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: My first chapter survived a whole day so I am posting the next chapter. I just want to thank everyone who has shown any interest in this story, especially those of you that put up with the disappearing reappear stage it went through. So thank you very, very much

Warning: Mentions child/ adolescent abduction and its aftermath

Chapter 2

Clint couldn't stop his mind from racing or arguing with itself for that matter. One small part of it was yelling at him that there was an armed hostile stood right there in front of him with their weapon trained on his head and he really should be trying to move out of the line of fire at the very least but the larger part was too busy drinking in the sight of Natasha to react.

So much about her had changed but just enough had stayed the same for him to be absolutely sure that it was her. The spattering of freckles across her cheeks that she had hated so much in her teens had faded right down over the years but they were still there just barely visible. Her sharp eyes had lost their laughing quality but they still shone as brightly as ever and of course he would know her fiery red hair anywhere

Clint thought that S.H.E.A.L.D had trained him on exactly what to do in every situation but he must have missed the class on what to do when your childhood best friend –who you believed to be dead-, pulls a gun on you and the fact that Coulson (his handler) was yelling at him through the com link to stop staring and do something didn't help.

Slowly Clint lifted his gun and tossed it aside, he did his best to ignore Coulson's enraged voice in his ear and focus all of his attention on the woman who was watching his every move. He was sure he saw confusion flash momentarily in her eyes before she locked it away.

"It's OK Natasha" he said softly doing his best not to intimidate her while dressed in his fight gear that was designed to do just that. "I don't want to fight and I'm not going to hurt you" he assured her

Once again something flickered in her gaze but it passed to quickly for even Clint Hawkeye Barton to register what it was he briefly hoped it might be recognition but the cold hard laugh that spilled from her mouth shot that idea down pretty effectively

"My Name is Natalia" the woman hissed in flawless English as she tightened her grip on her gun "and you are a very stupid man" she decreed as she pulled the trigger. Clint didn't even hear the gun go off before his world went dark.

As Natalia looked down at the man who was sprawled at her feet she couldn't help but feel a tiny flicker of remorse, he must have had truly deep feelings for this Natasha –whoever she was- to leave himself open to her like that. She tried to tell herself that those feelings made him weak and she pitied him for them, she wanted to believe that pity was the reason he was laying on the floor tranquilised and not dead but something deep inside screamed that she was lying to herself and there was another reason she had spared him she just couldn't grasp it. She took one last look at her fallen foe before turning on her heels and walking away, she told herself she never wanted to see him again and knew she was once again lying to herself.

Much later when he slowly came around Clint's head was extremely fuzzy, his first clear thought was that he shouldn't be waking up at all. The Black Widow made her living as an assassin and there was no way she could miss a kill shot from such close range so by rights he should be dead and dead people don't wake up feeling like they have been hit by six or seven trucks so why was he.

"She knocked you out cold" a familiar female voice told him, it wasn't until then that he had realized that A) he was no longer on the floor of the warehouse he had cornered the Black Widow in and B) he was talking aloud

"Where am I?" he asked knowing he sounded like the wounded guy in one of those silly films or TV shows but he genuinely didn't know his location and for him that was the most unnerving thing in the world.

"You're back on the hellicarrier Circus Boy" the woman told him giving away her identity by using the nickname only she was brave enough to employ

"Hey Maria" he greeted his long time friend and occasional bed warmed groggily

"Hey Clint" Agent Maria Hill greeted back while helping him into a sitting position

"How long was I out?" he wondered aloud

"Three days" she told him gently "even when she's feeling merciful the Black Widow doesn't take any chances, you where well and truly out of it" she explained

"She get away?" he asked trying not to sound hopeful, the truth was if Maria told him that another S.H.E.A.L.D had taken Natasha out when he had only just found her again he didn't know what he would do

"Yes, she was gone long before the evac team even found you" Maria answered unable to hide her frustration, Clint could understand her feelings even if he could no longer share them, they had been after this particular Widow on and off for the last few years. Every time she would make her presents known they would make a move but she was very, very good and they never got close enough to her to even get a surveillance photo, that is until Clint found himself face to face with her three days ago

"What happened in there Clint?" Maria asked him concern obvious in her voice "Phil says he lost contact with you as soon as you stepped inside the warehouse" she told him. Of course Coulson would say that he was protecting Clint from his own stupid actions, if he chose to lie and say that the Widow had managed to get the drop on him Phil would not tell anyone anything different.

