Of love and childhood

Summary: What if Natasha actually had a childhood and knew love before the red room took her? What if Clint had once loved someone but couldn't see it until she was gone? What happens when you find the one person you thought you had lost forever and they have no clue who you are? AU story reposted, no smut but lots of drama

Disclaimer: I own the idea and that's it, sadly the rest belongs to Marvel and Disney

AN: I know I am getting behind on all of my stories and should not start yet another new one but these two will not leave me alone and truthfully I'm not really sure I want them to. This is the 3rd and final time I am posting this story. I have already changed the title and some of the content and it was still taken down. The change of rating is my last gasp attempt at keeping it on the site. If this doesn't work I will just have to give up on it, so wish me luck

Warning: Mentions child/ adolescent abduction and its aftermath

Chapter 1

Sometimes Clint Barton couldn't help but dream about Natasha Romanoff. He would relive their last day together; remember what he had said to her that night. He desperately wished he had known they would be the last words she would hear from him but not as desperately as he wished that he could have changed what happened to her.

Natasha was the first person he had met when he began his new parentless life at the circus. She was also one of the few people he actually liked and thankfully she seemed to like him too.

She was 7 years old and life in the circus was all she had ever known, she loved to hear all the tales of the outside world that Clint had to tell and she in return taught the jaded 9 year old how to survive life in the big top. As the years passed the two of them became pretty much inseparable and it was widely assumed that when they were finally ready for an act of their own they would be performing together. No one was sure how they would combine their two very different skill sets into one act but if anyone could make it work it would be the two of them

Natasha was a graceful gymnast who could easily captivate all who watched her; she had begun learning how to tumble at about the same time she had started to walk and Clint was a scarily accurate marksman. Even though he had not been training for anywhere near as long as Natasha he had taken to archery like a duck takes to water and he was soon as competent in his chosen discipline as she was in hers.

They would spend each and every day together it didn't matter if they where training for their own acts or practicing the small roles they had to play in other peoples they were always together and enjoying each other's company.

The last day that the two of them spent together was no different from any of the hundreds that had passed before, Clint had no way of knowing he was about to lose his best friend and no way to stop it from happening.

Clint walked Natasha back to her trailer after a hard day's work and they stopped just outside her door wanting to draw their time together out for as long as they could. This was a nightly ritual for them neither of them ever really wanted to say good night.

"Clint do you think I will ever be as pretty as Leah is?" Natasha asked out of nowhere

"That's a stupid question Nat" Clint told her with an over dramatic roll of his eye's "You are going to be so much more beautiful than Leah" he said with a teasing smile but he knew he was telling her the truth. Natasha may only have been 14 but it was clear even then that the red head was going to grow up to be –what his dad used to call- a stunner. It was clear to Clint that sooner or later she was going to leave the circus's female trapeze artist and current golden girl in the dust looks wise.

"Does that mean when we start our act together will you kiss me at the end of every show the way Curt kisses Leah?" she asked him with a cheeky grin, referring to how Leah and her husband Curt ended each of their performances with a sweet stage kiss

Natasha had asked him hundreds of odd or personal questions over the years and Clint had always managed to give her the answerer she needed but he truly didn't know what to say to this one. The young man didn't find it hard to believe that a lot of boys may one day want to kiss her and that he might well be one of them but right now he really didn't. In fact the thought anyone ever thinking of his younger friend as kissable felt wrong

"I don't know Nat" Clint sighed rubbing the back of his neck uncomfortably "Leah and Curt are more than just partners" he said reminding her that the two performers where also husband and wife.

"We're more than partners too" Natasha persisted innocently. Clint really didn't know what to say, Natasha was right the two of them weren't just partners, he shared a connection with her than he had never had with anyone else but as close as he and Natasha where he was always going to see her as his little shadow who was 2 years younger than him. In his 16 year old mind he couldn't see how that could ever change but at the same time he couldn't bear to upset Natasha.

"Maybe someday when we're older Nat" he conceded softly more to appease Natasha than anything else

"Well then" Natasha beamed up at him with laughter dancing in her eyes "I can't wait till we're older" that when she really surprised him by hoping up onto her tip toes and pressing a kiss to his cheek. She ran away inside the trailer before shocked boy could say anything else.

After a moment Clint couldn't help but chuckle at Natasha's actions, it had probably taken all the courage she had just to kiss his cheek and tomorrow she would either act like it never happened or she would almost die of embarrassment because of it. He did think about following her inside to make some sort of joke about her kissing him just to make sure she knew he didn't mind it and to avoid her taking the second option but in the end he thought better of it and that was a decision he would always regret.

The next morning the whole circus was awakened by the screams of Natasha's mother Ana. Her little girl was gone, she had been taken from her bed and all that was left in her place was a piece of paper with a blood red spider printed on it. At first Ana could not stop sobbing long enough to explain what the symbol meant to her and when she finally did calm down she became almost catatonic with grief.

All that they could get from her was that Natasha was gone and she would never come back, when they pressed her harder the woman began babble nonsense about red rooms and Widow's. The way Natasha's own mother gave her up for dead so quickly made Clint sick, it took many more years for him to do the same.

He never really gave up his hope of one day finding her alive and well until he joined S.H.I.E.L.D at age 21, they told him exactly what the red room was and what the infamous Widow's did for them.

When Director Fury told him that Natasha's disappearance and almost certain death were the red rooms way of punishing Ana who was the only woman to ever really escaped from their program it broke Clint's heart, that was the day he finally excepted that his Nat was gone. The cute little red head that had once haunted his every step had been wiped out of existence, there was no chance of his ever finding her and bring her home safely. Coming to that realization killed something inside Clint, he didn't want to believe it was his heart and he hoped to god it wasn't his humanity.

After that every mission he was offered that could hurt the red room in any way he gladly accepted and each time he caused them some sort of problem he did it in Natasha's name.

When he was given the opportunity to neutralize one of their agents (a Widow no less) he jumped at it, right up until the moment he finally got a good look at her face and got the shock of his life along with it.

His target the greatly feared Black Widow was not Natalia Romanova as he had been told all along. She was in fact a very grown up and very beautiful Natasha Romanoff.

At first Clint genuinely couldn't believe it, Natasha was alive and standing right before his eyes. Just the sight of her had something deep in the archer's chest fluttering pleasantly. For the first time in 11 years he felt whole and happy it was like being a child again.

In that moment as the two of them stood there looking right into each other eyes with their forgotten weapons hanging limply at their sides everything in Clint's world felt right.

Until Natasha raised her gun and took aim at him that is

Thank you for reading and please let me know what you think