Regarding the message that Clint sent Natasha via Tony in the last chapter of Enemies List: If you have the right map and you run a line from Thunder Bay, Ontario, to Pacoima, California, then run a line from Skagway, Alaska, to New Orleans, Louisiana, you would find they cross in the vicinity of Rapid City, South Dakota. Of course, you would have to know that the last place Clint saw Nat was New Orleans and that they have a safe house in S.D., so Clint was pretty sure that only Natasha could decipher his message.
Natasha Romanoff would never have run squealing into the arms of a man, but her current alias had no hesitation. And, to be honest, Natasha didn't mind having an excuse to hug the man she'd feared she'd lost forever.
Clint Barton — or rather his alter ego — was watering the bushes in the front yard of the modest tract home in a suburb outside Rapid City, South Dakota, when the airport taxi pulled up to the curb.
White-blonde hair flying behind her, Natasha launched herself from the backseat and threw herself at her partner. He let the hose drop, the nozzle automatically shutting off, and caught her as she literally leaped into his arms. "Frank!"
Clint swung her around in delight, her pink sundress flapping. "Baby, I missed you!" he exclaimed and kissed her thoroughly.
She ran her hands up and down the well-muscled arms revealed by his navy blue tank top. She pulled back from the kiss to admire his rugged face, dark pencil mustache and slicked back dark hair.
Clint combed his fingers through Natasha's thick blonde hair and pulled her close. She leaned against him, tucking her head under his chin. She felt safe for the first time since she'd seen Fury die. He felt complete for the first time since his world turned upside down and dumped him in the toilet.
Not trying to hide a smile, the taxi driver wheeled Natasha's suitcase up the front walk.
Clint fished bills out of the back pocket of his jeans and handed over a generous but not remarkable tip.
"Have a nice day," the driver said with a small salute.
"Count on it," Clint answered with a wink.
The driver left chuckling, passing an older man walking an elderly spaniel along the sidewalk. The dog-walker saw the kissing couple and called a greeting.
"My two favorite Hollywood celebrities," he teased. "You look like you haven't seen each other in months. I thought you were working on the same movie?"
Clint kept his arm around Natasha, pulling her tight to him. He felt her flinch when he touched her shoulder, so he slid his hand down to her waist.
"We were working on the same movie, Jeff, but they had us checking out different locations," Clint answered easily. He and Nat hadn't had time to discuss details of their location scout cover, but they worked together seamlessly, contributing bits of their cover stories.
"We weren't even on the same continent," Nat said with a pretty pout. "Frank was off in the Rockies, out in the wilderness somewhere without cellphone service."
"She worries when she can't reach me," Clint confided. "Turns out she's the one who got hurt," he added, in case Jeff had noticed Natasha's wince.
She made a face. "I fell and gashed my shoulder on a concrete wall in the middle of downtown Budapest," she said in disgust.
"What movie were you working on?" Jeff asked.
"Working title was 'Freezer Burn,'" Clint said. "But after all that, it looks like the movie won't be made at all. The production company lost its funding," he explained. "At least we got paid, so we decided to take some time off. Maybe work on having that baby we've talked about." He smirked.
Natasha dropped her eyes as if embarrassed by the topic.
Jeff saw it and politely changed the subject. "Does that mean you'll be here for deer season?" he asked hopefully.
Clint brightened. "Maybe. Does the club still meet on Saturdays?"
"The Bennington Bowhunters. First and third Saturday," he confirmed.
"Awesome," Clint said with genuine excitement. "I'm looking forward to it."
"Well, I'd better get home and tell Megan her favorite kids are back. She'll want to start baking right away."
"Ooh, raspberry cupcakes?" Natasha asked eagerly.
"With sweet cream frosting," Jeff confirmed, eyes twinkling.
"Mmm, I dream about those cupcakes sometimes," Natasha said, not lying at all.
"I had an apple tart in Paris last year and I thought, this isn't half as good as Megan's apple pie," Clint said, also honestly.
"That kind of flattery is why my wife likes you, Frank," Jeff said. "Now, how are you fixed for food tonight? I'm sure we have a casserole to spare in the freezer."
Clint was seriously tempted, because Megan was a county fair award winning cook, but he and Nat needed to talk without interruption.
"Not tonight, Jeff," Clint said, twining one finger through Nat's hair.
"Not before noon tomorrow," Natasha said with a wink.
"I made a grocery run, we won't starve," Clint promised.
"All right, you wild kids. We'll see you late tomorrow," Jeff said. He tugged the dog away from his investigation of the parkway tree.
"Bye Jeff. Bye Freckles," Natasha called.
Jeff waved and the dog wagged his stubby tail, as they walked briskly toward home.
Clint shut off the hose then grabbed Natasha's suitcase and escorted her inside. "When did you get here?" she asked.
"Late last night. Just in time to crash. I only got up a couple hours ago," Clint answered.
