Chapter 7: A Promise to Keep
The next night, Natasha was cleaning up after dinner as the kids were trying to settle down for the night. "So when you said Clint was afraid of being a father…" Steve trailed off as he leaned against the counter.
"It's what I said, he was afraid of becoming a father," Natasha answered, "It was the one thing he was terrified of becoming."
"That's actually surprising," Steve commented.
"Not when you read into his background, which I'm sure you did," she answered.
She looked over at him. "Clinton Francis Barton, born January 7th, 1971 to Charles and Edith Barton. He had one older brother, Charles "Barney" Barton Jr," Steve told her.
"Well of course you wouldn't read more than that. What you don't know in his files was his father was a mean old drunk, a butcher. Beat his wife and his sons every chance he had. The more his job floundered, the more he beat his family," Natasha explained.
Steve was surprised at her words. "One night, my father came home, drunker than drunk. Caught my mom packing up my brother and me up to go to her sister's in Nebraska," Clint stated as he walked into the kitchen. He took a beer out of the fridge, popping the top off. "My father decided that we should go for a drive. Held a knife up to my brother and me in order for mom to agree," he added, "So we got in the car, my dad floored it. The car was going at least 112 miles per hour down a dirt road. In the rain."
Natasha rested her hand on his shoulder. "He hit a turn gong even faster, he took the corner at 120. Floored it, pushed that piece of shit further than it was able to," he told Steve. Steve just stared at Clint with wide eyes. "We spun, it spun at least three times but to Barney and me, it felt like it went around for an eternity before we hit a tree. Fucker wrapped around the tree completely, split the car right in half," he explained. Natasha rested her head on his shoulder with sadness in her eyes. "My mom had been ejected from the car, you see, when my dad put us in the car. He told mom not to strap us in, my mom signed to us both to buckle our seatbelts. Fucking seatbelts is what kept us alive," he stated solemnly. He took a long drink of his beer. "My mom died for her kids, she made sure we were safe first and because she knew if she put her seatbelt on, dad would've checked on Barney and me to see if we were buckled in," he explained.
Steve had remembered seeing pictures of the car accident. "My dad was trying to murder himself and his family, by making it look like an accident. So ask me again why I didn't want to become a father for so many years," Clint stated before leaving the kitchen.
Natasha rested her hand over her stomach, feeling the baby kick. "What made him change his mind?" Steve asked.
"When he held Nikolai for the first time," she replied.
(12 Years Ago)
Natasha was holding her newborn son in her arms with a smile on her face. "Welcome to the world Nikolai Francis Barton," she cooed to the newborn. She looked over at her husband to see him staring nervously at the baby in her arms. "He's not going to bite," she commented, "Come here." She sat up as she grabbed his hand with her free arm, pulling him closer.
"I don't know what I'm supposed to do," he answered.
She gave him a soft smile. "You think I do?" she asked, "You just love him." She held the baby up, gently pushing him towards her husband. Nervously, he took the baby into his arms. The newborn shifted and she saw his eyes grow wide. Then they softened.
As he stared at the baby in his arms. Then Natasha saw the tears slip down his cheeks. He kissed the baby's forehead tenderly. She pulled him close as he rested his forehead against the side of her head.
Natasha looked at Steve. "Ever since he held our son, he became the greatest father I had ever known," she told him. She watched as Clint sat in the living room, reading to the children like he normally did as they settled down for the night. Gabrielle was already falling asleep with her head resting on Clint's chest. "He's everything to us," she added. She looked at Steve. "He's going to want to finish what he started," she murmured.
"I know," Steve answered.
Natasha hated it when she was pregnant, it made her show her emotions easier. "You need to bring him back to us," she insisted, "We can't live without him." Steve saw the tears well up in her eyes. "I can't live without him. I've been with him since I was seventeen-years-old. I've been his since Moscow," she told Steve as her lower lip shook. She put her hand over her eyes to try to hide her emotions, but it wasn't working. "Please promise me you'll bring him back to us," she told Steve.
"I promise," Steve answered, hugging her, "I promise."
(Two Days Later)
Natasha was standing on the porch as Clint was getting ready to go. "You better come back to me, Barton," she told him, resting her hands on his chest. Clint held her hands in his, kissing the tips tenderly.
"Not even death will keep me from you," he murmured.
