, has been from the start and when Natasha finds the dead guards, hears Clint telling her he’s going in, she knows, it’s too late. His hoarse, broken Nat echoes in her mind for weeks.
He is brought to a secret facility, a playground for doctors who use him for their horrible and cruel experiments. Nightmares become his constant friend but he never gives up, trusts Nat to come for him. She gives her best, uses every tool in her arsenal to get information about his whereabouts, doesn’t rest until she has finally found him.
Time loses all meaning but one day there’s a hidden message from her, carved into a wooden panel, and Clint has barely time to process its meaning before he hears the unmistakeable sound of Nat’s Widow’s Bite. They bring hell down on the place, leaving nothing behind but smoking ruins and crushed bodies - like Budapest all over again. They don’t look back as they drive off.
Natasha takes him to her temporary hideout, an old barrack in the desert, and for a moment she has to close her eyes, battling her own emotions as she sees the extend of Clint’s injuries. Gently, with far greater care than one would suspect, she cleans him, runs her hands over his bruised body. When he wraps his fingers around hers and slowly pulls her close, she doesn’t resist. For the first time, their nightmares stay away.