Clint took the stairs two at a time, unwilling to wait even a minute for the elevator, unwilling to believe what the weird guy with the orange spinning circles had told him.
He burst out onto the fourth floor, a bit out of breathm but anxious to see if there was any truth to what he'd been told, how could there be? He'd seen her fall, seen her dead, the floating red dude said it couldnt be reversed, Clint simply couldnt believe there could be any way Natasha could be alive.
They'd sent Steve to return the stones through time, he knew that much, although after the funeral he and his family had gone back to the farm, he hadn't been around for the rebuilding of the time machine. Steve could be stubborn, was there any chance he'd talked the red guy into reversing it when Clint hadn't been able to? He dearly hoped so as he made his way down the hall toward the last room.
A familiar glimpse of red and gold hair caused him to gasp in utter shock and lean against the wall, it wasn't possible, he told himself. Maybe it was Wanda, playing with her hair color again, or Pepper or anyone else he might know to be alive. But the head the hair was attached to turned and he could clearly see it wasn't Wanda or Pepper or anyone else. It was Natasha, somehow, some way.
He propelled himself forward on legs that seem made of jelly toward the person who couldnt be Natasha. She was dead, he was sure of it. He'd have never left her if there was any chance of her being alive.
He stepped through the doorway, unsure of what to say or do. Just stared at her in complete shock.
Bruce was there, checking vitals. The wires and machines seemed so small next to him now as he remained the Hulk, but also Bruce. "Looks like my snap might have worked after all." he was cheerful. "Or maybe it was Steve going to replace the stone, who knows. I mean, we messed with time after all, anything is possible. Either could have worked, or maybe some combination of both, but she's back!"
Clint nodded, afraid what he was seeing was only in his head. Could he be going crazy? Finally crossed the bend after all these years? He'd seen her die, seen her body broken on the rocks, Natasha couldn't possibly be here. His eyes said yes, his heart said maybe, and his head said no damn way possible.
"Clint," a familiar voice whispered.
He walked forward and took her hand in his. It was warm and real as anything. "You're really truly here. How?" He looked at her, then looked at Bruce. "I saw you die, we even had a funeral for you. Wanda planted a tree, Nathaniel made a dreamcatcher for it."
"Of course they did." Natasha tried to laugh but ended up coughing. "I dont know. I remember falling. I remember arguing with you. After that, it gets mixed up. It was cold and I sort of remember hearing Steve but I couldnt see him." she grimaced a bit.
Clint sent a panicked look over to Bruce, who answered, "She's got a concussion, bruises, nothing serious. She'll be fine."
"Yeah, apparently, falling four hundred feet off a cliff can really mess you up." Natasha remarked, drily.
"I don't understand how you're here. I argued with the guy, he insisted it wasn't reversible, I argued til I had no time left on my watch." Realization dawned. "But you still had yours. Steve could have reset it."
"I don't know. I only remember hearing him, but it isn't clear, I can't remember what he was saying or anything." Natasha shook her head slowly. "The last thing I remember clearly is you." she grasped his hand tightly and looked him straight in the eyes. "It worked, didn't it? The snap was undone? Everyone is back?"
Clint nodded. "Everyone is back. Laura, the boys, Lila, Wanda, everyone. We've had Wanda out at the farm with us." He figured now was not the time to explain about Tony or Steve, that could come later.
"That's good. She needs you, Clint. You're good with strays." Natasha closed her eyes.
"Stay awake, Nat. Please." he nearly shouted at her.
"Guess coming back from the dead is harder then it seems." she replied, eyes still shut.
"Not to mention the whole time travel thing, probably not easy on the body either," Banner said. He was pretty cheerful now that Natasha was back, whether it was his snap or Steve's arguing, he didn't know or care. All he cared as that she was back. "Who knows, the rest of us might be totally screwed up and not even know it yet. It's not like anyone has time travelled before, no medical journal articles about it yet."
"What a great thought." Clint muttered. What was done was done he figured. "Did you tell anyone else about Nat?"
"Sam and Bucky were both there when she suddenly appeared instead of Cap. Then I told Doctor Strange so he could hurry you here. Other then that, no, I don't think anyone else knows, but I've been in here taking care of her."
"Wanda's coming soon, Nat. She's probably trying to give us some time before she shows up." Clint tried to keep her awake.
"We should have done that for her and Vision. She's a good kid." Nat remarked, quietly.
"Don't worry about that now. Focus on getting better. Maybe we can figure out how you got here." Clint accepted the chair Banner offered. He decided now was also not the time to tell her that Vision wasn't unsnapped. There'd be time enough to tell her everything now.
"Tired." she murmured.
"I'll be here when you wake up."
"Don't be stupid. Watching me sleep is silly." she admonished him.
"Not the first time you've told me that. I never thought I'd be so happy to hear those words again." Clint remembered well the first time she told him that, when he'd decided to bring the Black Widow into SHIELD instead of completing his mission.
"The first time, you shot me, if I remember right. My head is jumbled up."
"I did. Following orders."
"If you'd followed orders, I would've died a long time ago."
"I knew you didn't want to die that night, just as I knew you didn't really want to die on Vormir."
"Had to, Clint, Had to bring everyone back. Too much red." she was beginning to slur as she dozed off.
"You did it, Nat. You really did." Clint whispered, still holding her hand, unsure he'd ever let go again.
Authors note - okay, usually, I'm one of those fans who rolls with the punches, character deaths, relationships, etc, if it's canon, I keep to it. But I can't seem to fully accept Natasha's death because there's too many unanswered questions in Endgame. I know going forward, the MCU will probably keep her dead, but hey, it's Marvel, anything can happen.
So you know the drill, kudos, reviews, bookmarks, all appreciated. Thanks!