She pulled her hands from his, resting her hands on the sides of his neck she kissed him deeply. Clint kissed her back, his arms moving around her back. He pulled back from her lips, kissing her jaw, her neck, her shoulder, and then her mouth once more. She pulled back only to hug him as tight as she could. Clint hugged her back, his hand moving over her back. "I love you," she whispered.
"I love you more," he answered.
He let her go, walking to catch up to the others. Natasha wrapped her arms around herself. Just then, the front door flew open and Gabrielle flew out of the house. "Gabrielle!" Natasha called out when the six-year-old ran by her.
"DADDY!" Gabrielle shouted, running after him.
Clint stopped walking when he heard Gabrielle shout for him. Gabrielle was running through the tall grass in her bare feet when he ran up to her, picking her up. "Daddy, I don't want you to go anymore, please don't go," Gabrielle said sobbing. Clint hugged her close, kissing the side of her head.
"I'll be back soon baby," he told her, hugging her tight, "I have to go."
"No," Gabrielle insisted, gripping his vest tighter.
The team just stared at this heartbroken six-year-old that clung to the archer. "I don't want you to fight anymore, daddy, I don't want you to," she said crying. Clint hushed her softly, rubbing her back.
"This is the last time I will go away. I will be home all the time after this is over, I promise," he assured her.
Natasha walked up as her husband walked back towards her. "I need you to be a brave girl one more time, be good for your momma," Clint told Gabrielle, handing her to Natasha. He stroked his daughter's sandy-blond curls with a frown. "And I love you, Gabby, so very much," he told her.
"I love you," Gabrielle answered sniffling.
Steve frowned as he watched as the girl reluctantly let Clint's vest go. This man had more to lose than any of them. Clint walked back towards the team, this time without looking back. He couldn't look back. "Let's go," he muttered to them as they walked to the jet.
Natasha hugged Gabrielle tight as the jet lifted off and flew away. She carried her daughter back to the house with sadness in her eyes.
(Fight in Seoul)
Clint was flying the jet. "Hawkeye, you're being very annoying," Ultron stated as he crashed into the side of Clint's Jet.
"Shit," Clint muttered.
"Think you can protect your wife and your children?" Ultron asked.
"You leave my family alone you piece of trash," Clint answered.
Clint tried to fire shots at the android when it grabbed the wing of his jet.
Steve looked up as Clint was trying to fight Ultron with the jet. "Clint! Ge the casket out of here!" he called out.
"I'm a little busy, Cap!" Clint answered.
Steve thought quickly, thinking of Natasha. "Please promise me you'll bring him back to us". He took the shield, throwing it up at Ultron. The shield hit him in the head and it distracted Ultron.
"Clint, get out of here!" Steve snapped.
Clint flew off with the casket to get it to safety.
Clint was below the room as he was trying to figure out where Ultron could possibly be while Tony was doing whatever upstairs. Suddenly, he heard fighting upstairs. Looking up, he frowned when he saw the twins up there talking to Tony and Bruce. Taking his gun, he immediately aimed it above his head where Pietro was standing and fired a single bullet, shattering the glass underneath his feet.
Pietro fell and Clint ran over, pressing his foot into his hip to pin him there. "What? You didn't see that coming?" he asked with a smirk.
With the creation of The Vision and The Vision proving himself worthy of their trust, Clint got ready for another battle. He opened his locker, removing several arrowheads. Sitting down, he removed his favorite picture of Natasha and the kids. His thumb moving over the picture as he thought of them. He let out a deep breath, leaning forward a little. "Barton," Steve called out, making him look up.
"I'm coming," Clint answered.
He pulled out his phone, his thumb hovered over the text app, but he decided against it. He put his phone in his locker and closed it before leaving.
Clint was shooting arrow after arrow into Ultron's drones. Dodging attacks aimed at him. "Barton, what's your status?" Steve called out.
"I'm doing wonderful over here how about you?" Clint answered sarcastically.
Clint dodged another attack when he saw that he and Wanda were caught in the crossfire. "GO, GO!" he shouted, grabbing her. He threw them both through the window. Wanda moved away from him terrified.
"What did we do? Oh God, what did we do?" she babbled.
"Hey, hey, you okay?" Clint called to her.
"This is all our fault," Wanda said shakily.
"Hey, it's your fault, it's everyone's fault who cares. Are you up for this? Are you?" he asked Wanda.