Nat saw Clint's luggage stood open in the hallway with clothes trailing out as if it had been searched — though only by Clint looking for his toothbrush.
"I can see the place can use a woman's touch," Natasha said judiciously.
So, under the guise of putting things away and preparing a meal, the former SHIELD agents searched the house for surveillance devices, booby-traps or anything out of the ordinary. They also looked for the little tells they had left behind to determine whether the cleaning company or anyone else had been snooping. But their floor safe was untouched with its stash of cash. The overt gun and bow safe was still firmly locked, while the two secret weapon caches hidden in the walls were covered with dust and cobwebs, as they should be.
The agents didn't really expect any trouble. This place was entirely off the books. Only one other person had known about this cover identity and he had been killed before the Battle of Manhattan.
"The place looks good," Natasha said.
Clint nodded. No sign of tampering. "Yeah, the cleaners did an excellent job."
They made a quick salad and pulled a packaged lasagna out of the oven, then settled in front of the TV for dinner. Cuddling close together, watching a romantic action comedy with plenty of roaring engines and gunshots to conceal their conversation from any directional microphone.
Then, finally, Hawkeye and Black Widow were able to talk.
In the cooing voices of lovebirds, they talked about betrayal, job loss, attempted murder and attempted mass murder. With a bubbling laugh that concealed how her voice shook, Natasha told Clint how Cap had protected her from a missile strike and about the nearly fatal injuries he had received at the hands of his brainwashed best friend.
Clint stroked her hair and kissed her forehead.
In consolation, he made a genuinely funny story about being thrown out of a helicopter and hanging upside down on a makeshift trapeze.
Natasha put her head on Clint's shoulder and spoke right into his ear.
"The worst, Clint, was that Nick didn't trust me," Natasha said quietly. "He trusted Rogers with the thumb drive and Hill with his safety, but he let me watch him die."
Clint ran his hand up and down her arm. He knew she saw Nick Fury as a father figure. He was an authority figure who had trusted her and defended her, something unheard-of in her abusive childhood. Fury was as close to Natasha as he allowed himself to get to an agent.
"Fury trusts you," he said firmly. "Maybe it was someone else he didn't trust," he offered. "Who else was in the room."
Natasha thought back to the observation room. She had been focused on Fury and his doctors, but her retentive mind had taken an automatic snapshot of the room's occupants. She relaxed at the recollection. "Hill and Rogers were with me, but Rumlow and Sitwell were behind us."
"By what you said, Fury must have already been suspicious of Sitwell at the least," Clint said.
Natasha accepted that and smiled more genuinely.
"Sitwell," Clint snarled. "Sitwell told me he was keeping me where he could find me because something big was going down."
Natasha's lip curled at the way Sitwell used the truth to mislead her perceptive partner.
"And Donnelly said he had a message from Sitwell just before he pushed me out of the helo. I didn't get to put an arrow through Loki's eye, maybe I could do Sitwell," he said vindictively.
Nat pursed her lips. "Difficult," she said. "There wasn't much left of his face after the Winter Soldier threw him in front of a semi."
She felt a slight stiffening in Clint's shoulder.
"I checked," she assured him. "I went back after and found the body in the morgue. There was enough to identify, but I still took a blood sample for DNA testing."
"And it was him."
"It was. So I claimed the body as his dear sister and had him cremated. And I watched him burn," she growled.
"Thanks. Too much resurrection going on these days," Clint said.
"I know." She shivered, thinking about the horrors that had been done to resurrect Bucky Barnes as the Winter Soldier.
She snuggled closer to her "husband." "I'm glad you chose this cover for us," she said.
Clint nodded, rubbing his cheek against her hair. This was one of the most substantial covers they had. Heck, their alternate identities had actual film credits. With the agents' background of global travel, they had been able to advise two different directors about potential film locations.
They had other safe houses scattered around the world with covers as varied as perfect strangers or this particular loving couple. With the shock of Hydra's betrayal and the crashing ending of the lives they'd known, they needed each other. This cover allowed them to comfort each other and required them to play a normal part in a community that had a lot of nice people in it.
"Yeah, I like it here," Clint confessed. He and his bow didn't stand out at all among the local archery enthusiasts and Natasha would be welcomed with open arms by the jazz dance club.
"I like almost everything, except my name," Natasha said.
"You don't like 'Bobbi'?"
"No, Bobbi's great. It's perky and cute, everything that Natasha Romanoff isn't. Great cover," Natasha said. "But I don't know what Coulson was thinking when he came up with the last name. I mean, 'Morse'? It just screams, 'look at me, I'm a code name!'" she grumbled playfully.
Clint chuckled and kissed his blonde-haired bride on the top of her head.
A/N: After I wrote this, I heard that Bobbi Morse will be a character in AOS next season. Too bad. I like the idea that Bobbi is a cover identity for Nat.