Part of Clint really did want to lie because he was sure he knew exactly what the agency's reaction to the truth would be but he couldn't. He had given up on Nat just like everyone else now he owed it to her to do all he could to save her even if it didn't seem like she wanted saving.

"She's not who we thought she was Maria" he said softly as she sat down beside him on the med bay bed

"Not our Widow? Were we tracking the wrong one?" the attractive burnet asked confused

"No she's our girl" he confirmed "But at least some of our intel was wrong she not Natalia Romanova" he explained

"The intel's sound Clint" Maria told him firmly "we have checked it multiple times" she reassured him "But even if we somehow managed to get her name wrong her list of crimes is definitely right" she said almost defensively

"Maria she's Natasha" he sighed deciding it was best to just bite the built and get it over with

"Natasha? Do you mean your Natasha" Maria asked gently knowing the lost little girl would always be a sore spot for her friend "Are you telling me you believe that Natalia Romanova is actually Natasha Romanoff" she persisted softly when she got no answer from the archer

"I know I sound crazy Maria but you have got to trust me on this one I know Nat when I see her" Clint told her, he hadn't realized just how ludicrous his claim sounded until he said it aloud

"I trust that you believe you saw Natasha" Maria said in a measured tone as she took his hand in her own, she knew she had to tread carefully when discussing the girl that hunted Clint's past, she was one of the few people who knew just how important the poor kid had been to Clint and just what losing her had done to him "But you and I both know you couldn't have seen her because she is dead, I thought you had excepted that Clint" she whispered to him

"I had" Clint admitted just as softly "until I saw her standing there Maria she was as alive as you or me"

"It's impossible Clint you know that" Maria insisted beginning to worry about Clint's mental health, the truth was they didn't know what the Black Widow had used to knock him out or what it could have done to his head "The Red Room only take children, you know that, a teenager would be no use to them. She would have been too old for the training" Maria insisted desperate to get through to the normally level headed agent but Clint wasn't having any of it, he released Maria's hand and began to pace around the small medical bay

"But Nat was already an amazing gymnast and almost everyone used some sort of weaponry in their acts, me and Nat we needed to know how to use all of them or we couldn't help out so she would have already done most of the physical training" Clint pushed on getting agitated and wishing he had thought of this years ago "you got to admit that there is a chance she could have made it thought the training and they could have made her a Widow at the end of it"

"Clint!" Maria yelled at him finally losing it with him "Can you hear yourself?" she asked incuriously "You are actually hoping that the sweet kid you have told me so much about was turned into a heartless assassin who kills innocent people for a living?" when her question got no reaction at all it was clear to Maria that Clint wasn't even hearing her any more she needed a shock tactic so she grabbed the Black Widow's file that had been sitting on the side and tipped the photos of her victims out onto the bed in front of him "Do you really want this to be her handy work?" she demanded shoving a photo into his unresponsive hands "The woman that did this is not an innocent girl that you can save Clint she's a monster do you really want that to be your Nat? Is that what you really want her to have become?" she asked softly having regained control of her temper

"If she's a monster then tell me Agent Hill what am I?" Clint asked lowly and with a sudden rush of fear Maria realized she had gone too far

"You're the one that has to put the monsters down just like the rest of us here" came a voice from the door, both agents spun around swiftly to find Director Fury standing there "Our Widow has resurfaced sooner than we expected, she is in Spain and that is where we are going now" he told them

"Sir she not who you think she is" Clint tried to tell him

"I am aware that you believe our Intel is faulty agent Barton" Fury cut the other man off with a glance towards the security camera with his un-patched "The real name of the Black Widow doesn't concern me her kill list does, the order to neutralize still stands whatever her name is" he decreed

"But sir-" Clint protested

"No buts Barton" Fury told him "The only question I have is are you going to be the one neutralizing her?"

Silence hung thick in the air for a moment until Clint finally took a shaky breathe and answered with a growl "Yes sir"

Fury couldn't help the smug smile that spread across his face he knew he could make Agent Barton see sense. The man was one of S.H.E.A.L.D's best and the director had no doubt that Romanova- or whoever the hell she was- would be neutralized by the end of the day, if he had known exactly how Clint was planning to neutralize the deadly little spider he might not have been feeling so self satisfied but then again maybe he would have been even more impressed with himself

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

Millie