Pair of Triple Drabbles.
Why does Laura's phone work?
The November air is chill in the pre-dawn light. Laura hugs her coat tighter around her and clenches her jaw, blinking in the sharp wind.
Clint hefts the last duffle bag into the trunk of the nondescript car; he'll drive to his bunker where the SHIELD quinjet will pick him up. After that, to Laura, everything is uncertain: she knows neither what Clint's mission is nor where it will be nor even how long it will take.
Clint walks back to the porch, his footsteps silent and his stride smooth, already slipping back into the mindset of the dangerous and skilled agent that he had largely shed for their wedding and the too-short honeymoon leave. He lifts his hand, gently stroking her cheek with rough, calloused knuckles. She swallows, forcing her lips to a tremulous smile. Neither speak; all their words were spent in the dark of the night, where love and passion and sorrow and fear were freely expressed.
But now she is sending him off, and she will do it bravely.
He nods, turns, and steps off the porch. Then he pauses, profile just highlighted in the glare of the headlights, hand gripping the railing with too much force.
"Laura…" his voice is low and controlled, but his words far from smooth. "If I…if it doesn't…I mean…" he stops, and she hears him breath out, hard. Then his mouth quirks up on one side in some taut parody of his usual cocky grin. "Just don't forget to pay the cell phone bill, alright?"
And he strides to the car, gets in the driver's seat, and drives away, all without looking back. Laura waves anyway, until the car is out of sight.
(Then she blindly stumbles back into the house and slides to the floor. Now she can cry.)
The world ends, and Clint leaves the farm, expecting to never return. He's an agent, an assassin—one of the best in the world. (Actually, he might be the best in the world, now. Did Natasha survive? He doesn't know. He doesn't think on it.) He can still be that. There was a time (before Laura—he doesn't think on that, either) when he did nothing but globetrot, mission following mission, shedding personas and bolt holes with the same lack of compunction.
He can go back to that.
And if he'll be calling his own shots rather than following SHIELD's orders—well, SHIELD turned out to be HYDRA anyway. Clearly Clint is better on his own.
(Laura would disagree. She would tell him to go to the Avengers compound, see who is still alive. Find Natasha, the closest thing he has left to family. Grieve. And maybe, eventually, find a way to move on. But Clint doesn't think on that.)
He methodically sets everything in order at the farm, packing personal belongings in boxes, canceling services and autopay bills, unthinking, unfeeling—until the cell phone provider.
His fist tightens; his hand shakes. His teeth clench, and he breaths out, sharply.
(In the end, he cancels all plans but Laura's, sets hers to the cheapest option available, and leaves it connected to his consolidated emergency bank account. He digs her phone out of one of the boxes, programs in his new, untraceable number, and leaves it on the kitchen counter, turned off but plugged in to one of his emergency solar-powered chargers.)
He finishes setting everything in order, secures the house, and drives away.
And he despises himself for his weakness.
(But Laura's phone remains functional—and five years and a journey through hell later, his phone rings with her number.)