The young woman stared at him. "Listen, I have to know because the city is flying…" he trailed off, unsure if he believed his own words, "The city is flying, we're fighting an army of robots and I have a bow and arrow. None of this makes sense." He held his bow up when shots were fired. Sending his arrow through a hole and hitting his target. "But I'm going back out there because it's my job and I can't do my job and babysit," he told her, "You go out there and you fight, you fight to kill. If you don't want to stay that's good too, I'll find your brother and tell him where to find you. Just understand if you go out that door, you are an Avenger." Wanda just stared at him. "Alright, got it," he answered standing up.
Walking over to the doors, he pulled one of his gadets off his boot. "Yea the city is flying," he muttered to himself as he swung the gadet forward and three arrows sprung from it. He let out a deep breath as he kicked the door open and swung around, firing his arrows at his targets.
Natasha was trying to get the kids ready for the day. She was nervously pacing the house, but was acting so she wouldn't worry the kids. "Mom, is dad going to come home?" Nikolai asked. Natasha smiled at her son.
"Of course he is," she answered.
She looked at her son with a smile. Stroking his cheek gently. She felt her unborn son kick her stomach and she moved her hand over it as she looked over at the news. "There is absolute mayhem in Sokovia today. There was an evacuation early this morning with the Avengers help. Now Sokovia has been lifted from the very Earth and is now thousands of feet in the air," a reporter explained. Natasha leaned against the counter as she pressed her hand to her forehead.
"What's wrong mommy?" Gabrielle asked.
Natasha let out a deep breath, smiling at her daughter. "Mommy's just not feeling well this morning. Why don't you go get your backpacks and I'll drive you two to school," she told them.
Pietro was running through the battlefield as Clint removed his jacket, tossing it aside. His family's picture falling out of the pocket. Pietro looked at the picture, seeing a woman heavily pregnant and two children in front of her. He looked over at Hawkeye. He had a family.
Clint was growing exhausted, but he wouldn't let his movements slow down not even for a second. He at one point had lean against the wall, tilting his head back. "Come back to me," Natasha's voice echoed in his head. He swung back around, firing another arrow.
"Clint," Steve called out.
"I'm alright," Clint answered, pushing Steve back.
They made their way over to the key. "How can you possibly defeat me?" Ultron asked.
"Well, like the old man said…together," Tony answered.
They started fighting the drones that were attacking them.
When Fury arrived with the boats, Clint helped them get survivors onto the boat. "Get yourself to a boat," Steve told him.
"Where are you going?" Clint asked.
"Thor and I are going to check for more survivors," Steve answered.
Clint leaned against the side of a bot when he heard a young woman call out for her brother. "We were in the market," she said tearfully. He looked over and saw the little boy hiding in fear. He rushed over to the boy.
"Alright, time to go," he told the boy, lifting him up.
Pietro was standing off to the side, trying to stop drones from attacking Wanda and the key. He looked over to see Ultron firing at the Avengers and he was heading right for Clint.
Clint saw the blasts coming his way. "I'm sorry, Nat," he thought. He swung around with the boy in his arms to protect him from the attack. Yet, none of the bullets hit him. Lifting his head, he checked on the child in his arms then towards Pietro. Pietro stood there with his body covered in bullet holes.
"You didn't see that coming," Pietro told him before collapsing.
Steve rushed over to Clint as he checked Pietro's pulse. He was gone. He looked at Steve with a frown before Captain America lifted the dead Quicksilver up. Clint did a double take when something fell out of Pietro's pocket. He bent down and saw that it was the picture of Natasha and the kids. Frowning, feeling nothing but guilt go through him as he picked the boy back up and walked back to the boat.
He got onto the boat, looking at the blood on his hand from Pietro's body. He sat down and an agent rushed over to help him. "No, no, I'm fine, it's just…been a really long day," he told the agent as he lied down on the bench, looking at Pietro's dead body. "Thank you, Pietro," he murmured. He closed his eyes as exhaustion finally took over him.
Natasha was cleaning up the dinner dishes while Gabrielle and Nikolai were reading on the couch. She suddenly had a feeling she was being watched. Turning around, she saw Clint standing there with his duffel in his hand. She couldn't fight the tears that welled up in her eyes. He was alive. She walked over, hugging him tightly. Clint hugged her back, rubbing her back as he breathed in her scent. "I love you," she whispered.
"I love you more," he answered.